‘For me, a boat is made of wood. That’s what I prefer,’ said Normany fisherman Lilian Guadebois, who has been skipper for eleven years. At a time when new investments are rare in the fishing world, he decided to build the Sainte-Thérèse, his first new boat.
‘Before, I worked on the Petit Bambino, a 34-year-old wooden boat. But I still have 27 years left in my career. I had to invest and the banks prefer new boats,’ he explained.
Sainte-Thérèse was launched in Paimpol at the end of January, after eighteen months of work. This 11.98 metre long, 6.55 metre beam shellfish vessel will be worked with a crew of four to fish for scallops in the Bay of Seine.
To build this new vessel, which will be based in Honfleur (Calvados), the young skipper turned to Fabien Hémeury’s yard in Kerpalud.
‘I used to buy equipment in Saint-Quay-Portrieux. I met Fabien there and we got on well,’ he said.
Since then, the Hémeury shipyard has moved to a new location in Paimpol where it has more space available. Managed by the young shipwright, who trained with Hervé Pacalet, the yard has previously built two vessels, including Mistradenn, with which Saint-Thérèse shares the same characteristics of a bulbous bow and a square stern with sharp chines.
‘The boat is made from 100% French oak because we want to support the local timber industry,’ said Fabien Hémeury, who works with a team of six carpenters. According to him, wooden newbuilds are coming back into fashion, particularly because of their long-term solidity.
‘It’s a complex construction because this is a working vessel with a lot of comfort on board. It is also a time-consuming and 100% tailor-made project because Hémeury does not deliver turnkey vessels. The owner of the boat becomes the project manager overseeing other contractors to build his boat.
‘Yes, this way of doing things is more complicated, but it allows us to really get what we want,’ Lilian Guadebois admitted.
Sainte-Thèrese is therefore broad, so that more equipment can be taken on board. It is also heavier, weighing in at 65 tonnes, which is expected to reach more than 100 tonnes once everything has been installed on board, also ensuring the new vessel’s stability.
‘Today’s fishermen have to deal with all kinds of weather conditions. They have to be able to fish at any time to turn a profit. So they are looking for reliability, and that is what we guarantee them,’ Fabien Hémeury said.
Is this type of build automatically more expensive? According to Lilian Guadebois, ‘not necessarily.’ He estimates the cost of Sainte-Thérèse’s build at around €1.3 million.
Almost finished, he expects to sail from Paimpol for Honfleur on 17th May.
‘I’m starting to look forward to trying it out,’ he said, without hiding his excitement.