Wooden ships International Yacht Brokers has been established for nearly 30 years and specialises in the brokerage of classic and traditional sailing and motor yachts. The business is run by father and son team Peter and Richard Gregson who together bring knowledge and experience from a vast number of different areas within the boating world.
We like to think that if we don’t know the answer to your boating question, then we certainly know someone who does!
A tough Scottish boarding school education followed by an Arts degree at St Andrews is a good start to dealing with most things in life. I came to sailing rather late after a few years with an international tourist company with the purchase in Ibiza of a 150 ton wooden Spannish trading schooner, rigged and fitted her out in Dartmouth, worked the ship for a few years in film and TV before moving on to refitting a Le Havre pilot cutter, building a series of clinker dinghies and finally settling ashore to start a yacht brokerage in 1979. Living by the Salcombe Estuary, our two boys, Richard and Marcus grew up with boats and the water, Marcus to join the Royal Marines after a marine engineering degree in Falmouth and Richard to take to the sea as he describes below and now to bring his expertise and experience to join me in the business.
Meeting hundreds of boat owners over the past 30 years gives one a good insight into what people want from their boating activity and enables one to guide newcomers to the sport as well as helping experienced yachtsmen and women to find the right boat.
Inspecting thousands of yachts, large and small, project and perfect and working with some wonderful craftsmen gives one a very clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of traditional boats but it is the people and some wonderful friendships that give us the greatest satisfaction confirming the yacht broker’s motto – the two happiest days of a yachtsman’s life are the day he buys and the day he sells.
I was very fortunate to be brought up in a boating family living in a stunning part of the world in South West England, where sailing was part of life. After growing up surrounded by traditional boats of all shapes and sizes, at the age of 18 I was lucky enough to get a berth on ‘Activ’, a 3- masted wooden topgallant schooner. During that voyage we sailed from the Canary Islands to Tobago via the Cape Verde’s, followed by 5 months cruising the Islands around Trinidad and the north coast of Venezuela.
After leaving the ship I went to university in Cardiff and gained a degree in Marine Geography. During this time I had another period onboard Activ as mate to bring her back home from Nova Scotia to Denmark.
In the years after university, I spent time gaining sailing qualifications, including Yachtmaster Instructor, and doing a number of different jobs, all revolving around boats. I rebuilt a 10m classic offshore power boat, and have worked alongside a superb shipwright ever since doing all manner of boat repairs, engineering, paint and varnish jobs. I freelanced as an instructor for a sailing school, teaching practical and theory courses up to Yachtmaster level. During these years I also worked as a commercial skipper onboard several offshore survey vessels and sailing vessels.
In 2009 I skippered a 14m steel charter yacht from England to the Caribbean and back, taking in all the northern islands from Antigua to Cuba. This was fantastic fun and also a superb experience to take charge of my own vessel on 2 trans-Atlantic voyages, learning to manage the vessel and, more importantly, the crew.
2011 brought one of my most exciting adventures as one of 5 crew aboard ‘Activ’ on an expedition to North East Greenland to undertake scientific and artistic projects. The story of this trip can be seen at www.ekspeditionen2011.dk.
The next expedition for ‘Activ’ is currently being planned, involving the North East Passage, the Pacific and possibly Cape Horn.
I like to get away to sea as much as I can, either with deliveries of yachts we have sold through the brokerage, or skippering the Westcountry trading ketch ‘Bessie Ellen’. A little bit of salt air helps keep the mind sane and the body fresh!