Mike Ludgrove, a retired businessman who is 63, has almost achieved his lifelong dream of building a yacht. Mike is giving the finishing touches to the 60ft long boat on which he spent the past 12 years and crafted it by hand. He has spent almost $1.8 million on the yacht and has named it ‘Helena’. Ludgrove was trained at Lyme Regis Boatbuilding Academy. Initially, it was estimated that the boat will be completed in three years and will cost around 500,000 Pounds. However, later he realized that both the timeline and cost were not accurate.
To generate more funds, Ludgrove and his wife Elaine sold their flat in London, their primary home in Exeter, and are now living in a rented ex-council house. Nearly five years ago, they also sold their health food business in order to get money for the boat. Ludgrove also sought the help of his son and some friends to work with him on his dream yacht. A naval architect, Ed Burnett, who designed the Queen’s Jubilee barge also designed plans for Ludgrove’s yacht.
Ludgrove talked about his yacht saying, “Helena has been my dream for almost 40 years. Every part of her has been personally fashioned, assembled, spoke-shaved, and brought into position. It has taken 12 years, and I have enjoyed most of it, although there have been some low points when I’ve wondered whether we were going to make it.” He added, “Everything that I am has gone into Helena, from my home to my business. I have nothing left in my pocket to give her.”
The hull of the yacht is constructed from Canadian Douglas Fir. The decking was made using the wood from 1850s cotton mill in Mumbai. The lead was sourced from the roof of the 13th century Exeter Cathedral in Southwest England. The boat weighs 30-tons and is coated with fiberglass for the protection of the wood. It has two large cabins that can accommodate 6 people and a separate captain’s quarters. Mike said, “The aim was always to build something of supreme beauty, in a manner not possible when working to commercial constraints. People simply do not make boats like this anymore.”
Ludgrove said that he was inspired to build the boat when he participated in the London Sailing Project in his childhood. It is a charitable foundation that allows disadvantaged young people the opportunity to experience a sailing adventure. The launch of Helena will be done in coming spring. Ludgrove said that he hopes his project will inspire young people who don’t get a chance to sail. He intends to sell trips on the yacht and use the generated revenue to enable young people to sail.
Ludgrove said, “I first sailed aged 12 with a charity which offered the opportunity to young people from urban, often deprived areas the chance to go out to sea, something which they otherwise may never have got the chance to experience. It changed my life, and everything in my life since has revolved around sailing. The ultimate pleasure for me would be for people, young and old, to get to sail the seas for the first time, to get the thrill of cutting through the waves and harnessing the wind.”