Graduate Julian Osborne’s story before and after IBTC Portsmouth

Graduate Julian Osborne’s story before and after IBTC Portsmouth


What did you do before joining the course? 

Before joining the course I worked for a number of years in the region of Chichester Harbour for different boat yards. I started at Haines Boatyard in Itchenor, working as part of their team helping to maintain the Solent Sunbeam and XOD keelboat fleets raced by Itchenor Sailing Club. From there I moved to a company in Bosham that also works maintaining the Solent Sunbeams. After that I worked for a time assisting a shipwright at Del Quay and Birdham Pool, and then as self employed doing varnish work and gloss finishes.

Why did you decide to start a boat building training course and why did you choose IBTC Portsmouth?

I decided to do a course in boat building for a number of reasons. Primarily because I wanted to open the doors to a career in this industry, and doing a course seemed to be the best way to do it. I had been working on wooden boats for a long time, but mainly in the finishing (varnish and coatings) side of things, and I wanted to be able to get more hands on with structural repairs and woodwork in general, as well as gain a greater appreciation of wooden boat construction.

I chose IBTC Portsmouth because of the syllabus that was offered, its’ location, the projects that were available, and also because I was aware that the IBTC  is a very well known and highly regarded name within in the industry.



What is the most satisfying aspect of boat building for you?

I really enjoy being able to look at something that you have put your time and effort into creating.

What would you say was the biggest challenge for you when you started to learn boat building?

Part of the course involved working from the plans and lofting out a Dark Harbour 17, which is a lovely 1908 design 25’10” sailing yacht, that is to be built from cedar strip planking. Our group was involved up to the point of constructing the strong back, molds and laminating and shaping the backbone.  It was a very stimulating and fascinating project that I was fortunate to be a part of, and having never lifted the lines off a lines plan before, was a real but very stimulating challenge.



How does it feel to be IBTC Portsmouth graduate?

It feels great to have graduated from IBTC Portsmouth.  I feel that I now have the knowledge and tools needed to go forward into the industry.

Would you say the course has made you more confident in your boat building/woodworking skills? 

The course has certainly made me more confident in my abilities, and put me in a position that I feel I now have the skills needed to set up my own.

What would you say to someone who is wondering whether boat building is for them?

I would say to consider what prospects might be in store for them, and to keep in mind what they would plan to do when they are qualified/trained. It is a great subject, and working with wood opens the doors to a range of employment possibilities because it really is a transferable skill.

We understand that doing the course is a big investment in the future – how would you assess the value for money aspect it offered?

The course is expensive, but in return you learn a great deal of skills, which should be enough to get you off to a good start in the industry. The skills you learn are not necessarily just aimed at boats, as they can also be applied in many different areas of woodworking.

What did you move onto after completing the course with IBTC Portsmouth?

I am fortunate to have been working with wooden boats around Chichester Harbour before starting the course, and so in that sense, I would like to continue from where I left off. I started the course with the intention of setting up on my own, and during my spare time I have been doing my best to get things in place for when I finished, which has been quite challenging! I have been lucky to find a well located workshop in Bosham that is now ready, and I will work from doing repairs on wooden boats.

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