Bespoke boats and floats for stylish summer days

From sublimely elegant canoes to custom sea cabanas – small but perfectly formed excuses to get out on the water

Artisan Boatworks’ daysailers, racers and cruisers are built to endure, wooden heirlooms that are delivered all over the world
Artisan Boatworks’ daysailers, racers and cruisers are built to endure, wooden heirlooms that are delivered all over the world

High-performance heirlooms The bespoke boats produced by Artisan Boatworks, based in Rockport, Maine, are nothing short of spectacular – wooden heirlooms that are delivered all over the world. With years of combined seafaring experience, this design collective – led by master builder Alec Brainerd – is inspired by the yachting greats to create environmentally sustainable custom vessels that “blend timeless beauty and wholesome performance”. From precise replicas of classic designs to the latest in high-performance carbon-fibre and cold-moulded daysailers, racers and cruisers, they are built to endure. The classic rowboat – a Nutshell pram with Norwegian origins, or a Catspaw dinghy (from about $5,000-$50,000) – can be elevated to high art. Tantalising tailored options include the Buzzards Bay 15 class ($200,000), Bar Harbor 31 ($1.4m) and custom 24ft yacht tender ($500,000). artisanboatworks.com.

Preszler Woodshop handcrafted canoe, built up in hundreds of layers of different woods
Preszler Woodshop handcrafted canoe, built up in hundreds of layers of different woods
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World-class canoes Each of artisan boatmaker Trent Preszler’s exquisitely handcrafted wooden canoes ($100,000) is slowly built up in hundreds of layers of different woods – from ash, cedar and walnut to zebrawood, purpleheart and ziricote – and takes around a year to complete in his Long Island studio. But this does not deter Preszler’s clients. The interior finishes are just as elegant, with woven hemp and leather seats crafted by Texas Heritage Woodworks, while solid bronze cutwaters, cast by Long Island’s Kai Design, add to the modern profile. So sleek and sculptural are the results, some clients have purchased them as works of art, but Preszler says this defeats the purpose: “I always tell people they have to paddle it, because that’s what it was intended for.” preszlerwoodshop.com.

ParrLuxe customisable luxury sea cabanas provide portable relaxation on the waves
ParrLuxe customisable luxury sea cabanas provide portable relaxation on the waves
Guillemot Kayaks work collaboratively with clients on design, and craft each custom vessel by hand-fitting hundreds of pieces of wood
Guillemot Kayaks work collaboratively with clients on design, and craft each custom vessel by hand-fitting hundreds of pieces of wood

Supreme sea cabanas Yacht owners who love to swim and lie in the sun are faced with the conundrum of where to lounge comfortably and also be close to the water. ParrLuxe founder Stuart Parr (who oversaw the Marc Newson-produced Aquarama Super for Italian boatmaker Riva) solved this problem with customisable luxury sea cabanas that afford portable relaxation on the waves. These inflatable devices (from $35,000) are hand-built in Italy from luxurious, durable materials – Pennel & Flipo’s Orca (the “Gore-Tex of the marine world”), carbon fibre, stainless steel, polished teak and the softest terry cloth. They accommodate 12-18 people, depending on their size, making them über-rafts for groups or families. Parr incorporates finishes that match the cabana to a yacht or design scheme, and although the standard size for a canopied watercraft is 13ft x 17ft, variations can be made, with an assortment of sun-protective tarps and Bimini tops. There’s even a natural plunge-pool option that allows seawater in through protective netting, keeping marine creatures at bay. parrluxe.com.

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Class-of-their-own kayaks “There is a particular quality about a finely crafted wooden kayak; its motion through the water seems somehow smoother than other kayaks, and the sweep of the sheer and smooth arc of the deck draws the hand as well as the eye,” says Nick Schade of Guillemot Kayaks. Schade works collaboratively with clients on design, and crafts each custom vessel by hand-fitting hundreds of pieces of wood. His Standard model kayaks (from $15,000) are strip-built, often in red cedar or marine plywood. Each laminated vessel includes subtle accent stripes and is designed to provide responsive motion in high seas or calm inlets. Commissions take three to six months. For all-round performance, the Guillemot ($15,000-$30,000), with its shallow V bottom and hard chine, is the ultimate choice. This kayak – complete with rich mahogany finishes, recessed wooden hardware and custom upholstery – is offered in a range of sizes. Bespoke graphics are Schade’s speciality: he meticulously matches wood strips and incorporates inlaid marquetry. Paddles are also made to order (from $500) to ensure proper weight and fit. +1860-659 8847; woodenkayaks.com.

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