Try British Columbia when buying a boat

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British Columbia is known for its cruising grounds, mountainous islands and diverse wildlife. Drew Irwin, president of the British Columbia Yacht Building Association, wants you to know that Canada’s westernmost province is known for boatbuilding, too.

British Columbia is known for its cruising grounds, mountainous islands and diverse wildlife. Drew Irwin, president of the British Columbia Yacht Building Association, wants you to know that Canada’s westernmost province is known for boatbuilding, too.

“British Columbia boatbuilders have been building robust and seaworthy yachts for generations,” says Irwin, who also is co-owner and president of Philbrook’s Boatyard in Sidney, British Columbia. “This continuity has built a skilled and experienced work force of veterans and progressive young people who have made this industry their career of choice. This skilled work force nurtures an environment here of craftsmanship and quality.”

The association was formed in 2003 and today represents nearly 60 British Columbia companies, promoting the region’s yacht design and manufacturing industry. “Historically, participants in the yacht building industry are fairly independent and proud craftspeople who have their heads down at their work and tend to keep to themselves about their challenges and unique skills,” Irwin says. “This seemed to be true in two- or three-manned shops right up to businesses with hundreds of employees. While similar associations focus on technical aspects of the industry or governance issues, BCYBA has focused on marketing the industry to the North American market.”

Irwin says East Coast boaters should be interested in British Columbia-built yachts because they are good coastal cruisers. “The majority of yachts built have been semidisplacement or planing hulls well suited to coastal cruising,” he says. “The growth of the trawler segment of the market has been steady, as sailboat owners have forsaken the sails for the comfort of pilothouses, and passagemaking has become the goal of motor vessel owners who have recently retired from their business commitments. Commercial boatbuilders have adapted their long-standing deep-water experience to the trawler yacht market in metal and composite construction.”

To help attract potential buyers, BCYBA members have redesigned the association’s Web site,

www.britishcolumbiayachts.com. “The site is designed largely for boaters or prospective boaters to get an overview of the businesses operating in the yacht industry in British Columbia,” Irwin says. “The new site is significantly improved and is up-to-date with information and photos. We think the association, with this Web site, provides a quick way for interested parties to access the best and brightest of yacht-related businesses that operate in the province of British Columbia.”