An introduction from David Webster, founder of Webster's Boat Machinery.
My background is in mechanical engineering, and specifically product development within the subsea oil industry. I am also a keen traditional boat enthusiast and for several years, had the good fortune to become custodian of the Dunkirk Little Ship 'Our Lizzie', a 46 ft gaff ketch from 1920. She was in very poor condition, in need a great deal of work to make her seaworthy, and at a certain point during her refit, I bought her a lovely old windlass made by Simpson Lawrence, makers of premium marine equipment for over 100 years but sadly no more. The windlass had the robust elegance of Edwardian craftsmanship, a perfect windlass for Our Lizzie. It was in need of restoration but unfortunately a large crack in the iron housing meant it was beyond repair. To resolve this, I decided to make a pattern based on the old windlass, and have a new housing cast. When the brand new 'old' windlass was finished, it generated a lot of interest and it became clear there was a market for this kind of traditional boat machinery. That first windlass is now our model No.2 in the Webster's range.
Two years later I established the workshop in Millbrook, Cornwall, where there is a strong traditional boat community. Since then the range has expanded to include other machinery and fittings. We have also restored many old, tired pieces of machinery to perfect working order from as far afield as Japan and the USA.
I'm proud that Webster's Boat Machinery has evolved to provide functional and beautiful traditional equipment for a wide range of vessels, from small cutters to large motor yachts, with some very interesting new machinery in development now too.
Please take a look at the testimonials further down this page.
Will Stirling, Stirling & Son Limited
We have worked with Deep Blue Engineering for many years. This is a company driven by experienced and careful thought. Deep Blue is our first port of call for solutions to any engineering work that is too complicated for the shipyard. We know that the work will be robust, properly made with longevity in mind, using the right quality of materials and delivered or installed to fit in with the shipyard’s timescales. Snags are attended to without delay. From a customer perspective this relationship is excellent because, in working with Deep Blue, we have a solution that perfectly meets our needs.
Luke Powell, Working Sail
‘Working Sail’ specialises in building traditional wooden sailing vessels from the Victorian era. Our latest build is an historic recreation of a Falmouth Pilot cutter, of 80 tons. Our previous vessels, being smaller, had anchor windlasses operated by hand, but for this new vessel we needed something much stronger. It had to be power driven yet retaining the historic elements of the traditional windlass, a completely unique creation. So I turned to a man with long experience in making complex yet old fashioned looking winches for traditional boats. Working together with David Webster, we designed something that still had all the elements of the old wooden windlass, but with the modern power of hydraulics. David’s wonderful engineering has created a most beautiful and extremely robust windlass, in keeping with the historic nature of our vessel. A great success!
Mark and Murielle Ovenden - SV Mimi Jane, Canada
"All I would need to say is that we love our Webster's Machinery Windlass. We loved it when we first received it: it's a gorgeous piece of machinery. We loved it when we installed it: it suits Mimi Jane perfectly. We love it even more now that we are using it!!
We had long been contemplating windlass options for our newly built classic sailboat Mimi Jane with the hope to find a suitable manual windlass. We didn't have much luck and we were about to fallback, by default, on an electric powered windlass when Deep Blue Engineering appeared in one last search. David Webster had just started his bespoke marine machinery company producing beautifully crafted manual windlasses for the small market of traditional vessels. This was exactly what we wanted. We jumped at the opportunity and after discussing ground tackle options with David we settled on his No2 dual speed manual windlass.
We launched Mimi Jane this spring 2022 and now have used it regularly (sometimes multiple times in a day) for a few months. It works incredibly well, so we handle with ease our 125lb fisherman anchor on 1/2 inch chain. The effort to retrieve our ground tackle with the Webster manual windlass is minimal, and we simply never hesitate to let out more then enough chain plus that extra 50 feet for a good night's sleep.
When we first approached David we appreciated his wealth of knowledge on traditional sailing vessels. Over the past few years we have leaned on this expertise for other various questions regarding choices we made for our boat. This combination of mechanical engineering, machining and nautical expertise is what makes Webster's boat machinery unique in the sailing world.
Gary Mac Mahon, Director of Illen School & Network for Wooden Boat Building
That the good ketch Ilen had a windlass equal to the ambitions of her operators is
attributable to the company Deep Blue Engineering. That this company can design, engineer
and make such a windless is attributable to David Webster, its chief and founder.
Emphatically, sleep may never enter an engineering brief. Still, if one's pleasure is to anchor
a nonagenarian vessel of 42 displacement tons in the long bays of Ireland's West Coast, it
certainly overarches the process. The clunk and clatter of Ilen's windless is a joy, and it tells
those swaddled in their bunks below that the setting and retrieving of her anchor is
purposefully happening as a standard, even a fulfilling crew procedure. This state of affairs is
the comfort excellence in engineering provides us, especially in boisterous weather.
Inevitably beauty is experienced most by those who have had a good sleep. So seeing, with
rested eyes, how Ilen's windless combines aesthetically with the gear and gadgets that make
for her harmonious deck is to see how Webster's skills extend beyond essential
functionality. Consequently, the robust look and elegant engineering of Ilen's windless are
styles appropriate to the wooden boat tradition from where she hails.
Finally, David Webster conducts the process that defines the services of Deep Blue
Engineering in a way that makes it a pleasant and rewarding experience for those who
engage with him for a creative engineering adventure.