About Us

How Ship Shape Began

Richard Williamson Founder of Ship Shape

Ship Shape founder, and also my brother, Richard Williamson has been cleaning boats all his life. We grew up around boats and always on the water or in it on the south cost of Devon. Originally from Rochdale, Lancashire we spent our early years on holiday in a caravan at Challaborough Bay mucking about in our Dad’s speedboats and waterskiing.

After a few years the caravan went in place of a small motor boat on the river in Salcombe where we started to become much more interested in boats, playing around the tender all day long in a small inflatable. As we grew older we visited the London Boat Show and, after moving to a larger boat based in Millbay Marina in Plymouth, we decided to make boats part of our work.

Turning A Job Into A Science

As I went off to study Naval Architecture at university, Richard began cleaning boats for friends and other berth holders in Millbay. Having always been the mad inventor in the family (ask him about his laser speaker box!) , he took a particular interest in how the cleaning materials and tools he was using worked so he could use the ones that did the best job.

Face to Face With a Gelcoat Restoration Polish

Being a bit of an obsessive perfectionist (as he will openly admit), the never ending search for better results began and over the years since 2003 he has continually tried and tested the most scientifically advanced materials from laboratories all over the world. He has gained an expert understanding of how the different surfaces of boats work, how they age, what causes them to age, how to restore them and how to slow down and prevent the aging process.

Experts in Marine Surface Finishing & Protection

A Gelcoat FInish Restored and Enhanced Far Beyond Fatory New

Like all true experts he will tell you how much he doesn’t yet know about the work that he has turned into a lifelong scientific study. He is never satisfied with the work that astounds and delights our customers because he is always in search of what he considers to be the holy grail of his work – Completely preventing boats from ever aging at all from new.

What We Have Learned So Far About Making and Keeping Boats Looking Like New

Kaizan is the Japanese word used to describe an approach of never ending improvement in quality and that is probably the word that best describes Richard’s approach to running the business operations. This approach has lead to Ship Shape having a completely unique set of boat restoration, cleaning and protective processes and services that aren’t offered by any other business:

  • We do not use conventional compound polishing on boats because we understand how it damages gelcoat, causing accelerated fading and aging of the boat that unavoidably leads to huge repair bills and unhappy boat owners. This is not only scientifically proven but plain to see in any boat that has been compound polished.

Oxidation of a Blue Hull Creates a Faded, Dull and Matt Finish

  • We do not use waxes to protect polished boats because they quite simply melt and quickly rub away, therefore only very temporarily protecting the finish of boats. If applied to a compound polished surface, wax actually can actually accelerates the aging of the boat with an increased rate of fading / dulling of the surfaces.

Click here to learn what we do to restore, enhanceand protect a deep new shine to gelcoat surfaces

Repeated Compound Polishing and Waxing Has Aged this Hull

Our Methods and Services

Whether its a first antifoul, a detailed washdown or a gelcoat restoration, no matter what work we do it is approached with the same meticulous attention to detail. Our aim is to create happier boat owners by giving them a boat that they can have more pride in and more enjoyment using.

You’ve Missed a Bit! – Attention to Detail at Every Stage

We only work for boat owners who want the absolute best for their boats and every boat we work on leaves us looking newer with the boat owner’s reassurance and understanding that they can choose how long they want it to stay looking like that, whether they want to keep it looking new with minimal effort themselves or no work at all.

John Williamson

Richards take on John. In the early days…

When john graduated from uni he went to work in London. Shipshape was in its early stages and I was beginning to realise that restoring boats wasn’t quite as easy as I had thought. I’d often call john for some brotherly advice whenever the pressure got to me. A few wise words always got me back on track and focusing on the future expansion of the business.

Up up & away

Following the London based job, John was relocated to work on an gas terminal construction project in Wales. An opportunity arose for him and his partner Tori (who worked along side him) to move to Peru to be part of a huge construction project. An opportunity that was to good to pass up so off they went.

The 6000 mile support line…

We had regular (and expensive) chats and he’d amaze me with stories of problems and successes on a scale that I couldn’t imagine. It really helped to put Ship Shapes problems into perspective.

Working with my brother…

When john returned to the UK 3 years later we both decided to unite in business. It’s been an experience, a good one I am glad to report. Johns ability to organise, understand, and learn about new things simply staggers me. His all around skills have enabled Ship Shape to offer a customer service experience that could never have been achieved without him.

Hopefully you’ll experience this if you choose to deal with us. Let me know if you’re not exceptionally impressed with him and I’ll see to it that he is keel hauled! RW

That’s me JW relaxing on a (very rare) day off

We work for private owners, brokerages, manufacturers and specialist marine outfitters. The boats we have worked on range from 2m inflatables to 30m Super-yachts and we work in our home town of Plymouth, taking on gelcoat restoration and finish protection projects across the UK and Internationally.

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