The new Bond boat

Recreating the Riva in the Docks of Portimão

David Pearce is a well-known artist, restaurateur and boat builder in the quaint fishing village of Ferragudo. He has lived in the area since the mid 1980s, following a 10-year stint of sailing around the world, exploring his two passions: sailing and painting.

Originally from Sussex, where his father was a partner in a shipyard and would thrust sandpaper into his young hands every day after school, David grew up with some very useful skill sets that have navigated him towards his current project.

Last summer, a Swiss doctor was passing by his waterfront workshop. The small wooden Portuguese fishing boat for sale outside piqued his interest. He popped his head in the doorway and casually asked if David would be capable of building his “dream boat” for him.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, David’s immediate reaction was: “why not?”

David and the doctor began to draw up plans for the 7-metre mahogany replica of the Italian classic, the Riva. This elegant wooden launch first leapt to fame when it appeared in the James Bond movies of the mid 1960s, remaining an object of desire ever since. With an arrangement that suited them both, the doctor headed back to Switzerland and David began the mammoth task of building a handcrafted boat.

It quickly became apparent that his little boat yard in Ferragudo wouldn’t be able to cope with a hull of such dimensions, so he packed up and moved into larger premises, in Portimão dockyard.

With the plans finalised and the mahogany ordered, David began to find local artisans and boat fitters, who could help him achieve the high quality of upholstery, steering wheel, instruments, windscreen and hood needed to complement his client’s Italian replica. Lady Luck was on his side as Portimão docks are brimming with master craftsmen and women, who were able to facilitate his bespoke requirements.

Construction began in September 2015. With his new workshop full of mahogany, David laid out the plans and the hull started to take shape after countless man-hours of sanding and varnishing.

The impressive hull fills the central area of the workshop. Its sheer size meant that David had to call upon some help from his fellow dockland workers. “Although I normally work alone, this was just impossible. The great thing about being located at the docks is that I had able volunteers to hand, who could help. It took ten of us to perform the mammoth task of flipping the boat. The dockyard director was even hanging from a beam, hoisting the structure,” David explained, laughing.

“All of the materials are top quality and I have sourced everything I could locally, although there are always specialty varnishes and such like that have to be imported. It’s imperative that the finish is exceptional, just like the original,” David explained.

With everything going along swimmingly, the 250-horsepower Mercruiser engine was delivered. The engine will propel the boat at around 40 knots, which is a very decent speed, in anyone’s book.

The shape of the boat is magnificent and iconic. The woodwork and finishes are of a fantastically high quality and astoundingly beautiful.

The boat will be tested around Portimão soon, before being shipped off to meet her very lucky owner on the Swiss Riveira, on Lake Lausanne, where she is sure to turn a few heads!

When we visited the workshop the boat was nearly finished. As such, the build took just under a year, from start to finish. David will soon be ready to take on new projects, after a short and very well-deserved break in the lovely Algarve. Visitors are very welcome at his workshop, located just after Angel Pilot at Portimão docks.

Text Mia Wallace

Photos Mia Wallace

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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