How to build a new mini-cruise vessel from scratch using local skills

After 18 months of construction and interior fit-out at Ardmaleish Boatyard on Bute, and two months of tests and finishes at Holy Loch Marina, the Glen Etive was finally ready for her Naming Ceremony on April 5th. What has been accomplished is unique so how it was all achieved?

The Glen Etive was originally designed by Ken Fulford of Fergusons Shipyard in the Clyde.  Ken sadly died in 2012 but Andy Thoms, owner of The Majestic Line took the design forward with the help of Naval Architect Alasdair Salmon.  Ardmaleish Boatbuilding, on the Isle of Bute on the Clyde was commissioned to do the build.   Although it has a steel hull, The Glen Etive reflects the charm and character of the existing Majestic Line boats, finished in traditional wood and brass.  The new vessel continues the company vision of informality and relaxation combined with a high standard of comfort and personal service, accommodating 12 guests in 7 ensuite cabins.

November 2014
Ardmaleish Boatbuilding is contracted to build a new vessel for The Majestic Line, providing a major boost for a small Clyde boat-building yard and work for many local contractors.

December 2014 – January 2015
Andy Thoms is an Architect, a Skipper and an expert in marine operations, from building small ferry boats and prawn fishing to establishing The Majestic Line.  Andy refines Ken Fulford’s design of the Glen Etive in line with his knowledge of running small-ship cruises for the past 10 years, to provide the best possible guest experience on board.

March 2015
The major part of the build – the steel for the superstructure for the hull - arrives at Ardmaleish Boatyard on the Isle of Bute, cut in numbered sections to be fitted and welded together by the skilled boatbuilding team, managed by boatyard owner, Ewan Ferguson.  Putting the sections together requires great accuracy, there is no room for error. 

June 2015
By the end of June the superstructure is half built. Suppliers are being researched for traditional brass, chrome and hardwood fittings and finishes. Local contractors are interviewed for the interior fit out which requires hydraulics, joinery, electrical work, plumbing and ventilation with the determination to use local trades as much as possible.

August 2015
The Glen Etive hull is nearly complete and the interior fit-out has begun.  Essential parts for the vessel are on site including the 400 horse power boat engine, two generators and the stabilisers.

October 2015
The structure of the hull nears completion and Andy personally oversees all contractors who are now working on the interior.  Bute Homes are contracted for the fit-out of all areas of the boat, including the guest living areas, cabins and ensuites.  Boat Electrics are contracted for all electrical work, while Andy oversees the installation of ventilation, stabilisers, engine and hydraulics.  In a previous life, Andy had his own anchor company and the anchor is a Sea Claw, his own design. Andy takes an incremental and flexible approach to the final layout, fittings and finishes of the boat; as the interior spaces are provided, he can walk through the vessel, making final decisions on the best use of space and materials used, in close consultation with the contractors and trades.

January 2016
The hull is complete and painted, apart from a final coat. Other vital elements are added including the finishes to the decks and rails. Work continues on the interior fittings and finishes.  Decisions are made on the accessories for the boat, from mattresses and mirrors to cutlery and glassware.

February 2016
The final coat of paint is applied to the hull after the interior fit out is completed. The boat is put on a bogey which will slide into the water to test the vessel.  The marine engineering, electrical and mechanical systems are put in place and the wheelhouse is completed.  Andy personally paints the funnel with gold paint.  This is part of the history of The Majestic Line, which was named for a particular episode of “Para Handy”.  The problem of the making of a special shaft for the ships wheel is solved when Andy visits John Hoey, aged 91 at his engineering workshop in his basement in Greenock.

February 22nd 2016
The Glen Etive enters the water for the first time. She is launched in the time-honoured manner with a bottle smashed against the hull at a private celebration, with family friend Gaye Horne performing the christening of the new ship with the words "bless this ship and all who sail in her" in very challenging weather conditions.  The Glen Etive is then subject to the various marine tests required to allow her to take her maiden voyage to Holy Loch for the final finishes required to accept guests on board in comfort and style.

March 2016
The Glen Etive passes all marine tests, the masts are fitted and on March 22nd the new vessel undertakes her maiden voyage from Ardmaleish Boatyard to Holy Loch Marina.  Her four crew of Skipper, Chef, Engineer and Bosun are on site to help with the final operational requirments and interior finishes.

April 2016
The crew carry out an induction on all aspects of the boat from health and safety to guest hospitality.

April 5th 2016
The Glen Etive is named at a formal ceremony at Holy Loch Marina with actor & previous guest Barbara Rafferty naming the ship

April 16th 2016
The Glen Etive sets sail from Holy Loch to call in at Rothesay to allow all those who took part in her build, and the local population of Bute to come onboard to view the finished vesse.    She then cruises from Rothesay, around the Mull of Kintyre to Oban, where she will be based for the rest of the season.

April 23rd 2016
The Glen Etive sets off for her first cruise from Oban with guests on board on a 10-night cruise “From Skye to the Shiants”

The People who built the Glen Etive

Companies who worked on the Glen Etive

Ardmaleish Boatyard provided steelwork, engineering, hydraulics, & painting

Bute Homes provided interior fit-out and domestic plumbing

Boat Electrics provided electronic and electrical fit-out

T Kilpatrick, carpet fitters

Individual professionals

Jim McIlraith, Surveyor

Alasdair Salmon, Naval Architect

John Hoey, Engineer who made the shaft for the ships wheel

Freddie Williams, painter and decorator

MMS Scotland Ltd, Ardrossan, engine installation and hydraulics

Elona Upholstery, Dunoon


Gilmour & Aitken Ltd, Dumbarton: supplier of the timber

William Gillespie, Paisley: supplier of the masts

Scotia Handling, Paisley: supplier of the wire ropes

FAL Scottish Propellers, Buckie:supplier of the propeller

Howdens Ltd, Greenock: supplier of galley furniture, cabin doors & door furniture

R Bussey & Sons, Rothesay: supplier of carpets

John Tyre and Sons Ltd, Dunoon:supplier of steel fabrication

Cowal Building & Plumbing Supplies, Dunoon: supplier of general building materials

Ocean Safety, Greenock: supplier of lifejackets,

Angus F Gunn, Airdire: supplier of the anchor profiles, fabricated by Gilchrist Steels Ltd, Glasgow

CC Windows, Midlothian: supplier of windows

Gemmell & Prout Ltd, Hull: supplier of the windlass

Trinity Marine, Devon: supplier of all Andy’s lovely brass bits!

European Marine, Southampton:supplier of engine control and steering gear

Osmotech UK, Southampton: supplier of stabilisers

TML crews and staff who prepared the ship

Skipper David Wheeler

Bosun Michelle Wheeler

Cleaner Chris Wilson

Chef Michael Weir

Engineer Steven Campbell

Shore Manager Andrew Manwell

Chief Engineer, George Thompson


Posted by The Majestic Line

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