Robyn handles the bookings, the administration and the day to day running of the business.
Each summer we are joined by a team of carefully chosen staff. They help us to get you out on the water. Chat to us if you have any booking queries. We will be able to help suggest boats that will suit you. The emphasis is on flexibility and great customer service, working around the tides and the weather to ensure that you have a great day out with us.
We are a family business, established in the early 1960s by Dan’s late father, Keith. Bennett Boatyard is a large, sheltered Boatyard where we provide outdoor and indoor storage for boats and gear. We cover all aspects of boat care and provide a full and comprehensive maintenance and repair service to give you a hassle-free boating holiday.
We have shower facilities, laundry services and a waste disposal area on site for visiting yachtsmen. Our picnic benches at the top of Green Bay are a great spot for watching the activity of the Boatyard- hire boats coming and going, the yard’s quad bike and tractor up and down the beach and boats being launched and recovered.
In 2018, we launched Hut 62, our bespoke boat hire service. Our hire company was formerly part of our long-established family business, Bennett Boatyard. The Boatyard offers all the services to provide you with the best possible boating experience in Scilly.
The businesses are owned by Dan and Robyn. Both born in Scilly, they left to complete further education on the mainland but a mutual love of island life pulled them back to make Bryher their family home. They have three young sons who love spending time on the water as much as they do.
Dan is the head of the businesses, overseeing the hire hut and the work at the Boatyard. When time allows, you’ll find him building boats in the shed but over the Summer months he oversees and supervises the boat hire and carries out repair and maintenance tasks to ensure that all the storage boats are launched and ready for customers to enjoy on their holidays.
The story of Bennett Boatyard begins with the building of a boat not on Bryher, but in Chichester.
In 1957, Keith Bennett built a 16ft Shearwater catamaran, at the time a relatively new design of small racing ‘cat’. Keith sailed from Chichester to Scilly with little more than his boat, a sheet of polythene and thirty pounds. He made a makeshift tent by slinging the polythene over the boom and that is where he slept. The natural hospitality and curiosity of islanders provided Keith with many good meals and he soon found farm work on Tresco and Bryher.
There were a number of people building boats on a small scale across the islands at that time but catamarans were still relatively unknown. Keith’s passion was for boat design and building and he realised the benefits of the catamaran long before they became widely recognised. Undeterred by a lack of suitable premises and funds, he set up business in a hole in the ground! He excavated a large pit on the beach near Bar on Bryher and erected a simple frame covered in polythene and began to build boats. From this sandpit, Keith graduated to a pigsty. Leonard Jenkins had an old Nissan hut in which he used to house his pigs. This became Bennett Boatyard’s first official premises.
By the 1960’s, Keith established Bennett Boatyard in the old barn at Green Bay, where it remained for the next forty years. From here, Keith built over 200 boats, from small craft for local use to 35ft sailing catamarans. Keith’s skills became renowned internationally and he exported his boats to France, Switzerland, Portugal and even as far afield as Barbados.
Much of this was achieved with very limited resources- it was well into the 1980’s before Bennett Boatyard enjoyed the convenience of mains electricity and water. Keith was at the forefront of catamaran design, most specifically pioneering the development of motor catamarans for leisure use. He displayed his designs at the London Boatshow - quite a feat from Scilly! Many of his boats also had commercial uses such as ‘White Hope’ which worked as a fishing boat out of St Mary’s for many years, ‘Halcyon Dayz’ which was built for sailing charters and ‘Firebrand’ which was used for diving excursions.
With his father and independently, Dan has built over 30 boats. Sadly in 2002, Keith passed away but his legacy lives on in the many catamarans he designed and built - each one slightly different as he never relished building the same boat twice! The Powercats, now offered for timeshare from Tresco, were developed from one of Keith’s designs.
In 2002, a new company was formed in Southampton building commercial catamarans from Keith's original hull designs.
In 2007 Dan moved the Boatyard 100 yards along the coastal path to the foot of Samson Hill. Here the new, purpose-built workshop lies surrounded by ranks of boats. Many are storage boats, cared for at the yard on behalf of visitors to the islands. The rest form the hire fleet of motor boats, sailing boats, rowing boats and kayaks for Hut 62. Established in 2018, Hut 62 is located on the bank at the top of the beach just outside Bennett Boatyard. The Hut has improved our hire offer with a wide range of vessels and a great vantage point out over the Bay.
Watch out for the next generation of Bennett boys joining the team in the years to come.