Not many may know or will ever know, but India, and our water-front boat-yard – Colaba Workshop – have already created a reputable name in the history of international yachting decades ago.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (RKJ) – is a man who needs no introduction to sailors. He is the world’s first sailor to solo-circumnavigate the globe non-stop; and even today his multiple sailing feats are a favorite topic of discussion among sailors around the globe.
Suhaili (meaning – ‘Companion’ in Arabic) – a name that would ring bells in hard-core sailors, was the name RKJ gave to the 32-footer Bermudan Ketch on which he set out to non-stop solo-circumnavigate the world.
Built of teak and designed by William Atkins as “Eric” in 1923, her design is based on the Norwegian sailing lifeboat designs of Colin Archer. Began as a concept whilst serving as 2nd Officer on a deck passenger ship trading between Bombay and Basra with two 3rd Officers Peter Jordan and Mike Ledingham. Building started on at the Colaba Workshop boat-yard 1963 using teak throughout. The keelson is 1’ 2” x 10″ and 22 feet long, planking 1 ¼ “ teak.
No one would call Suhaili a greyhound, but she is solid, strong and a very good seaboat.
In 1997, Suhaili went to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich as an exhibit, but the controlled atmosphere began to shrink her planking, and, unwilling to see her die this way, RKJ removed her in 2002 and re-fitted her again.
She still belongs to RKJ and is currently being slowly re-fastened by RKJ at the Elephant Boatyard at Burseldon, Near Southampton, UK with the objective of getting her back into commission.
Colaba Workshop boat-yard is proud to be a part of this maritime history and even today makes boats with the same passion and quality that makes them last for decades on end.