Gubby Williams was born in Singapore to British parents. While growing up he was exposed to a wide variey of family boats including a wooden 18′ National centerboard dinghy, a Maltese ‘luzzu’ in which the Williams family cruised to Sicily, a 36′ French-built wooden cutter, and a 50′ Fife sloop (originally a gaff yawl) with a massive rig. In his late teens Gubby had a sampan built in Hong Kong in which he cruised the mainland New Territories of China. He then spent four years as a sailing school’s chief instructor, two as the skipper of a 64′ gaff ketch, many more in delivering yachts and small commercial vessels all over the Mediterranian and the North Atlantic, followed by eight years as master of a shallow-water seismic survey ship that was on contract to oil and gas companies whose explorations took place in Europe, the Mediterranian, East Africa, and the Caribbean. One contract involved launching a transport boat and training its crew on Lake Tanganyika, Zaire. Like Fitzcarraldo meeting the Heart of Darkness. Gubby went on to build an engineless 28′ gaff cutter and sailed her to the Med and the Azores. More yacht delivery work followed.
After building a 34′ strip-planked gaff-rigged cutter, he sailed to the Caribbean and on to Maine via the Bahamas and the Intracoastal waterway with his wife, the artist Christine Thery. In Maine Gubby worked at the Brooklin Boat Yard for 18 months, learning more about designing and building good wooden boats. From Brooklin, he sailed east and he and Chrisitne settled on Heir Island in the southwest of Ireland where he designed the Heir Island Sloop. There are now 22 of these lovely little boats sailing in Irish waters. [See WB # 160 and the internet for more]. Gubby Williams currently lives aboard his own Laurent Giles sloop in Devon helping start Heir Island Sloop production in the U.K. This spring he will be taking a year off for another sailing voyage back to the coast of Maine where his many friends await.