A dream in the making for almost two decades
In 2007, when Richelieu Boat Works Inc was created, the desire to built and distribute small traditional looking sailboats was maturing for almost twenty years in the mind of the founder Louis Ducharme.
Mr Ducharme has been trained in actuarial science followed by an MBA. He is the former president of an insurance company and for more than fifteen years now, is active as a management consultant helping senior managers to shape their corporate strategy. In 2008, he successfully graduated (ASC) from the corporate governance program at the College of corporate directors, affiliated to Laval University.
For almost thirty years, while quite busy, he has always taken time off every year sailing the Lake Champlain, the St-Lawrence River up into the gulf, the eastern coast of USA, almost all the islands of the Caribbean from the Bahamas to Grenada, many times he has sailed the Cyclades and the Turquoise coast in the Aegean Sea and more recently the Adriatic from Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian coast up to Venice.
Chartering many different sailboats over all these years, he had the chance to experience many different dinghies, inflatable or rigid. At the end of the day when you have reached your destination, most of the time there is still a light wind in the bay you choose to anchor. So instead of taking the obnoxious inflatable dinghy and to motor around to discover the area, why not putting up the mast of a small sailing dinghy and go silently around the other boats of the anchorage exploring the bay ?
Mr Ducharme has encountered many hard bottom dinghy, sailing or not, over the many places he visited. Not many of them were nice looking. To him a sailboat has to have beautiful and graceful lines.
These are the ingredients that lead Mr Ducharme to choose a wonderful little catboat designed by Charles Wittholz, renowned as the best East Coast catboat architect. To built and distribute this sailing dinghy he then created Richelieu Boat Works Inc and search the country to find a knowledgeable small boat builder who helped him to build the first few units. This man was Keith Nelder of Big Pond Boat Shop Inc located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, more than 1,500 kilometres from Richelieu Boat Works home base.
During the year 2008, Richelieu Boat Works Inc, in order to diversify its product offering did manage to secure the exclusive distribution for the province of Quebec of the NorseBoat line of smart cruiser-camper sail boats built in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and the very well made high quality sails from Lee Sails.
By the end of 2008, Keith and Patricia Nelder make the difficult decision to move to South Africa where their skills, as boat builders, would meet a greater demand than in Cape Breton. I then made the decision to rappatriate the production of the Bras d 'Or 11 in Quebec.
Doing so, I took advantege of the multiple talents of Bruno Caroit to redesign the interior of the Bras d'Or 11. Bruno beside building wooden boats, creates sophisticated cinema acessories made of wood components that can be assembled and diassembled at will. We implemanted the new design in the original cold molded prototype, Le petit Clos St-Louis.
Around the same period, the construction of the fiber glass hulls was contracted with HTM Composites of Neuville near Quebec City.
Since the Spring of 2009, the boats assembly is done with the collaboration of Jean-Guy Leblanc within the facilities of DelBlanc & a/s Inc in Verchères on the St-Lawrence south shore, near Montreal.
Jean-Guy Leblanc and Bruno Caroit are both active members of the Association des Amateurs de Bateaux de Bois (www.aabb.ca) which regroup most of the wooden boat builders and lovers of the province of Quebec.
This is how Richelieu Boat Works Inc adventure started.