Our Story – Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and experience on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Bosun (Bo) Spiller, owner and operator of the business has spent nearly his entire life hanging around boatyards, shipwrights and boat owners. He couldn’t avoid picking up skills and knowledge and with a name like Bosun he would seem to have been predestined for a career around boats.
Bosun /ˈbəʊsən/ Noun
- (nautical) a variant spelling of boatswain – a ship’s officer in charge of equipment and the crew.
Commodore’s Boats is a full–service, all hull materials yard that can cope with just about any conceivable job related to yachts and working boats. Steeped in tradition, Commodore’s Boats continues to showcase our expertise as the wooden boat specialists but we are quick to point out that we are more than just wooden boat specialists. We are a full scale ship yard specializing not only in wooden boat repair and maintenance but all marine restoration, repair, and construction.
Our Story – The Beginning
Bosun (Bo) Frederick Spiller was born in 1973 at the remote town of Butedale BC on Princess Royal Island. As a young man his Dad, Alex Spiller, was a Boatswain in the Royal Canadian Navy. He and Bo’s mother were employed at Butedale as caretakers. Afterwards they moved to Dodge Cove, a small community near Prince Rupert BC. Bo’s father, Alec Spiller, apprenticed in the famous “Wahl” yard in Prince Rupert and eventually bought the “Wahl” yard in 1970 and continued in the “Wahl” tradition building graceful West Coast fishing trollers, old style fishing sailboats, and batten seam mahogany speed boats.
The “Wahl” yard, in its heyday, built ten west coast gillnet boats at a time, finishing one a week. They are known for their perfect lines. Over 500 fishing boats and yachts were built in the original yard in “Dodge Cove” in Prince Rupert harbor.
In these early days, a large part of his father’s business was doing major renovations on the Northern fishing fleet including lengthening, wheelhouses, new sterns, recaulking etc. In addition, some large sail training vessels were designed and completed out of wood using East Coast fishing schooner and sloop designs based on lines from Chapelle and the Smithsonian Institution.
At age 16 Bo moved to Prince Rupert and did two years working at McLean’s Shipyard doing repairs and maintenance. By that time McLean’s, he notes, had stopped building new vessels and were in the maintenance and repair business.
In 1992, Bo started free-lancing as a proprietor after highschool until 2002. Bo wanted to get out on his own and at age 19 he went into business for himself with Spiller Boat Building. Capitalizing on his welding skills he bought a Mig welding machine and rented a storage locker for his tools next to the travel lift at the Northern Native Fishing Company. Specializing in mobile repairs he developed a clientele among the Vietnamese crab fleet who kept him busy. Bo then incorporated the business in October 2002 as “Spiller Boat Building Ltd.” (now Commodore’s Boats Ltd)
Our Story – The Transition
In 2005, Bo made the transition from “Spiller Boat Building Ltd.” to “Commodore’s Boats”. We are still a wooden boat building and restoration company specializing in traditional wooden boat construction, classic working vessels, traditional tugboats, aluminum jet boats and other projects.
Our Story – Present Time
Commodore’s Boats has built a base within Shelter Island Marina and Boatyard in Richmond, B.C., a suburb of Vancouver. The marina and yard have a 75-ton and a 220-ton travel lift and a large storage and work area. The yard is a fully serviced with machine shops, sheds, paint facilities, fiberglass shops, steel and aluminum fabricators, marine supply stores, showers, laundromat, a liquor outlet and most importantly a restaurant and pub.
Traditional designs of West Coast troller yachts are available and conversions of old fishing boats and tugs are an ongoing part of the business. The shipyard has intimate knowledge of available boats for sale on the coast and welcomes inquiries as to your needs. Commodore’s Boats can build to plans or custom design any type of workboat or yacht. Commodore’s Boats traditionally runs a crew of about 10 to 15 men. “Commodore’s Boats” gained reputation for a solid work ethic and although firm contracts can be hard to come by in the repair business, a not to exceed price can be obtained.
Our Story – No Job Is Too Big
Commodores has boat stock available and usually approximately 20,000 fbm on hand. They can cut to order for a whole project or a small part of a project. Traditional plans are available for your home or shipyard project and can be ordered with complete materials and plans.
“Commodore’s Boats” is fully insured with Commercial General Liability, Ship Repairers Liability (SRL), Secor Certified and we’re always in good standing with Worksafe BC.
We are experienced builders, fully equipped with the lumber, shop space and tools for building a tall ship of any size or scale, and we welcome any enquiries on the subject.