Employment Ashore

Marine Surveyor

I started as a full time Marine Surveyor, with a particular interest in motor boats and yachts up to 24 meters in December 2017 under the guidance and mentorship of Fraser Noble, Owner of McGruer and Co. Ltd in Clynder.

I first met Fraser when coding a workboat for Cowes Harbour Commission and our association during that period led him to offering me the umbrella of McGruer’s when I left CHC and was looking for fresh pastures.

Being an independent suits me well, I am able to take on local jobs where I understand the issues and hopefully something about the clients, being part of Fraser’s team gives my customers the support of about 200 years of boat building and a close association with the IIMS (International Institute of Marine Surveying) of which he is a director and I am an assiciate member.

I am available locally and happy to travel world wide, for pre purchase, insurance and damage surveys as well as project management and loss adjustment.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you think I may be able to help, either through the contact page on this site or on 07757 718 815.

There is More information and a portfolio gallery on the dedicated Surveying page.

Barnaby Sollars                                                                                                                            bsollars@mcgruer.co.uk

Marine Services Manager

I came to the island to fill a recently created post of marine services manager for Cowes Harbour Commission.

The commission is the local harbour authority with extensive statutory and safety based obligations but it also has a number of business operations and teams on the ground, most of which I managed from the site at Kingston Wharf.

At Kingston Wharf I ran a number of businesses including Kingston Marine Services and Kingston Marine Boatyard. I had an immediate team of 8 including a skilled yard team and seaman afloat our vessels.

We would swell the numbers at times for seasonal demand and have all the other staff on the water and at Shepards Wharf Marina to call upon when managing more complex tasks.

The boatyard has a 40 tonne hoist and room ashore for around 150 boats, we took the operation to new levels with a new boat mover and cradle system in 2017.

The marine services operation looks after all of CHC’s internal requirements for moorings, buoyage and maintenance. It also services local businesses and yacht clubs, including some 30 of the large yellow race marks in the Solent. Hand sign written and manually deployed.

On the rest of the site I had some large commercial tenants, including Isle of Wight Fuels and Isle of Wight Aggregates. Also 9 local businesses many offering services directly to customers using the boatyard.

Operated under the umbrella of Cowes Harbour Commission, who’s activities can be found in detail here: CLICK

If it needed to happen, it could usually be done by Kingston Marine Services.

In October 2017 an internal reorganization at CHC gave me the opportunity to pursue new challenges which brings me to where I am today as a Marine Surveyor.

Commissioning Manager Oyster Marine

In 2008 I was appointed as commissioning manager at Oyster Marine, this position reported directly to the production director and was the first appointment to this position since the sale of the company by its founder.

2008/9 were busy years, both in terms of process and number of boats. Whilst many in the industry had a difficult time we were lucky enough to have our busiest year ever and we had thirty boats through the department. The most in Oyster Marines history.

 We ran a flexible team which fluctuated around twelve, as high as eighteen at our peak in the spring and summer months.

I had a broad mandate for the commissioning team it included overall control of the team. From day to day planning to bigger logistics, interviewing, employing personnel, budget maintenance, equipment supply, health and safety and training.

During my time in charge I changed working hours, reviewed working practices and renewed our principal work document-the commissioning log.

We also clarified our departments role and developed a road map for future operations.

The opportunity to move back to the south and the challenges of a bigger role drew me away from the job at Oyster Marine but it remains one of the most rewarding and exciting of my career to date.

In early 2010 I made the big decision to leave Oyster Marine after 8 years of the best sailing, opportunity‘s and development and move my family back to the south coast and the Isle of Wight.

Commissioning Senior Oyster Marine

When I joined Oyster Marine in 2001 the amount of time I spent at sea reduced and the accompanying technical aspects of my activities became much more important.

The technical side of commissioning an Oyster ranges from complicated hydraulic systems for sail control to integrated computer networks and entertainment systems. To make sure yachts meet their owners demanding requirements it was vital that I have the ability to be conversant with all these technologies and able to communicate with both industry specialists and first time users alike.

Boat shows also fell under the auspices of the commissioning team, our principle involvement being the shows at Southampton, London and Dusseldorf. I took on the role of organizing and running our in house team for ten and numerous outside contractors to build our London boat show exhibits.

I was also involved in six Southampton show work ups and am a veteran of two Dusseldorf shows with their attendant frozen Rhine trips.

Fleet Manager Clipper Ventures

After my return from the Clipper 98 race I took on the marine Manager’s job at Clipper adventures, once again working directly for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. This involved setting up an office for co-ordination of all of the sailing fleets day to day activities. I was responsible for the running, maintenance and staffing of the eight clipper 60s and a fleet of ten Clipper Reflex 38s.

The Clippers 60s were just coming out of refit in the west country and I was in charge of their staffing and running during a busy season. As well as preparing for a race around the world the 60s were used to train around 300 crew for the race and were a substantial part of Clippers corporate activities that summer.

It was the first full season for the Reflex 38s at full fleet strength and they had a busy season of corporate, leisure and race charter including Regattas in France and the Channel Islands. I had a permanent staff of 15 and could have a temporary staff of anything up to 40 during regattas and special events.

Also whilst at Clippers my organisational skills were used to put Clipper 60s outside of the London boat show, in Liberation Square in Jersey and George Square, Glasgow. These road shows were part of the work up to the 2000 race around the world.

Field Sales engineer, Prosser Scientific Instruments

In December 1992 I joined Prossers to market their existing range of nautical electronics including the Weatherend Barometer and Tideclock total data predictor. During the course of my employment I visited in excess of 450 chandlers and doubled the sales of the instrument range, setting up databases and a distribution network for the company before returning to sea with Tate & Lyle.

Boat Builder – Self Employed

After redundancy and between seasons on the Queen Galadriel I worked as a self employed boat builder/joiner in various yards in and around Southampton.

These included Yacht maintenance at Shamrock Quay, a small company now owned by Bare Marine and Red Fox Yachts at Mercury Marina, Hamble.

Boatbuilder Apprentice, W.A Souter & Sons

Having started my City & Guilds at the Medina Valley Centre I next sought out an opportunity to train in the fastest growing operation at Souters in Cowes.

I worked there for three years between 1984 and ’87.

Starting in the school of apprentices for a year before moving on to join the joiner and boat builders team amongst a workforce of 250 this was a real “in at the deep end” experience.


At the time Souters were constructing their largest vessels ever, ranging from the Arun class offshore life boats to large alloy luxury motor yachts such as Argolynne and Philante IIX. On the sailing side specialist composite processes were being developed on the successful maxi Ondine.

Sadly as economic times changed Souters went into liquidation, a bail out company by the name of Lifeline Shipping was able to extend our employment for a while but with the departure of our last bare alloy hull to Lowestoft my time at the yard had come to an end.

Trainee, Medina Valley Center

In October 1983 I started my first full  time job on a youth training scheme which was split into two parts. I spent the first 6 months as a yard hand when I started my City & Guilds qualifications at the Isle of Wight Arts and Technology. I continued this as a day release basis to its conclusion in 1987.

The second half of the scheme I worked as a dinghy sailing instructor gaining my RYA instructor certificate on my 18th birthday.