Maritime & Marine

Published: January 8, 2020 | Updated: January 8, 2020

Boat enthusiasts who turned hobby into a business are now riding the crest of a wave

Dom Coleman and Sarah Boats of Dorset Marine Training in front of one of their ribs. Picture: Dorset Biz News
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Partners Dom Coleman and Sarah Boats admit their decision to turn a love of the water into a business could have sunk their hobby.

But three years to the month after launching Dorset Marine Training the couple have not just managed to stay afloat but are positively riding the crest of a wave!

“It’s always a tough decision when you turn a hobby you love into a business. If things don’t go according to plan then you can end up hating it,” said Sarah, who first took to the water at the age of 11.

“However, we had our best year yet in 2019 and shown that we have a sustainable business. Things are going well.”

Based in the Port of Poole, Dorset Marine Training is a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) training centre offering RYA courses and bespoke training for leisure boaters.

Sarah, 42, is the Principal and, alongside the centre’s administration, teaches powerboat and VHF/SRC marine radio courses. She’s also a commercial skipper.

Meanwhile Dom is the Chief Instructor and also works as a skipper for both commercial clients and private individuals.

As well as an advanced powerboat and yachtmaster instructor for motor cruisers, he’s also yachtmaster offshore for sail and power and teaches day skipper and yachtmaster theory alongside VHF/SRC marine radio courses.

Although both former St Peter’s School students have been water enthusiasts in their spare time for decades, it was only 2017 when they decided to take the plunge and turn it into a full-time business.

Up until then Sarah had worked in local government for 20 years while Dom, who’s also 42, was in disability technology for 18 years. The couple have been together since 2005.

Now they share the instruction between them and also call in three further ‘tried and trusted’ instructors as and when required.

The courses range from one to six days with a variety of different clients, from young professionals through to grandparents enjoying their retirement.

One of the two ribs owned by the business with a third currently being restored.

The business owns two ribs – a 585 and a 4.8 – with a third craft, a 6.5, currently being restored.

Dom said: “We also do online courses and run the Harbour Sea School at Parkstone Bay Marina.

“We hope we are viewed as friendly and approachable.

“While there are specific standards needed to achieve qualifications, we like to take a calm and relaxed approach to training at a pace to suit our clients.”

Sarah said she adopted Boats as her surname although it’s not her official name “but it’s a great conversation piece.”

She added: “We do have a real sense of achievement at running our own business.

“It’s your business and you feel, yes I’ve done that.

“We take part in the annual Poole Boat Show and run the rib rides but our clients tend to come from word of mouth.

“It’s very satisfying and when you love the water, as we do, what could be better?”