Mick The Brick alias Skua Marine alias ??? etc

Mick The Brick alias Skua Marine alias ??? etc

Thanks for such a prompt reply. Yes, Mick was an 'interesting' experience. I thought I would mention him to you and see what your response was (hence the nothingness of my comment in the forum). I do have to say, anyone who claims to have built 350 ferro boats might have to be somewhat older than he appears eh? My wife did the quick mental arithmetic and giggled. He appears to be living aboard that strange craft you speak of, the one with the four inch thick, concrete stem post! His 'friend', who I told you about before (the one who sank a boat somewhere in the Atlantic) has apparantly been the victim of a nervous breakdown and now resides in a mental health establishment. His (almost complete) armature lying at Tollesbury, unnattended, right next to the wooden boat which is and has been ready for ferro sheathing for some time. When my hull is nearing the plaster stage, I'll contact you for the address of the plasterer. I wonder? do you know of a boat called 'shirasagi' or something like that. She looks like one of your RORC 39 hulls. Owned by a british couple who work and live in Japan, berthed at Walton and fitted out by Bedwells yard. The reason I ask is that I read an article about her, apparantly she is the subject of Lloyds 100 A1 certification for below waterline hull coatings (she is also gorgeous). The couple visit the UK once a year, sail her out into Hamford Water, anchor, stay a fortnight and then go home. If you like, I'll try to get a picture when she comes out into the sunlight, she really is quite stunning. Cheers for now. Barry


Hi Barry, good to hear from you. It would have certainly been an interesting experience bumping in to 'Mick the brick'......he probably rates among the worlds top bull-shit artists. I have known him for about 25 years (his first wife was the daughter of an old friend of mine). I think he has been married at least twice since then, all of them dumping him for similar reasons. Real name Michael Wilkins he got his nick name having originally traded as a bricklayer, finally loosing all his contacts and contracts because of numerous unfinished jobs around Essex. He used to brag about all the great building work he had done, yet no one knew of a job he had actually completed. I am afraid he has been the same with ferroboats. He has never actually built one himself although he gives the impression he is an expert when talking/bragging.

He began the first one back in the 70's when married to my friends daughter (a double-ender called 'Skua'). My friend and his daughter put up the money and other friends did the bulk of the work. After 'Skua' was completed he bragged as to how he built her, but the truth came out of course when his wife separated and her father took the boat away from him.

Next he married a Chinese girl and started a ferroboat building business under the name of 'Skua Marine', near Paglesham using money put up by her family. He began building on spec a replica Essex smack in ferrocement using the wooden hull lines from a book by J.March and which he further contracted me to design and draw the rig up for him. His first order came from a German couple Wolfgang and Anna. And was for a Robert Tucker Junk rigged design, and the second a John Aitken double ender design for Bryan and Jenny Fryatt. As the weeks went by the sham slowly unfolded. He disappeared for days on end with little progress on the construction of the two customers boats until when finally confronted by them admitted that he had spent the money paid in advance to him as well as his wife's money. Threats of physical violence were made against him and he went into hiding. The replica smack hull was still in armature format and was so badly built that the decision was made to break it up and sell the steel as scrap.The Robert Tucker junk rigged design was still only at the half finished armature stage and couldn't be moved. However Wolfgang and Anna negotiated an agreement with the family to allow them to undertake the work themselves up to the plastered stage so that they could then move the hull to a boatyard for completion.

Unfortunately Bryan and Jenny Fryatt were not so fortunate as they had already handed over all their total savings to Wilkins in advance for a completed boat. They had hoped to move aboard the boat in a few months as the holiday cabin they were using for temporary accommodation was only available during the winter. Their problems didn't end there either. Although the boat was only a bare hull that had just been plastered with no deck, what had been done had been done badly and even worse...the inexperienced Wilkins had made no provision for installing an engine or the attachment of the deck. Both of which provision must be made before the hull is plastered. The Fryatt's made several visits to my yard and office (Hartley & Brookes Associates), where we discussed and agreed on a plan of action on how we could get them out of their predicament. We transported the hull to Maldon and spent some considerable time trying to make good the work already done before being able to advance further towards her completion. The armature had not been properly and securely set up before plastering and had distorted in shape and sagged in other places. Both the stem and stern were badly out of line as well as the port and starboard sheer being at different levels, all of which had to be broken back to the steel armature corrected and re-plastered before making any attempt at fitting a deck. The Fryatt's settled on the original name for the boat that they had decided at the begining of the project of 'Gjoa', and after completion we launched the boat by crane at the Fullbridge Wharf, Maldon. (See update on this story and pictures at Forum 75).

Some time later Wilkins surfaced again in the West country where he started another business under the name of 'Skua Marine' and with another woman, but similarly disappeared again after a short time owing sums of advance payment money and three new owners of incomplete projects. I later learned that at least two if not all three were eventually completed by other people.

Next he turned up in Tollesbury around 1985 with yet another woman and using her name took a lease on a small factory unit there. He only lasted a short time before vanishing again owing many local people and customers money.

Several years later whilst I was surveying over in Ireland I came across his name again with a local stigma attached to it. He had been contracted to build a ferroboat. And again was being sought for yet another unfinished boat.

He was unheard of until turning up again in Tollesbury around 1994. He was now just a penniless bearded tramp living in a small shed in the boatyard next to Woodrolfe's, doing odd jobs. He soon talked his way into taking over the job of ferro-sheathing an old wooden boat called 'Ripple', by claiming he was an expert but was inevitably sacked after only a few weeks. He than began construction of an unusual little craft which he claimed he had designed. Several people helped him with various parts of the project, and near disaster struck when he attempted to plaster the hull with the help of a few acquaintances from the local pub.

The Mick 'the brick' Wilkins hull at Tollesbury...his inexperience and poor workmanship are clearly portrayed.

I would say that 'Mick the brick', is an interesting experience... to say the least.... PS. I will give you the plastering team's contact addresses when you are underway.

Colin Brookes

Hi Barry, yes I am sure your wife must have seen through 'Mick The Brick', fairly quickly. A quick glance at his present situation tells it all.....he started building that unusal little craft he is now living on around 7 years ago, as well as the ferro-sheathing job he thought he would have a go at. After all this time both still lay unfinished. Unfortunately he does much to harm the image of ferroboats. Your wife saw through him, but he well and truly duped a couple of journalists from the 'Practical Boat Owner' magazine a while back, they repeated in print what he told them. If they had invested five minutes in the local public house they could have saved themselves a lot of embarrasement. Typically also though, much of the remainder of the article was also badly researched and misleading. Other glaring mistakes in the magazine article were the claim that 'How To Build A ferro-Cement Boat' by John Samson, was the builders bible. Even John the developer of the method gave up on his idea of building boats on a cedar mould as a failure as far back as 1972 , and I can't say as I have seen anyone else successfully use that method for ferroboat building in at least the last 30 years. They also got the mesh history 'about face and wrong', claiming that chicken netting had been replaced by the more modern welded mesh. Not only was it netting that replaced the earlier square welded mesh, but it is 1/2 inch netting (nicknamed bird netting), which is used. Chicken netting is a nickname given to large aperture netting which is not used or recommended by anyone for building ferroboats. Another glaring mistake in the article was the comments about electrolysis. I also noticed the writer copied one of the pictures from John's book laying claim to it himself. Journalism sure is cheap these days....

Colin Brookes

There is now an update to this subject thread with further developments regarding the boat 'Gjoa' and some supporting pictures.

Colin Brookes

Click HERE to follow on with the story

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