Before coming ashore and creating Anvil Carpentry, Pete Townsend spent a decade working as crew, primarily as bosun on 70- to 80-meter vessels and then as a carpenter on 100-plus-meter yachts, including a rotational post on 115-meter M/Y Luna. His father worked as a boatbuilder and a project manager for superyacht refits, so Townsend had an interest in yachting from a young age. “It took off professionally when I first joined yachting and did a winter yard period in Palma in STP doing all sorts of jobs,” he says.
It was during his time serving as a lead deckhand and carpenter during the build of M/Y Cloudbreak that he had an epiphany. “I noticed a gap in the market for storage between where the shipyard build plans end and what crew need for day-to-day operations,” says Townsend. “From cleaning equipment and watersports toys to tools and spare parts or even crockery and service ware — as each yacht is built to suit one individual owner, each will be used differently, so all operational areas will only really be established once the boat is completed and handed over. At this point, the crew needs to figure out how to make each space work efficiently and safely.”
During the build of M/Y Cloudbreak, Townsend had the chance to design and build storage solutions for many of the areas and departments on board. After that, he returned to Abeking & Rasmussen and other shipyards as a carpentry specialist for many new builds and refits. “It was fascinating to be able to fill this void,” he says. “Using my experience as a crewmember, I can see what would be useful where, and come up with efficient ways of using space.” During his time on boats, he did everything from building floating shelves to metal docksteps, repair damaged artwork, and refinish interior floors.
As he was using aluminum and composites in his work, Townsend was dubbed “the metal carpenter” and from there Anvil Carpentry was born in 2018. “The business has evolved since then, and I now create bespoke furniture and wooden pieces, drawing inspiration from all the amazing yacht interiors, sculptures, furniture, and artwork I had the privilege of working around for so long,” says Townsend. “I have spent years repairing, touching up and adding functionality to extraordinary vessels, and I deliver that same luxury to all of my clients.” Today, Anvil Carpentry primarily makes coffee tables, side tables, serving trays and shelves using solid timber, epoxy, and metal bases for the tables.
Now shore-based in Somerset in Southwest England, Anvil Carpentry is serving clients all over the UK and beyond. Items built on commission tend to be more decorative or larger in size, such as dining tables, garden tables, and art pieces. “Whatever it may be, it will also involve a lot of collaboration with the client, finding the right types of wood to suit the space and considering the maintenance,” says Townsend.
Townsend credits his experience working on yachts with his ability to create the masterful work he produces today. “The skills and knowledge I’ve picked over the years working with every different material, finish, style of furniture you can imagine, including taking structural integrity and upkeep into account, has created a huge background of practical knowledge and artistry,” he says. Townsend calls upon this knowledge to create stylish and unique, but most importantly robust and long-lasting pieces for homes, yachts, and jets.
The beauty of places he visited in his time working on board yachts — from the fjords of Greenland to the shore of Fiji — inspires his work, as does the high-quality finishes found on yachts. “The key is in the finishing of anything,” says Townsend. “The term ‘eye for detail’ is overused, but I am often surprised by finishes found ashore that I wouldn’t let into a crew mess, let alone a guest area!”
The timeliness and communication skills needed as crew have also paid off in his work at Anvil Carpentry. “My clients often comment that I am always neat and on time, with little things, like simply communicating clearly, apparently being a surprise,” he says. “I think crew learn to communicate and respect each other’s time in ways that perhaps other industries don’t — an underrated but very transferable skill.”
Townsend hopes to expand Anvil Carpentry into a bigger workshop, and his future goals include working with more interior designers to create bespoke pieces for yachts and exploring making sculptures. As for the transition from a decade on yachts to being shore-based, all is smooth sailing thus far. “I'm a one-man band currently, and I love it that way,” says Townsend. “Having spent years working as part of a large deck team, it’s refreshing to be my own boss.”