Of all the places around the world where Clive and Odette Brown have spent time, “Camden is the one place we’ve always come back to,” declares Clive.
“Camden has always clicked with us,” says Odi (her nickname since school). “Once we bought our house here in 2002, we knew this was where we wanted to settle when we came ashore.”
After spending two decades as professional crew on large yachts, that time came last March. Since then, the couple has been getting their ducks in a row to set up their new business and live in Camden. As neither is a U.S. citizen, the process involved securing an investment visa by making a substantial investment here. They met that requirement when they bought property on Route 90 in Rockport and built the new red workshop/showroom for FairCape Woodworks. Now that they’re busy making solid wood outdoor furniture, cutting boards, and butcher blocks, they are thoroughly enjoying this new chapter in their lives. They will open their business on Thursday, December 1, and are looking forward to showing customers their designs.
“We think our furniture fills a niche,” says Clive. “It’s sturdy, carefully designed and constructed, well priced, and built to last. It’s the right choice for anyone who’s looking for something better than pine outdoor furniture but doesn’t want to pay for the really high-end stuff. It’s made of one-inch-thick western red cedar, which is strong yet lightweight, and resistant to harsh weather and bugs. All the hardware is stainless steel.”
An updated take on traditional Adirondack style, FairCape Woodworks’ line includes chairs, director’s chairs, sports chairs, swings, gliders, rockers, loveseats, tables, and potter’s benches. There are also folding Adirondack and director’s chairs. In addition, customers can have the logo of their business or other symbol set into the back of any piece.
The Browns also craft beautiful cutting boards and footed boards in various sizes from laminated strips of walnut, cherry, and maple. Odi’s enthusiasm for chopping food on a nice wooden surface developed during the 3-1/2 months she spent in Paris completing a cooking course at the Ritz which included an apprenticeship in the hotel’s kitchen. “I loved cutting on the big wooden tabletops there,” she recalls.
The story of how Clive and Odi came to be local residents and business owners wends its way across many of the world’s oceans. They might have first met while, coincidentally, Clive, an Englishman, was attending high school and college in Odi’s native country of South Africa. But instead it would take another few years and many offshore sea miles before their courses finally converged, when they were both working in the yachting industry in the Caribbean.
After finishing his education in South Africa, Clive sailed to England with a Norwegian sailor who was circumnavigating the globe on his engineless 30-foot sloop. (It took 105 days and Clive can relate many stories about the adventure.) Back on dry land, Clive used his background in design to become a graphic designer in London. But the sea called to him again, and he joined a yacht sailing to Grenada. Soon after arriving, he accepted a position on the classic yacht Cuilaun, an all-varnish ketch that spent summers in Camden for many years. He first sailed into the harbor in 1987.
When the owners of Cuilaun bought a larger boat to sail around the world in 1993, Clive hired Odi as cook/deckhand for the voyage. After only a few months, the two realized their relationship would become a lot more than captain-and-crew; they were married in 1995.
Before she met Clive, Odi had completed her studies in fashion design in South Africa, worked as an event coordinator, and traveled extensively. When she heard that friends who had built a Frers-designed 105-foot sloop were looking for a cook for the voyage from South Africa to St. Tropez, France, she signed on. She subsequently did a delivery on another boat from there to the Caribbean, and worked for a season on a Swan 65 charter yacht. By the time Clive hired her, she was a seasoned sailor and a capable yacht chef.
Yachting brought the couple to Camden most summers, and when they moved on to the yacht Melinka, they continued to return to Maine regularly. After eight years on Melinka, however, their work on a series of other sailing yachts carried them far away. They oversaw a year-long yacht refit in England, and then spent nearly four years running a 115-foot DuBois ketch on which they sailed the entire West Coast from Alaska to Mexico, on to Costa Rica, and through the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand.
“We spent a lot of time away from here,” says Clive. “But we kept coming back. “We know so many people here. We love the area and the hiking and skiing. Plus, this is a community filled with artisans and craftspeople, and that’s how we see ourselves.” Their shared interest in woodworking goes way back, and they’ve taken a number of courses at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship.
Do they think the sea might call to them again? “We certainly haven’t lost our love of sailing,” says Odi. “But now it’ll just be day sails with friends. We’re committed to our new endeavor. Besides, we’ve adopted a great rescue dog, Tazzie. She’s the four-footed greeter at the workshop. She wouldn’t allow us to leave.”
Clive and Odi are offering FairCape Woodworks gift cards for holiday giving, and taking orders now for spring delivery. Their workshop/showroom is at 320 West Street (Route 90), Rockport, and they can be reached at 236-2369 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The company’s website is faircapewoodworks.com