Boat Builder Profile: Raphael Silva
BBW's general manager Raphael Silva (left) and BBW's owner Scott Smith onboard one of their custom launches they built for Encore in Boston.

Boat Builder Profile: Raphael Silva

[Note from the owner: We here at Boston BoatWorks want to get back to doing what we love—building boats—more than anything in the world. But, we’re also hard working optimists who see the unprecedented economic pause our world is experiencing this Spring as an opportunity to reflect on what makes Boston BoatWorks so special.

Of course we’re extremely proud of the over 300 award-winning, high-tech, high performance boats we’ve built over the last 24 years. 

But as often is the case when a tight knit community pulls together to overcome adversity, we are continually reminded that our true power comes from our people. And since we’ve been building boats on the Boston waterfront for decades, and we’ve seen the American Dream come true for countless team members, we’ve launched our new “Boatbuilder Profile” series to share how our team of skilled boat builders put their hearts and souls into every boat they built.

And there is no more appropriate boat builder to start this series off with than BBW General Manager Raphael Silva. But be forewarned, you may end up loving him, and the boats he builds, as much as we do!]  

Raphael can’t wait to get back at the helm of a new boat he and his team have built.

“I was 19-years-old when my dad asked me if I was interested in travelling from our native Brazil to spend six months in the US,” Raphael says. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to study and learn English while visiting this amazing country that I am now lucky enough to call home.”

And he was 23 when he started at Boston BoatWorks as a systems tech. “I never knew that I would enjoy working with my hands that much at the time. But as soon as I learned how cool it was to build boats from scratch—literally turning rolls of fiberglass into high-performance boats that bring our customers so much joy—I was hooked.”

Raphael and our late founder Mark Lindsay (right) are all smiles as 4X customer Brian Tedeschi puts the throttle down on a new MJM at a recent boat show.

He always loved technology and electronics so he jumped at a chance to work in the electronics department and learn from BBW veterans. Soon he was taking equipment manuals home every day to learn how each component was installed and worked together.

BBW’s General Manager at the time took him under his wing. “He was really hard on me,” Raphael says. “And I was convinced that he didn’t like me for a while, but I was wrong. Right before he retired, he told me that he pushed me harder than others because he believed in me.” 

Rapheal and his team will be back doing what they love-building boats in Boston-soon!

“He would also give me books about management and leadership and a deadline to have them read,” Raphael adds. “I had no option but to read my assignment and have questions ready by the deadline or I would be in his tiny notebook…And no one wanted to be in his notebook. 

“During that time, BBW was also kind enough to pay for classes and seminars I took that really helped me develop my electrical knowledge and skills. I am very grateful for their investment in me.”

As you can see Raphael is more than just a boat builder. He’s an ambassador that is equally at home spending many hours to make sure a customer knows every possible thing about his new MJM or helping a member of his boat building team with work or even personal situations. He’s a leader. And he’s an innovator who’s working on making BBW better than ever when we get back to our beloved boatyard.  

“I can’t wait to get back to work,” he says. “I enjoy our morning meetings. I love how each day is new. It’s a fun job that keeps us on our toes because no two boats we build are ever quite the same.”

Raphael and his wife Sara at recent boat show in Florida.

“But the hardest thing for me right now is seeing how much our team wants to get back to work. We’re a family and we’re all in this together,” he says. 

In the meantime, he’s building safety protocols and looking into different techniques they could use to get back to work as soon as possible. “We are developing a safe protocol with the goal of being back to work as soon as possible, it will likely be with fewer people in the beginning and probably multiple shifts to keep our team safe, perhaps one or two employee per boat,” he says “We want to make sure our customers can enjoy their boating season this summer, but we need to do it safely!”

“I’ve always said the people are what makes BBW so special,” he says. “And our current situation only magnifies that fact! 

“Since beginning my career at BBW, I’ve started a family, bought a house in Hudson, New Hampshire and even become a proud US citizen. And even though I drive about 1.5 hours to get to work in the morning, I can’t wait to get back to spending my days with a team full of friends who share the same goals…to be the best and to build something special that will provide families the ability to create great memories for many years to come.”

Watch this space!