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A Day in the Life of Loomist Caron Bettinson

The simplest things are sometimes born on improbable levels of complexity.

Next time you press a switch in your Princess and the low-level lighting in the master cabin makes you feel like James Bond – go on, admit it – you can thank us here in the loom shop. For every boat in the Princess range, from the V39 to the huge 40M, we do the wiring.

When I was younger I was always under the bonnet of the car with my dad, so when my schoolfriends all went off to be nurses and hairdressers, which was the direction girls were pushed in those days, I opted for an apprenticeship at British Aerospace. As part of the training I was sent to college to study mechanical engineering and learn skills like turning, milling and welding. I qualified in 1983 as an electro-mechanical technician.

Princess Loomist Caron Bettinson
Caron Bettinson standing at the loom workbenches. Princess Yachts America

It sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but being trained in something like missile manufacture does stay with you. Quality is the only thing that matters. There’s the right way of doing something, and every other way. And of course with wiring, the right way is the only way.

We assemble the looms on high, angled workbenches 32 metres long, which probably seemed long enough when this workshop was fitted out a few years ago. Of course the shipyard now builds yachts longer than that, so we just double back and carry on down the bench again. And as the boats get bigger and more complex, so do the wiring looms.

Every individual boat is different. Each one has a thick folder containing all its circuit assembly diagrams – we call them ‘maps’. If you’ve opted for a balcony on your superyacht, a barbecue on the flybridge, or underwater lighting, those circuits have to be designed and mapped, and then put together here in the loom shop. And then joined with all the other looms for that part of the boat, and taped together to form the main wiring harness.

Princess Y80
The all-new Y80 features elegant refined proportions and details with a clean, timeless aesthetic. Princess Yachts America

It gets complicated. I’ve never counted, but on a big boat there are thousands of metres of wire and cable. Every one is individually labelled, ‘AA, AB, AC’ and so on, down the alphabet. When we get to the end we start again with ‘BA, BB, BC’. With the M Class yachts we come to the end so often that the prefixes start with L. The completed harnesses, assembled and taped like some enormous sea creature, are a sight to behold. But when delivered to the assembly halls for installation, already fitted with connectors, all they have to do is plug them in.

My dad was a Marine, and this site at Coypool used to be a Marine base before Princess took it over, so it was fun to bring him here for a look round. I’m still into cars. My one indulgence, now that my three sons are grown up, is my Merc CLK soft top. I’m not sure it makes me feel like James Bond, but it is fantastic.

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