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February 2024 Boating News

Gillian Nahum
February 29, 2024

My goodness how did we get to the final couple of days in the month of February so soon? Yes it was a short month, but an important one for us Pisceans who have been blessed with a surfeit of water falling from the heavens in most parts of the UK, and the early Easter dates loom with no sign of any respite in the weather.

'Moor' than just a Boat

I guess much of my time this month has been taken up with yard activities, setting up Pure Boating for the 2024 season and of course talking to vendors who have decided that 2023 would be their last year of ownership of whichever boat for whatever reason. 

Obviously as brokers we are always happy to hear from vendors. However a word of caution to those who think that sales are easy and swift. We are dealing with rare beauties of some historical significance in the best-case scenario, often unique in fact, and in these fickle market conditions there are no guarantees of a successful sale.

'Cheetah' - slipper
'Cheetah' - slipper

I am advising vendors to ensure that their boats are well maintained during the sales process, and ideally on their moorings with the option that a new owner may be able to keep the mooring on. 

Obviously moorings are not at such a premium everywhere as they are along the Thames. Particularly around the Henley and Marlow areas they are at a premium, and it can help enormously to sell a boat if a keen purchaser can literally pay their money and step on board without the hassle of having to find a mooring.

'Waterlady' - a day cruiser built by Andrews in the fifties and sixties
'Waterlady' - a day cruiser built by Andrews in the fifties and sixties

We currently have a few boats with fab moorings including 'Cheetah, a varnished mahogany slipper with a privately owned mooring in the Pangbourne/Whitchurch area of West Berkshire, not far from our Lower Basildon yard. 

We also have two boats with a Henley mooring, one an Andrews day launch named 'Waterlady' which also has the luxury of an optional town centre parking space and the other, a 17ft mock clinker contemporary classic with a very reasonably priced Henley Town Council mooring at Mill Meadows.

'Kyrenia' - a popular family cruiser with two generous berths in the saloon and a fold out double in the cockpit
'Kyrenia' - a popular family cruiser with two generous berths in the saloon and a fold out double in the cockpit

At Hambleden Mill Marina, we have the lovely weekender 'Kyrenia', which has a peach of a mooring in this very desirable spot by Hambleden Lock. 

In the next newsletter I shall be telling you about some larger sea-going boats, which have optional moorings in exotic south coast locations.

Jurassic Journeys

Durdle Door, Dorset
Durdle Door, Dorset

Talking of exotic, I have just returned from a few days on the Dorset coast, affectionately known as the Jurassic Coast. 

We didn't find any dinosaur remains or fossils, but we did find a great number of visitors to the World Heritage site known as the Durdle Door, and one wonders whether this accolade is not in fact the kiss of death as thousands trek to admire these UNESCO-designated wonders. 

Further east we found cliff walks which were much less trodden and all the more interesting for the lack of crowds (yes, crowds in late February despite gale-force winds and lashings of British rain).

Weymouth Town Bridge in action
Weymouth Town Bridge in action
Weymouth Harbour, Dorset
Weymouth Harbour, Dorset

We also enjoyed visiting Weymouth, which was very jolly with its painted houses and attractive harbourside promenades, and were blessed with a birthday meal at the Crab House Café on Chesil Beach.

Chesil Beach, Dorset
Chesil Beach, Dorset

Anyone who is a fan of Ian McEwan may know of the fateful honeymoon he describes in his book On Chesil Beach

The Guardian reviewed it in 2007 in this short extract: "The honeymoon is to take place beside Chesil Beach, in a Georgian hotel. They eat their nuptial supper - melon with glace cherries, slabs of beef with overcooked veg, in their room overlooking the bay - while a pair of waiters, local lads, stands by intrusively. The beach, that unique spit of shingle which runs between the Fleet Lagoon and the Channel, immediately seems emblematic of several things: of this moment of certainty in lives that might never again seem certain, of the path that they have just embarked on together, a path which, like all married couples in love they believe they will be making new; but also of a romance that has taken place between the devil of Middle English rectitude and the deep blue sea of the coming sexual revolution.".

Obviously Steve did NOT take me to Chesil Beach for our honeymoon years ago.
Obviously Steve did NOT take me to Chesil Beach for our honeymoon years ago.

Had I been swept off to Chesil Beach for my honeymoon, I swear the marriage would have been very short-lived! 😉 

However the Crab House Café, even in the midst of a gale, offers solace on a plate, and I would recommend that any lovers, or simply a group of friends as was our case, head there for a plate of the very freshest fish available on the Dorset coast.

Crab House Café, Chesil Beach, Dorset
Crab House Café, Chesil Beach, Dorset

Just a very short distance away from Chesil Beach is the immensity of Portland harbour whose magnificent breakwater is another example of Victorian engineering (and backbreaking work by labourers), which was begun in 1849 using as labour the imprisoned inmates of HM Prison Portland who quarried the famous stone needed to construct the breakwaters and the harbour defences. The project was completed in 1872 and became a much-visited Victorian tourist attraction. 

Originally steamships from the navy mustered here to be loaded with essential coal, and then over the years the area has been used for training and research with naval fleets using it as their home base at different times. There is plenty to read on the subject in Wikipedia should you be so inclined.

Portland Harbour, Dorset
Portland Harbour, Dorset

When looking at the history of various boats we have for sale at different times, and there have been many over the past three decades, it is fascinating to delve into the social history surrounding the period of their build. 

We can all relate to stories we grew up with, whether shared by our parents or grandparents, depending on your age dear reader. Those of us in our sixties grew up with WWII ever present in the minds of our parents, and WWI still a vivid memory for our grandparents too. 

On reading last month's newsletter where we showed an Avro reproduction sent in by a reader, another reader recounted his grandfather's profession as a wing walker in a flying circus. Now that is what I call daring and groundbreaking. The grandson is also very adventurous and a lover of vintage boats.

Trinity House Obelisk, Portland Bill
Trinity House Obelisk, Portland Bill

While wandering across the clifftops on Portland we came across this obelisk with the inscription TH 1844. Mystified we had to consult our friend Google and discovered that Trinity House was very concerned about ships coming too close to the shore by day and night as there were so many wrecks around this coast. 

However I am not sure that on a grey foggy day, the monument would have been much of a deterrent, whilst the smart red and white lighthouse 50 metres away would most definitely have heralded a strong warning.

Surrounded by friends at the picture perfect Portland Bill Lighthouse
Surrounded by friends at the picture perfect Portland Bill Lighthouse

On a previous visit to Dorset some years ago, I remember hearing about the most recent shipwreck in 2007, which resulted in containers of nappies and, infinitely more attractive for the local youth, motorbikes ending up on the National Trust beach in Branscombe. 

Wreckers' rights were invoked by a number of locals who decided that they had every right to help themselves! Apparently those who handed goods in to the police eventually earned the right to keep their booty, while others found themselves under suspicion of harbouring stolen goods!

2007 - Goods from the sunken MSC Napoli washed ashore
2007 - Goods from the sunken MSC Napoli washed ashore

Quite frankly, given the gales we encountered during our recent visit, I could easily imagine ships struggling to cope, and that the Weymouth lifeboat could be kept very busy. Indeed only on that very Sunday were both lifeboats mustered when two adults and a child feared being cut off by a rising tide.

Conditions were such that neither boat was used for the rescue and instead a helicopter rescue was deemed to be the safest option and flown down from Caernarfon in Wales.

This year the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) turns 200 and celebrates having rescued 146,277 people in the UK and Ireland over the past two centuries, which equates to an average of two lives saved every single day! 

How lucky are we to have this amazing volunteer-led organisation available on the end of the phone?

A life boat in picturesque Weymouth, Dorset
A life boat in picturesque Weymouth, Dorset

When refreshment beckoned after bracing cliff walks, we headed into Weymouth town in search of tasty comestibles. 

The town centre is very attractive by the quayside, and I imagine that the 2012 Olympic sailing brought many people to this area who may never have ventured into the town, preferring the attractions of smaller places like Lyme Regis or Bridport.

Possibly for Sale Soon!

'Rajdhani'
'Rajdhani'

In the next few weeks I will be heading back down to the coast to take a look at a couple of boats I sold in years past and whose owners are considering selling. 

One candidate is Rajdhani, one of the loveliest of the larger Bates Starcraft (40ft +) and the other, a spacious Rampart with a large flying bridge, which I last sold from the Thames and which has had a new lease of life on the Solent and, when last seen at a seaside event in 2022, was looking particularly attractive.

Hidden Rot demands Skilful Repair

Uncovered rot on the Gibbs hull
Uncovered rot on the Gibbs hull

Andrew and his team at the yard are tackling some fairly large projects, one of which demands particular skill. 

After pressure washing when the boat came in for winter storage, we noticed that there was a puncture near the stem below the waterline and on closer inspection, it was clear that there was some rot behind the puncture.

Meticulous repair in progress
Meticulous repair in progress

The only thing to do at that point was to start removing paint along the boot top and to carefully poke away at the rot we found. Stripping back to the ribs revealed sections of rot in age-old timbers. 

As the boat was sheathed for a previous owner, we have to cut it back to good wood, effect a repair, and then sheathe it over once more. The alternative is to remove all the sheathing below the waterline and construct a new bottom - a costly exercise and not one which anyone undertakes lightly.

Currently for Sale

However we do have a slipper launch, which has just come in for sale after Paul Brownjohn gave it a new lease of life, with a magnificent new mahogany bottom. What a shame no one gets to see this once the boat is in the water. 'Silver Slipper' is not yet on the website but will be shortly.

'Swanella' has been reduced for a quick sale!
'Swanella' has been reduced for a quick sale!

We also have 'Cheetah' or 'Swanella' if you prefer varnished mahogany to painted sides. 

As mentioned at the start of this newsletter, 'Cheetah' has a mooring, so do give us a call if you are keen on keeping a boat in the Pangbourne area.

E-Boatique's Partnership with Sun Concept

We have recently been signed up as agents for Sun Concept in Portugal. They were looking for a sales agent with some experience in electric boats, and E-Boatique seemed to be a good fit.

Evo 7.0 Lounge
Evo 7.0 Lounge

I was hoping to combine some spring sunshine with a visit to Setubal, but this will have to wait a while. 

First I plan to see their solar-powered cruising houseboat in the Netherlands on my next trip there in May, when Statement Marine will be showcasing their new PTS 32. Sun Concept have sold a 24-seater passenger ferry to Mallorca based on the same hull.

Evo 7.0 Cruise
Evo 7.0 Cruise

 feel an autumn trip to the Douro and Oporto beckoning to try out Sun Concept's 12-seater, 7-metre solar rental boat.

I think this could be a best seller in the future as it has a full canopy (where the solar panels are embedded), loads of space on board and a good range from the onboard battery pack, even when the sun is less available than in central Europe.

More news to follow from the office and the yard later this month of March.

A busy day at the yard
A busy day at the yard

In the meantime do give the office a call if you are planning a summer charter, and please note that while it may be too soon to dust off the picnic hamper, the Pure Boating website is also open now and available for forward bookings.

If you see anything of potential interest as you browse through old photo albums, read interesting books or take photos on your daily walks, please send snippets to me gillian@hscboats.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you with your sales enquiries, your photos and your stories.

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About

Henley Sales and Charter Ltd have gained a reputation over the last 30 years for selling and chartering beautiful, classic boats. Experience of operating and selling boats on the river Thames enables us to offer expert objective advice to prospective owners on all aspects of boat ownership including purchase, surveys, repairs and moorings. We will do our best to find the ideal craft to suit your individual needs - for a day or for a lifetime.

Henley Sales & Charter Ltd

29 Station Road
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
RG9 1AT

Sales

01491 578 870
sales@hscboats.co.uk

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