Welcome to the final newsletter of the decade ...
At this time of year religious references abound: Here is an interesting story sparked by a photograph sent across to us in response to November’s widespread flooding by regular newsletter reader Alan Roach. (Thank you Alan.)
We loved the photo and on digging a little deeper we discovered that the builder of this ark, Johan Huibert, plans to use the boat named “Johan’s Ark” to spread the gospel around the world.
This Noah's Ark-themed barge is a full-scale interpretation of the biblical Ark, featuring animal models such as cows, penguins, a crocodile and a giraffe. It has taken 4 years to build this seven storey boat, which can be towed by tugboats over rivers, but is not seaworthy.
The Ark is 119 metres (390 ft) long, 30 metres (98 ft) wide, and 23 metres (75 ft) high. It is made of American Cedar and Pine with a total wood volume equivalent to 12,000 trees and cost 4 million Euro to build.
"Johan's Ark" can be visited in Dordrecht, Netherlands, and opened to the public for the first time back in 2012. A few years prior Huibers built a half-scale model of the Ark in the river port of Schagen, Netherlands, where the builders of the PTS 26 are also based.
The Norfolk Broads are not quite big enough to accommodate “Johan’s Ark” however Schagen’s Statement Marine delivered a smart navy-blue PTS 26 on a cold and frosty morning in early December.
Harm and Jaap, the two directors, joined me for breakfast in Horning at The Moorhen, which I highly recommend. I shall be returning to my comfy bedroom in early May 2020 for the excellent one-day Horning Boat Show.
After the launch of “Gosling” we celebrated with the new owners at their dock where the Champagne glasses had stuck to the table in the morning frost.
If you would like to consider buying a PTS 26 for the 2020 season, please register your interest now. We can still deliver one hull in May and there could be an opportunity to pick up a 2008 model in January.
From Horning I drove south-east to the village of Reedham where I was due to view a rather interesting slipper style launch. I stopped for lunch at the Lord Nelson pub where my only companion was Captain Hook. The view from the window across the fens was spectacular and the trip across the Reedham ferry worth every penny at £4.30.
A couple of weeks ago I went to an interesting talk by a retired boat builder who spent most of his career working for Andrews of Bourne End and subsequently for Peter Freebody. Neil Garside entitled his lecture “a History of boatbuilding on the Upper Thames”.
Apart from his many references to the various models of boats built at Andrews, what I found particularly fascinating was the breadth of boatbuilding expertise along the Thames between Windsor and Wargrave (the area Neil covered in the talk). So many of the names are fading in the mist of time although I occasionally come across builders’ plates from some of these once famous boatyards. Thus Neil reminded us of Bonds of Maidenhead and the Ray Motor company, founded in 1896 on the island at Boulters Lock, to name but two of the many.
We learned that Ned Andrews (John Andrews' dad) started life as a fisherman renting out fishing boats to gentle folk from London, whom he would pick up by pony and trap from Maidenhead station. He then diversified into building the boats themselves which at that time were all electric, and all named after fish.
John Andrews’ "Merk" is believed to have been the inspiration behind the sloping stern launch, when just after the first world war "Merk" was launched in Maidenhead. It is now on display at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.
It is easy to see how this design caught on and became widely known as the ‘slipper’ stern launch. John Andrews would be no doubt flattered if he knew that even after the closure of his yard in Bourne End in 1983, his design lives on, having been imitated and interpreted by many boat builders over the years.
Slippers are a popular stocking filler at this time of the year, some adorned with pompoms or else fashioned from chic leather with traditional tartan woollen linings; it seems appropriate therefore to suggest that your Christmas wish list might include an elegant slipper launch.
Whether you prefer petrol, diesel or electric propulsion, a wooden or a fibreglass hull, HSC has the right fit for you.
If your Christmas stocking won’t accommodate a full-sized slipper launch you might treat yourself to a painted river scene.
One of our customers, Kirsten Jones who is a Henley based artist, has some wonderful original paintings available for sale at the moment. So if you’d like to treat yourself or a loved one, please feel free to give her a call or contact her by email.
The HSC staff had a training day at the delightful Coaching Barn located a stone’s throw away from one of our winter storage locations in Little Stoke.
Ellie, Karen, Gillian and Gail made and sampled some culinary Christmas treats. It made a pleasant change from wood shavings, wet bilges and wellington boots.
All of us would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you, our loyal readers, a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!