May has been an extremely lively month with visits to Paris, Norfolk and Yorkshire while life at our boat yard has been pretty hectic, too. Finally river levels subsided sufficiently to permit boats to return to their owners. It’s always a good feeling to see owners' smiling faces as they reacquaint themselves with their boats.
During the final rainy weekend of April, Steve and I were invited by an electric propulsion enthusiast to join him in Paris for the 2018 Qatar Airways Paris E-Prix. Formula E racing is a very exciting and increasingly popular form of motor racing and we were blown away by the idea of street racing and the sheer numbers of spectators. The event is but 3 years old and already has a massive following.
The racing itself is pretty similar to Formula 1 other than the fact that instead of an ear splitting growl when the cars speed by, you hear a sort of a high-pitched whiny sound, which means that you can watch the race without needing ear defenders.
An added test of skill in this type of (electric powered car) racing is battery management. The drivers have a second car waiting in the pits and the judgement of when to swap is crucial to the outcome of the race, as we witnessed on that day in Paris.
The British driver Sam Bird (team: DS Virgin racing) set off in 2nd place, dropped to 4th place due to a slow change over, and in the end was lucky to finish on the podium in 3rd place, thanks to one of the guys in pole position grinding to a halt just meters from the finish line.
Obviously the major car manufacturers have thrown themselves into sponsorship of the event and their street cars were very much in evidence. We got to experience a 4-seater Mercedes Smart car, which made short shrift of the Paris traffic.
Paris also boasts a massive fleet of electric hire boats run by Marin d’eau douce on the Bassin de la Villette. Their fleet consists only of boats from Ruban Bleu which says something for the reliability and reputation of this company.
As we had sold all the Ruban Bleu boats that we recently imported to the UK, we decided to take one of our Canadian imports to the Horning Boat Show the following weekend.
What a contrast with our wet walk along the canal St. Martin the previous Sunday! Norfolk was bathed in searing sunshine, which succeeded in putting a smile on everyone’s face, exhibitors and visitors alike.
Hamish Patterson picked up his Windermere 27 electric launch from Beale Park and joined Stuart and me on site. We had a great response to both the Fantail 217and the Windermere launch. There appears to be a great appreciation on "the Broads" for both electric boats and craftsmanship. I was delighted to see the number of traditional wooden boats both sailing and motorboats.
By the end of the weekend we had sold "Ferryman" and had several leads for the Canadian Fantail.
The following day, Bank Holiday Monday, was another scorcher and I was on the rota to run Pure Boating, our day-hire operation in Wallingford. It was an extremely busy day both for the boats and for the pub adjacent to our boat hire location!
The new online booking system is working extremely well and we look forward to creating more happy memories for both our loyal and new customers throughout the summer.
Last weekend saw us visiting beautiful Yorkshire. If you get the chance to go to the Northeast and visit Whitby as we did, you could choose to go on a fishing trip or even whale watching. However our time was limited so we decided to visit the museum devoted to Captain Cook. He was apprenticed in the house where the museum is now located and it isn’t difficult to imagine what life must have been like in those distant days.
If you have time to get to London before the 17th of June, you could visit the V&A museum in South Kensington to see the amazing temporary exhibition "Ocean Liners - Speed and Style", and experience a unique journey through the design stories of the world's greatest ocean liners, including the Titanic, Normandie, the Queen Mary and the Canberra, and find out how these impressive vessels helped shape the modern world.
We have some new boats on our books. "Ferry Nymph" is one of two new listings for Dunkirk Little Ships soon to appear on our HSC website.
At Beale Park we will have a pontoon and our usual array of fabulous classic boats on the left as you exit from the estate. Starring on the water will be the new Mayfly 16 built by Landamores, for sale through E-Boatique. We will also be showing a new Fantail 217.
If you are doing up an old house or happen to have a lake on your estate you could visit Lady McAlpine’s Décor-Architectural fairat Fawley Hill. We will be exhibiting a traditional wooden punt which has been electrified as well as a charming little painted clinker motorised launch.
Just 2 weeks ago I was in that splendid location reciting the W.H. Auden poem “Night Mail” at the memorial service for Sir William McAlpine, the great steam enthusiast.
Their estate hosts not only the amazing Railway Museum complete with full sized steam train but can also be rented for private celebrations such as weddings and birthdays.
If you are a riparian owner and out on the river or one of the tributaries or backwaters this year, please be on the look out for pennywort and report any patches you see to the Environment Agency.
Floating pennywort is an invasive species of aquatic plant that can spread very quickly and can cause serious problems in our rivers. We need to work together to eradicate it wherever possible.
To report floating pennywort please email its location to: [email protected].
In the meantime we hope to see many of you in person at a show or even better afloat on your boat.