For this summer bumper issue I was not sure where to start as I have been really ‘snappy happy’ with the virtual shutter on my iPhone camera, and I have so many stories that I am not sure where to start. To avoid further procrastination, I have decided to take the month of July in chronological order as that seems logical and fitting. Furthermore time is pressing, and holidays beckon.
Please excuse me if the chronology is undermined by the inevitable ‘shaggy dog’ asides. Just imagine a slightly inebriated sailor walking back to their ship in a less-than-straight line, and you will understand where I’m coming from.
We must begin with yet another Henley Royal Regatta during which the inimitable 'Windsor Belle' plied her trade once again with crew aplenty and happy charterers while rowers from all over the world competed in the races at the historic course.
Reflecting back we can't help but feel grateful for the incredible moments and lasting memories created during this prestigious event.
For our readers who do not live around these parts, perhaps I need to explain that hot on the heels, or to strike a more nautical tone should I say following closely in the wake of the Regatta, comes the somewhat eccentric and most definitely middle-aged and middle-class black tie evening event known as the Henley Festival.
This event presents to its elegantly clad ticket holders five evenings of varied music (Nile Rogers to The Kanneh-Mason Trio), art, and street food. The truly blessed, i.e. those with the deeper pockets, can dine in style as a magical evening by the river unfolds through the prism of their crystal champagne glasses.
Even Regine and I ventured to the festival this year! On the two evenings that we sallied forth from the Henley ‘burbs the weather was simply perfect, and a great evening was enjoyed by ourselves and our guests.
It is always an enormous pleasure to see customers enjoying their boats at Henley events whether on a bankside mooring (hen's teeth and costly), or floating around as part of the stunning backdrop.
I was delighted to see some Shiplake residents in their electric Scoop with illuminated bimini and hope to see them again at the Illuminated Parade, here in Henley, on September 16th 2023. Now is the time to start planning your themed entry!
No doubt Tim's Yellow Duck will be there again suitably decorated and raising valuable funds for Macmillan.
There are a number of sponsorship opportunities which you can investigate via the website. Henley Sales & Charter has already committed funds to help make the 2023 parade even more successful than was last year's inaugural event.
'Best in Parade' in 2022 was local GP Chris Langley and his family's Sapphire Launch 'Scarlet Lady'. They took as their theme 'The Crown' inspired by the state funeral.
This leads me to a quick aside about 'Scarlet Lady'.
If my memory serves me well it must have been in 1987 when my then boss, Peter Rhodes-Dimmer, asked me to head east from our Victorian boat house office in Teddington to Burnham-on-Crouch in deepest Essex to go and supervise the moulding of a new contemporary classic, for the first time in my life. The result was 'Scarlet Lady', and we exhibited her at the wooden boat show in Greenwich.
Those who spotted the deliberate error deserve a gold star for observation, as clearly, any boat that has been moulded is unlikely to be a wooden boat. However we sneaked in to the consternation of the late William Rose (he of the now-named Rose-Toop collection). With or without the approbation of the traditional wooden boat community, there was at the time increasing interest in keeping alive these beautiful Edwardian boat designs by recreating them in fibreglass.
'Scarlet Lady' is now a classic in her own right.
I was lucky enough two years ago to be able to buy an electric version of the Sapphire Launch, which we rent out through Pure Boating for skippered charter from The Swan at Streatley. If you don't know The Swan - it is a hotel in Streatley (Berkshire) on the River Thames, with a delightful lawn that goes down to the moorings and looks across at the back of Goring Lock.
For decades there has been an Oxford University barge moored there, which is now in a sorry state, and the hotel has finally decided to part with it. It would make a lovely clubhouse or even a live-aboard houseboat.
For more information see newburytoday.co.uk. The Swan invites interested buyers to submit a bid to [email protected] by 5pm on August 31st or to arrange a viewing, contact us in the office and I will put you in touch with the owners.
While on the subject of charter, I am very happy to see that our latest acquisition, the Mayfly 21, which goes by the name of 'Ellie' in homage to our much-loved boat builder now working on the 'Golden Hinde' project in London, was named as one of the ten best motorboat designs on the market today in the current issue of Classic Boat.
The same article also highlights the PTS26. The latest iteration and the first to go to Cornwall, arrived last Saturday at the impressive Pendennis shipyard lifting facility. Sadly the crane was out of action! Fortunately the new owners were leaving for their holiday the following day. They can look forward to launch day on their return.
And soon it will be time to show the Classic Boat pundits our new PTS 24e, which arrived two weeks ago and is now moored at Temple Island Marina adjacent to its owners' house. They are delighted to be the proud owners of two electric boats, one a canopied counter stern launch, the other this snazzy practical weekender.
The delighted new owners write: "We absolutely love the PTS24e!! Thank you very much indeed. She is beautifully crafted and a fabulous boat. Congratulations to you on the whole team for creating such an incredible and beautiful craft."
"Why have two electric boats?" I hear you ask. The owner of the 24e previously bought an electric boat from us, which he still loves, but he wanted a second boat which offers the opportunity to cruise a little further afield and to stay overnight.
If you are considering putting a metaphorical electric toe in the water (at your own risk 😉), we have a trio of Scoops in stock, ready for delivery and available from £16,000. If you want to order a brand new one over the summer, Ruban Bleu is offering an enticing discount.
More information available from the usual source. Contact us by email or by phone at 01491 578870.
The subject of electric propulsion takes us neatly forward to the annual river jamboree, commonly known as the Thames Traditional Boat Festival, where we exhibited two electrically powered classics, both hailing from East Anglia and two beauties to lure in the petrol heads.
As you can see some came from far and wide, including this appropriately clad gent from Lake Tahoe and a couple from Beverly Hills, LA, who chartered 'Tarbes II' in order to observe the river-born activities from their very own saloon launch.
Ah yes, saloon launches... You may have noticed that over the years I have ceased to name these venerable classics by the moniker 'Gentleman's' launch' for obvious reasons. Without wishing to harp on about gender bias, it is noticeable that when one of the gents with whom I work is present on an exhibition stand, customers invariably address their questions and remarks to said gent!
The truth is that a saloon launch, like 'Verity' for example, is a perfect vehicle for entertaining both men and women! Post covid these elegant launches seem to be coming back into fashion in a big way. As I write, we have 'Snipe', 'Verity', 'Humble', and 'Tarbes II' for sale. Each has its own particular style, feel and history.
'Snipe' was last sold by HSC in 2005 to its current owner who has had some fantastic evenings on the water at Henley Festival. The boat was revarnished this winter ready for spring relaunch, but sadly the owner has lost his mooring and has therefore decided that the time has come to step ashore.
I was bowled over by the thought that this magnificent 40ft teak vessel had belonged to the war department during the First World War, where its job was to transport wounded soldiers on the canals of Northern France to the nearest field hospital. What a sobering thought.
If you came to the Thames Traditional Boat Festival on Friday you were indeed a brave and committed attendee, and thank you for that. During that night, my carefully tied tent supports held their own against the tempest, only to have the metal legs buckle with the pressure.
Hence Saturday found me dressed from head to toe in waterproofs and grateful, as were the organising committee, for the throng of enthusiasts who joined us so willingly despite the frequent gusts which prevented the river parades.
Sunday however delivered a degree of calm which meant that most boats were able to process as per the programme. It was a joy to see 'Lavinia' and 'Glitterwake' on the water as it gave us, the brokers, a chance to get some live-action shots.
I had little chance to visit other exhibitors at the show besides Abbey (@abbey_boat_builder on Instagram) and Ollie. It is great to see hardworking, knowledgeable young professionals setting up their own businesses, and this makes me optimistic that the future of our particular niche is safe in the hands of these young professionals.
I hope they enjoyed meeting as many people as I did, and thank you to those of you who made the effort to not only support this marvellous event but also to come and say 'hello'. Praise for this newsletter was also much appreciated, and I will continue to do my best to bring you my very own 'tales of the riverbank'.
If you missed 'Tales of the Riverbank' the first time around (1960 - 1963), narrated by Johnny Morris, you can revisit this childhood favourite of mine on YouTube where Hammy the hamster, Roderick the water rat and G.P. the guinea pig are narrated by Stephen Fry and friends.
Their boat bares a remarkable resemblance to the amphi-cars, which created such a spectacle at the TRAD as they advanced at a stately pace towards the commentary tent.
My current summertime viewing includes a soupçon of maritime crime, which isn't too gruesome, unlike 'Happy Valley'. If you are not already hooked, do take a look at Nicola Walker as a Glaswegian detective who goes by the name of DI Annika Strandhed. The name reveals her Norwegian heritage which informs her constant references to ancient Norwegian myths.
She commutes by pilot cutter to her beachfront house, and every murder takes place on or by the Scottish waters. Thus you can expect some exciting boat chase scenes and an interesting mix of characters who make up the aptly named Marine Homicide Unit.
Whatever your summer plans, we are open for viewings by appointment throughout August. Alex and Eric will be mostly working for Pure Boating, with Eric giving me a hand for launching any boats which are purchased during that time. Andrew, our resident Viking manager, is taking a sabbatical courtesy of the NHS. Please refer any queries about storage and maintenance to Regine at the office for now.
Please feel free to send in any contributions to our newsletter if you have purchased or chartered a boat from HSC over the past thirty years.
Email [email protected] or call 01491 578870.