As is fitting at this time of the year we review 2016 and look forward to a new season. We can already feel the days lengthening and while in autumn it seems that we have all the time in the world for winter work, now suddenly March seems imminent and with the promise of another spring, the yard is buzzing and the phones are ringing.

If you are thinking of having a new cover, a coat of paint or even investing in a new boat for summer 2017, please get in touch. If you are thinking of selling your boat, please ask for a copy of our brokerage contract and our letter to vendors with handy hints for a successful sales campaign.

Dates for your new diary

2016 had plenty of memorable moments including a fantastic Traditional Boat Festival. It seems like a good time therefore to put a few dates in the diary including that of the TBF 2017.

Robin Ford at the helm of Perdita last summer in Sonning

Robin Ford at the helm of Perdita last summer in Sonning

Our friend and owner of “Perdita”, Robin Ford, passed away sadly very recently. Robin was involved in both the Trad Boat Rally and latterly the new look Festival, producing superb advertising and souvenir brochures. He was a true gent and river enthusiast. His son Jonathan takes ownership of “Perdita” which is currently having an overhaul. I know that Robin will be remembered at this year’s festival over the weekend of 14th to 16th July.

HSC’s pontoon at the 2016 Beale Park Boat Show

HSC’s pontoon at the 2016 Beale Park Boat Show

We shall be exhibiting on the lake at Beale Park during the boat show there on the first weekend of June from the 2nd to the 4th. There is talk of a new auction and I am currently chatting with Peter of Time and Tide Boats, whose aim is to develop a regular auction for boats on trailers within the show in a marquee. As the organiser of a similar event in 2014, I am helping Peter with planning and valuations etc. If you would like to find out more, you can email Peter via the website www.timeandtideboats.com.

Good Wood Revival Meeting and Southampton Boat Show 2017

In addition to these summer events we are planning to be at Southampton Boat Show again from September 15th – 24th with our French partners Ruban Bleu, and at the same time we hope to return to Goodwood Revival from September 8th – 10th, provided they can give us a good spot. I was unhappy last time at being sandwiched between mock vintage frocks at £35 a flounce and cafes au lait with a generator running at my stern! Not ideal for classy ladies with beautiful varnished hulls!

Day hire in 2017

"Barnaby" & "George Michael" for hire from our Streatley location.

“Barnaby” & “George Michael” for hire from our Streatley location.

On the boat hire side crew are lining up for duty in the Easter holidays and beyond. We plan to operate a fleet of three boats at the Swan at Streatley. Whilst the hotel is in the midst of a major refurbishment operation there will still be rooms and food at the far end of the site where the project began a couple of years ago. This is now an extremely smart area and the plan for HSC is to have an independent kiosk for our staff. We have a new boat called “George Michael” in honour of the recently deceased resident of Goring. George will be available for hire alongside “Mudlark” and “Barnaby”.

Rowing boats for sale

Rowing boats for sale

In Wallingford our 11 seater “Morse”, named after a certain inspector, will be for hire with “Annabelle” and “Lisa Joanne”, both Frolic 21s with canopies. Last year’s rowing boats are surplus to requirement so if you would like to buy one of our Salters skiffs, please give me a ring.

"Midsomer Maiden" in Sonning

“Midsomer Maiden” in Sonning

We are working on an online booking website for the self drive hire boats for 2017. This should be operational within 6 weeks. There will be a link from the HSC website to “Pure Boating” as the new site will be known. In the meantime if you have a date in mind please just ring the office on 01491 578870, and book by phone as you have done previously. Gail, Judy or I will simply take payment over the phone.

“Midsomer Maiden” is already booking up for June and July. She will be based at the Great House in Sonning with food on offer from the Coppa Club. This became a firm favourite in 2016, and will be even better in 2017 as the wedding suite scaffolding comes down and the extensive riverside gardens reopen.

New boats in the making

"Windermere 27"

“Windermere 27”

On one of my trips north to the Lake District, documented in our autumn newsletter, I was invited by Hamish Patterson to view his workshop and to comment on a new 27ft electric launch currently in build. I have helped to redesign the interior to make it more comfortable and will be showing progress on the website as this boat comes together. Our electronics whizz Steve Hoile will be installing a reliable and silent propulsion system in early spring. We hope to be able to show you photos and video of the lake trial in mid March. This boat will be for sale for £46,000 plus VAT.

Artist's rendering of the Duchy 21

Artist’s rendering of the Duchy 21

If contemporary classics like the Windermere launch are more your thing than a traditional wooden hull, then please take a look at “Lola” from Cockwells in Mylor Creek.

Dave and I have been friends for many years and while he is gaining a fantastic reputation as a superyacht tender builder, he is also extending the Duchy range, which started with the 27 and is already stretching to 35ft. Chewing the riverside cud one day we chatted about the need for a 20 to 21 footer to rival the Dutch imports. Dave has pulled the rabbit out of the hat and “Lola” is the diesel Duchy 21 demonstrator which will be on the lake with HSC at Beale Park boat show. You can order the electric version right now as there is one in build currently. Seating 12 complete with folding hood, fridge and sink this is a wonderful alternative to an Interboat or an Antaris, built right here on our south western shores.

Dave Cockwell and the team will be moving into prestigious and futuristic new premises later this year. We await the opening with bated breath. This is exactly what our industry needs to see in terms of boatbuilders expanding their workshops and the breadth of expertise of their teams.

Beale HQ expansion

The former Racing & River Boat Museum.

The former Racing & River Boat Museum.

Here at Beale HQ we also have exciting news as the trustees of Beale Park have invited us to take space in the former River and Racing Museum in the historic tithe barn opposite our storage and workshop area. This will enable us to expand our indoor storage for the winter and to offer a better showroom for our luxury open launches in the summer. There will be room to sit and chat, a loo and an office space with the ability to offer a nice cuppa or a chilled beer!

*With thanks to Ken Bonham of Ken’s Great Barns – www.greatbarns.org.uk – for the photos above

Calling all Brooke Marine owners

Brooke Marine owners

The new owner of Bullfinch, an historic Brooke Marine launch, wants to revive a Brooke Marine owners event. This photo shows one in Norfolk. Could all interested parties please make contact directly with Costa Frances whose email address is c.p.f@me.com.

Boatique booty

Filson at Boatique

The January sale continues through until the middle of February. We are discontinuing all shoes and clothing so grab a bargain while you can. If you are heading to warmer climes we have flip flops, shorts, deck shoes and T shirts. If however your problem is rosy ear lobe syndrome then try on a Filson hat and pair it with a Riviera Cashmere neck warmer. Shoes and clothing reduced by 30-50%, accessories and homeware by 20 %. Visit Boatique at 5 Friday street, Henley-on-Thames.

This seems like a good note on which to end. As keen readers of our newsletter know I shall be trotting up the aisle in my kitten heels (I might even manage to leave the jeans on the dressing room floor for once) on February 25th so please forgive me if there is silence on the newsletter front. I promise that the March issue will be full of photos and boatbuilding news from near and far.