With an early Easter this year there has been a rush to get boats ready for launching and it has been a pleasure to see customers liberally coated in antifouling as they become reacquainted with their beloved boats after six months of abstinence. Luckily the sun has been present for most of the holidays and boats are beginning to populate the river scene once more.
Toby chases the women (during the boat race)!
So let’s start with a few words on the Boat Races and the inaugural women’s boat race on the Tideway – a gruelling course for all. Toby was there in a chase boat which must have been a huge thrill. It was certainly a “clean sweep” for our local crew from Oxford who put in powerful performances in all their races. However I couldn’t help wondering just how “amateur” the race really is these days and how many lectures or hours of study the winners are actually putting in.
If you fancy some exercise this season in an interesting muscle powered boat you could do worse than consider Algonquin which is a charming boat from across the pond in good shape and which could be rowed by one or two buddies for some fun on the river.
Slippers are back in fashion
As the spring fashions decorate the window at 5 Friday st. adding some sherbert stripes, and truck loads of decks shoes arrive in myriad colours, slippers seem to be back in fashion. Two sold before Easter and we have several more interesting examples on the books, including Silver Slipper II which I viewed last week on an island in Shepperton.
Slipper stern launches are truly the E types of the river with their distinctive styling. The first example of the sloping stern, designed to cut wash, was Merk, built in 1912 at Andrews on the Thames. They were river staples for private ownership as well as hire right through to the nineteen sixties. The other ever popular design, and this one is from our contemporary classics stable, is the Frolic 21 which sells as surely as Easter eggs in April.
As ubiquitous as the slipper launch was on the Thames in the thirties, the Albatross was the ski boat of choice in the sixties with families loving their aluminium hulls and high performance engines. Members of the Classic Motorboat Association (CMBA) are keen racers of these British boats built in St Olaves. HSC is showcasing a 2 seater which you could keep in the garage and bring out on high days and holidays for some fast and furious fun afloat.
Let’s go full steam ahead this summer
In the previous newsletter I talked about my interesting and varied visit to Falmouth but omitted to mention the Thornycroft steam launch, Waterlily, which features in their powerboat collection. I found this interesting not only for the fact that Thornycroft built many interesting river launches and sea going vessels, but also because for the first time in ages we have three steam launches for sale, all I think from the same builder Burgoyne.
The most impressive is the wondrous Windsor Belle which having been built for the Thames should really stay close by even though most of the interest has come from further afield. I could see her being purchased by a consortium for their own enjoyment and occasional charter. There is a limited company which can be purchased with the boat and could act as a wrapper for the investment. HSC would be happy to advise on the charter piece should an interested party present itself. So “phone a friend” or two and let’s keep this boat for posterity on the Thames.
Her little sister Duet is also a charming steamer seeking pastures new as her ageing consortium of owners feels that it is time the boat found a younger enthusiast.
Even smaller is Arabella with her handsome cruiser stern, ideal for cruising single handed or with a couple of friends.
Coming back to Waterlily which was built for Thornycroft as a family boat by his son, I am reminded that we also have a superb Thornycroft for sale by the name of Lorita. (Please find out more about Thornycroft and Lorita in this month’s blog post on our website.)
Boat of the month
Built of carvel pitch pine on oak and with a mahogany superstructure and a teak transom, Derson at 38ft is a fine example of a good sized motor yacht built on the banks of the River Mersey just before the second world war put paid to the building of leisure craft for many years.
She was clearly built for someone tall as there is 6ft3ins headroom throughout, and is a really useable, roomy family cruiser with bags of personality, built to last by her Merseyside builders Hornby and Sons.
The current owner has looked after her for the past nine years so she has become a familiar sight on the Thames where she is currently moored and available for viewing.
Rehomed by HSC
Tender to Zenita was purchased a couple of months after the June boat auction in 2014 by one of our regular charter customers. He just fell in love with her and has spent a small fortune this winter on her restoration. Here she is on Beale Park lake on the day she was relaunched as Tender to Cacouna. You can expect to see her with her owner and his son on the booms at Henley Royal Regatta in July.
New eateries in the area – arrive by boat
Lisbeth will be available for skippered charter in the Goring, Pangbourne and Wallingford area where there is a new foodie offering at the Leatherne Bottel known as Rossini. Also The Swan at Streatley now has an attractive cafe called the Boat House Deli & Café and a refurbished restaurant which was full last time I ate there on a Tuesday lunchtime so they must have got something right apart from the stunning riverside setting.
What’s on at Boatique
Finally as thoughts turn to the summer do come and join us on May 13th at Boatique any time between 6.30 and 9 pm to taste some of Jo Randell’s Perfect Friday Wines.
She will be partnering Boatique during the big events and delivering her mouth watering array of summery wines direct to boats moored in Henley. You will be able to drop by Boatique to pick up a chilled bottle of rose or champagne on your way down to the riverside or just call up the shop for a boat drop to the bottom of Friday st. on the town mooring.
Pete, our manager at Boatique has been busy selecting interesting boaty products such as our unbreakable champagne bucket, attractive non slip mats, and all manner of unbreakable glasses and beakers. unsinkable key fobs, bottle openers etc. In recognition of the dark blues’ victory in the boat race this week all navy blue deck shoes and clothing will be reduced by 10 %.
See you soon at 5 Friday st. Please come and say “hi” – I am usually perched on the first floor with a phone in each ear, but always happy to be distracted and talk about boats.