As you can see, December’s newsletter was inspired by a delightful trip to the Lake District, where despite a dusting of snow on the hilltops, I still managed to go boating in the sunshine.
City break idea
If you prefer the bright lights and an experienced skipper at the helm you might opt for a city break this winter in the Venice of the north. There you could consider chartering Amsterdam’s Pulitzer hotel’s own classic salon boat from 1909 aptly named “the Tourist”. She features all the classic characteristics you’d expect: polished teak and brass, traditional carpeting, marble, leather and bevelled glass.
Put your feet up and relax in style as you cruise down the canals. It’s an Amsterdam adventure you’ll never forget.
As was the fashion at that time, this type of vessel has a large aft cockpit and a smaller forward cockpit. The point of this unexpected layout is that the chauffeur would arrive with his guests, and step straight into the boat as a skipper, leaving his guests to enjoy the privacy and protection from the weather offered by the aft cockpit.
Boat of the Month
We have a boat of similar vintage to “the Tourist” for sale through HSC. “Archangel” transported Prince Philip during its history. She was built in Norfolk, having been designed by Herbert Bunn in 1904.
Don’t hesitate to contact me by email email@example.com or phone to arrange a viewing of this beauty if you’d like to see her in person.
Windermere and its intriguing history
During our recent trip to Windermere we were transported in style across the lake in a Windboats vessel, for a walk along the western shore. A descendent of the Bunn family, one Graham Bunn, built the “Pearly Monarch” model in aluminium in the early 60’s.
During our walk we came upon a ruin with a viewpoint above Belle Isle. Some of the views of the landscape in this area were once considered so spectacular that people feared visitors would be so overcome they may faint.
Turning the clock forward to the 20th century, thrill seekers were no longer satisfied with the stunning views and sought to break many speed records over the years.
“Miss England II” was the second of a series of speedboats used by Henry Segrave and Kaye Don to contest world water speed records in the 1920s and 1930s. In June 1930 Segrave drove “Miss England II” to a new record over two runs on Windermere. On a third run the boat capsized at speed, killing his chief engineer and injuring his mechanic. Segrave himself was rescued unconscious as the boat sank, but soon died from lung injuries.
What is interesting about this particular old photograph above is the proliferation of skiffs and gentlemen’s launches built by Shepherds and Borwick & Sons, who were the main boat builders on Windermere at that time.
“Satis” was the last traditional wooden boat ever built by Shepherds. Despite appearances “Satis” is in fact petrol powered rather than steam, and the funnel is purely decorative. You may notice HRH Princess Anne (sporting sunglasses) in the photo above.
We currently have “Viola” on our books. She was built by Borwick & Sons back in 1926, and constructed of mahogany on oak.
Unfortunately this boat builder didn’t survive into the 21st century. A former employee, now retired, told me that his job as an apprentice was to tow some of the old wooden boats to the middle of Windermere, put a hole in the bottom and watch them sink.
Windermere Dock Museum under construction
Fortunate; the former Windermere Steamboat Museum is dedicated to keeping the traditions of wooden boat building going. During the run up to the keenly awaited reopening of the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, Steve Beresford is working hard to restore some of the museum’s working collection, including the Chris Craft “Jane” pictured here, suspended in Steve Beresford’s ingenious boat building contraption.
As you can see from the photograph there is a long way to go, and I anticipate being at the opening in autumn 2017.
If you are as interested as I am in the preservation of this amazing collection of vintage craft, you can keep an eye on progress by visiting their website at http://www.windermerejetty.org.
Various boats will also be available for charter from the museum’s floating dock including a beautiful steam launch called “Branksome”, which was built by Brockbank’s of Windermere in 1896. I think you can clearly see the inspiration for the lines of Satis in this photograph.
Fancy trying some local Northern brew?
Following some good healthy mountain walking, plenty of breathtaking views and a trip on the lake, a hearty pint is always welcome. We tried Swan Blonde from the Bowness Bay brewing company and very nice it was too. Steve described it as “citrussy” and deliciously thirst-quenching. If you were sufficiently pretentious you might like to try a local pairing with the ubiquitous Kendal mint cake!
Which brings us on to festive thoughts linked to drinking and carousing generally. If you are heading north for a Christmas or New Years break you might be lucky enough to stay at the Sharrow Bay hotel on Ullswater, which claims to be the home of the Sticky Toffee pudding.
It’s the season of giving
An inevitable part of our end of year festivities is the joy of exchanging gifts, and here are a few ideas.
If you are not already a subscriber to Classic Boat magazine, then sign up now and ask for the January 2017 issue which features our yard in a two page colour spread on pages 90/91.
Then head over to Boatique (5 Friday Street, Henley on Thames) to browse the many unique gift items any vintage or boating enthusiast will love.
This Filson log carrier for bits of broken boat or off cuts for a roaring fire on a wintry day. Available from Boatique (where else!).
Why not add the Filson Trapper Hat to complete the full lumberjack look.
The best decorations in town this year are to be found at Boatique, where Santa poses variously on boats, planes, and even a surfboard.
Thanks to everyone who has emailed, phoned or hugged me in the street: Your congratulations on our forthcoming nuptials were much appreciated and it was particularly gratifying to note that so many readers actually do pay attention to my monthly whimsical musings.
All the crew at HSC would like to wish every one of you health and happiness throughout the holidays and beyond.