February is perhaps the month when many of our customers don their sunglasses whether to escape to the slopes or to the winter sun. Here at HSC we are busy with winter work on customers boats and would urge anyone wishing to have work done before the season starts to please make that phone call as soon as possible as spring will soon be here.

Stop press! Introducing: Volts Afloat

Lady Helen and Lady Hamilton

Lady Helen (above) – Lady Hamilton (below)

I first encountered electric propulsion in 1987 when Cedric Lynch experimented on an 18ft river launch I was selling. His bean can and battery rig pushed the boat along in relative silence and I was hooked. We put four of his pancake motors in a hydroplane which Fiona, countess of Arran (now sadly deceased), powered to a victory recorded for posterity on “Tomorrow’s World”. Well before BMW and other big brands finally woke up to the inevitability of electrically driven cars, we were leading the way with electric boats and making our ballast work in our favour.

20 odd years forward and here we are at HSC launching our new “Volts Afloat” electric boat service.

Electric boats are generally fairly hassle free as well as quiet and “green”. However like any other machine they do occasionally require maintenance. We have an enthusiastic and well trained team of electronics engineers on call for both breakdowns and regular maintenance. We also have an interesting selection of lovely electric launches for sale including the ladies Helen, Hamilton and several other silent river boats.

Call or email Gillian for more information.

A broad in Norfolk

Gentleman Jim and The Boathouse on Ormesby Broad

Gentleman Jim (above) – The Boathouse on Ormesby Broad (below)

I recently had a very pleasant trip to the Norfolk Broads where the number of boats per square mile must surely be greater than anywhere else in the UK. However there are several protected areas including Rollesby and Ormesby Broad which are reserved for sailing. The exception are the two electric boats owned by a customer of HSC who has two eateries there. I had lunch at ‘the Boathouse’ on Ormesby Broad. Weddings with an electric boat trip are a speciality and I dare say you could rent ‘Gentleman Jim’ for a couple of hours if you were staying in one of their attractive lodges.”

‘Origami’ cruisers!

Defender of Oulton

Defender of Oulton

Broads cruisers are exceptional in that they have a limited air draft to allow them to pass under Potter Heigham Bridge. While this may seem to many to be restrictive it has certainly informed the design of these craft over the years making them suitable not just for the Broads but also for the Upper Thames where Osney Bridge disqualifies any cruiser with a flying bridge from passing under her arch.

We have several lovely Broads cruisers with their disctinctive folding wheelhouses available for purchase including Defender of Oulton (recently reduced for a quick sale to £34,000 and with a recent survey), Kings Shilling and Juliette.

The UK’s favourite chef has bought one to explore the Broads from his bolthole in the smartest village on the Norfolk Broads. I am pretty sure he paid close to 6 figures for his so you might want to consider any one of our three Norfolk lovelies for a reasonable sum.

Juliette and Kings Shilling

Juliette (above) – Kings Shilling (below)

As with all traditional wooden boats each has her very own character. Juliette is the largest and has the advantage of a large aft double cabin with an en suite head as well as a wood burning stove and a well appointed galley in the forepeak. Kings Shilling has a very cosy interior and a really modern head and shower area forward of the wheelhouse while the aft cockpit makes dining al fresco really attractive as it is adjacent to the galley.

When Defender of Oulton was surveyed last year the surveyor was so taken with her that he had to scratch his head to find fault. The owner reduced the price as he needs to sell due to poor health.

Louise’s Indian adventure

Louise is back! Not just from Kerala as her piece below describes, but also to work again with HSC. Last year Louise helped to mastermind the auction and her enjoyment of dealing with our customers and our products has enticed her back for some part time work on the keyboard and the telephone.

Authentic Indian rice barge

Authentic Indian rice barge

Louise reports: “On a recent trip to Southern India while cruising the Kerala backwaters on a superbly converted Rice Barge, I was reminded of Gillian’s charter business with HSC’s beautiful river launches – both conducted in the same elegant style but with very differing scenes along the way of course. My travelling companion and I were treated to the most gentle and fascinating experience slowly making our way along the waters from Alleppey where we boarded at lunch time to a remote village further down the river where our driver met us the following morning.

We meandered past villagers swimming, washing, punting across the river and cooking their food; birds of many colours flying by or on the water and houses big and small on the riverbank. Our meals were delicious; our peaceful night on the river and early morning trip just wonderful; our lovely barge so comfortable and our Keralan chef and skipper a delight. It is a memory of a gentle India never to be forgotten.”

Boatique: Your new campaign furniture destination

campaign furniture

Here at Boatique we love campaign furniture. Obviously we are neither heading for far flung outposts of the now seriously outmoded British Empire, nor are we embarking on the Queen Mary with our valet in true Orient Express style. However the rather eccentric nature of the furniture, designed for these purposes, is very attractive and works particularly well in smaller spaces.

Come and visit our new inner sanctum at 5 Friday street, Henley-on-Thames and see for yourself.

Rehomed by HSC

Pindaric

Pindaric

Some two years ago HSC found a new home for Pindaric with Hilary and John, who are currently based in sunny Italy. They have done loads of work to get her in shipshape condition and are now keen to explore the Tideway during their summers in the UK.

Hilary writes: “We had a great summer on Pindaric last year. John has been rubbing down all the cabin exteriors etc and has done a great job on the revarnishing. Sadly we can’t always afford Dennetts for everything! We are in Italy for the winter but back on board May-September – hope we might see you at some point! If you know of anyone taking their boat into London we would love to join a convoy (or even one) for our first trip beyond Teddington. Please let us know. Best wishes Hilary & John”

Anyone interested, please contact HSC.

Maintenance tip of the month

Antifouling

Jayfife getting the antifouling treatment

Whether you overwinter with HSC at Beale Park boat store or elsewhere I would advise boat owners to consider what is included in their antifouling costs. You really need to have the layers of old antifoul faired off and insist on the boat being primed prior to the application of two decent coats. If antifouling is well done it can last two years and also increase the appeal of the boat if for sale and out of the water.

Recommending: ‘Sam who went to sea’

Cover of Sam who went to Sea book

This is a charming book about a mouse who builds his own boat and sails away much to the surprise of his neighbours and family. Whether you are 5 or 50 you will love this book.

Boat of the month

Chris Craft

Chris Craft – back in the 1930’s (above) and now (below)

Our boat of the month this month has to be the fantastic Chris Craft which I viewed a couple of weeks ago in Norfolk. The owner has written about his passion for restoration in Classic Boat magazine and is the proud owner of several wooden boats. He certainly enjoys the challenge of paying good boatbuilders to bring to life boats which others would consign to the bonfire. “Chris” is no exception and is a fine example of this nineteen thirties icon from Lake Algonac in Michigan.

If you enjoy year round cruising or weekending this could be the boat for you. She has headroom in the saloon, seating for six inside and out as well as heating and a head in the forepeak. I challenge readers to find fault as this is genuinely a great boat in turn key condition for any lake, river or estuary. Priced to sell at £39,500.

Boatique on the catwalk

The Henley House and Garden Show logo

At the end of this month Boatique is participating in the first Henley House & Garden show organised by Niki Schafer, one of my co directors at the Henley Partnership.

Henley can be dull in the winter when there are no boats on the river and no festivals to attend. Niki came up with the idea of a big event in the town linking all the shops selling items for the home. Boatique will be on the furniture and interiors map, while in the town square there will be a catwalk with models carrying furniture to create a room setting rather than to display clothing.

Blæst rainwear for sale at Boatique

Blæst rainwear for sale at Boatique

Talking of catwalks, a couple of friends and I will be sporting brightly coloured Norwegian rainwear on the catwalk at Phyllis Court for a charity fashion show organised by the Henley Bridge Rotary Club on March 17th. I am already sporting a rather splendid white cape as I cycle round Henley, courtesy of our Bergen supplier and am sure that this will be my item of choice while boating in the rain this coming summer.

June’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary – The River Relay

Magna Carta - The River Relay

HSC has entered Midsomer Maiden for the Magna Carta river pageant on the 14th and 15th of June.

The pageant sails from Hurley Lock to Runnymede over two days. We are happy to take some paying passengers as long as they dress in mediaeval costume. “Wolf Hall” should help with the inspiration as I am not sure that things had moved on a great deal, sartorially speaking, since 1215. King John was marginally less popular than Henry VIII with his barons and certainly less successful with his womenfolk! Both genders are more than welcome to populate our merry Maiden for one or both days.