As the seasons change I for one spend more time indoors enjoying the opportunity to welcome friends on wintry evenings, as I have so little time for entertaining during the summer months.
I have met so many wonderful people over the years thanks to Henley Sales & Charter's diverse activities and some of them have become dear friends.
I suppose this is akin to making friends at the school gates over the shared experience of parenthood, only my children are now long grown.
The photo at the top of this newsletter was taken from my bedroom window during a recent stay in Norfolk, where I enjoyed the hospitality of a couple I have known through their various boats over many years.
Some boats really tug at my heart strings and I am fortunate enough to see these little treasures coming back time and time again into my care, albeit for a short while.
Unlike children, boats never seem to grow old as their patina increases over time and subsequent generations of restorers keep them looking young, in a way that we can never hope to achieve for ourselves.
I was reminded by my hosts, during a most entertaining and convivial dinner, of one of the most extraordinary relationships of my whole career, when I was invited by a serial boat buying client who became a friend, to accompany her on a trip to buy a castle in bonnie Scotland.
We jetted off from the private apron in Luton to far flung Inverness where we were met by a rather dapper young estate agent, with a helicopter at our disposal. It was autumn and the weather was quite simply perfect with amazing visibility over the changing hues of the highlands and the islands down the west coast of Scotland.
By supper time we were back in the Thames Valley. It was one of the most phenomenal days of my life.
We didn’t strike a deal on that particular day, but other customers of ours have taken to life north of the border and in some cases created wonderful hospitality businesses.
If you want to enjoy the very best in Scottish hospitality with a spot of fishing, hiking, sailing or even stalking, you could rent the whole of Laudale House (which sleeps 20) and enjoy Loch Sunart and its surroundings with friends and family, arriving by seaplane if the fancy takes you.
However, I digress. I was in Norfolk for a couple of days visiting boat yards, catching up on the gossip and meeting customers.
Traditional Boat building is most definitely alive and thriving in East Anglia!
I also found a charming new owner for "Rajdhani", which we featured in our September newsletter. Boats that have been beautifully maintained are always easier to sell, and "Rajdhani" is just as stunning as she was when I last sold her.
All in all I had a busy and successful time in and around the Broads.
On day 2 of my visit I took an order for another PTS 26 after an exhilarating, if slightly damp, outing on "Gosling" with its enthusiastic owner Peter.
While I was there, I missed out on the Classic Boat Magazine sea test of the most recently built PTS 26 "Baloo". The editor tells me you will be able to read all about it, and admire Kathy Mansfield’s photos, in the December issue of Classic Boat Magazine.
I have been planning for some years to create a calendar for our customers. Another year has gone by and still we haven’t found the time – maybe next year.
In the meantime, the talented Kathy Mansfield has several calendars about to go to press.
The Classic Sail 2021 calendar features sailing craft ranging from traditional working vessels and cruising sailboats, to exciting America's Cup contenders of the past.
It is an ideal treat for yourself this holiday season or the perfect gift for your "boaty" friends or loved ones, and can be purchased directly from Kathy via her website: http://www.kathymansfieldphotos.com/shop.htm
It is fascinating to see where some of our boats end up and we always enjoy receiving news of their whereabouts.
Here is "Badger" in her new home near Shrewsbury. Until recently "Badger" was the most luxurious of the PureBoating electric Scoop fleet. We now have several more on order for spring 2021.
A lot further afield and also fitted with electric propulsion, we know that the Victorian launch, rather ironically named “Humble”, is gracing the backwaters of Newport beach - California. However rumour has it that she may be heading back across the pond sometime soon.
Last year “Coquette” left Norfolk via our website for Knysna Lagoon in South Africa where she is now operated by Magic Lagoon Charters.
Whoever built that boat in 1920 at Salters in Oxford as a varsity coaching launch would be somewhat surprised I’m sure, however a hundred years is an awful long time and “Coquette” has been given a totally new lease of life albeit in another hemisphere.
While I have been busy with boat sales the rest of the team have been taking care of several dozen boats coming in for winter storage and we are now full to the gunwales.
Ellie’s diary is also overflowing with interesting projects; as I write “Babymore” is about to have a new solid mahogany dash fitted complete with shiny new instrumentation.
We welcome visitors, and our winter working hours on weekdays are 8.30 am – 4.30 pm at Beale Park Boat Store.
Please give the office a ring to ensure that someone is expecting you and has time to make you a cuppa. Of course I am happy to do viewings at the weekend too, now that my international jet-setting activities have been curtailed!