Beale Park Boat Show
by Chris Partridge
|Pangbourne is a little village on the River Thames famous
for being the place where the Three Men in a Boat decided
after three days of rain on the return trip from Oxford,
they would abandon boat and slink off to the railway station
for dinner in London.
|Perhaps the glorious sunshine at the Beale Park Boat Show
at Pangbourne convinced people to get back on the water.
Beale Park is a nature reserve with the priceless asset
of a lake connected to the river through a short channel.
Nowhere could be perfecter for a boat show where many boat
designers, kit builders and craftsmen show off their wares
to home boat builders
The lake at Beale
Park (click to enlarge)
|And some of those home boat builders entered their latest
productions in a competition organised by Watercraft, the
excellent magazine for small and home built boats (rotten
website though - www.watercraft.co.uk).
Charlotte II |Charlotte II is a lovely
Lyle Haas-designed 16ft catboat built by a man who normally
builds on a much small scale - he is a professional model
maker. The boat is unusual in being made mainly from recycled
timber including redwood from a gym ceiling, iroko from
laboratory benches and mahogany from church pews. It took
seven years to build and cost just £10,000 including
the engine and trailer.
|Philip Venn built his 15ft
Bear Mountain Canoe from cedar strip and ash, costing some
|Mowana, a Yachting World
Utility Pram, is living proof that leaving old plans around
the house can come back to haunt you. The builder, Ann Sanders,
said she bought the plans in 1978 but moved house instead.
Six years ago she came across the plans and finally got
|My favourite boatbuilders,
Chippendale Craft, were exhibiting their lovely Sprite rowing
boat, but made much better than I did mine, with practically
invisible inner seams and a little seat at the back.
|Incidentally, I have decided to sell
my double skiff version, the Otter, so if anybody is interested
details. A bargain at £1,600.
Conrad Natzio, a Bolger-influenced designer
who has created a very attractive line of easy-to-build
designs, had his Little Grebe and Shoveller designs (below)
on show. Very characterful and practical.
(click images to enlarge)
|Weirwolf Watercraft's proa
is an interesting design for home construction.
|The Barrow Boat Company is
famous for the wheel it puts in every boat, making launching
a doddle as long as the beach is firm enough. Here's my
friend Andy demonstrating the way the oars are stuck through
holes in the transom for easy barrowing. They are beautifully
Sandpiper Sailing Canoe
|Swallow Boats showed a lovely
sailing canoe with a simple single sail designed to spill
wind in gusts to avoid capsize. But the bloke on the stand
did not deny that going out in any sort of wind would be
a damp experience. I'm still tempted though - it is incredibly
light and just the job for those 'it's high tide, the sun's
out, so what am I doing indoors?' moments.
|Their excellent website is at www.swallowboats.com.
Swallow Boat had a very interesting new boat on show in
the form of Winsome, a pedal powered launch designed for
inland waterways where rowing is not practical because they
are not wide enough or you can't see where you are going.
|To power Winsome, two people
sit facing each other at either end pedalling at a central
gear box. The idea is that a respectable speed can be kept
up without too much effort, conversation is possible and
hands are free for that essential accessory for quality
boating in Britain, champagne.
Preparing for battle - note TV screen
and mobile phone attached to cabin roof |Everyone loved a pair of
models of Victorian battleships, one British, one Prussian.
I assumed they were radio controlled until the funnels of
one of them suddenly hinged outwards to reveal a bloke lying
inside, controlling the boat with the aid of a tiny TV screen.
Apparently it was jolly hot in there.
|The models are based, appropriately enough, in Portsmouth,
home of the Royal Navy - take a look at pmbdt.co.uk
|Another impressive performer on the lake
was Sgian Dubh (Gaelic for Black Knife), a quadruple skiff
owned by the Thames Traditional Boat Society (below). Earlier
this year, the Dittons Skiff and Punting Club, based near
London, broke the record for rowing the length of the Thames
from near the source at Lechlade to Southend Pier, in the
estuary, 185 miles away. They did it in 30 hours 57 minutes
and 37 seconds, chopping more than seven hours off the previous
record. However, the crews at the Show needed a bit more
left - Sgian Dubh waving it's oars
|The Dinghy Cruising Association
had a big presence with a whole jetty to themselves. These
people are devoted to finding muddy creeks and camping in
them. They are possibly mad, but I am thinking seriously
of joining them....