London International Boat Show 2015 visitor report 4 Feb 2015
One of the highlights of January has always been the London International Boat Show and club members have enjoyed a nautical interlude in the middle of winter. One of our members, John Wilson, has been a regular visitor over the years and often reported for us. This is his somewhat gloomy view of the Boat Show 2015.
‘Decline’ could best describe this year’s Boat Show in ExCel in London’s Docklands, as exemplified by the Royal Navy, from the presence in the Royal Victoria Dock in 2009 of the Type 23 Frigate, HMS WESTMINSTER, to the rubber inflatable boat on their stand in 2010. In 2014 a few Royal Naval Reserves manned their small entry. This year the Royal Navy was nowhere to be seen…
There were no boats in the adjacent Royal Victoria Dock and the internal pool had been dispensed with years ago:only the South Hall was in use.
Sponsored for the first time by CWM FX, their Chairman, Peter Gordon tried to set an upbeat tone, but the dearth of attractions and visitors told its own story. Although we were promised an exciting new format show, it did not seem so. Even on the opening “Press” day there were few visitors.
A novel entrance to the exhibition was through “The Rain Curtain” which was designed to part as you walked through! Like most people, I did not trust this invention not to soak me, and so skirted round it.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnson and Bob Shepton, the 79 year old former Royal Marines officer who has circumnavigated the world with school leavers, both gave talks and our patron, HRH Anne, The Princess Royal dropped in for a quick tour of selected stands.
I was very interested by National Coastwatch “Eyes Along the Coast” Registered Charity 1045645 is a rapidly expanding volunteer organisation who provide a safety service for yachtsmen – filling some of the void left by the retrenchment in Coastguard Services. They “man” (of course, a lot are ladies) disused stations – monitoring VHF Channel 65. Whilst they have extensive coverage of the South Coast and parts of the East and West coasts, the Thames area is a void which needs a station and 40 volunteers are still required.
I had a long talk with Peter Lusty, their National Director of Public Relations, who told me about their organisation and indicated his willingness to visit the RCYC and give us a talk.
Crewsaver were showing their excellent new evolutionary Fusion 3D Lifejackets which they describe as “The Next Level”:very competitively priced, they are designed to widen the appeal of their product range.
Mantsbrite a local Maldon company, established 1964, was again exhibiting a wide range of samples of marine electrical equipment from the range of manufacturers which they represent. Koden, (new product, KDS – 6000BB broad band sonar), David Clark, Fineman, Amec, new product (Camino 108W Class B AIS with Wi Fi)
I was really intersted in the steam tug Brent as she is now laying alongside the quay at Maldon, Essex. She is the only surviving steam vessel of the many once owned by the Port of London Authority and is now a registered charity Number 1139414. She was saved from the breaker’s yard in 1971 and after 40 years in private ownership is now being lovingly restored by a small group of enthusiasts. Their immediate task is to raise £60,000 to have a new boiler built and installed, as at present she is not able to steam. Once this work is done it is planned to sail her on the Thames and local waters as a visitor attraction, and as a training ship for young people. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm of the volunteers to whom I spoke.
On Premium Liferaft Services I had a pleasant chat with our own Matt Barr who conceded that times were challenging. Keen pricing and good service is the basis of his business model. No passage making yachtsman should ignore the safety benefits his firm provides.
So, that’s the view of one visitor to this year’s Boat Show. There were plenty of exhibits in the luxury motor yacht section but you would need to be a Russian ologarch to sign the cheque!