There were many firsts for us during 2016. Take a look.
Having moved the business to Llangattock just a couple of months ago, we spent much of January moving the contents of our stores from the old boathouse in Llanfoist up to our new boathouse. We didn’t realise we had so much stuff! And once it was all tidily arranged in our spacious new boathouse we wondered how we ever managed to fit it in the tiny storerooms at Llanfoist.
Our programme of winter maintenance continued apace. Each year we take every boat out of the water for a week-long overhaul. It can include sanding and painting the exterior, varnishing and painting the interior, re-grouting tiles, replacing silicon around sinks and showers, cleaning carpets, washing curtains and a complete service of the heating system and the boat’s engine.
We launched Merlin, our newly-built six-berth narrowboat, early in March for a trial run on the canal. The Mon & Brec canal officially re-opened after its winter closure, and we were very excited to welcome our first customers to our new boathouse at Llangattock.
In order to get Grouse, our second new boat for 2016, ready for its first customers our amazing team worked flat out all month, stopping only to help Alasdair celebrate his big 50th birthday!
With just a few days to spare, Grouse took to the water and we watched proudly as her first customers cruised away on her. Of course, we’d already started planning our new boats for 2017 which will include a rather curvy design. Alasdair’s never short of ideas for his next project!
We were receiving lots of great feedback from our customers about the new wharf and boathouse. The additional space we have here makes all the tasks so much easier, and gives customers an even better holiday experience. Alasdair (with the sunglasses), who had been training hard for some time, achieved another first. Together with his friends from Monmouth Rowing Club, he won Gold in the Coxed Fours in the National Masters Championships. A very proud moment!
The shell of our latest creation, Kingfisher, arrived from the fabricators Alexander Boat Builders in Worcestershire. We set to work on this streel structure straight away, as it’ll take several months for us to transform it into five-star holiday accommodation.
For the second year running, Beacon Park Boats scored a perfect 100% in the grading visit by the British Marine Federation. Every boat in our fleet was awarded five star, for the fifth year in a row. It’s a superb accolade for our entire team. They all work so hard.
Since relocating the business, our former Dry Dock at Llanfoist has sat languishing. Not ones to miss an opportunity, Alasdair and Sarah had an idea to turn this workshop into a lavish and rather quirky holiday cottage. Work began in earnest this month, with a view to welcoming our first customers before next Easter!
It’s been a record year for Beacon Park Boats with hardly a spare week on any of our narrowboats. The last few holidays that were available this month, we chose to offer to our regular customers at very special rates.
For the first time, we’ve moored Owl (the one with the on-deck hot-tub) alongside our wharf so customers can stay on her during the winter period. Along with Buzzard, Owl becomes a permanently-moored houseboat from November to March, offering cosy breaks on the canal during the tranquil months.
The entire canal is a hive of activity. The Canal & River Trust are undertaking major improvement works while, in our boathouse, Kingfisher is almost completed. We need to get her onto the water before the end of the month as we’re taking delivery of the steel shell of Wren in the New Year. In the meantime, we’re busy sending out our new brochure before taking a much-needed rest over Christmas.