2017 has been a year of challenges and exciting times. Take a look.
After the Christmas break, we plunged back into work at the boathouse, building Kingfisher. She’s one of two new narrowboats which will join our fleet this year. The efficient 100kw biomass boiler kept our boathouse as warm as toast, while the canal froze over!
Our programme of winter maintenance continued. 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.
Sunday 19 March was the busiest day so far at Beacon Park Boats, with a few hundred visitors dropping by to look at our narrowboats, browse around the boathouse and enjoy tea and cake! We opened our doors as part of the Canal & River Trust’s Open Day on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, and were delighted to welcome so many interested people. Some live locally but the majority had travelled to the canal and parked in our car park.
Dry Dock Cottage welcomed its first guests. When planning the transformation of our former Dry Dock at Llanfoist Wharf, our aim was to create an amazing holiday cottage for a couple. In addition to the usual luxury features, we put a home automation system into this cottage, which means you can control the heating, lighting, blinds, radio and home cinema system from a tablet. Great fun for all you gadget-lovers.
Following an extremely anxious time related to Alasdair’s health, our amazing staff members pulled together even more than usual to ensure that the business continued without any interruptions. What a superb and committed team we have!
We raced to finish building the most innovative boat in our fleet, Wren, which has an open-plan design, featuring creative use of curves and sleek finishes. From the amazing feedback we’ve received, many customers have fallen in love with Wren’s unique styling.
The shell of our latest creation, Mallard, 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. Mallard sleeps up to six people, and is modelled closely on Merlin which has been incredibly popular with customers. We decided that we should offer a similar boat for short breaks starting on Mondays and Fridays, as Merlin is available only for week-long holidays (or longer) starting on Saturdays.
For the third 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 stars for the sixth year in a row. It’s a superb accolade for our hardworking team.
We started developing a series of three activity leaflets which will encourage children to discover more about the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal while on holiday. Whether they are cruising the canal or staying in one of our cottages, families will enjoy using the activity leaflets to explore the waterway, and keep a record of when and where they spot things.
One of the leaflets is about our narrowboat fleet, another focuses on the heritage of the canal, and the third one features some of the wonderful creatures that live in, on or near the canal. They’ll be available for customers from Easter 2018.
This year we became aware of how tricky it can be to enjoy a holiday when you need to use a wheelchair or have limited mobility. This led to next challenge! We started putting our skills to good use, designing a boat that will include all the facilities needed by a person with limited mobility and their partner/carer/family, while offering the level of luxury expected from the Beacon Park Boats brand. The boat is planned to be available from Easter 2019. Watch our progress via our blog.
As soon as the cruising stopped for the winter, our houseboat customers arrived. Buzzard (also known as Houseboat North) and Owl (also known as Houseboat South) are now moored near our boathouse until early March. It’s an increasingly popular type of holiday during the quieter months.
ITV broadcast ‘Beacons Uncovered’, a television series focussing on people who live and work in the Brecon Beacons. We were thrilled to be part of this project, and thoroughly enjoyed working with producers Nicola Hendy and Alun Jones. Filming took place throughout 2017, culminating in four programmes – one for each season. A treasured snapshot of our Beacon Park Boats’ year, and a fitting way to end 2017.