Hello Sailor

Late last year, the Club night Raffle, I won a prize. My winning ticket wasn’t the first out of the hat, nor even the second, in fact there wasn’t much left when I reached the table to collect my winnings, but there was an unassuming white envelope, looking a little forlorn, with the script “Two Tickets For The Boat Show”, hand written on the address side. How could I resist? This was kindly donated by our own Lester Magness, who does have an interest in things marine – but more of that another time.

So, on a cold January Friday morning, Sue and I set sail for the Excel in Docklands. I’ve always fancied a boat but those that I lust after all come with a seven figure price tag, hence no boat for me. Indeed, looking around the vast, but sparsely populated Hall, there appeared to be many that would meet my needs, but not my pocket. Let’s go in.


The first boat by the entrance was a Riva Rivamare, being sold by Ventura. Powered by twin Volvo Penta D6 400hp engines, this 12 metre long baby will cruise at 31 knots, maxing at 40. No slouch then and, with mahogany and maple panelling, premium sound system, fully furnished, this one-owner sexy little 5-berther could be yours for £880K. One of my ‘take home from the show’ choices. Moored next door we found Sue’s favourite.  A Fairlane Squadron 53. With 6 to 9 berths, two or three with en-suite, panelling to shame those boys at Crewe, and a couple of those Volvo motors, this is one to take to Monte.

I did see some small submarine-like devices both on display and in cubby holes on some of the yachts. It turns out these are Seabobs. As the advertising copy goes…”if you’ve ever dreamt of emulating the Spectre Agents in Thunderball, chasing 007 with their underwater tow sleds, Seabob is for you!” You can be a human dolphin, swimming at speeds up to 14 kph (or 13 KPH underwater); and that’s just the base model. Better still, the SR version has a Seabob Cam System to let you film these frivolities.

Speaking of that very un-secret agent, if James Bond ever owned a boat, it would be a Sunseeker and, on the Show’s largest stand, there were several to choose from. The first item you notice is the white Bentley at the entrance. This Continental convertible was resplendent in a white leather interior and yacht deck timber. There was a cocktail bar on the stand, as well as in the car, together with some sumptuous furnishing so that you could part with your cash in comfort and partake in a stiff drink when you realised how much you spent. Next to this Sunseeker, Prestige Luxury Motor Yachts fielded an excellent stand with more eye watering nautical must haves. But it was not all gin palaces for the rich. There were many other displays to attract this non-sailor.

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Take the gin and tonic holder, for example. There you are, having just mixed your favourite Death’s Door, with coriander and cardamom pods poured over crushed ice when a ripple across the Med sends the Fever Tree and the gin flying across the foredeck. Well, no more. This little gadget keeps everything in one place.  One retailer selling lights, switches, table lamps et al to kit out your super yacht in a display reminiscent of an interior shot on the Starship Enterprise…great stand.

Fancy a camper van? You could choose red or black. For reasons I am not a party to, a couple of Fiat 500s made an appearance, as did tables made from reconstituted stone(?) which hosted a fire behind glass and, more usefully, beer on ice. Yours for a show offer of £3295 apiece. There were some others made from bits of tree. You could even have a helicopter. Just load up the Louis, slap on the Chanel and fly down to your mooring in Monaco. Passing the Moet and Chandon Bar, we came across Rimmer Music selling baby grand pianos. Made by Yamaha, these could play themselves, be an electric or percussion piano, be programmed from your iPad and teach you how to play and compose. Probably much more. Only £42K each.

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Plenty of sleek power boats on offer, starting around £80,000 they looked like a lot of fun for a ‘relatively’ small outlay. Canal boats were there too, perhaps not as romantic as the other offerings, but looked like a great holiday idea. Whilst they looked old, they were, in fact, new. If unlocking locks and an evening by the lock keepers pub is your bag then go hire.

There was much more, but before you all become seasick, I’ll cast off. Try it next year. You won’t be disappointed.

Neil Shanley