Boats and water are important but it was the sunshine that made this meeting special for me. The weather was glorious and the late season sun lit the bucolic landscape of the Upper Thames to perfection.
Our group was made up of 5 boats plus a few members who, like myself, came along for the ride. Each boat was very different and just goes to show how varied and unconventional the world of electric boating is.
The largest of all the boats was Malaya owned by Charles and Barbara Lyne. This was a boat conceived in the far east but built in the UK nearly 100 years ago. Now she is driven by an AC induction motor connected to the prop shaft by belts. She is a charming boat beautifully restored and capable of transporting large amounts of champagne around the country.
Nick and Yvonne Goldring hitched their 16’ launch Silent Adventure to the back of a Tesla and in doing so was probably the greenest of all entrants. With a black hull and cedar and cherry topsides she looked very elegant on the water. Belt reduction systems are common on electric boats but instead of using a toothed belt Nick used a poly V belt which was much quieter than the toothed option.
Ian Lindsay, our host and the co owner of the Lechlade Marina along with his wife Jules had opted for a Torqeedo outboard on his low maintenance GRP day boat. This motor was quiet, responsive and efficient. Being an outboard, Ian was able to easily lift the leg out of the water. Handy in shallow water or when there is lots of weed.
Ian and Sylvia Rutter brought along their Ranger 12 “Watts Ahead” powered by a motor arrangement of Ian’s design. Ian does this for a living so you’d expect it to be good. And it is. This boat was efficient and tracked like she was on rails.
Simon West joined us on Thursday. Simon had owned his elegant gentleman’s launch for over 15 years. It wasn’t new when he bought her and has no idea of how old the motor is. But so long as there is power in the batteries the motor keeps going. In that she is a great advert for the simplicity of electric boats.
We started on Wednesday afternoon with a short trip down the river to shake out the cobwebs that have been accumulating during the covid epidemic. It was great to catch up with old friends and welcome some new members. We are not a typical club/association. There are no rules other than if you have a boat we’d prefer it to be powered by an electric motor.
With so many of us having spent the last year or so keeping to ourselves with our boats laid up it was just fabulous to be back on the water. The weather was particularly glorious and as a celebration of getting back together a cream tea was laid on back at the marina. In the evening those of us who were staying enjoyed an evening meal at the New Inn in Lechlade. Beer and wine flowed and we chatted long into the evening about our favourite subject, electric boats.
Back on deck at 10am on Thursday we found the weather was a little hazy with the sun trying hard to burn through. Like a military operation we set off precisely at 10.30ish our destination the Plough Inn at Kelmscott. This is an excellent part of the world, William Morris agreed and built a beautiful house on the river in Kelmscott. This time of year the river is very gentle and our electric motors all purring away made easy passage. When you are traveling in an electric boat there is very little noise so you get to hear the birds chatting away about their migration plans for the winter. They don’t need a vaccine passport.
At the Plough we were met by Gillian and Simon from the Henley Sales and Charter, Chris the Pink Hat Man and Felicity and husband David. The food was particularly good and we enjoyed it sitting in their idyllic beer garden. We also got down to business with a robust conversation about the charging point we want. The sun did burn through and we enjoyed perfect cruising weather back to Lechlade marina for more tea and cake and presentations.
The winners were as follows and all took home a bottle of St Emillion 2016
- Charles and Barbara – most amazing electrical conversion
- Nick and Yvonne – best varnish work
- Ian and Jules – best marina
- Ian and Sylvia – most relaxed driving position
- Simon – turning up
I A special mention needs to be put on the internet about or very own ‘Energiser Bunny’ of a President. He has been a tireless supporter of these events and although living in France he came over specially to Lechlade. Merci M. Kevin Desmond.
I had a splendid time, the whole thing was a joy. I’ll organise another one very soon. But please remember you can organise your own trip using the Virtual Club House.