London Boat Show – Let the Garmin take the strain

It is that time of year again – the London Boat Show is on. In the interests of research George and I went for an afternoon out. It was a more interesting afternoon than we expected – helped by the fact that it is an Olympic year and there were examples of all the Olympic classes there. Here is George’s take on the show:

“When Andy suggested an afternoon trip to the Boat show I didn’t really expect to find a great deal to interest me, however, I knew it wasn’t going to be that bad as we walked up the entrance hall towards a Devoti Finn and we were soon happily trying to work out how the lever kicker worked and tracing ropes around under the foredeck. It got better as just around the corner was Rodney Pattison’s 1976 silver medal winning FD ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ fully restored and on a stand outlining the development of Olympic yachting.

Moving on Andy tested the Garmin man with some intelligent questions about data streams. ‘Yes this tiny gadget will happily lead you up Snowdon or across the Atlantic and will link to your PC and Autopilot’. I realised that Andy could probably afford the Southerly 38 we were by then exploring if he sent his yacht off on its own with the Garmin in charge while he kept his nose to the grindstone in his office. The boat was beautifully finished with en-suite cabins and none of the nooks and crannies I associate with cruising boats. It could have been a caravan but on each side of the saloon were huge stainless steel fittings transferring the rig loads to the hull. Underneath the sole is a vast lump cast iron holding the small centre board which extends up into the saloon, its shoal draft would make it very suitable for the East coast. It was interesting to see how similar the design of many of the larger boats has now become with U shaped forward sections and the maximum beam very close to the stern. Twin rudders and twin wheels seemed the norm. Andy questioned how comfortable they would be upwind when it got rough, certainly compared to my concept of what made a good cruiser (based on the middle of the last century!) they were an entirely different breed. The boat of the show, a Dehler 41, looked equally impressive with the added advantage of a big fin keel.

The London Show has to some extent been side lined by the larger European manufacturers and for this reason many of the popular smaller models were not there. However we looked at the ‘J boats’, a new cabin version of the Hawk and a Polish built centre boarder that seemed excellent value. I also found the Hartley Laminates redesign of the Wayfarer interior interesting. Their boats are well finished with (optional) removable stern lockers and side seats. With different hull lay-ups they have made the ever popular Wayfarer even more versatile.

Sadly the only wooden boats were on display were 2 traditional clinker dinghies but there was another laminated hull that had been effectively sheathed in thin sections of donated scrap timber items. ‘The Boat Project’ has been sponsored by the Arts Council and is a part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, with sections of tennis rackets, cricket bats, childrens’ toys and musical instruments etc etc, the overall effect is amazing. The strangest thing we found was a recumbent canoe that you pedalled rather than paddled! There was also a yacht that had been deliberately subjected to a gas explosion and I believe other attempts to destroy it.

We had spent about 3 hours and I must say I found the show thoroughly enjoyable and completely different to my last visit some years ago.”

We were tempted to get a new rescue boat for the club and there was a convenient one moored in the marina outside, but they didn’t seem to accept our offer. Perhaps they were holding out for more ….