I’M ALWAYS pleased to see new businesses arrive on our lovely stretch of the Thames – they provide work and can bring people into the area who spend their money locally which is good for the economy.
So part of me was delighted to learn that a new passenger pleasure boat – called Spirit of Chartwell – had arrived at Sunbury to start a passenger service ferrying sightseers up and down between the lower reaches of the Thames and the non-tidal part.
Delighted, that was, until I discovered that the Spirit of Chartwell is 210 feet in length and has a beam of 21 feet. Which means that it is a tight squeeze in Molesey Lock, which has a width of 24 feet and cannot fit in Sunbury Lock at all (206 feet long).
Indeed, this leviathan is too big to be able to turn round close to Sunbury Lock itself and has to turn by Sunbury Court Island, where the river widens, and then reverse up to its mooring by the lock.
The good people at Magna Carta Steamship Company, who operate the vessel, have obviously thought this through and, I’m sure, will have employed experienced crew who will be fully capable of controlling this sizeable craft.
I just hope they’ve allowed some leeway for less experienced cabin cruiser and sports boats skippers, sailing dinghies, rowing eights and sea cadets who will regularly be crossing her path.
Provided they have, then I wish them the very best with their new venture and I look forward to hearing from readers who take a trip aboard the Spirit of Chartwell, either for a day trip down to the Pool of London and back or even one of the luxurious five-day trips that will be on offer.
For more information, visit www.magnacarta.bz/information.
MANY apologies for giving you duff information recently. In my piece about Shepperton’s annual raft race, I incorrectly stated that the idea originally came from Lynn Lewis, the founder of Nauticalia, the Shepperton firm which regularly sponsors the event. Nick Pollard, himself a former member of the Shepperton Village Fair committee, points out that the raft race was actually conceived by his colleague, Neil Cameron, one-time chairman of the committee. Glad to set the record straight, Nick.
I THOUGHT I should remind readers that the Rotary Club of Kingston will be staging their annual dragon boat racing day on Sunday, July 18 at Canbury Gardens in Kingston. The organisers hope to have as many as 42 boats taking part from all over the country in what is always a great spectacle. And any money raised on the day will be going to support an excellent cause – the River Thames Boat Project, whose barge, Richmond Venturer, regularly takes disabled people and school children on river trips to help them experience the beauty of the river and its wildlife. Well worth going along to support this group – and, of course, to watch the racing. Venturer herself will be present for people to learn more about the boat project charity and there will be fairground rides for the youngsters.