Profiles: Company profiles
Water, water everywhere
Liveaboard boater Tony Jones checks out a game-changing new product that could mark the end of many boaters’ water issues and be a major selling point for boat-builders.
Life afloat requires a lot of plate spinning. If we’re not worrying about when our toilet needs emptying, we’re fussing about how much power we’re using and how we’ll replenish it. But it might surprise you that, for many boaters, the most frustrating limiting factor is water. Depending on the size of the water tank, how many people use it and how much time they spend aboard, a typical water tank could need refilling anywhere between every four to 14 days.
A Boatbuilder's Diary
How spiralling prices are impacting the waterways industry
The ever-rising cost of living has affected us all, and boat-builders have been particularly hard hit. Tiffany Gale-Haynes of Kingsground Narrowboats takes us through last year.
You know what they say about the best-laid plans. Well, over the last couple of years that saying has been particularly appropriate and prophetic. We began 2022 being glad that Covid was essentially under control and looking forward to a relatively normal year. Needless to say, things didn’t work out quite as we’d planned.
How marinas and boat yards can support their customers' mental health
With mental-health issues becoming increasingly prevalent, Tiffany Gale-Haynes discusses the launch of the Talk Away project which aims to assist mooring providers when faced with customers with mental-health challenges.
If you were at the recent Crick Boat Show, you will probably have seen our Talk Away stand where we launched the industry-wide initiative to address mental-health issues within the boating community. The prevalence of boaters’ mental-health issues is probably no greater than it is in the general population but boaters are often more isolated and can fall through the gaps in the system.
A refreshingly different business model
While many marina operators stick to a tried-and-tested business model, Lakeland Leisure’s emergence and growth have pushed the envelope. Tony Jones speaks to Mark and Louise Morgan from this customer-focused, family-operated business
Lakeland Leisure has been gathering momentum in the boating industry over the last few years. Since expanding from its roots in the caravan-park business, it has acquired several marinas and boat brokerages. And, as well as carving a course in the second-hand boat sector, it has recently entered the new-boat market too.
Tony Jones talks to Promarine’s Stuart Austin to get the lowdown on boat finance – an essential route into boating for many prospective owners.
Although countless people aspire to narrowboat ownership, a good number of these lack the finances to make their dream a reality and those who can raise funds often realise that their ideal boat will cost slightly more than their budget allows. It’s a situation that Stuart Austin, the managing director of boat-finance provider Promarine, understands well: “Buying a boat is both a practical and emotional experience, so it’s better to buy a boat they’ll be happy with, rather than disappointed. That’s where we can help..”
Electric boating innovations
Lightning Craft founder Josh Masters provides a breakdown of the electric boating sector and his company’s innovations and products.
The birth of Lightning Craft
Lightning Craft was born from necessity in early 2020 when I began to question the longevity of my career in the marine diesel trade. Sensing a shift towards electric, I began my odyssey in search of alternative propulsion solutions. This proved difficult initially. Electric motors exist in almost every industry, so sourcing them wasn’t a problem. However, finding motors that matched the performance of a diesel engine wasn’t so straightforward, and applying the technology to a marine situation was testing again.
The Electric Future
Tony Jones speaks to Chris Fower, Fischer Panda UK Sales & Marketing Director, about the future of electric boating on the inland waterways and how boat-builders can get ahead of the curve to become key players in this electrified future.
Electric boating is moving at a frantic pace as the push for sustainability grows, and few companies have been in the field of electric innovation for as long as Fischer Panda UK. Over the last 25 years, it has developed a range of electric propulsion solutions to replace or provide alternatives to diesel engines, including inboard motors, outboard motors, pod motors and hybrid drive systems. “The coastal boating world has been on board with electric propulsion for decades. We supplied our first electric propulsion system in a coastal vessel over 25 years ago, so it’s no surprise that inland boating has followed suit,” says Chris. “Indeed, electric propulsion could be said to be more suited to the inland waterways market as the boating demands are easier to satisfy. Despite the later uptake, the demand for electric boats is taking off quickly. People visiting the recent Crick Boat Show events have come to the Fischer Panda stand wanting to learn about electric boating, whereas just five or six years ago it wasn’t on the agenda.”
Cinderella has arrived
With a retail purchase price of around £4,000 and a 60p average cost per flush, the Cinderella incinerating toilet isn’t for everyone. But for many new and discerning boaters it is the only choice – and they’re more than willing to pay for it. Karl Sutcliffe from LeeSan explains more.
The future of boat toilets
There’s a lot to commend the Cinderella toilet to the boating market. Instead of collecting toilet waste as other systems do, the Cinderella incinerates it, thereby removing the need to rely on external services – so no more trips to Elsan points or pump-out facilities, and no need to find ways to properly dispose of separation toilet waste. Instead, the result is just a small amount of biodegradable ash which is perfect for fertilising gardens.
The uWatch Cube
Boat-related crime can be expensive and distressing for the victim, which is why onboard security features are becoming popular among owners.
The uWatch Cube entered the boat security market in 2022, and the system is already becoming popular with boaters and boat-builders. “The Cube approaches boat security from a different angle,” says UWatch Business Development Manager, Craig Geerthsen.
Feeling the Heat
When we heard that the Recoheat system could double the efficiency of a solid-fuel stove and halve the cost of fuel, we were intrigued.
With inflation rising and the cost of living increasing daily, saving money on fuel is something everyone is thinking about. So perhaps the Recoheat system for solid-fuel stoves is one way for boaters and businesses to address that problem? Recoheat’s Managing Director Will Burrows was keen to answer our questions and explain how this revolutionary new product works.
Marineware – The boat paint specialists
Boat painting is one of the most passionately debated topics on the waterways. We spoke to Simon Crawford at Marineware to separate boat-painting facts from fiction, and to hear about the latest developments in this sector
Doing the heavy lifting
A.B. Tuckey has been craning and transporting inland boats since the 1980s. Company boss Barry Tuckey provides insights into the work
Candle Bridge Fabrication
Men of Steel
We speak to the owners of Candle Bridge Fabrication to find out the do’s and don’ts of canal boat steelwork
Is hydrogen power the future of boating?
Tony Jones met up with Hydrogen Afloat’s Nick Swift at this year’s Crick Boat Show to hear about his plans to develop a domestic fuel which is convenient, socially responsible and environmentally friendly. And there’s a way you could benefit too.
A P Boatbuilding
A Timber Tradition
A. P. Boatbuilding is one of the few boatyards in Britain specialising in the conservation of historic wooden narrowboats. Kathryn Clover visit its Tamworth premises
Nestled in a corner of Alvecote Marina in Tamworth, the A. P. Boatbuilding yard is dedicated to the conservation and restoration of heritage wooden narrowboats. The processes and skills used for this are highly specialised and very different to that of a normal boatyard, as the company’s Adrian Polglase (Ade) and Andy Cox will attest. In the yard at the time of our visit were three heritage narrowboats in various stages of restoration: Walton, President and Mendip.
An Energy-Saving Solution For Boats
Riva Insulation specialises in fitting closed-cell spray foam, and has carried out a good deal of work on inland boats. WN speaks to company owner Justin Brason.
Reducing heat loss and condensation is an ongoing concern for many inland boat owners, and especially so during a period of soaring energy costs. One solution to reduce draughts, reduce heating costs by more than 50%, give added protection, and make your waterways’ home even more comfortable is closed-cell spray-foam insulation.
Tradline Rope and Fenders
Money for New Rope
Tony Jones speaks to master fender-maker Pete Flockhart to find out how Tradline Rope & Fenders became an established name in the boating world and beyond
Tradline Rope & Fenders began life in the late 1980s as a hobby for owner Pete Flockhart. After establishing a small business aboard his narrowboat Lily Eliza, he moved onto a old work butty but by 1993 Tradline had outgrown its floating home and Pete and his wife Karen set up in the old blacksmith’s forge at Braunston Marina, where it has remained ever since.
From Pigs to Plastics
How do you get from livestock farming to manufacturing narrowboat water tanks? Goodwin Plastics owner Jason Goodwin explains the transition
At Goodwin Plastics, we design and manufacture high-quality, customised plastic products for private and commercial customers, including water and waste tanks, from our base in Crewe. Before we moved into plastic manufacture full time, however, my family were pig farmers. The plastics side of things all started in 1992 when my dad designed and built an ad-lib pig feeder – a kind of trickle-down hopper full of food which would replenish the feeder as the pigs ate.
Canal Wholesale Supplies
The Wholesale Package
Plaques to Pearson’s guides and mugs to model boats, Canal Wholesale Supplies stocks the full gamut of waterways-themed merchandise. WN talks to owner Andy Gosling
Established in February 2019, Canal Wholesale Supplies (or CWS as it is commonly referred to) is a wholesaler of practical boating items and giftware to canal-related businesses across the network. The Kettering-based company is owned and run by Andy Gosling, a web-developer and entrepreneur with a keen interest in the inland waterways.
Gallows Bridge Boatyard
Big Boys' Toys
Tony Jones visits Gallows Bridge Boatyard & Moorings in Shipley on the Leeds & Liverpool to find out why the business is building a reputation for the big jobs
“There’s always a crowd!” laughs Aaran Laylor, owner of Gallows Bridge Boatyard & Moorings, as another boat is lifted out of the water onto a waiting truck. Indeed, when I was moored there during the Covid lockdowns, the towpath would always be teeming with gongoozlers every time a boat came out. “We lifted 12 boats out in a single day last week!” exclaimed Bren Snr, as I watched the crane at work. “It was mental busy!”
Lady Lane Wharf
A Modern Marina
Tony Jones meets Ian Caswell from Lady Lane Wharf on the north Stratford Canal to find out what makes this newly refurbished marina so special
Located at the summit of what is essentially a 50-mile lock pound on the north Stratford Canal near Solihull, Lady Lane Wharf has come a long way in the last five years. Having undergone a major refurbishment at the hands of its parent company Waterpride Estates Ltd, this attractive and unique corner of the network has been described as a ‘boutique’ marina.
Tony Jones visits Canvasman owners Chris and Fran Salisbury at their new warehouse just off the Leeds & Liverpool in Baildon, to find out what’s happening in the world of boat covers
“Some might say I was rather naive during the early years of the business,” says Chris Salisbury, managing director of Yorkshire-based boat-cover company Canvasman. “I remember sitting in a meeting at the bank when the company was just a few years old, and them telling me that there was no way I could build a successful business in such a niche market as narrowboats. Thankfully I was both fiercely determined and quite naive back then. I just thought ‘yeah, whatever’, and carried on regardless. I could see we were onto something, and besides, I love a challenge.”
12 Volt Planet
Online electrical component store 12 Volt Planet offers an integrated product and information service for trade and DIY customers. WN finds out more…
Created as a one-stop shop for off-grid wiring projects for both trade and DIY customers, 12 Volt Planet stocks a huge range of 12V and 24V electrical supplies for the boating, leisure and vehicle sectors. Operating entirely online, the company features an easy-to-use webshop plus a comprehensive Knowledge Centre providing hints and tips on all things electrical, and has developed a global presence since it was established eight years ago.
Historic Broom Boats is taking a modern approach to boating on the Norfolk Broads. WN speaks to managing director Antony Howell about the company’s recent developments
Occupying an enviable position on the River Yare at Brundall, Broom Boats has been an established name on the southern Norfolk Broads for over 120 years. Formed in 1898, initially to build wooden cruisers for the global market, the business is now a luxury hire-fleet operator, mooring facility and marine repair centre headed up by a new director with a passion for the environment.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Finding furniture to fit narrowboats can be a chore but Sofabed Barn makes easy work of it, providing sit-sleep solutions that combine comfort and style
Sofabed Barn is a family-run business based in Bradford, where its large selection of compact, easy-to-use sofabeds and chair-beds are handmade to order. The firm was established over 20 years ago and first entered the inland waterways sector at the 2012 Crick Boat Show.
SML Marine Paints
Coatings specialist SML Marine Paints tells WN how its own-brand products were developed to meet the needs of the inland waterways market
SML Marine Paints offers a broad range of paint-systems, primers, topcoats and varnishes for every type of inland waterways craft, available from its dedicated webpage, as well as decorative and protective coatings from its sister sites.
Leoch Battery UK
Coming into Power
WN profiles battery manufacturer Leoch, just over a year since it established its UK subsidiary
Founded in 1999, Leoch is one of the largest multi-range battery manufacturers in the world, supplying to more than 100 countries. The international company currently employs more than 12,000 people in factories in an area covering over one million square miles. It has 105 production lines and related testing equipment, plus three dedicated battery research and development centres where it is constantly pushing the boundaries of energy storage capabilities for a wide range of applications and looking for greener, more environmentally conscious battery solutions.
Wessex Chemical Factors
WN talks product development, greening supply chains and responding to the pandemic with Wessex Chemical Factors’ general manager Hannah Borowski
Family-run company Wessex Chemical Factors has been developing cleaning and treatment solutions for industrial, commercial and domestic applications for over 35 years. The UK-manufactured products are distributed across the globe, and the company has a dedicated website for its marine range, which brings together items designed specifically for cleaning, treating and preserving all types of boats.
Symphony Narrowboat Paint
A fresh coat
Symphony Coatings is relaunching its Narrowboat Paint range with an updated look and revamped colour chart. WN finds out more…
Symphony Narrowboat Paint is an established name in the inland waterways sector, supplying specialist paint products for commercial applications and retail sale. Its comprehensive range of boat-based paints is set to be relaunched this summer and will include extra colour options for the modern boater, along with new branding.
Kings Lock Chandlery
Shop small, think big
Operating from tiny premises on the Trent & Mersey Canal, Kings Lock Chandlery is supplier to some of the biggest boat-builders in the country. WN talks to director Steve Wedgwood
Positioned on the Trent & Mersey close to the junction with the Shropshire Union’s Middlewich Branch, Kings Lock Chandlery occupies prime canalside real estate, serving passing retail customers and supplying boat-builders across the country. So why, then, does it occupy such a small shopfront? It’s a deliberate move, says owner and director Steve Wedgwood, who steadfastly believes “big doesn’t mean beautiful”.
A Helping Hand
As we continue in another national lockdown, WN profiles the narrowboat paint firm that’s turned its alcohol stocks to hand sanitiser to prevent shortages
Manchester-based company HMG Paints might not be well known to the average inland boater, but its products will be familiar under many other brands, such as Craftmaster.
WN talks to Engines Plus director Hedley Beavis about the evolution of his business and what the future holds for the sector
Based in Gloucester, Engines Plus has been supplying marine and industrial engines since 2009. Having started with just one marinised engine on its books, the company now supplies a wide range suitable for inland waterways use under the Canaline name, as well as from Solé Diesel and Hyundai Seasall. It also sells diesel and petrol engines, and generators for industrial use from Isuzu, Kioti, Kirloskar and Suburu, and prides itself on being able to provide packages suited to diverse applications across the country.