Dick Durham's view of ExCel show
There are more than 500 people showing off their boats and wares at the ExCel London Boat Show which opened today and ends on 20 January. And as I went in search for the boat of the show, pouring rain had put paid to the ticket touts and chestnut braziers which normally nestle beneath the giant bimini-covered walkway from the Docklands Light Railway to the great western entrance of ExCel which looks like a cross between the renovated St Pancras railway station and a shopping mall.
The sound of a swell breaking played from a PA system as I trudged up the walkway along with sveral hundred other visitors. But it was hard to imagine waves breaking on the Victorian brickwork of London’s docks.
Once inside the aural assault continued from Her Majesty’s Royal Marines band from Portsmouth, whose drummers’ unison was like a line of clockwork soldiers. As they wheeled sharp right down the central boulevard, I was pressed back against some fancy blue rope and got a French horn in my face.
From there I walked across a carpet of stylised sand and whelk shell to watch a shipwright, with a chisel in one hand and a mobile phone in the other shaping up some deck timbers from the charred remains of the Cutty Sark. ‘She was the Strativarius, of wind-machines, you know,’ I heard him say.
Next came the anchoring platform which is fine if you want to learn how to bring up in a travel hoist: there’s no snubbing chain without water!
A lady at the Hanse stand told me that the nav lights – which are all glowing brightly from the lines of majestic yachts – are all plugged into the mains, although they are somewhat diminished from their ‘under the roof’ jury rigs.
Jeanneau was strategically placed at the Guinness stand. Southerly are launching their excellent £127,000 32 footer – although I personally loath the colour red, it’s the colour of road ragers, and Oyster had a £3 million 65 footer. Meanwhile the Daily Mail dismissed Bavaria, Jeanneau and beneteau as the ‘runabouts of the sea’.
But, for me, having choked on a £2.45 latte (once known as coffee) from Upper Crust, the boat of the show is the Jeanneau Sun 2000: a sweet-lined centre-boarder at the very sensible price of £19,000: less than many of the dayboats at the show.
Have a good show.