Even the smallest businesses are finding customers through the web, as our first three sites this month will illustrate. Luxury Afloat www.luxuryafloat.co.uk has just one narrowboat for self-drive hire holidays based on the River Soar. This is the 58 foot semi-traditional narrowboat Blythe Spirit which has a website with separate pages covering the boat, routes, prices, booking and contact details.
Another company with just one hire boat is Cygnus Thames Cruises www.pickwicksoverton.com/boat_hire.htm . Cygnus is a privately owned, custom-built, Director's launch based on the Thames. In this case only one page is devoted to the boat but the site has some other pages devoted to non-boating activities. The third of these small hire boat sites is Narrowboat Savanna www.holiday-narrowboat.co.uk which is another very professional looking site that features one eight-berth holiday narrowboat based at Guildford on the River Wey.
Switching from boat hire but continuing with one more small business website we come to Canal Doctor www.canaldoctor.co.uk owned by someone who undertakes odd-jobs on boats in the South-east and Midlands area. A much larger company is Centa Transmissions www.centa.info who supply a wide range of equipment including propulsion couplings for many types of boats.
Reeds Narrow Boats www.reedsnarrowboats.co.uk are boat builders based in Worksop supplying everything from a sail-away to a fully-fitted boat. Woodworks Boat Fitting www.boat-fitting.co.uk are boat fitters based in Nottinghamshire producing individual "one-off" boats to meet the requirements of their customers. Our final boat builder is R.L.L Projects Ltd www.rllboats.co.uk a Bristol based steel boat building business supplying basic hulls through to fully fitted narrowboats, Avon Barges, Dutch Barges, wide beam cruisers, work boats and fishing boats.
boats4u www.boats4u.co.uk introduce people who wish to purchase a narrowboat to the people that have a narrowboat for sale. MBH Services www.mbhservices.co.uk is a specialist boat relocation service for inland waterways of the UK and Europe up to a length of 24 metres. Although they specialise in movement by water, road transportation can be arranged. Visit K and A www.visitkanda.com, owned by the Kennet & Avon Canal Rural Transport Partnership, is designed to help you get to the canal by train, bus, bike or on foot and to explore the surrounding towns and countryside.
The Stratford & Warwick Waterways Trust www.swwaterway.co.uk is working towards the extension of navigation on the River Avon from Stratford-upon-Avon to beyond Warwick to join the Grand Union canal. If this was done it would not only provide a shorter, and much less locked, route between Stratford and Warwick but would also create a new cruising ring between the towns.
Waterstart www.waterstart.co.uk is a waterways based training and recreational facility based at Thorne, South Yorkshire, and work with people throughout Doncaster and neighbouring boroughs. They use their community boat to offer boat handling skills and arts orientated activities. Another Community Narrowboat Project is the Selby & District Surewaters Project www.surewaters.org.uk which was established in 2004 by the Sobriety Project based in Yorkshire providing a range of experiences, learning and training, using the local waterways. A related site is The Waterways Museum (The Sobriety Project a charity) www.waterwaysmuseumandadventurecentre.co.uk covering the Yorkshire Waterways Museum collection opened in 1987 and telling the story of the Aire and Calder Navigation and the creation of the Port of Goole.
Site of the Month
Waterways Interactive www.waterwaysinteractive.com is a free searchable database of waterway services, pubs, boatyards, attractions, locations and photos. This is the companion site to Canal Planner for Windows website which supports this well known route planning software.
There is a lot of information on this site; 162 waterways, 8,753 locations, 6,113 pictures, 445 boatyards, 1,420 pubs, 1,252 churches, 216 services and 515 attractions according to the home page. The site enables you to look at the information by any of these categories so you can look at all the boatyards on the Coventry Canal or all the attractions in Oxford. The keywords search enables you to do things such as listing all the pubs that have "Navigation" in their name (quite a lot) or find out where "Sally Boats" is located. There are also a lot of sub-categories that can be searched, for example, you can just search for water points on a waterway or if you are looking for a church you can search by denomination.
There is a lot more to this site than can be explained here (and more than I have discovered so far) but it is obviously a valuable source of information that can be accessed in many ways. If you register with the site (which is free) you can also access news stories, articles, calculate journey times, see waterway maps and access a chat forum.
If you would like to suggest a favourite web site which you think WW
readers should know about please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.