⚓ Stuart Line Cruises Monthly Newsletter ⚓ January 2021⚓

Welcome to Stuart Line Cruises’ January

For those of you who are new to this monthly sign-up, welcome! And for those who have been loyal readers for some time, welcome back to your favourite read of the month! 

Happy New Year, one and all! 

Well folks, Lockdown 3.0 is almost certainly not how the majority of us had hoped to start 2021 but let us remain hopeful that this is not only our final lockdown but that these restrictions will achieve the necessary levelling and subsequent decline in infection rates, allowing us to return to some degree of ‘normality’ later this year. There now appears to be unmistakable light at the end of the very long and dark tunnel, with the two vaccines being rolled out quickly and despite having to remain closed for the time being, we hold great hope and optimism that we will be able to re-open again in early Spring, if not before!

And so, as we dismantle our Christmas decorations, scrub the decks and pack the boats down for another period of so-called ‘rest’, we find ourselves blessed with the luxury of time to reflect upon the last year and plan what is to come…

Of course, no shade of rose-tinted spectacles can disguise the challenges and somewhat less-than-ideal circumstances with which we were faced as a family and as a business but many great things evolved in 2020 – not least, our reaffirmed recognition of just how wonderful our local and online community are. They picked us up when we were down and their support for us was nothing short of overwhelming – we will forever be humbled by but thankful for this.

We would also like to take this opportunity to extend a heart-felt thank you to you – our readers, followers, customers and friends, for your unwavering support throughout the last year. Every response to my newsletter, every email, newsletter sign-up, passing wave, friendly smile and booking received, fill us with excitement, motivation and pleasure – a wholly fulfilled feeling that what we are doing is really worth it and that we have made and continue to make so many wonderful friends along the way. None of it goes unnoticed and these are the things to which I am referring when I say that you pick us up when we are down and give us reason to sail on.

So, for what it’s worth, my tips for beating those infamous ‘January Blues’ which are most likely exacerbated by current circumstances beyond our immediate control…

  • Each morning, think about your reasons to be grateful – these can be as simple as you like. I am grateful to be healthy, safe and warm – three things which I have previously taken for granted but that I now know I am incredibly lucky to be.
  • Find busy work for your hands and mind that is not scrolling through social media – maybe a project that you’ve always dreamed of but never had time for, such as knitting, sewing or colouring.
  • GET OUTSIDE! This is a biggie for me and should really be at the top of the list but I’ll settle for capital letters instead. For those who are lucky enough to live near any sort of open space, I implore you to take time out of each day for a walk/run/cycle. Even if you don’t live near an open space, do it anyway! Look for beauty, listen to the wildlife and feel the refreshing air on your face. I will never tire of the Exe Estuary and surrounds and always feel better once I have been outside – someone almost always smiles at me and says ‘hello’ – whether it’s a stranger, acquaintance or friend – it always makes me feel happy and I thoroughly recommend it. This works both ways so don’t forget to go out of your way to say ‘hello’ to someone else – it may make their day and it’ll make you feel good too! And remember, there is no such thing as ‘bad weather’ – just the wrong clothing!
  • Reach out to and connect with the dear family and friends with whom you are unable to meet at the moment – Zoom calls are nowhere near as good as the real deal but they are certainly better than nothing.
  • Eat well – comfort food is essential at this time of year, is good for the mind and, if healthy, will be good for the body too! Share recipe ideas with family and friends and try something you haven’t cooked before. And don’t forget to treat yourself to your favourite things once in a while too!
  • And remember, it’s OK not to be OK but I am sure that if you even attempt just one of the above, you’ll feel a little bit brighter.

Finally dear friends, I’d like to remind you that this storm too shall pass. This is not intended to be remotely patronising and I am in no way neglecting to acknowledge the current turmoil that so many, including myself, are experiencing. But it will not last forever and in the meantime, we must hang in there, find ways to adapt and make an extra special effort to feel cheerful.

You’ve got this.

Time to reflect…

I mentioned above that the post-Christmas wind-down and now lockdown, offer time for us to reflect upon the past year and it has to be said, Christmas was a real highlight for us and the most magical way to finish 2020.

Planning for our Sail with Santa experience generally begins in January, when bookings for that year go live on our website. 2020 was very different and whilst we remained optimistic throughout the year that it would go ahead, it was clear that there would be significant challenges, as we went back and forth, round and round and up and down, agonising over possible formats and how to make it safe and fun for everyone.

We limited our capacity to around 1/3 of ‘normal’, in order to facilitate appropriate social distancing, there was table and chair seating for each family, we operated more sailings than usual in order to accommodate all of our bookings and it was a complete sell-out. Admittedly, not the most profitable enterprise by any means but boy, are we glad we did it!

The gifts which the children receive from Santa Claus are not just generic gifts, they are good-quality, carefully thought-through, hand-picked gifts which are selected, wrapped and taken onto the boat the day before each sailing. It was therefore an added challenge for us that there were countless necessary booking alterations, often on the morning of their cruise, due to people sadly having to self-isolate at the last minute but everyone showed kindness and compassion and our staff seamlessly handled the administrative side to the event with complete competence and grace and for this we are extremely grateful to them all. It was a real team effort and could not have been done without the help of everyone involved.

On board, the atmosphere was just as magical as ever and there was a real sense that everyone was so pleased and grateful to be out, doing something relatively ‘normal’ but feeling incredibly safe. This was confirmed by the feedback which we subsequently received, making us feel quite honestly elated and that all of the hard work, planning and sleepless nights, were thoroughly worth it.

In particular, one of the sailings was booked by a charity organisation which looks after children with visual impairments across the South West, offering a support network for them and their families. These children and their families have experienced an indescribably difficult year; all of their school learning went onto Zoom during the first lockdown, which many of them were unable to fully benefit from and many were completely excluded from – in addition to which, all of the organisation’s yearly events had been cancelled since March. This was the first event they had been able to run and I can honestly say that it was possibly one of the most moving but rewarding experiences which we have had all year – one of the proudest moments of our career. It was clear that everyone had such a wonderful time and I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t shed a few tears under our masks. It was truly wonderful and utterly heart-warming and I will never forget the look on their faces.

We are so proud of what we managed to achieve in running Sail with Santa 2020 and it certainly won’t be something that we will forget in a hurry.
In other news…

…we won an award!

Yes that’s right, nestled amongst all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas festivities and goings on, Philippa and Jake Stuart and Stuart Line Cruises were awarded the ‘Citizen’s Award 2020’, by the Rotary Club of Exmouth and District. This was the first time that the award has been presented to a business, rather than an individual and acknowledges our hard work and generous contributions to the Exmouth Community.

This is a real honour after a challenging year and we are so grateful to the kind people of Exmouth for their generosity and unwavering support. It is our pleasure to serve you and always will be.


It is wonderful to gaze back at fond memories but it’s not all reminiscing upon perfect times – there is a great deal of work to be done and as ever, we are cracking on!

This time of year represents ‘maintenance season’ at Stuart Line HQ, during which various planned works must be carried out in order to prepare for the year ahead. Such projects include the annual out-of-water inspections of our vessels, antifouling the hulls of the boats and anything else which needs doing – and believe me, with boats there is absolutely ALWAYS something and nothing is ever straight-forward! Our vessels don’t look as spotless and run as smoothly as they do without a lot of work behind the scenes and for Captain Jake and his gang of merry men and women, this is arguably our busiest time of year!

Now, those who know Captain Jake will know that he is not really one to do nothing – he likes to keep busy and proactive all of the time and has been known to remind me “if there’s time to do nothing, then there’s time to do something”! It would be fair to say that the first lockdown of last year was spent getting ahead on maintenance work, tidying workshops, making plans and cleaning boats. This hard work really paid off and allowed us to sail through our demanding 2020 summer season with relative ease – nothing much to do aside from the day-to-day running of our business.

But this does not mean that we can afford to fall behind and relax too much and between the beginning of the month and now, we have been taking down Christmas decorations from both vessels and have been clearing everything off of our smallest vessel, Tudor Rose. Absolutely everything has been taken off and put into storage and a little later this month, she will be taken to her usual place for dry docking. This will enable us to get right underneath the vessel, clear the weed and barnacles, inspect the propellers and re-do the antifouling. There will of course be additional works to be carried out, although nothing too major this year, given that we did a lot last year.

We plan to keep you updated on the goings-on of our maintenance season and will endeavour to include a round-up in next month’s newsletter, to let you know how things are progressing. As ever, we will also be keeping our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages up-to-date, so do head over to those if you are interested!

Upcoming Cruises 

As ever, we remain optimistic that we will be up and running again at the earliest opportunity – hopefully early Spring but we must also be realistic and our re-opening date will of course be determined by the situation, as it evolves over the coming weeks.

We have numerous cruises planned for Spring and in particular, we are very much looking forward to the return of our Exeter Canal Cruises, beginning in May. These are classed as ‘Special Events’ and are run only around 8 times per year for a number of reasons. They offer the unique opportunity for passengers to travel right into the heart of the Cathedral City of Exeter, along Europe’s oldest working ship canal – one reason the waterway maintains its ‘ship canal’ status is due to the fact that our passengers are registered as cargo! The quayside itself has also just been awarded Heritage Harbour status – a prestigious, international recognition of its significance and we very much look forward to continuing to contribute towards its vision for increased tourism and success of fellow local businesses.

We understand that it is difficult for people to plan too far into the future at the moment but many of our Special Events are incredibly popular and if you wait until the last minute then you are likely to miss out. This is why our booking policy remains consistently simple and fair; we recognise the challenges which we all face and we feel that it is right and proper to remain loyal and reasonable to our customers who are so loyal and kind to us.

Exeter Canal Cruise – More Information
In addition, we have received a lot of enquiries as to whether we plan to do any more of our very popular Cruise Ship Sightseeing Tours, which we started last summer and the answer is, if the opportunity is there then definitely yes! We know that there are lots of you who are lined up, ready and waiting for tickets to be released but please bear with us as we wait to see how things and evolve and whether or not it is looking likely that the ships will be there for us!

Obviously we would prefer for their sake that by the time Spring comes around (which is when we are able to get out along the coast again), they will be off doing what they do best but if they are still anchored off of our shores then watch this space!

Well, that’s it from me for now folks, so here is one final photo of us in our ridiculous festive attire for you to enjoy! Thank you so much for your love and support and indeed for taking a few moments out of your day to humour my ramblings – it means the world to us to be able to connect with you in this way and I hope that this write-up brings an element of joy to your day, as it certainly does mine.

But above all, we really hope that 2021 will treat you kindly – work hard, be friendly and kind to people and take care of yourself. Better times will come.

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