⚓ Stuart Line Cruises Monthly Newsletter ⚓ November 2020 ⚓

Welcome to Stuart Line Cruises’ November

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! 

Gift Vouchers 

Christmas shopping made easy and simple. Doesn’t that sound delightful?

I cannot deny that the giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas fills me with pure child-like delight. In previous years (and when I say ‘previous’, I refer to my childhood self), I have been known to unashamedly compose and circulate a comprehensive list, when asked by my close family members if there is anything in particular that I would like – my birthday falls shortly after Christmas so there was opportunity for a sizeable haul on a good year (a ‘good’ year was defined by a year in which I was, on the whole, well-behaved). I would then proceed to ransack the house for possible clues as to what they may have bought for me – I knew all the best hiding places and this would often involve devious distraction techniques and sneaking around after dark, stacking various objects dangerously high and precariously balancing on top of them to fully inspect the possible and so-called ‘out of reach’ locations. This was a risky business – a strictly solo operation as my older sister was far too obedient to indulge in such rebellious activity and I knew that my parents would be furious with me – not to mention the potential to give my game away. On the odd occasion I can recall coercing my sister into helping me but I was always the instigator, reassuring her that I would accept full responsibility and that this was absolutely the right thing to do. You really had to have your wits about you though and the fear of getting caught was fuelled with adrenaline – the thrill of catching a glimpse of something was irresistible and thoroughly addictive.

I am sure I am not alone in my admittance of that shameful behaviour and I should add that I was not grossly spoilt as a child and more often than not, the best things were indeed the simplest things. Nevertheless, with maturity I have moved on from this notion (my taste has become much more expensive, for one!) but still find such joy in giving and receiving gifts – the element of surprise, the twinkle in your recipient’s eye as they uncover their gift and the sight of sparkling wrapping paper with big bows under the tree – it’s magical and wonderful and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, with age (in most cases) comes maturity on some level and a shift in perspective – an evolution of the way in which we see things, if you like. I have grown to appreciate the small things in life much more – something which has been exacerbated by the current and ongoing pandemic and I also see great sense in Martin Lewis’ mantra of ‘let’s work together to ban unnecessary Christmas presents’ (if you haven’t watched this episode then you should – google it)! Time is a strange, almost incomprehensible phenomenon – it passes you by before you know what’s hit you and if you’re not careful, it’s gone and you’ve missed it. I’ve realised that I don’t really care too much for material ‘things’ and above all, I really just want to spend time with my family and friends and I absolutely know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Freedom is something which we have all been so deprived of over the majority of the past year and although I acknowledge the rationale for keeping our distance, now more than ever, many of us just simply want to spend time together – whenever we want to and wherever we want to. I used to see this as a basic human right – a given and all of a sudden it feels like the most coveted thing on earth – time together is the greatest gift of all.

So, whatever your views on Christmas gifts or indeed the current situation with which we are all faced, we must try our best not to give up hope – there is light at the end of the tunnel and whilst I would not encourage you to wish the present time away, it is comforting to know that time and freedom are luxuries to look forward to. This is optimism.

Our brand new Gift Vouchers have launched in time for Christmas and we are delighted with the updated design – aren’t they smart?

We have two types of Gift Voucher; those for a specific cruise type and those which hold a set monetary value, for your recipient to choose their cruise themselves. The vouchers have a 2-year expiry date, allowing plenty of time for them to be used and as I am sure you are aware, we operate throughout the year.

For more information or to order your Gift Voucher online, please click on the button below and whatever you choose to gift this year, I hope that it will be gratefully received.

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Backstage with Stuart Line HQ: Lockdown 2.0

We may not be open to the public, which is of course incredibly disappointing but we have been by no means been ‘closed down’ during November. We have been busily planning and preparing with unwavering optimism (because what is life without optimism and positivity?) and I would like to share with you a little insight into some of the things which we have been up to.

Although we run fewer cruises than in the peak summer season, we remain very busy behind the scenes during winter, as we carry out essential maintenance works and prepare our business for the coming year. Despite being in lockdown, this past month has been no exception and we have really made the most of this month to crack on and get a head start with planned winter works.

An essential component of our winter maintenance is the annual service of our moorings. The mooring buoys are the big buoyant colourful things visible on the surface of the river and they are what we secure the boats to when they are out on the river overnight etc. using large ‘strops’ (thick rope with loops on the end, to place on the cleats of the boats). The large buoys are secured to the river bed by a large heavy-duty anchor and chain and it is essential that these components are checked and maintained in order to reduce the risk of the boats breaking from their moorings, particularly during high winds.

This month, we have been out on the river with Simon Turl, to haul the moorings out of the water using the purpose-built crane on his boat, for their annual service. Together, Jake and Simon scrapped all of the weed and mussels off of the buoys so that they could fully inspect them. They were then able to check that the ropes, chains, shackles and swivels of the mooring buoys were all in good working order – which they were! Yippee – we love it when a plan comes together!

In addition to this routine inspection, we replaced the anodes on the buoys – metal plates which bolt to the buoy (pictured). They are made of zinc, with the idea that with zinc being softer than the steel chain, the anodes will get eaten away/corrode first, which then indicates when the chain may need replacing, before it corrodes and runs the risk of breaking. We also have anodes on the hulls of the boats, which serve exactly the same purpose!

Aside from this, we have been clearing offices (the dreaded annual declutter, which I am sure we are all familiar with), tidying workshops and carrying out various other aspects of routine maintenance to our vessels, booking offices and departure points.

Overall I think it would be fair to say that we have made the most of our time during the past month and have enjoyed ourselves but very much look forward to what we love best of all, which is welcoming your happy faces on board – roll on 2nd December!

Exeter Canal receives Heritage Harbour status – hooray for GOOD NEWS stories! 

We were thrilled to hear the news this week that the Exeter Canal waterway has received national recognition as a Heritage Harbour.

As well as being the oldest working ship canal in Europe, Exeter Canal is now one of only four historic harbours in the UK – a prestigious national status which was awarded by Maritime Heritage UK and National Historic Ships UK

It is hoped that this new status carries potential to unlock all sorts of exciting opportunities for the waterway; we have always adored running our Exeter Canal Cruises, which carry hundreds of people along Europe’s Oldest Working Ship Canal each year. Part of the vision of Heritage Harbour UK is to increase tourism and support local business growth and we very much look forward to our continuing contribution to this vision.

Huge thanks to Friends of Exeter Ship Canal for their excellent work in gaining this recognition and here’s to good news stories!

Exeter Canal Cruises 2021
We’d like to share a glass of mulled wine and a warm mince pie with you…

Well, finally folks I would like to draw your attention to our upcoming Festive Special Cruises which we plan to run in December, every day over the festive period, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, News Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Of course, the running of these cruises is subject to Boris’ announcement which is due to be made on Thursday 26th November but we are hopeful that East Devon will be placed in tier 1 or 2, meaning that we will be allowed to operate safely with additional enhanced safety measures in place. We are well-prepared for this scenario as this is how we have been operating all summer, since re-opening to the public on 4th July this year and you can explore details of how we plan to operate safely on our website under ‘COVID_19’.

We could all do with a little time to relax and enjoy with close friends and family and as a small, family-run business, we would love nothing more than to impart a little festive cheer on you and your loved ones. A little friendly tip for you though, spaces will be extremely limited for these cruises this year as we will be running at around 1/4 of our usual capacity; there are still some spaces remaining but you will definitely need to book sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment!

So, here’s to spending precious time with close family and friends, eating and drinking copious amounts of deliciousness and remaining safe and well this Christmas. We really hope that we will get the opportunity to share a little slice of it with you.

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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 above all, I really hope that, whatever announcements may be coming our way and however your Christmas 2020 may be looking, you are able to take time to relax, spread a little cheer and take care of yourself. That’s important.

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