It has been a year of bargains in the boating business, according to Norbury Wharf's Managing Director Simon Jenkins.
Looking back at the end of the 2013 boating season, he said: “We have been in no doubt that our customers have less money to play with than for many years and we have worked hard to keep our prices down, with the result that families have still been able to afford boating holidays, days out on our trip boat and our self-drive day boats and even a cup of tea in our wharf-side café.
“Throughout the season we have offered the best value for money we could and I am pleased to say that we seem to have earned the loyalty of our customers.”
That is showing both in the number of holidays already booked for 2014 - within a week or so of the dates and prices going live on the Norbury Wharf website.
“We have bookings for our largest boats for many of next year's key holiday periods, right from the first half-term in February through to the summer. People want to make sure they get the boat they want when they want it; and our experience shows that will pick up even more immediately after Christmas,” Simon added.
Boat owners also seem to be planning ahead and making sure they keep their boats in tip-top condition. Norbury's painter Rich Corbett , 45, trained as a graphic designer at art college but began working in boatyards nearly 25 years ago. He worked at Norton Canes Boatbuilders for nearly a decade on and off, building his reputation as a painter and since arriving at Norbury early this year his services have been in great demand. In fact they are now booked up for much of 2014 and bookings are being taken for 2015.
There is a similar story on the dry dock where bookings for next year are growing steadily, something not seen in earlier years.
“I don't know if boat owners are now realising they have a valuable asset which needs looking after,” said Simon Jenkins. “I was always a bit bemused by people who owned a boat but didn't seem to care if it was deteriorating, but we don't seem to see that as much now. Perhaps that is one good impact of the recession.”