Jon Lucas is the Team Leader at Kingston Boatyard in Cowes and together with his two right-hand men, Mike Flanagan and Mat Tiller they pride themselves on providing a friendly and professional service to hundreds of boat owners every the year. They must be doing something right as yachtsmen have been returning year-on-year with some travelling from as far as Weymouth and even Suffolk to enjoy the high level of personal service and great value.
Cowes Harbour Commission inherited the boatyard in 2001 as part of its acquisition of Shepards Wharf. It was then moved up the river to its present location at Kingston seven years ago. Both Jon and Mike were part of the original team at Shepards, where Jon's father also managed the boatyard for over 20 years, whilst Mat joined the team after running his own business in Cowes specialising in small craft services. "As a team we have to be versatile, although we all have our specialities", observed Jon. Mat added "Jon's our GRP man, I'll handle any rigging and electrical work, whilst Mike is expert in steel work. Although in reality we can all turn our hand to the task in hand." Mike chips in with a smile, "Thats' right I tend to drive the hoist, Mat drives the boat-mover and Jon drives the telephone!" What is clear however is that together they make a great team.
left to right, Mike Flanagan, Jon Lucas & Mat Tiller at Kingston Boatyard, Cowes
December is the quietest time of the year and provides a small window opportunity to carry out essential maintenance and repairs to the site itself and most importantly the various plant from the mobile crane to the boat hoist. Up until a couple of weeks ago we were busy winterising boats and just after the Christmas break preparation work for the new season will start in earnest. This will range from simple jobs like replacing anodes, hull-polishing and anit-fouling to replacing the skin fittings and full mechanical overhauls. "Everyone will want their boat ready for Easter so by mid-February we expect the yard to be full to capacity and a hive of activity, " commented Jon, "so we use this time of year to make sure we are fully prepared."
Even the location of the boatyard seems to have its advantages with a lot of customers seeing it as a plus being just a bit further out of the main harbour. "They like the peace and quiet and enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere", commented Mat. "In fact, we have some who book their boat in for a couple for weeks during the summer and turn a few days annual maintenance into a holiday. Working on the boat one day and then going out and exploring the Isle of Wight the next." This is partly prompted by some very good value deals that are on offer for services such as boat lifting mid-season.
Winterised boats safety stored at Kingston Boatyard Cowes
With customers already booked for 2013, Kingston Boatyard has an excellent reputation for value and quality service. "We have always welcomed feedback and a questionnaire is given to every customer, the yard scores very highly in almost all categories, it was noted that the ladies toilets could be improved and as a result I'm delighted to say that we have just finished installing a brand new ladies toilet and washroom facility."
Also based at the site is Kingston Marine Services, another Cowes harbour Commission facility. This team is involved in harbour maintenance including laying moorings, navigation mark maintenance, river pontoon refurbishment and bed levelling. This team works alongside the boatyard staff when required increasing the capacity and flexibility of the yard during peak periods.
In many ways Kingston Boatyard is a hidden gem, tucked away just outside the main Cowes harbour. A small team providing a genuine welcome and enjoyable experience for its very loyal customers. As a final word Jon summed this up, "I had a couple ask me this summer if Kingston was a family-run business, which we all thought was a great compliment."
Boat hoist at Kingston Boatyard, Cowes
More details and contact information for Kingston Boatyard can be found online.
Details of 2011/2012 winterising services offered by Cowes Harbour Commission can be found here.
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