Charlie Crompton and his family purchased a new Interboat 19 from Val Wyatt Marine in October 2021, which was later delivered in April 2022. We caught up with Charlie to learn more about his first summer of river boating adventures.
It’s great to talk to you, Charlie. Have you always been a boating enthusiast?
We’ve never owned a boat before, but I’ve got my Powerboat Level 2 license and had rented quite a few RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) out on the Solent over the years – and always loved being on the water, but I was completely new to boating on the river.
Why did you decide to buy a boat?
During lockdown, we decided to move from London to the countryside. We were living in Putney, right on the River Thames. It was a tough decision because we love London and living near the water but decided that the only way we could make the move would be if we could still live near the river.
We bought a house in North Stoke, Oxfordshire, a village with the Thames running through it. We didn’t plan it this way, but we ended up living on, arguably, the best section of the river with the longest stretch between locks (about five or six miles). We then started thinking we really should get a boat and make the most of living by the water. Being this close to a river – one where you can actually jump off a boat and swim, is something we never take for granted. It always feels pretty amazing, given that it’s the same Thames that when it reaches London, is a river you avoid getting in at all costs.
What made you decide to buy the Interboat 19?
At first, I had no idea we would buy an Interboat 19. I had my heart set on an old Boston Whaler or an old-school Dory. I had this vision of having a boat I wouldn’t be too precious about.
I was advised to go and have a look at some different river boats to get my eye in because a boat that’s built for open water is not necessarily what you’d choose for the river. A neighbour suggested we go to Val Wyatt Marine. Seeing some of the boats in Henley, I thought that maybe an old wooden Thames Slipper Launch with wicker chairs might be the answer – but talking to people about them, including those who owned them, the view was – don’t get one because they need considerable boat maintenance to stay beautiful. So, as someone who has never owned a boat – and wanted one that we could just jump into and start up whenever we wanted – anything that was going against that kind of spontaneity was ruled out.
We’d spotted a few Interboats on the river, which always caught our eye. We liked the idea of a traditional build but with modern materials – and the boats looked solid, very comfortable and very much built for the job in hand.
So, on a sunny, early winter day in October 2021, we visited Val Wyatt to look. I met Chris Bow, one of Val Wyatt’s sales brokers. We’re always wary about being given the big sell but he put us at rest immediately. He’s a great guy who knew exactly what he was talking about – which was great because we were clueless. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
We gave Chris the brief: I had been thinking about a Dory – but the main thing was that we wanted something that was built well, so I didn’t have to maintain it or worry about it at all. I mentioned that we liked the look of the Interboat but said I wanted the oldest one he had! Our thoughts were that we wanted to be able to jump in a boat and go, without being too fussy.
Chris explained the Interboat wasn’t easy to get hold of because they were so popular, and although it was October, both the Interboats they had for sale would likely be sold before next spring. One was brand new, and one was second-hand. I thought that even though we weren’t ready to buy one now, we’d look anyway.
We saw the new one first – and of course, It was exactly what we wanted – a traditional design, but with all modern fittings and technology. And at six-metres, it was the right size for messing around on the river, with a steering wheel at one end, a cool-box at the other, and lots of seating. Chris was great because having listened to what we wanted; he said the Interboat 19 was going to be perfect for us for the following reasons:
- We were new to the river.
- It’s incredibly solid and heavy – so when you’ve got a bunch of excited kids aboard, the boat isn’t rocking all over the place.
- It’s very easy to steer (unlike boats built for the sea which only steer accurately when you’re on a plane – not great for rivers when you need to be manoeuvrable at slow speeds).
- It’s low maintenance, very tough and incredibly reliable.
- It has a 27-horsepower engine, which is great for the river and uses very little fuel.
- It was 100% designed and built to do exactly what we wanted it for.
We did look at the older boats, but because I learned that Interboats keep their value, are built so well, and will last a long time, we thought we might as well get the new one because it is precisely what we were looking for. So, we bought it, knowing that if we didn’t, it would be snapped up and we’d have to wait another year at least.
Any ideas of buying that old Boston Whaler were out of my mind!
When did you pick it up?
April 2022. It has transformed our lives in the summer here in Oxfordshire and exceeded all expectations.
Were you happy with the service provided by Val Wyatt Marine?
Chris at Val Wyatt was excellent. He is so knowledgeable and not hard-sales-oriented; I would have walked away if he had been. Chris genuinely wanted to match us with the best boat for our needs.
He went above and beyond. We were nervous about collecting the boat and getting it through the locks and upriver for the first time on our own, so Chris offered to accompany us on that first voyage, taking the boat from Val Wyatt to the moorings near our home. It was a four-and-a-half-hour journey, and Chris came with us on his day off! We went through seven locks, so we had the confidence we needed by the time we had completed the journey – and now locks don’t bother us at all. The service we received from Chris and Val Wyatt was fantastic. It’s not just about selling you a boat, it’s very much orientated on making sure you’re confident enough to have fun on it as that’s the whole point.
What’s the boating like in your area?
Incredible. We were told it was like Swallows & Amazons – and it actually is. It’s like another world to see this remarkable landscape from the water, and in the beautiful morning sunshine, the river is like a mirror. It’s never too busy and there’s a great camaraderie between all the boaters.
Tell us how you use your boat
We’re out on the boat nearly every day in the summer. Fortunately, our son goes to a school just up the river, and the school has a jetty, so we do the school run on the boat. We chug up the river under the Brunel rail bridge and drop him off at school, and then with a flask of coffee, we chug our way back to our mooring. It’s idyllic. When we pick him up from school some afternoons, his friends pile on the boat and can swim on the way home. I hope that we are creating uniquely fabulous memories.
We use the boat on those long summer evenings to visit a riverside restaurant or pub. You can book a table at the pub and a mooring simultaneously. We stick a bottle of rosé in the cool box, have dinner and chug home enjoying a glass of wine as the sun goes down.
Most days, when we go out in the boat, we don’t go too far; we just mess around on the river. We can easily spend all weekend out on the water.
What do you love about your boat?
Everything. We wanted to give the kids an insight into boating, and they’ve taken to it incredibly naturally.
It’s great when friends come to stay, and we go out on the boat with all the kids jumping in the river and swimming. They can climb back in the boat on the swim ladder. We take a big picnic which we have on the bank or drop an anchor in the middle of the river. There’s plenty of room for all of us.
It’s a lovely, incredible and unique thing to do in the countryside. Every moment on the boat, you feel fortunate to be on this fantastic river on an exceptional boat.
It’s straightforward to use. It’s got everything you need – plenty of seating, a table, and a fridge. The seating arrangement is great because everyone is facing each other. It’s got a bimini top, so if it gets hot or there’s a shower of rain, you have shelter. And it’s incredibly solid and economical. I put one tank of fuel in to last all season.
Now we’ve had one whole season of using it, we wouldn’t choose any other boat – bigger, smaller, whatever – I’d buy this boat all over again… It does the job perfectly.
Do you use any Val Wyatt services?
Yes, Val Wyatt looks after the boat during the winter. They clean and winterise it, and I’ll get it back clean and serviced in March-April. They take the strain out of maintaining a boat because they do everything – Chris says, “just enjoy the boat, bring it to us before the winter and we’ll look after it and give it back to you as good as new”. And that’s what they do. I appreciate that because I don’t have much time or any skill to do the maintenance. They service the engine, spray down the decks and make any repairs.
What would you say to anyone who is considering buying a boat?
I would say this – go to Val Wyatt. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. Make an appointment with Chris Bow and he’ll make sure you get what works best for you or your family. They also have an excellent selection of new and old boats at different price points.
My advice is don’t wait for another summer to pass without getting a boat. If you can get a mooring within 10 minutes of where you live, then you’ll use it as much as we do.
Sounds like your summer boating is just idyllic! We hope your second season is as good as your first. Thanks, Charlie!
If you’d like to know more about the Interboat range, visit our website or you can call our team on 01189 403211.
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