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Classic Boat Journeys

 International Leisure Travel

curated and operated by

Part of Leisure Management Plus


Enjoy an EXCLUSIVE River Journey on the 

Royal Yacht Britannia's former Jolly boat through

HM The Queen's Back Garden at Windsor Castle

Rescuing The Jolly Brit - late autumn 2020

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While walking along the towpath one late autumn morning near Bell Wier Lock Egham, we noticed a boat we recongnized which belongs to a friend we've known for 30 or 40 years. She was looking in a very sorry state and when we went back to see the boat yard owner a week or two later the not so Jolly Jolly Brit had been moved to this muddy field.  Inquiring of the boat yard owner Max he told us no-one was paying him for the storage but we knew already that Henry, the owner, had paid the previous marina operator and understood it was all in order. Max knew the boat and knew it was Henry's boat. Notwithstanding that the boat was about to be chopped up or taken away for scrap, Max was very helpful to us and we soon learned that several people thought they had "bought" her for a pound, having a mind to restore her, until they found out what that might cost! One had even tried to have it picked up by a crane and carted away but they could not lift it, as the boat was full of rain water!

Never inclined to shy away from a difficult challenge Leisure Management Plus stepped up to the plate to plan and organise the obviously needed rescue, removal and refurbishment of the Jolly Brit.  

There was no way we were going to allow this fine piece of British Maritime History to be lost for ever.  Broken up! Scrapped! OH no! We were having none of that.  We knew it would not be easy, but we knew that we could do it.  We engaged with others in a collaborative effort to make it happen!

Using the same approach we apply to our consulting and management work with hotels, resorts, cruise ships and other leisure travel related hospitality and retail businesses, we sought win•win collaborative arrangements with other experts and were able to call on long-standing relationships with friends with the expertise, experience, knowledge and facilities to bring the Jolly Brit back to it's former glory as an iconic piece of British Maritime History Originally part of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll's much loved and cherished Royal Yacht Britannia.

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Just like we do with hotels, resorts and hospitality businesses, we worked out a plan.

Seeking experts in wooden boat restoration, interviewing three specialist boat builders, researching options, listening to the views of others and using our knowledge and experience of boating, our contacts and our skills, we produced the solutions.

Master wooden boatbuilder Michael Dennett, agreed to come over to the muddy field and take a look at "the project". Michael has maintained other boats for Stuart over the past 30 years including MV Miezè and an electric Slipper Launch "Magna Carta" which Michael maintained for her previous owner and helped to ship to California for us on a custom built trailer and a RO-RO ship to Port Huaneme Long Beach CA..  


Michael has become a good friend and even stayed as a VIP Guest years ago in one of the resorts we managed in Tenerife.

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Michael Dennett

Michael instantly agreed the essential need to keep whole and restore this wonderful piece of British Royal Maritime history.  Based on his "back of an envelope" guesstimate as to the substantial cost of doing the restoration, (which turned out almost to the penny to be what it has cost), we decided to go ahead with it even if we had to fund it ourselves somehow.   We appointed Michael and his son Steven Dennett to do the work after having taken consideration of offers from other boatbuilders who graciously agreed that Dennett Boat Builders were far and away the best people to select for this restoration.  They have the team, the tools, the skills and the indoor space to perform the work, even through the worst of the winter weather. 

Michael and Steven build and lovingly restore wooden boats, including treasured classics like these Dunkirk Little Ships which participated April 24th 2021 in a Tribute DLSS Flotilla Sail Past of Windsor Castle, attended by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who is Patron of the Dunkirk Little Ships Society, as part of the Celebration of The Life of His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip, The Late Duke of Edinburgh.


to help us find specialist transport and get the precious Jolly Brit to their workshop by the river at Laleham-on-Thames, near Chertsey.


Dunkirk Little Ships, which went to rescue soldiers from the beach at Dunkirk in WW ll, moored up at the grounds of Windsor Castle. "Her Majesty The Queen's back garden", where mooring is generally strictly but discreetly prohibited.

Steven was able to recommend a qualified and experienced boat transporter who we engaged to move the Jolly Brit to the Dennett boat yard at Laleham Reach, Chertsey on Thames.

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Transporting The Jolly Brit to a place of safely

With grateful thanks for his good advice to Steven Dennett of Dennet Boat Builders specialist transportation was arranged after competitive tendering.

Steady as she goes, our wonderfully careful crane driver - Gary - gently lowers The Jolly Brit onto a dolly at Dennett's Boat yard and with that, phase one of this delicate management undertaking was completed on schedule on November 24th 2020!

Consultants to Mr. Henry Butt, Owner Project managed by:

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll has shown interest before in Henry's boat. The Jolly Brit was formerly one of two jolly boats carried aboard Her Majesty's much beloved Royal Yacht Britannia, which was sadly decommissioned on 11 December 1997.  The Queen, who was very fond of The Royal Yacht as a personal refuge and incomparable Public Relations statement for Great Britain, normally undemonstrative, is reported to have shed a tear at the decommissioning ceremony that was attended by most of the senior members of the Royal Family.

Decommissioned: 11 December 1997

Owner of The Royal Yacht: The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust.

Crew: 21 officers; 250 Royal Yachtsmen

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Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, also known as the Royal Yacht Britannia, is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 until 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since King Charles II acceded to the throne in 1660, and is the second royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the racing cutter built for the Prince of Wales in 1893. During her 43-year career, the yacht travelled more than a million nautical miles around the globe. Now retired from royal service, Britannia is permanently berthed at Ocean TerminalLeith in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a popular visitor attraction with over 300,000 visits each year. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Restoration gets underway

Carefully tapping his way around the hull Steven quickly establish what could - and could not  be salvaged. Steven produced a fully detailed and itemised detailed restoration and refurbishment plan and an estimate of cost which Henry accepted and the work was quickly underway.

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Steven wasted no time at all and getting right to work on stripping back the rotten hull planking, establishing that the ribs, the stringers, the keel and some other key elements were sound, and all she needed was a new double mahogany plank skin.  He makes it sound easy.  Believe me it is not!  This work takes immense skill learned over several decades under the tutorship of his Father Michael, well known and renowned as one of the best, if not the best wooden boat builder on the Thames, probably in Europe.  Customers send him boats from all over and also ask him to build them custom boats, houseboats to live in, and to restore and maintain wooden boats of all shapes and sizes including many of the "Dunkirk Little Ships" that went during WWll to Dunkirk to rescue troops beaten back to the sea. 


There are many fine examples on their Facebook page of craft they have restored.  The Little Ships of Dunkirk were about 850 private boats[1] that sailed from Ramsgate in England to Dunkirk in northern France between 26 May and 4 June 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo, helping to rescue more than 336,000 British, French, and other Allied soldiers who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War.

For a change of scene for a moment, here is another boat Michael used to maintain for many years for its previous owner who lived close by where we found The Jolly Brit languishing and looking so sad.  We bought this boat and took her to California in 2008 where we lived for some years.  


She is an electric slipper launch called Magna Carta, named after the famous historic document and the memorial of the same name near Runnymede.  If you come on the Jolly Brit exceptional•excursion you will pass by on your way to and from WIndsor through Her Majesty The Queen's back garden. 

Magna Carta enjoing the sunshine in Discovery Bay Californa

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 International Leisure Travel


aboard classic boats

Come back to these pages another day to read the article we shall post about this exceptional boat, built by another exceptional boat builder on the river Thames at Hurley, the Late Peter Freebody. His son Richard continues the fine legacy of his Father in much the same way as Steven does at Dennett's boat yard in Laleham.

What Michael and Steven do for boats and boat owners to create stunning restored boats and then maintain them is actually a lot like what we do for hotels and hospitality operations and their owners with our consulting, management and quality assurance services. Michael & Steven fix boats, put them into tip top condition and then, if the owner wants they will maintain them.  


Leisure Management Plus does the same thing with hotels, resorts and hospitality operations and businesses.  We make them work really well and if clients want us to help them to maintain them, we can do that too with LMP Quality Assurance custom designed for the actual establishment, the particular business and the brand standards where applicable. 


Like boats, hospitality businesses come in all shapes and sizes!

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Restoration work begins

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Steven and his very talented team of carpenters, craftsmen & women, under the expert guidance of his Father Michael, Master Craftsman, expert scratch builder of fine wooden ships and restorer of historic wooden boats, wasted no time getting to work on the project before Christmas 2020. Stripping the hull down to just the ribs and stringers, Jolly Brit would be totally re-built and restored to probably better condition than the day it was first launched.  All new mahogany planking in two layers was painstakingly applied to the hull to create a strong and enduring new vessel that without a doubt will last at least another 70 years.  The original was still in service and participated in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant was a parade on 3 June 2012 of 670 boats on the Tideway of the River Thames in London as part of the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The Queen, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family were aboard vessels that took part in the parade. Wikipedia

Restoration in progress

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Jolly Brit Renovaton 2 as at 2021-02-04
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Jolly Brit Renovaton 1 as at 2021-02-04

Master Carpenter Wooden Boatbuilder Steven Dennett explains the meticulous and difficult to execute shaping of the new bow stem of Joly Brit to owner, Mr. Henry Butt.

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The engine cover needed a total overhaul and refurbishment.

Adam, the marine engineer who had maintained the engine for years and kept it going for Henry, came over to see what was going to be needed for the propulsion unit to give reliable service.

We soon realised a replacement was going to be needed if it was to be counted on not to break down.

New deck fitted 

New deck varnished 

Project planned, organised and managed by:

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Before we give up - we try and try again so we decided to try and start the engine.  The engine started - sort of - and promptly blew a valve so we decided to get a new engine for reliability and efficiency of operation.

1st Coat of Varnish on Jolly Britt Feb 1

Adam helped us locate a suitable re-conditioned and "like new" low hours engine on E-bay and we took Henry on a 200-mile round trip to Manningtree Essex in his van to collect it one day in Early March.


New engine sourced help from Marine Engineer Adam of AJ Marine Services.


Rescue, recovery & restoration planned, organised and managed by

Project Consultants:

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"......The Queen was touched to receive your kind invitation but I'm afraid she is unable to accept at this time ........"

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The engine cover has very graciously been shot-blasted for us as part of a total restoration of it to better than "as new" condition by this good friend and fellow classic boat enthusiast Alain Lamens - owner of the truly fabulous Classic Gentleman's Yacht "MV Breda".


Please use Contact us to get in touch with exceptionalexcursions for possible charter availability of this exquisite classic yacht.

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A design sketch for a custom made canopy to provide shade on those sunny summer days and stay dry if we get a shower!

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wow - Just Look at her now !


Steven was interviewed by a writer "Kathy Mansfield" producing an article for


.... and so it was that ...

Launch Day came around - right on schedule, Spring 2021  - Friday 23rd April 2021

..... time for a bit of clean up - by another Henry !


And a Jolly time was had by all at the fabulous launch party organised by Mrs. Lorna Grace (Lady Lorna) and her daughter Mrs. Allison Larcombe.

Lorna looking fabulous, stood in for HM The Queen and conducted the launch ceremony thanking the company of expert boat builders in Michael and Steven's team for their fine work bringing the Jolly Brit back to even better than her former glory!


A spot of last-minute engine trouble with our new engine put the dampers on the planned boat trip to take everyone out on the river to enjoy the gloriously sunny day.  It wouldn't be historic classic boating if it all went according to plan and worked smoothly, would it?  You have to roll with the punches, ride out the storms, over come all the problems and "KEEP CALM & CARRY ON" to do a project like this.

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Jolly Brit Rescue & Renovation Project planned, organised and directed by:

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Consulting for the Owner Mr Henry Butt of Wraysbury-on-Thames, England.

With expert custom wooden boat restoration, bespoke fabrication & finishing by the highly skilled team of craftsmen & women at Dennett Boatbuilders under the leadership of Master Carpenter Boatbuilder Steven Dennett and under the watchful eye of his Father and founder of the firm, Michael Dennett.

The project was completed just after Easter 2021 - on schedule and on budget!


Come and enjoy this peace and tranquility for yourself!  Experience the trip of a lifetime through the gorgeous Berkshire scenery as we as we take this EXCLUSIVE River Journey aboard the unique former Jolly boat from Royal Yacht Britannia. Gracefully cruising from Runnymede to Windsor through Her Majesty The Queen's Back Garden at Windsor Castle.


Classic Boat Journeys

 International Leisure Travel

Part of Leisure Management Plus

For pre-launch inquiries and more information please call +44 (0) 1273-934813  UK   or email


Welcome aboard

The newly renovated "Jolly Brit"

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The Royal Yacht Britannia's former jolly boat


Cruising through Her Majesty The Queen's back garden, we pass the village of Datchet, to arrive at the centre of Windsor within easy walking distance of Windsor Castle.

On the Jolly Brit trip you will enjoy breathtaking scenery as you cruise past Runnymede where on June 15th 1215 the Magna Carta was signed by King John. Magna Carta is widely recognised as one of the great foundation documents of freedom ......

Enjoy an EXCLUSIVE River Cruise on the 

Jolly Brit cruising this stretch of the fabulous River Thames right through

HM The Queen's Back Garden at Windsor Castle

This video was taken aboard another one of our classic boats.


 Different boat - same stretch of river right around Windsor Castle's grounds which you can see here with the castle on the hill in the backgound





Ask about options to add a hotel stay before or after your exceptional•excursions day out and extend your enjoyment of Windsor and Runnymede.

Learn about The Magna Carta Memorial and The John F. Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede here: 

You could stay at one of the fine hotels or one of the comfortable and homely bed & breakfast guest houses which we have carefully selected and we are proud to recommend.  All offer great hospitality and value.   We have vetted these fine establishment to be sure they are up to our high standards so that Leisure Management Plus is proud to recommend our guests to stay there.  You can stay for one or more nights before, or after your exceptional•excursion aboard the Jolly Brit.  


This way you will not only enjoy a unique day out aboard a truly unique boat, but also you can extend your enjoyment of the fabulous Windsor and Runnymede areas by visiting other attractions such as: Runnymede Magna Carta Memorial & The John F. Kenned Memorial, both "FREE" and a pleasant walk to get to.  Other unique attractions in the area all within 12 miles of London's HEATHROW AIRPORT include Theme Parks Legol and Thorpe Park as well as of course, Windsor Castle, with all the fabulous treasures on display and noteworthy features such as: 

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The Runnymede Hotel

  • St. George's Chapel. ... 

  • Albert Memorial Chapel. ... 

  • The State Apartments. ... 

  • The Semi-State Rooms. ... 

  • Queen Mary's Dolls' House

  • Changing the Guard. ... 

  • The Horseshoe Cloisters

  • Windsor Castle Gardens

  • and more ...

Oakley Court Hotel

Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa

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Harte & Garter Hotel

 International Leisure Travel

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Another option for you is to enjoy a fabulous afternoon tea at a luxury country house hotel or one of our recommended and carefully vetted tea shops, cafés or B&Bs in Windsor and the surrounding area.

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And finally, here is the jolly Brit on the davits on the deck of the Royal Yacht Brittania - OK this is only a model - but we can even help you to visit the real thing, which is now a museum in Edinburgh Scotland.


here is the jolly boat Now the JollyBrit


See if you can spot the Jolly Brit in amongst the boats that participated in the golden jubilee river pageant

Call or email and tell us if you can see JollyBrit in the video or the photos available on line.

UK representation office for inquiries & information

Tel:  +44 (0) 1273-934813  

Open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

The crew here at exceptional•excursions wish you safe travels, bon voyage and will work tirelessly to ensure you have the most memorable and truly exception•experience whether you come for a holiday or just visit us for the boat trip of a lifetime.

We look forward to forward to

weloming you on board!

Stuart Humphreys



Classic boat journeys

curated and operated by

 International Leisure Travel

Part of Leisure Management Plus

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