22 boats from the Crick Boat Show 2015
- Credit: Archant
If you’re planning to buy a new boat there’s a lot to think about so, to help you decide what you might like, we’ve checked them out from big to small, wide to narrow – and there are some terrific new ideas
BRAIDBAR BOATS, INTEGRITY, 70FT TRAD, Circa £180,000
Here’s a boat with some interesting features combined with the style and workmanship that have earned Braidbar the reputation as one of the top builders. It was no surprise that it won plenty of votes from the public.
One of the main points of interest is that it has hydraulic drive, so the engine (a Beta 50) is off centre in a forward engine room. It also has a massive hospital silencer alongside. There’s also an hydraulic bow thruster. Unlike normal ones, which are either on or off, this one can be used proportionately, and it will keep going forever if you wish. In spite of the modernity, the engine controls are a traditional speed wheel and pull rod.
The absence of a propshaft from the engine means the back cabin, which is designed in a traditional style, can be full height without the need for a raised floor. The room is a delight, with an Epping stove and many of the normal cupboards. Andy Russell has painted the scumbling and decoration which, rather than roses & castles, has roses and Cornish engine houses, to reflect where the owners live.
With 70ft of length to play with there’s a cabin, a through shower room, a dinette, a galley and a saloon. The windows are deeper than normal to let in more light, and the bow doors are fully glazed. The saloon has a very smart modern Morso stove. The boat is on a Colecraft shell, chosen because the owner has had Colecrafts previously.
Verdict: A great mix of traditional and modern
WHARF HOUSE NARROWBOATS, AMPERE, 57.5FT TRAD, Circa £200,000
The name, Ampere, gives away the key feature of this boat – it’s electrically powered.
- 1 Second-hand canal boats for sale
- 2 10 pubs on the River Wey Navigation
- 3 Boat test: Mothership Marine’s solar-powered semi-trad
- 4 Boat test: 'Whitsuntide No2' hybrid 52ft canal boat by Trinity Boats
- 5 Boat test: “Oyster Catcher” the permanent house boat
- 6 10 of the best pubs along: Grand Union Canal, Tring to the Thames
- 7 Cruise Guide | Grand Union Canal, Part 3 | Tring summit to the Thames
- 8 Canal heritage spotter: turf-sided locks
- 9 ‘Let boaters sleep aboard’ says CRT chief
- 10 Cruise Guide | Grand Union Canal, Part 2 | Braunston to Marsworth
The propeller is driven by an electric motor by TEMA, a Croatian company, while the electric power comes from a big battery bank. Charging is via an 8kVA Fischer Panda generator located under the tug deck. So you can cruise on electric power alone, or have the generator running. Whichever way you do it, your cruising will be virtually silent. As an alternative charge, the roof carries four 100W solar panels. As a by-product, the generator heats a calorifier, which runs underfloor heating throughout the boat.
The shell is pretty special too, having been built by Roger Farrington in Braunston. There’s chequer plate on the tug deck, huge dollies on the stern and flat handrails along the roof. Ampère is an unusual colour, French Grey, in an unusual satin finish.
Inside there are a host of clever ideas: the tug deck houses a number of pull-out pieces of furniture including bench seats which double as single beds (complete with head boards if you want them), and a dining table that supports itself and has a hand-inlaid German shepherd dog design. The steps down from the tug deck also disappear into a cubby hole. The galley has beautiful green slate worktops from the Lake District, with hidden drawers below. And as there’s plentiful power available, cooking is by a combi oven and an induction hob. It is a standard layout boat, so the galley is followed by a through shower room and a cabin with an in-line bed.
Verdict: Stylish inside and out – and the best way to deliver electric drive
BOURNE BOAT BUILDERS, KRYSTINA, 57FT CRUISER, £125,000
We’ve been impressed before by the style, quality and value of Bourne boats, and this one keeps up the tradition. The cruiser shell is by Nick Thorpe, so comes from a good builder and the specification is good, too, with a Beta 43 engine fitted with a heat exchanger to make use of otherwise wasted energy and a Vetus bow thruster. There are seven 110Ah batteries and a 3kW Victron inverter charger. There are also solar panels on the roof.
The fit-out uses an attractive mix of oak, with faux leather on the cabin sides. The ceiling has a central feature panel, with concealed lighting, making for a very stylish look.
This is a reverse layout boat with the saloon at the stern. On one side there’s a corner TV unit with a Canton sound bar, and on the other a Lockgate diesel stove. The seating is L-shaped, with a freestanding folding table. The galley has lovely granite worktops and there’s plenty of light thanks to glazed side doors and a pigeon box. The walk-through shower room comes next, followed by the cabin at the bow, with a cross bed and plenty of wardrobe space. Lights on the well deck make it a great place to sit even at dusk.
One small detail we loved was the blinds on the glazed stern doors, sandwiched between glass and opened and closed using a magnet.
Verdict: Great quality and style at a good price
CALCUTT BOATS, CLIPPER CLASS, 50FT CRUISER, £56,000
If you’re after a budget boat but don’t want to sacrifice too much length, then this Calcutt boat is one to look at. The steelwork is by Andicraft, while Calcutt do the fit-out.
It’s a reverse layout, with a small galley at the stern and a two-person dinette opposite which converts into a single berth. The saloon is left open for loose furniture, but has a set of side doors. The bathroom has a hip bath with a shower over and a cassette loo, while the cabin, at the bow, has a cross double bed. The fit-out uses light oak with sapele trim.
The boat is powered by a Canaline 38 engine and the electrical system is fairly basic with two domestic batteries and a small 1100W inverter. Heating is by the well regarded Hurricane boiler.
This boat isn’t going to win any prizes for looks or equipment, but at this price you still get quite a bit of boat for the money.
Verdict: A basic but low priced way of getting on the water
MGM BOATS, LIMOUX, 58FT CRUISER, £118,000
MGM have had great success at the show over the past few years with the style and quality of their fit-outs. And this boat has many of the same features, such as the use of American white ash, but with yet another different layout. Limoux is a cruiser stern with a reverse layout, but this time it’s the galley at the stern. One nice feature is that there’s a slide-up panel to cover all the boat’s controls once you’ve moored up.
The saloon is in the centre of the boat and has L-shaped seating with a choice of tables. Other built-in furniture is solidly and stylishly made and there’s under gunwale lighting. The shower room is a walk-through with a large quadrant shower and a cassette loo. The cabin is at the bow and has an in-line bed and plenty of storage.
In a change from the norm, the shell is by XR&D, but follows the usual MGM design. Technically, the boat is all Vetus, with a 45hp engine, 3.5kVA generator, 3kW inverter and a bow thruster. What’s more, the price is very competitive.
Verdict: Great style, well executed and well priced
AINTREE BOATS, MARE STELLARUM, 57FT SEMI-TRAD, £92,000
Aintree are a company which make their own shells (indeed many of their boats are sold as sailaways or part fit-outs) and they really are very pretty boats – the bow is particularly nice. A fully fitted out boat like this starts at just under £73,000, but this boat has plenty of extras, taking the price up to a still very reasonable £92,000.
Inside, the cabin is at the bow and has a cross bed and plenty of cupboards and wardrobes. The walk-through shower room has an attractive sparkly floor, a large quadrant shower and a loo set across the corner. The saloon, in the middle of the boat, has a stove, a TV unit, and a corner cupboard. There’s an L-shaped dinette and side doors. The rear galley is well equipped and has granite worktops. The fit-out uses oak, and is completed to a high standard.
There’s no skimping on the technical side of things either, with a Beta 43 in the engine hole, four 135Ah domestic batteries and solar panels on the roof.
Verdict: A pretty boat and excellent value
BCBM, DAWN ’TIL DUSK, 61FT SEMI-TRAD, £9,995 FOR A FOUR-WEEK SHARE
BCBM are the biggest share boating company on the water and recently merged with ABC’s share operation. Dawn ’Til Dusk is the first boat fitted by ABC Boat Builders to a BCBM design. The shell is by Nick Thorpe and has some nice features, such as a fiddle rail on the bow.
The layout is tried and tested to work as a share boat and it can sleep six in three distinct areas. The main cabin is at the stern and has an inline bed, next comes the walk-through shower room with a quadrant shower and a Tacma pump-out loo. The Pullman dinette comes next, with a bulkhead between it and the galley for privacy. The galley is a U-shape and equipped with a gas cooker and hob. There are side doors and an under gunwale cupboard. The saloon at the bow has fixed L-shaped seating which converts into another bed.
Boat sharing is an affordable way to get on the water for several weeks a year. This boat is brand new, so the shares are at the upper end of the price range; older boats often have shares for sale, with some going for as little as a couple of thousand pounds.
Verdict: Practical share boat layout, from an experienced company
ELTON MOSS, WESTMINSTER SPECIAL EDITION, 58FT SEMI-TRAD, £105,000
Elton Moss build their boats – steelwork and fit-out – in the Czech Republic and consistently produce good quality affordable boats. The show boat was one of their Westminster range with a number of extras. The price, at only a little over £100,000, is excellent value for a boat like this.
The fit-out uses diagonal tongue and groove below the gunwales and painted cabin sides above. The extras include a central feature ceiling and wooden blinds which are concealed in the cabin sides. The layout is reverse with the saloon at the stern featuring a raised hearth. There’s a Pullman dinette with wide side doors and the galley has an attractive and unusual curved run of units and sparkly granite worktops. The walk-through shower room has a square shower with feature tiles and the basin is set on a granite shelf. The bow cabin has an inline bed and plenty of storage.
The engine is a Canaline 42 and there are five 110Ah domestic batteries plus a 3kW Vetus inverter.
Verdict: A good value boat, with some nice touches
STOKE BOATS, 292, 57FT SEMI-TRAD, £97,000
Stoke Boats brought a version of their Swift class spec boat that we’ve seen before – but with a few changes (because even spec boats don’t have to be exactly the same every time), and the price of under £100,000 shows what good value these boats can be.
Stoke build their own shells and we’ve always liked the shape of the steel work and the quality and feel of the finished product. This boat has a pram cover over the semi-trad stern, which does little for the look, but does provide some extra covered space and protection.
Inside, the fit-out uses vertical tongue and groove below the gunwales with painted cabin sides above, and there’s an oak floor. The galley, at the stern, has granite worktops and a separate oven and hob. The dinette is L-shaped and the saloon has a small TV unit and a corner cupboard. The shower room is a walk-through design, while the cabin has an inline bed and plenty of storage.
The boat is powered by a Beta 43 and it has a Vetus bow thruster. There are six 110Ah domestic batteries, and a Victron 3kW inverter charger.
Verdict: Solid boat from an established builder
TOP NOTCH, JINNY HOWLETT, 62FT SEMI-TRAD, Circa £200,000
A rather special new top-of-the range boat from Top Notch this year, loaded with features and ideas. The shell has been designed with Tyler Wilson, based on the Cowpar working boats. There are details everywhere, from handrails and gunwales which protrude slightly as wooden ones would have done, and similar detailing on the cants. The stern is an elliptical shape, while the bow is impressively long and high. The roof is flatter than normal and has extra reinforcements.
Inside, there’s the quality of workmanship and attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from Top Notch. High quality woods have been used, including maple and burr oak from a company that supplies Rolls-Royce, and black walnut as a contrast. The veneered wall panels and the ceiling features give a real feeling of luxury and carefully designed lighting makes the most of the features.
There’s storage everywhere, with some very clever ideas. For example, the bulkhead between the saloon and the shower room offered cabinets on both sides, some to one room, some to the other, and some where the space is divided between the two. We loved the storage for the tiller and umbrellas, slotted into the roof space under the slide.
The boat has a very high technical spec, too. The Barrus Shire 45 is probably the simplest thing about it, because there’s hydraulic drive, hydraulic bow and stern thrusters, and a MASE 5kW generator. There’s ample power from four 160Ah batteries and a Victron 3kW inverter. There are also solar panels.
Verdict: The feel of a luxurious liner, in a fantastic narrowboat shell
AQUA NARROWBOATS, INKLING, 69FT SEMI-CRUISER, £165,000
Inkling is a boat with a novel layout that combines elements of a standard and a reverse. There’s a large semi-cruiser stern with flexi teak flooring which leads down on to the galley where there are granite worktops and smart glossy red cabinet doors. Next comes a Pullman dinette with side doors. A sliding door leads to the cabin, which is in the centre of the boat and features an inline bed and plenty of wardrobe space. A walk-through shower room comes next.
The saloon is at the bow and is very generously proportioned. There’s a large sofa, a Morso Squirrel stove and under gunwale lighting together with illuminated display cabinets. This is the owners’ second Aqua-built boat, but this one is longer to accommodate visiting family, including grandchildren, and it was this that determined the layout choice: it provides three defined sleeping areas in the dinette, the cabin and the saloon.
Inkling is based on a Colecraft shell and it has a Beta 50 engine and a 75kgf bow thruster. There’s also a Victron MultiPlus inverter.
Verdict: A design with a novel layout that’s ideal for family cruising
RUSS HUBBLE BOATS, IDLE OURS, 60FT SEMI-CRUISER, £152,000
Here’s a boat designed to accommodate visitors and with storage space very much a priority for the owners. Russ Hubble says he made more than 50 cupboard doors for the fit-out. The stern offers a large semi-circular seating area with doors down into the galley. Here there are Corian worktops including twin sinks with covers. There are extra drawers in the plinths and underfloor storage with lids that lift on gas struts. Further down the boat, every inch of space is used, with extensive under-gunwale cupboards.
The saloon is light and bright, thanks to deeper than usual windows and roof lights. All the windows have blackout blinds. The floor is a stone-effect Karndean, with a tramline around the edge. There are two built-in sofas, both of which recline and can easily be converted to beds. One is a full double, the other smaller for a child. There are also two loos, in neighbouring rooms in the centre of the boat. One just has a basin, while the full bathroom has a bath with a shower and the mirror above the basin is heated so it won’t steam up. The cabin, at the bow, has a high bed which is both long and wide – and is separated from the rest of the boat by double doors.
The boat is based on a Colecraft shell and has a high technical spec, which includes a Barrus Shire engine and six 160Ah domestic batteries.
Verdict: An interesting layout accomplished to a very high standard
BLUEWATER BOATS, RUBY TWOSDAY, 59FT SEMI-TRAD, £160,000
The owners say that, on the way to Crick, the unusual front end of their boat prompted plenty of comments – and you can see why. Not only does the cabin extend over where the well deck would normally be, it’s also fitted with square timber window frames, made from iroko, which follow the curve of the steelwork. There’s also a set of little doors at the bow. Inside, this area offers a very light and bright seating and dining area, which the owners clearly love.
The remainder of the boat is more standard, with a cabin at the stern and an off-corridor shower room. The galley has granite worktops and units which curve around. There’s L-shaped seating in the saloon, along with a diesel Lockgate stove and there’s a large dog box in the roof.
The boat is powered by a 52hp Vetus engine and there are AGM batteries and a 2.5kW inverter.
Bluewater build their own steelwork, which is shotblasted before painting with a two pack system
Verdict: A novel take on the extended cabin
JD NARROWBOATS, SANGUINE, 60FT TRAD, £109,950
If you were to look up ‘sleek’ in a dictionary, you might well find a picture of the interior of this boat. Because, although there are plenty of cupboards and drawers, there’s not a single handle to be seen; they all have push catches instead.
The galley is at the stern and includes some nicely made curved doors. They’re all made from maple, with the centre panels in patterned birdseye maple. The same wood veneers are used on the cabin sides and contrasts with the cherry floor. In the saloon, a unit houses some huge drawers, enough to store the owner’s collection of some 1,200 CDs. Again, these have push release catches. There’s also a Morso Squirrel stove, a large TV, and a Yamaha sound system slung under the gunwales.
The shower room is a walk-through design built to the owner’s spec. Then comes a corridor of wardrobes, again without a handle anywhere. The bed, at the bow, makes full use of the extended cabin, so it’s huge. The bow window is frosted, but flick a switch and it becomes clear.
On the technical side, there’s a Beta 43 engine with a TravelPower generator and a Victron inverter/charger.
Verdict: A sleek design at a competitive price
KNOWLE HALL WHARF, POPS, 48FT SEMI-TRAD, £81,600
If there’s a boat that emphasises the space advantages of an extended cabin instead of a well deck, it’s this one. Pops is a compact 48ft long (which means a cheaper licence and moorings) and yet seems much longer when you’re inside.
There’s a galley at the stern with granite worktops, followed by an open-plan dinette and saloon with L-shaped seating which converts into a spare bed, and a Bubble stove. An off-corridor bathroom is accessed by a sliding door, and the loo tank is out of the way under the floor. The cabin, at the bow, has a cross bed and plenty of wardrobe space. There are steps up to the front doors, which have a slide above, and lead out on to the nose of the boat.
The fit-out uses oak panelling, with sapele trim.
Pops is powered by a Beta 43 and has LED lighting and a Victron multi inverter. It’s based on a Colecraft shell.
Verdict: A good use of space, at a very reasonable price
AQUALINE, CANTERBURY, 62FT X 12FT CRUISER, £144,217 EXC VAT
Aqualine’s Canterbury range can be built in a range of lengths and widths, with a variety of internal layouts. The one on show was a one-bedroom version, and offers superb space and luxury.
The large cruiser stern has plenty of seating and room for a table. Steps lead down into a well-equipped galley that’s large enough for an island unit, with an adjoining dining table. The worktops are granite and the cupboard doors are attractive painted hardwood. The saloon has room for full sized furniture and there’s also a solid fuel stove and a TV unit housing a 32in flat screen.
The shower room has a full-size shower cubicle and a macerator loo. In cupboards in the corridor outside is a washing machine and a freezer. The cabin at the bow has a huge bed and more wardrobes than many houses can accommodate.
This Canterbury was fitted with a 70hp Barrus Shire engine. A huge range of optional extras are available, including upgraded electrics, changes to the paintwork and variations on the entertainment system.
Verdict: A spacious floating home
BURSCOUGH BOATS, IT’S OUR TIME, 70FT X 12FT 6IN, £180,000 EXC VAT
This is a boat with a specification list longer than your arm: there’s almost no mod con it doesn’t have on board. For example, there’s full air conditioning to the saloon and bedrooms, while the galley has the same appliances you’d find at home, including a Bosch hob and an AEG oven. The saloon has room for a vast sofa and a coffee table containing a propeller from the owner’s previous Greek sailing boat.
In addition to a second bedroom, there’s an office with cupboards and a flip-up desk. The bathroom has a full-size bath and a full-height towel rail. The main cabin, at the bow, has a wealth of storage and a super king size bed. The boat is powered by a Marine Hybrid system, based on a Beta 90 engine. There are twin electric motors, and two 5kW Vetus inverters. The battery bank amounts to 800Ah, but this is a 48-volt system, so there’s a huge 30kWh of usable energy.
Outside, there’s one of Burscough’s trademark bluff bows while the roof sports a sun deck to lounge on. It also has a practical purpose because the base provides storage space.
Verdict: Everything you could want and more
NOTTINGHAM BOAT COMPANY, JUPITER, 70FT X 12FT, £155,000 EXC VAT
If you’re looking for a boat with the maximum living space, then Jupiter is well worth considering. It looks huge on the outside and, if anything, appears even bigger on the inside. What’s more, the barge styling makes it even more appealing. The fit-out uses a variety of woods to great effect. The cabin sides are lined in ash with sapele trim. But the galley cupboards and drawers are walnut, with maple worktops which look so smooth you can’t resist touching them. The galley also features some fantastic tiles, which although made of porcelain look like reclaimed wood. There’s also a vacuum point in the kick board.
The saloon has a smart TV and full surround sound. The second bedroom has a fold-down bed to maximise space, and the large shower room has Calypso fittings and lots of storage. The main bedroom, at the bow, has a full-size bed with a sapele feature headboard, huge wardrobes and Webasto air conditioning.
Propulsion comes from an 80hp Vetus engine. There’s a 5.5kW Travel Pack and a 3kW Vetus inverter.
Verdict: A huge boat with a surprisingly small price tag
PIPER BOATS, SINFONIA, 57FT X 12FT 6IN, £220,000 EXC VAT
For the first time in a few years, Piper’s Dutch barge might not have been the biggest boat by floor area at the show – although it still wins the prize for the tallest boat thanks to its hardwood wheelhouse, which is collapsible. As well as a steering position it has a dining area and there’s a deck behind. One of the bench seats lifts to give access to the engine room.
Inside, the spacious galley has Corian worktops and a Penguin stainless steel fridge and freezer with proper catches on the doors – a reminder that this is a seagoing boat. The saloon is flooded with light from a large dog box in the ceiling. There’s also a large TV unit.
Off the saloon there’s a room with L-shaped seating which could be used as a second bedroom or an office, while across the corridor there’s a shower room. The main cabin is at the bow, with wardrobes which extend under the front deck and an en suite wet room.
Sinfonia has a Beta 90 engine and a 160kgf bow thruster. There’s a 1500 RPM generator and a 3.5kW inverter. For the helmsman, there’s a position plotter, VHF radio, and a depth gauge. You don’t find many narrowboats with one of those although it might be useful sometimes!
Verdict: A fully equipped barge which can really travel
TYLER WILSON, SHEFFIELD CLASS, 60FT X 12FT, £169,000 EXC VAT
If a Dutch style barge isn’t for you, how about an English one? This is the Tyler Wilson take on the traditional Sheffield Keel, a boat with a deep hull but a low cabin, wide gunwales that are easy to walk down and a rather bluff bow. As you might expect from shell-makers of Tyler Wilson’s quality, this one looks fantastic.
And the inside is just as good. It’s not just the stylish white-painted interior, or the well appointed galley with granite worktops and glass splashbacks, it’s the way the shape of the boat actually adds to the style. For example, the wide gunwales make the room feel even more spacious, and the way the full height unit in the saloon has been made to float above the floor just adds to the effect. The modern Morso stove on a raised hearth looks great.
The second bedroom in this boat has a single bed, but a double will fit or there could be bunks, and the wardrobe borrows some space from the saloon. Thoughtfully, the shower room has both cassette and pump-out loos, just in case you can’t get to the pump-out point in the winter. The main cabin has a bed which appears to float, but actually has drawers in the base. To add to the storage, there are wardrobes either side.
The engine is an 80hp Vetus, and there’s a 3kW Vetus inverter. The steering is hydraulic.
Verdict: The way widebeam boats should look
AINTREE BOATS, XIRIUS, 25FT CRUISER, FROM £29,950
Aintree showed one of their little Beetle class boats in its shortest length of 25ft. They’re also available as 30ft, 35ft and 40ft.
It’s remarkable how much you can fit into such a small space, while at the stern, there’s a decent cruiser deck. Inside there are twin two-person dinettes, which convert into beds. The galley features a combined sink and hob with a cover. On the opposite side there’s a wet-room style shower room, which is big enough. At the bow, the saloon has bench seats both sides, which again convert to beds.
The whole boat weighs just six tonnes and is powered by a Beta 16hp engine. These boats have proved very popular since they were first launched a few years ago, and it’s easy to see why.
The accommodation might be small but it is perfectly formed (and built to a remarkably high standard) and it’s an ideal way to get on to the water without spending much money.
Verdict: Small, good value and charming
MGM BOATS, UNNAMED, 37FT CRUISER, CIRA £55,000
This little boat is a collaboration between the shell builder, Nick Thorpe, and MGM boats, who wanted a day-boat to hire out from their base at Thurmaston on the River Soar, but it would be fair to say that they got a little carried away and have produced the most high spec day-boat you’ll have ever seen; in fact, the facilities are such that you could easily spend a few nights on board.
The galley is at the stern, and has a fridge and a microwave (this being a gas-free boat). There’s a sink and some storage, with nice worktops and very attractive tiles. Next comes a shower room, with a square shower cubicle, a Thetford cassette loo, and a smart basin which is set quite high, so you don’t need to bend down (which would take up too much space, apparently!). For the nights, the saloon has a bench seat that converts into a bed.
The fit-out throughout is painted cabin sides with ash trim and an oak floor, but the best part of the boat is possibly the ‘day-boat’ part at the bow. While the roof is metal and fixed, the sides are canvas and can be rolled up. There’s a U-shape of seating plus a central table and it’s a very pleasant inside/outside place to be.
Even though this is a small boat which can be turned virtually anywhere on the River Soar (where MGM are based), it has a Canaline 42hp engine, and a 2.5kW inverter.
Verdict: The cutest boat at the show