Crown Narrowboats 57ft





Winter is not the kindest time for testing boats. We had already sat out days of snow, frost, gales and heavy rain before getting a clear weather forecast and heading off for the Calder & Hebble at Battyeford, Yorkshire – only to be snarled up in the year’s biggest traffic jam when both the M1 and A1 were closed by accidents.It was enough to make anyone sick as the proverbial parrot but then we arrived at the South Pennine Boat Club and were sick no more – all of which is an appalling laboured introduction to Nb Sycnamore Too, the subject of this month’s test.Sycnamore Too is the fourth boat owned by Jean and Garth Robinson; their previous narrowboat was also named Scynamore and still cruises the network. The Robinson’s first two craft were sea-going yachts and seasickness was something that Jean could not overcome. Now put on your best Yorkshire accent and you have the name – ‘sick na more’.This is the eighteenth boat built by Crown Narrowboats, a relatively new Manchester based family boat builders. It entered the market towards the end of 2000 and achieved early success by being awarded the Lionel Monk Trophy at the IWA Festival in 2003.The company has continued to establish a reputation for building quality boats at competitive prices, delivered on time and all wrapped up in a professional package of customer support – and the word on the cut is that they are also very nice people to deal with.

DESIGN & EXTERIORSycnamore Too was visualised not as a live-aboard but for comfortable periods of extended cruising, for the Robinsons and Bonnie, their West Highland Terrier, as well as having the ability to entertain guests, and if need be, provide occasional additional accommodation for a further couple. Experience from their previous boat helped when deciding ‘must have’ features.Most important of these was the relatively unusual internal layout. Jean Robinson explained that their desire for sociable boating demanded that the saloon be located towards the stern, however experience from their previous boat suggested that the galley should be the first point of entry from the stern.Not only would this be practical for providing drinks and snacks whilst on the move but with careful design act as a ‘dirt trap’ between outside and inside. With the rear doors being the preferred entrance of the boat, the inside scheme therefore runs galley, leading to dinette, then saloon, bathroom and finally the forward set cabin.Sycnamore Too positively gleamed in the winter sun; the colour scheme is a classy green and gold. Trim is brass where appropriate and gold anodised elsewhere. All paintwork and sign writing is an in house facility of Crown’s and executed to a high standard.Like all Crown Boats, the shell is by Reeves, this one being in Trad style. The company’s trademark bow flares, raised cants and style details will be familiar to many. The hull is well equipped with mooring eyes, tee studs and rope dollies. Above deck level the cabin has a combination of porthole and rectangular windows with a wide double door side hatch.Safety cabin edge rails, brass mushroom vents, a centre-mooring eye together with a plank and pole rack are fitted to the roof. All exposed deck areas are covered with non-slip grid matting. Entrance steps have inlaid non-slip coverings.FRONT & REAR DECKSA good size front deck includes a locker providing secure gas storage, a separate compartment for the bow thruster and battery plus two general storage lockers, with a cratch cover providing protection.The stern has deck space for skipper and mate, two Taff seats and a well cantilevered rudder arm. The integral diesel tank is incorporated in the stern with a brass filler point and adjacent fuel gauge.An extra large cabin hatch enables both easy accesses to the boat and provides additional crew space. Throttle and bow thruster controls are within the hatch way on the port side. Two steps from here take you down to a further door and step down into the galley.GALLEYOn entering, first impressions are of light and space, enhanced by the clear view through to the saloon. The floor is striking in Amtico tiles with grey grout stripes. The tiles were selected for their solid stone like appearance and durability yet light weight. Colouring is an attractive natural stone with rusty red marbling.The galley, like the rest of the interior is lined with well-matched oak panels protected with a clear satin polyurethane paint. Lighting throughout is by ceiling mounted 12v halogen spots with wall-mounted up-lighters in the saloon and bedroom.Galley fittings are in oak to blend with the wall linings and set out in a shallow U-shaped layout to starboard. The green laminated worktop with an oak surround features a one and a half bowl stainless steel sink and a practical grey tile surround.Below the worktop are located the Indesit washing machine and the 12v LG Model RIR 151W ’fridge, there is also a wide storage cupboard with shelves. The cooker is a DIT 500, 4-ring hob with glass lid, grill and oven with integral pan drawer below, all gas powered. Additional storage is provided on the rear bulkhead by a double wall hung cupboard with mug rail and spice rack.On the port side opposite the work area is a two door glazed hatch. This has a unique screen arrangement which allows the windows to be fully or partly open, but covered if desired by a discreet fly screen. At night the screen can be moved the opposite direction to become a night blind. All is housed in a metal surround and can be operated easily with one hand. Below this hatch is a slim two-door cupboard and a single wide cutlery drawer, topped with laminate to match the work surface opposite. Another nice touch is the nine-bottle wine rack.DINETTEThe dining area sits on a raised plinth to the starboard side, floored in matching tiles to those used in the galley – the gangway area being carpeted in green. It has the usual twin two-seater settees separated by a single pedestal table which converts to a double bed when required. The settees themselves are very well upholstered giving firm, comfortable support and suggesting an ability to give long service. Covering material was selected by Jean to co-ordinate with the curtains and saloon furnishings.The dinette plinth is built over the 150gal stainless steel water tank and the calorifier for hot water. The plinth space is also well used with a slide-under storage drawer at floor level and a hidden hatch under the table. Shelved cupboards are also incorporated under the seats.SALOONThe saloon continues in the same uncluttered style. Seating was selected and supplied by the owners in the form of two very comfortable free-standing easy chairs. The remaining trim is simple.A shelf unit consisting of bookcase and CD/DVD storage unit is built into the starboard wall. Beyond that is a centrally placed door that leads through to the bathroom. On the port side is the audio cupboard, with flat screen tv on top and audio system inside. A mobile phone aerial booster socket is also incorporated. Two speakers are flush mounted in the wall.Opposite is an Arrow Bunny wood/coal-burning stove on a raised plinth with tile surround. This backs up up the boat’s very effective Eberspacher Hydronic 5 heating system (which we experienced and welcomed).Fin radiators run the length of the boat at skirting level and are hidden behind neat skirting board vents – an unobtrusive, practical and effective solution. For safety a dual Propane/CO2 detector is mounted in clear vision in the saloon.Before moving onto the bathroom it is worth turning and reviewing the living area. Jean is very pleased with the result. It has achieved what she envisaged – a spacious interior, uncluttered but with a comfortable quality feel, entirely practical for two yet easily catering for those occasions when guests are onboard. Most important of all it enables the crew to keep in contact with the skipper at the helm.BATHROOMFlooring in the bathroom reverts to the practicalities of Amtico tiles. This features a full size thermostatically controlled shower, the cabinet walls being tiled with large ceramic grey marbled tiles above matching green marbled tiles.The toilet is a Vacu-Flush in white. A white vanity bowl is incorporated in a cross corner cabinet with a laminate top, above which is a mirror. A shelf unit next to the shower offers practical storage for towels and toiletries.Below these shelves is another novel yet very practical feature; a cupboard that swings forward to provide a laundry basket. A detachable fabric bag enables easy removal of the contents. There are three towel rails in addition to a towel rail radiator, the only conventional radiator on the boat.Once again the feeling of spaciousness has been achieved recognising that showering and dressing does require a degree of space if is to be done in comfort.CABIN

It is here that the inevitable trade off for space has been lost. Not that the bedroom is small but there is less free space to move around. Jean will tell you that this was the intention – whilst comfort is still important, space could be better used in the other areas.

The bed is a semi fixed cross-double bed, the foot end folding to provide gangway space. Beneath the bed are generous storage drawers, below which are the black water storage tank and vacuum generator for the toilet. The outside tank vent is fitted with a carbon filter that removes the possibility of any smells.

On either side of the bed are side tables each with a single drawer and light above. Above the bed and sculptured around the porthole is a run of wall slung cabinets.

A double full-length wardrobe abuts the bathroom wall whilst and additional single wardrobe is adjacent to the front cabin doors. On the opposite side of the front doors is a very neat dressing table unit, mirror above and drawer beneath, which also has an attractive upholstered stool.

The double doors to the front deck are solid oak with laminated glass upper panels. Entry to the front deck is up two steps which double as storage lockers.

ON THE WATERThe short winter day, a swollen River Calder and icy conditions prevented us from any distance trial. But we did require a fair amount of manoeuvring on the cut and around the marina. It was enough to recognise that Sycnamore Too responds well both forward and back, and manoeuvres easily with a light hand to the tiller. Essential controls are all to hand and other switches and gauges very accessible. The lack of noise when underway is impressive. The Reeves hull sits well on the water with the bow cutting a nice line.CONCLUSION

In Yorkshire there is an expression ‘never mind the quality feel the width’. Well we reckon that Jean and Garth have got both the length and the quality. Crown has provided exactly what its clients wanted, a spacious boat for periods of extended cruising, comfort and space for day time living and when the need occurs, guests are easily accommodated.No doubt a live-aboard would have more storage but Sycnamore Too offers a surprising amount of well placed and planned storage all the same. Comfort and quality are evident and the standard of woodwork is excellent. On the water it looks the part, with sleek lines and an impressive but not overstated colour scheme.It is neither spectacular nor revolutionary in design but is an example of well executed workmanship providing down to earth quality at an impressive price. With an on the water price tag of £95,000 we think it is good value.Crown must be pleased with what they have created, and Jean and Garth certainly seem well pleased that they have got a boat to be proud of that will provide them with continuing pleasure and service for many years to come. Sycnamore Too will be Crown’s boat on show at Crick 2006, Jean and Garth will be there to show you round, so take a look for yourself.

Length: 57ft 6inBeam: 6ft 10inDraught: 2ft 0inSteeelwork: 10:6:4Weight 17 tons approx.Engine: Beta Marine 43Electrical: 12v DC, 220v AC via MasterVolt 2kW inverter/charger, 3.5kW Electrolux Travelpower alternator & landline Crown Narrowboats Ltd80 Rocky Lane,Monton,Eccles,Manchester M30 9LYTel: 0161 707 0087

Price: £ 95,000 inc


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