Adam Porter and Andy Annable report on the huge array of narrowboats and other craft on display at the show including all the prize-winners.
WORDS BY ADAM PORTER PICTURES BY ANDY ANNABLE
66ft semi-trad tug
Braidbar is celebrating 40 years of building, and Reginald is the company’s 200th boat, so a win at Crick seems fitting. We featured Reginald as our Crick preview boat test a couple of months ago. Those with long memories might remember that the firm’s hundredth build, about 15 years ago, also won the Crick title.
Reginald is based on a 66ft sheerline Josher shell by Tim Tyler, with a host of features – including a planked tug deck with a forecabin, a full set of rivets, and protruding handrails to mimic wooden ones. The colour scheme nods to the working boats of London Midland & Scottish Railway.
Propulsion is anything but traditional, though, as the boat is powered by Hybrid Marine’s system, based on a Beta 43 engine with a 10kw electric motor. This means it can operate under both electric and diesel power. The battery bank is a huge 800Ah at 48 volts. Inside, the cabin is at the rear, with an inline bed and wardrobes. The walk-through shower room has dark and moody laminate lining to the quadrant shower, and smart fittings throughout. The galley, at the centre of the boat has an induction hob, a Neff oven, a washer-drier, and a range of cupboards and drawers. The worktops are granite and extend into a breakfast bar.
The saloon has a sofa bed and a low unit carrying a tv. A set of shelves towards the bow bi-folds open to reveal a secret extra bedroom under the tug deck, with a seating area in the Potter’s cabin. The fitout is superb, with faux leather on the cabin sides, and oak stained dark to give a dramatic effect. There are also LED lights under the gunwales, and feature lighting down the centre of the ceiling.
VERDICT: A real head turner, a fitting 200th build, and a worthy winner.
Oakums certainly know how to pull in the crowds. The firm won the public vote for Favourite Narrowboat last year and the year before, and this year brought a boat painted in a bright metallic green, that belongs to the vloggers behind Narrowboat Life Unlocked. A frame in which people could have their photo taken in front of the boat helped keep the queues amused.Morning Star is powered by the E-Line series hybrid system from Vetus. Propulsion is from their 10kw motor, which is teamed with a GLX 6.5kva generator and a big bank of lithium batteries. There’s 2kw of solar panels on the roof to help with charging.
This boat is built on a ColeCraft shell, Oakums build to a standard layout, so there are few surprises inside for anyone who’s seen their previous boats. Immediately down from the stern deck is a mud room, followed by the galley. This has pale green units, a Neff electric oven and an induction hob. There’s plenty of storage, including under-gunwale cupboards. One change this year is that the bulkhead between the galley and the dinette has been removed, giving a much more open feel.
The dinette has attractive green upholstery and a set of side doors. In the saloon there’s a Refleks stove on a quartz hearth, and a large L-shaped sofa. This part of the boat also has two huge opening skylights.
The walk-through shower room has a big rectangular shower with vertical tiles, a Compoost composting loo, and a rectangular basin on a quartz worktop. The cabin has an inline bed and mirror fronted wardrobes.
VERDICT: The style Oakums has become known for.
presented by LAKELAND LEISURE ESTATES
Beatrice, 58ft cruiser
This is the first time in many years that a Kingsground boat has been at Crick. They used to be prolific, but builds have slowed in recent times – but now it’s back with a vengeance thanks to a partnership with the marina company, Lakeland Leisure Estates.
Beatrice is a 58ft cruiser built on a ColeCraft shell. It’s powered by a Beta 43 engine, and has a 3kw Victon inverter. The fitout uses white painted vertical tongue and groove on the cabin sides and oak panels below, giving a bright modern look which also feels homely. The galley, at the stern, has oak units and white quartz worktops with an undermounted sink. Equipment includes a Belling oven and Thetford hob, and a mini Zanussi washing machine. Next comes a Pullman dinette which converts to a guest bed, and has side doors alongside. The saloon has a Hamlet stove backed by narrow horizontal blue tiles, a low unit with a tv on top, and a sofa opposite. The forward bulkhead has a smart grey radiator with shelves above.
The walk-through shower room is particularly stylish, with a large rectangular basin set into a unit, with lovely glass mosaic tiles in a geometric pattern as a splashback. There’s also a Vetus loo and a quadrant shower. The cabin, at the bow, has an inline bed with a padded headboard, a wardrobe, and a chest of drawers. Importantly, everything looks and feels well made. This is a very appealing boat, and it’s not surprising people voted for it.
VERDICT: Kingsground quality, just as we remember it.
Nancy is an Aintree Beetle – their range of small affordable boats that come in various lengths. This one should be 40ft, but an extra 2ft had to be added to the engine hole because it has electric propulsion, and the additional space was needed for the motor and generator. Aintree says this is the first narrowboat to have the full Beta E-line set up, with the Beta 14kw electric motor, and a Beta 10kw generator. (There are some day boats fitted with the motor, but because they return to base each night they can be plugged in and don’t need the generator). Beta don’t supply batteries, though, so Aintree has installed a compact set of lithium batteries, and there’s more than 1kw of solar on the roof to help keep them charged.
Inside, the boat is typical Beetle. The rear galley has oak cabinets and woodblock worktops, and because there’s plenty of power there’s an induction hob by Singlehome. The saloon has L-shaped seating, a solid fuel stove, a tv mounted under the gunwales, and a set of side doors.
The walk-through shower room has a quadrant shower, a big round basin on a unit, and a Compoost composting toilet with a carbon filter, meaning it doesn’t need to be vented to the outside. The cabin at the bow has an inline bed, wardrobes, and high-level cupboards. Without electric propulsion, this boat would be £99,000 – and 2ft shorter – so this is a very affordable way of getting an electric boat.
VERDICT: Great value electric propulsion.
Bespoke Boats made quite an impression with a wide beam at last year’s show, at which they picked up second place in the public vote for Favourite Widebeam. Several people said they’d like to see how the company would approach a narrowboat build – and here is the result. Frankie is actually their second narrowboat.
It’s built on a 57ft shell by Elton Moss, has a Canaline 42 engine, 1kw of solar panels on the roof, and a 3kw Victon inverter. The fitout uses oak below the gunwales and grey painted tongue and groove on the cabin sides, giving a contemporary but calming look. The galley is at the stern and has grey units, a gas oven by the confusingly named maker Electriq, and a Thetford hob. The quartz worktop has a wireless charging point, and extends to a breakfast bar. The saloon has a sofa, and under-gunwale tv unit, and a Squirrel solid fuel stove.
The walkthrough shower room has a shower cubicle with a black frame, which is right on trend. There’s a Thetford cassette loo, and a moulded basin. The cabin, at the bow and an extendable inline bed, a decent sized wardrobe, and a stylish black radiator.
VERDICT: Full of contemporary style.
BICKERSTAFFE presented by LAKELAND LEISURE ESTATES
Lakeland Leisure Estates are a marina operator who also have a brokerage and have now started commissioning new boats to sell. As well as Kingsground, who came third in the Favourite Boat vote, the firm is also working with Bickerstaffe, who are now owned by Elton Moss.
The dark metallic green boat on show was a 57-footer on an Elton Moss shell, with a square stern to maximise space. The fitout uses grey tongue and groove below the gunwales and white tongue and groove above.
The stern galley has grey doors on white cabinets, topped by black sparkly quartz worktops. There’s a Thetford oven and hob. A Pullman dinette has side doors on both sides of the boat. The saloon has loose furniture, with an under-gunwale tv unit, and a Squirrel stove.
The walk-through shower room has a quadrant shower, a Thetford cassette loo, a corner unit with a basin, and a towel rail. The cabin, which is at the bow, has oak furniture with grey doors, and an extending inline bed.
The boat is powered by a Vetus 42 engine.
VERDICT: She’s a Bickerstaffe.
Bluewater were back at Crick with narrowboats, after an absence of a couple of years and a few years of showing widebeam barges. The company build their own shells at their base on a farm in Warwickshire.
Coffin Dodger attracted attention partly because of its name, its artwork, and its tiller pin of a gesticulating grim reaper! The owner took delivery of the boat late last year and has been living on board. The boat has a large square cruiser stern set up as a seating area with a folding table. The owner says it seated five for Christmas dinner. Underneath is a Vetus 42 engine.
Inside, the galley is at the stern and features oak woodblock work tops and sleek oak cabinet doors, in a handle-less design. There’s a Thetford oven and hob, and as this is a liveaboard, lots of storage. There’s a two-person dinette on each side of the boat – the owners say they like this arrangement so they can sit on the side of the boat with the best view whichever way round they are moored.
The saloon has a sofa bed, an under-gunwale tv unit, and a Refleks stove. The walk-through shower room is generously proportioned, with a massive rectangular shower, a basin in a unit, and a Compoost composting loo. The boat has an extended cabin rather than a well deck, meaning there’s room for a king size bed. Behind the bed are glazed doors with a hatch above. The bed lifts for storage, and there are also plenty of wardrobes.
VERDICT: Well appointed liveaboard.
£180,000 (show price)
Collingwood are probably the biggest production boat builders in the country, with a range of narrow and wide beam boats. They build their own shells and fit them out. The narrowboat they were showing was from their Shearwater range, with optional electric propulsion. Power comes from the E-line 10kw motor by Vetus, which is paired with an 8kw Vetus generator. The battery bank is a huge 880Ah at 48 volts. The rear galley makes the most of the plentiful power by having electric cooking. There’s an induction hob by Normende and a Bosche combination oven. The cabinets are off-white and have white quartz worktops. Throughout the boat, the cabin sides are cream, with grey below the gunwales.
There’s an L-shaped dinette with side doors, while the saloon is left open for loose furniture. There’s an under-gunwale tv unit, and a Squirrel stove on a high hearth, with shelves alongside. The walk-through shower room has a quadrant shower, a corner unit with a basin, and a Thetford cassette loo. The cabin, which is at the bow features and inline bed, a large mirrored wardrobe, and a corner unit.
VERDICT: Affordable way of getting electric propulsion.
As featured in the August 2023 issue of Canal Boat – check it out for loads more Crick Show craft. Buy the issue here