The Boat Test: Research Project
PUBLISHED: 17:04 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:21 17 March 2016
Some people tend to rush into having their boat built (and who can blame them) but the smart thing is to spend time on research and preparation – and to give some thought to your future boating
When someone tells you that preparation is the key to a good finish, it’s liable to make your heart sink. After all, we’re all a bit impatient to get to the end result. But it’s true – whether you’re painting a wall, writing a novel, or having a boat built; if you want a good finish, it’s best to put the prep in first. This boat, Krystyna, is proof. Krysia and Colin Everall did plenty of research, including collecting ideas from boat tests like this one, to help them choose the look and feel of the boat as well as individual pieces of equipment. They had friends who lived aboard, so could get advice on what worked and what didn’t; and they looked at dozens of used boats to see different layouts and designs. Of course, finding a boat builder who can turn your ideas into reality is also important, so the couple visited several shell builders and boat-fitters before making their final decisions. And they made good choices – a Nick Thorpe shell and a fit-out by Bourne Boats – because the boat they’ve ended up with meets their exacting standards. It also caught our eye at the Crick Boat Show as a great example of a quality boat at a reasonable price.
EXTERIOR: One of the couple’s main requirements for this 57-footer was a large cruiser stern deck, but they still wanted the boat to look fairly traditional, so they’ve gone for a rounded rather that squared-off stern and there’s a hint of rise in the back counter. The rear deck is surrounded by a wide wooden rail, and the couple have added a pram cover to give somewhere to dry their dog on wet days. One of Colin’s special requests was that the diesel filler be recessed to avoid spills. Other requirements included an extra long stern hatch for ease of access to the boat and a finger-grip along the handrail. There’s a pigeon box in the roof over the galley fitted with prisms to let in plenty of extra light without the condensation so often associated with a Houdini hatch. The bow is Nick Thorpe’s standard offering; the couple would have liked a Josher style, however, the extra length would have cost them living space. As it has turned out, the bow is still a nice shape and looks rather pretty on the water. The cratch board has been decorated with diamonds which provides a touch of the traditional. The gas locker is in the nose and there are well deck lockers each side to provide somewhere to sit; each has LED lights set into the sides. There’s also a small table at the front. The deck has an access hatch for the bow thruster and a stainless steel water tank underneath. The leading edge of the cabin has a built-in grab handle, but the couple opted for a simple curve, rather than Nick Thorpe’s usual barley twist design. There are sockets for a 240-volt shoreline at both the bow and the stern, so a long cable won’t be needed. Krysia was responsible for the colour scheme and the couple mixed a couple of different shades of grey to get exactly the one they wanted. It’s rather striking and set off well by black handrails with coach lines in cream and dark red. The paintwork was completed in-house at Bourne; it’s not surprising the finish is excellent, as the firm’s founder, Wayne Payton, is a coach painter with many years’ experience. Krysia chose black window and porthole frames to complement the scheme. There are chrome mushroom vents and the roof also sports a solar panel and a very discreet 3G antenna.
LAYOUT AND FIT-OUT: This is a reverse layout boat, with a rear saloon including an L-shaped dinette. The galley is in the middle, with a walk-through shower room beyond and the cabin is at the bow. Krysia masterminded the interior, and has come up with a light, bright scheme that is very attractive. Oak is used throughout, but the cabin sides are lined with panels of cream faux leather, which gives an airy, contemporary feel and should be hard wearing. The trim bordering the panels was too scalloped to fit with Krysia’s clean modern design, so the builders at Bourne trimmed it down for her. There’s more faux leather on the ceiling, which also sports a central feature made from oak. This has concealed LED lighting which washes the ceiling in light. In the more private areas of the boat (the shower room and the cabin) the ceiling changes to oak tongue and groove. The floor throughout is hardwearing Amtico in an oak finish.
SALOON AND DINETTE: The extra-long hatch means there’s no danger of banging your head as you go down the steps from the stern deck into the saloon. All the treads lift for storage. Beside the steps there is a range of cupboards. On one side there’s the electrical cupboard and a wardrobe, and opposite, there’s an airing cupboard with the calorifier in the bottom. In the saloon proper, a Lockgate Reflex diesel stove sits on one side on an attractive sparkly quartz hearth with a drawer underneath, while on the other side, there’s a full height corner unit housing a flat screen TV which can be pulled out on a bracket, and a USB socket. Underneath there’s a sound bar which was chosen by Colin after Krysia vetoed the idea of having speakers set into the ceiling. They also decided against some features we’ve seen on previous Bourne boats, such as nauticalstyle lips on shelf edges, and turned finials – none of which would have fitted with the clean look they were after. A versatile folding table is stored under the gunwales, and there’s also an under gunwale cupboard which provides far more storage than you might think. The L-shaped dinette, upholstered in an attractive grey fabric, is on the opposite side. There are drawers and other storage in the base, and a pull-out section means it converts easily and quickly into a guest bed. Grey curtains and grey column radiators with shiny chrome valves complete the modern look. The radiators were the result of extensive internet research, not just for the look, but to find units the right size.
GALLEY: The clean look continues in the galley, where Krysia wanted cupboards rather than open shelves, doors hiding appliances and no high level units. There’s more sparkling black quartz (a material that is much less likely to crack than granite as it doesn’t suffer from the same fault lines), with an inset stainless steel sink by Rangemaster. Underneath this there’s a full-size washing machine; the full-size fridge and separate freezer are 12-volt models chosen because the couple didn’t want to have to have the inverter turned on all the time. For a touch of style, small blue LEDs are set into the kickboards. Cooking is by a stylish three-burner hob from Thetford, a full-size Candy gas fan oven set at eye level and a Bosch microwave above. There are glazed side hatches each side, which, like the glazed doors at the stern and the bow, have integral blinds built into the double glazing. They’re raised and lowered by a magnet – a really neat solution.
SHOWER ROOM: The quadrant shower is large at 800mm, with more of Krysia’s design flare on show. The cubicle is lined with laminate shower board, but she specified vertical stripes of black and white. There are cupboards and shelves alongside and some clever folding hooks that were sourced on the internet. The Thetford cassette loo has a porcelain bowl and electric flush, and is one of the items spotted in a previous boat test. It doesn’t have the usual back panel, giving a much more normal (ie ‘non-cassette’) look; for some reason, these loos don’t feature in the catalogues and have to be specially ordered. A corner unit provides storage and carries a smart white basin. A large mirror fills the wall above, and has concealed LED lighting.
CABIN: Krysia was determined that neither of them would have to sleep tucked under the gunwale or pressed up against the wall, so the cabin features a cross bed. It’s easier to make than many we’ve seen: a unit opposite the main part of the bed has a drop down panel which completes the base, and the infill part of the mattress comes with it. By burrowing slightly into the walls under the gunwales, they’ve managed to make it a full king size. There’s storage in the main part of the bed base, and this too is easy to access as the slatted base lifts on gas struts. There are bedside cabinets and a wide range of wardrobes. The steps up to the well deck also have lifting treads for storage.
TECHNICAL: This boat is powered by the ubiquitous Beta 43, chosen because Colin wanted to be confident of having enough power on rivers as well as canals. Access to the engine is by lifting deck boards which extend the whole length of the deck. There are two, the bigger of which is large enough to be slightly ungainly, but once they’re up, you can see that everything has been installed very neatly and there’s plenty of room around the engine. Colin has also had LED lights installed in the engine bay so he can see what he’s doing if, for example, he’s changing the oil in the rain with the pram cover up. There’s a sizeable bank of seven 110Ah batteries for the domestic supply; it’s Bourne’s typical specification and means there’s plenty of scope for mooring up for a day without having to run the engine. That’s particularly true on this boat, which has a 240W Panasonic solar panel on the roof, to top up the batteries. Colin’s research found it was one of the most efficient panels on the market. There’s also a battery for the engine, and two for the 75kgf Vetus bow thruster. There’s a Webasto diesel boiler for heating to complement the Reflex stove. In addition, a heat exchanger on the engine means that the radiators can be warmed up while on the move. It’s a good way of making use of excess heat from the engine and it’s always been a surprise that more boats don’t have one – particularly if you’re a fan of boating in colder weather.
ON THE WATER: Our trip on Krystyna might not have been the longest, but it had plenty of proper challenges. We winded twice and had to reverse a couple of hundred yards with boats moored both sides and the boat performed very well indeed. It sits in the water nicely and swims well, it responds to the tiller and goes exactly where pointed. And when it comes to turning around, once the turn has started, it just keeps on going (even without using the bow thruster). In reverse, the bow thruster comes into its own because it’s powerful enough to steer the boat. The rear deck is spacious, with plenty of room for the crew and the broad wooden rail provides somewhere to perch. LED lights are set underneath the rail for night-time socialising, or for when the pram cover is up. At the helm, the tiller is light and the Morse control isn’t too low down (which can be the case on cruiser sterns). The bow thruster controls (on the same pillar as the Morse) are easy enough to reach, but out of the way of accidental knocks. One thing that’s very noticeable is how quiet the engine is. It makes for very relaxed cruising.
CONCLUSION: This boat has a lot going for it. It’s on a good shell with a stylish fit-out to a very high standard; Bourne have done an excellent job. And it’s a reasonable price, too, at £125,000. That’s exactly what you’d expect to pay for a boat of this quality and with this level of equipment. But it’s also a testament to the amount of prep put in by the owners. They did everything right when they were planning the boat, gathering ideas and sourcing equipment, and Krysia in particular has used her artistic skills to come up with a look that’s exceptionally stylish. It meant that they knew exactly what they wanted and how they were going to achieve it. This boat shows that if you think everything through properly before you start, you’re much more likely to end up with a boat that really works.
Verdict: ‘It’s a good boat, cleverly designed with an eye on the future
DESIGN AND DÉCOR
■ Solar panel: Panasonic 240W midsummerenergy.co.uk £330.00
■ Radiators: Milano Alpha bestheating.co.uk £90 each
■ Toilet: Thetford C263-S special order through Midland Chandlers midlandchandlers.co.uk £565.
■ Folding hooks: Hafele tandsarchitechtural.co.uk £20.50 each All prices are approximate and may depend on supplier and any discounts obtained