News report: what happened at Crick Boat Show 2018

PUBLISHED: 09:43 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:48 10 July 2018

Boats for sale (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Boats for sale (photo: Martin Ludgate)


Rain and thunder may have punctuated the evenings of the Crick Boat Shows, but the days combined fair weather and bright prospects for canal boatbuilders

With hindsight, perhaps the organisers of this year’s Crick Boat Show evening entertainments programme should have booked a Queen tribute band rather than the Abba and Thin Lizzy covers acts who entertained the showgoers in the bar tent. Because given the weather in the evenings, “Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening” would have been a lot more appropriate than either Dancing Queen or The Boys are Back in Town…

The boats on display in the marina attract plenty of attention from the show's visitors (photo: Martin Ludgate)The boats on display in the marina attract plenty of attention from the show's visitors (photo: Martin Ludgate)

But in the daytime when the show was actually open, it was a different matter. The rain cleared, the weather stayed dry for all three days, and for two of them the sun beat down on the visitors to the country’s largest inland waterways boat show. I nearly said “narrowboat show” there, but the trend towards more wider boats of the last couple of years has continued, with new broad beam craft on display now numbering a record 16, compared to 26 narrowboats plus three cruisers and a couple of smaller craft.

Winners at last: Braidbar's Elizabeth Anne won the favourite boat award (narrowbeam category) (photo: Martin Ludgate)Winners at last: Braidbar's Elizabeth Anne won the favourite boat award (narrowbeam category) (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Once again the much coveted ‘favourite boat’ award, chosen by a ballot of show visitors, was split into separate widebeam and narrowbeam categories – with perennial runners-up Braidbar finally winning the narrowboat trophy for semi-trad Elizabeth Anne, featured in this month’s Boat Test. Smithwood’s Lady Penelope was runner-up, with Boating Leisure Services’ Armstrong third. The broad beam award went to Burscough’s What’s the Hurry, with the New & Used Boat Co’s Aquiline second and Elton Moss’s Kingsley barge third.

Burscough's favourite boat (widebeam) winner (photo: Martin Ludgate)Burscough's favourite boat (widebeam) winner (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Exhibitors reported a successful show. King’s Lock Chandlery said that narrowboat Peaky Blinder had sold within an hour of the show opening, BLS also sold their show boat, New & Used Boat Co reported more than one sale during the show, and Braidbar told Canal Boat that there had been plenty of serious expressions of interest.

A busy scene on the land-based site, with a good choice of gear and services on offer (photo: Martin Ludgate)A busy scene on the land-based site, with a good choice of gear and services on offer (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Complementing the boats were the exhibitors offering services and equipment – with several interesting developments in engines and propulsion. Barras had two contrasting new models of engine: on the one hand the Shire 43 plugs a gap in the range for 50-55ft narrowboats with a no-frills affordable 43hp 4-cylinder Chinese based engine; while at the opposite end of the range the 135hp Shire John Deere is very much aimed at providing a high spec reliable engine (they are already used by fishing boats and pilot launches) for widebeams and coastal use.

Two new Barras engines: 43hp and (behind) 135hp (photo: Martin Ludgate)Two new Barras engines: 43hp and (behind) 135hp (photo: Martin Ludgate)

But it seemed to be a year for alternative propulsion systems. Beta had hooked up with Hercules Hydraulics to put together a working hydraulic drive system, the slow-turning prop showing how much low speed control is available with this setup, and the lengthy connecting hoses making the point that it enables you to put the engine anywhere you like. An 40-80hp electric (battery and motor) drive package by Torqeedo (recently bought by major German engine specialists Deutz) was part of the display by Engines Plus, who have just been appointed as UK dealer for this system which is already in use in mainland Europe. And hybrid (diesel plus electric) power was in evidence in several of the boats on show (including Braidbar’s winner) as well as on all the engine stands plus specialists Hybrid Marine and Cheshire Marine Equipment. Lastly, the new Vetus electric bowthruster uses a brushless induction motor for better reliability and no brush dust, continuous operation without risking overheating, and variable speed operation via a joystick control – but all packaged together with the control electronics so that it can be installed just like a conventional DC thruster.

Display of historic working narrowboats (photo: Martin Ludgate)Display of historic working narrowboats (photo: Martin Ludgate)

New gear which caught our eye included River Canal Rescue’s bilge water filtering system (which uses coated granules to suck dirty oil out of bilgewater as it is pumped through a filter canister, leaving clean water and an inert residue in the filter cartridge), and the ratcheted Go Windlass which while not the first of its type, is said by its makers to be significantly lighter than those already on the market. We’ve since tested it successfully on some tough paddles on the K&A.

Plenty going on in the entertainments marquee (photo: Martin Ludgate)Plenty going on in the entertainments marquee (photo: Martin Ludgate)

For a break from the serious side of buying and fitting out boats there were craft stalls, seminars, boat trips, boat handling ‘taster’ sessions, entertainments, and talks by ‘John Nash’ – 19th century architect and planner explaining his plans for the ‘new’ Regent’s Canal in the Canal & River Trust’s marquee.

And finally, for the most unlikely feature on a boat on show: narrowboat Ohm from Ohm was equipped with electrically operated movable ballast, enabling you to trim it to the left or to the right!

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