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Can anyone offer an objective ranking of wide-beam boat builders by prestige and reputation? I've been looking at Colecraft and Bluewater Boats lately, Collingwood I've seen a few bad examples of. Who are generally considered to be among the best that I might have missed? Aqualine? 

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I only know of one Blue Water Widebeam - it spent 3 years in our marina and never went out.

 

It may have been a "Friday Afternoon boat" but ...............................

 

It arrived in the marina all nice and new and shiney.

The owners arrived all bouncy and happy and then the tragedy started.

 

I have written this up several times previously so I'll give a shortned version this time.

 

Following week a team of 4 guys arrived to sort out the numerous faults identified over the weekend. They worked all week.

The next week two came back.

The next week there were four again

The week after there were three.

 

This seemed very strange and I asked one of the guys if all of Bluwater Boats were this bad and he replied - "No this one is actually one of the best ones we have been called out to do the rectification work on. This boat was actually 'carefully hand built' for the boat show, they are normally much worse than this"

 

There followed several more weeks / months of intermittent visits by varying numbers of 'engineers'

 

This went on for months, eventually they said we have done all we can you get no more work done by us. Yes we accept you have a leak somewhere and the bilges are filling up with water but we cannot find it and off they went.

 

It went up for sale for offers over £250,000 and two years later when we left the marina it was still there and still up for sale.

 

Maybe they have sold 1000 perfectly good boats, but this is the only one I have known and it was a 'bad-un'.

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Aqualine were generally considered pretty good. Are they still built in Poland ?

 

There's really no point in comparing a budget boat such as Collingwood with a boat that costs twice as much or even more. They're completely different things. You wouldn't ask people to rank a Peugeot against a Bentley on a car forum. 

 

You must know roughly how much you've got to spend so you should be comparing boats within that price range. 

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1 hour ago, Poppin said:

Can anyone offer an objective ranking of wide-beam boat builders by prestige and reputation? I've been looking at Colecraft and Bluewater Boats lately, Collingwood I've seen a few bad examples of. Who are generally considered to be among the best that I might have missed? Aqualine? 

An objective ranking is unlikely. Most people who have bought a brand new boat will only have bought one so will not be able to compare accurately.

When it comes to second hand boats it is as much about how the boat has been looked after as the original builder, a well looked after 10 year old "budget" boat will be better than a 10 year old "premium" boat that has been neglected for most of it's life.

 

From your previous posts I think your looking for a new build, if so I think the quality at least partly depends on your "management" of the build, accurately specify everything you want in detail and visit regularly to check it is being done, only make staged payments when that stage of the build has been completed to the agreed standard, be realistic - don't demand a premium boat for a budget price, this will lead to disappointment. And do all of this diplomatically, keep the boat builder and their staff on your side.

 

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I'm not sure what OP really knows about boat building, probably, like the rest of us, not a lot. So may need to pay a surveyor to supervise the build, and trust to his abilities, not all surveyors are equal.

The received wisdom is to purchase second hand then decide what you really want.

There are several reasons to buy a widebeam, it may be housing, or it may be a hobby.

 The boat may stay safely in a marina or live precariously out on the cut, anything in between.

It may be destined for London, that would seem to require even more deliberation.

Is it always going to be singlehanded, how will this impact on design?

It may be built by one person as a shell, with or without engine then moved elsewhere for fitting out. A good hull may be enhanced in value by a good fitter, and vice versa.

Financial implications are involved, depreciation can be high, build costings can be exceeded due to wars and inflation etc etc.

The owner in a fit of enthusiastic innocence may decide to fit it out himself, or pay someone to do it for him. He may not want to wait three years for this project to be completed.

He may want to future proof, if that is possible, with a more expensive method of propulsion / heating / cooking.+BATTERIES!

He may find a builder, agree what he think he wants, then ask for changes during the build, etc etc.

Just sayin', good luck with your researches, do not think you will be able to trim all costs at all stages, it will be difficult to enough to control costs, but at the end of the day, if this is a one off purchase, make sure you decide on the basics before you start..

@Barneyp has nailed it.

Personally, I'd be looking at everything on the market, make contacts, build knowledge. This is nothing like buying anything else, not cars, not houses, or any other major expenditure.

 

 

Edited by LadyG
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8 hours ago, Poppin said:

Can anyone offer an objective ranking of wide-beam boat builders by prestige and reputation? I've been looking at Colecraft and Bluewater Boats lately, Collingwood I've seen a few bad examples of. Who are generally considered to be among the best that I might have missed? Aqualine? 

Of the makes you’ve listed I go for Colecraft. Possibly slightly bland but they have been building boats for decades and I haven’t heard of a problem one. Collingwood is low budget with a reputation to match. Heard some bad things about Bluewater. Aqualine are ok but IMO not great value for money.

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1 hour ago, nicknorman said:

Of the makes you’ve listed I go for Colecraft. Possibly slightly bland but they have been building boats for decades and I haven’t heard of a problem one. Collingwood is low budget with a reputation to match. Heard some bad things about Bluewater. Aqualine are ok but IMO not great value for money.


what surprises me given Colecraft’s reputation is that they don’t transfer the goods to you until paid for in full. In this economic climate that does make me uneasy, especially when bluewater say that you pay in stages and you own something at the end of each stage. 
 

What builders have I not mentioned who are better than colecraft? 

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Depends what you mean by “better”. As has been said, there is a huge price range and you tend to pay more for a bespoke boat. Bespoke boats can be good and bad - bad if you are a first timer and have lots of “really good ideas” that don’t work in practice. I’d look at Alexander, Fernwood, Tyler-Wilson, Braidbar, Finesse. And then for the more bespoke top end stuff, Dave Harris,  Brinklow etc.

 

Your question is a bit like “which car should I buy” when the range is from a Bentley, Lamborghini to a Smart, Hyundai i10 etc.

Edited by nicknorman
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34 minutes ago, Poppin said:

What builders have I not mentioned who are better than colecraft? 

 

I'd say there are none. The fact that Colecraft can dictate terms you consider unfavourable is a reflection of their success as boatbuilders and the level of trust in them that has been built up over about 40 years. Sam Cole started his career working at Hancock and Lane, another builder with a first class reputation (H&L abandoned the boat-building market and went on to make bigger and more profitable things).

 

The trouble is, I think, is there is no long history of widebeam building and the market for them until recently has been very small, so no one company other than Colecraft has built enough to have established a good reputation. Also, most buyers of new widebeams are naïve first time buyers looking for a home rather than a boat to go boating in, and tend to think that buying new is the best way to get a fault-free boat (it isn't!) and all new boats are comparable so decisions come down to who can supply it at the keenest price (just like buying a new car). This is about the furthest from the truth as it is possible to get. 

 

My own advice is buy one already built, perhaps two or three years old. Then you can see exactly what you are getting, take it for a trip out  and see how it steers, talk to the seller and see why they are selling, see how it looks once the new shine has worn off. You can survey the hell out of it and find out exactly what you are getting, know that all the new-build teething problems new builds are noted for have been ironed out, live on it for a year then set about making any alterations you find you want with a bit of actual experience of living aboard.

 

 

 

 

Edited by MtB
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Oops I missed the wide beam bit, ignore most of what I said! I’d go with Colecraft. Well no, actually I’d buy a narrowboat! Wide beams are pretty hideous things, it is all about maximising the inside space with no concern for aesthetics. At the very least I’d buy a Dutch barge style, not a fat narrowboat style. Well that is my opinion, anyway! Not that you wanted it!

Edited by nicknorman
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13 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

Depends what you mean by “better”. As has been said, there is a huge price range and you tend to pay more for a bespoke boat. Bespoke boats can be good and bad - bad if you are a first timer and have lots of “really good ideas” that don’t work in practice. I’d look at Alexander, Fernwood, Tyler-Wilson, Braidbar, Finesse. And then for the more bespoke top end stuff, Dave Harris,  Brinklow etc.

 

Your question is a bit like “which car should I buy” when the range is from a Bentley, Lamborghini to a Smart, Hyundai i10 etc.

 

Do Brinklow build widebeams? I thought that they specialised in building and restoring traditional narrowboats.

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer
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2 minutes ago, David Schweizer said:

 

Do Brinklow build widebeams? I thought that they specialised in building and restoring traditional narrowboats.

 

 

No, Yes … read on!

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1 minute ago, David Schweizer said:

 

Do Brinklow build widebeams? I thought that they specialised in building and restoring traditional narrowboats.

 

I was thinking that. I can't imagine Simon ever building a widebeam any more than mrsmelly would ever vote Labour!

 

Apart from that he just he'd be the laughing stock of the whole world of boatbuilding.

 

Besides, their boatbuilding shed is too narrow for a widebeam. It's narrow for a narrowboat too really...

 

 

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17 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

 things).

 

The trouble is, I think, is there is no long history of widebeam building

 

 

 

 

Broadly (?) right - but haven't Peter Nicholls at Braunston been building them for many years?

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8 minutes ago, Athy said:

Broadly (?) right - but haven't Peter Nicholls at Braunston been building them for many years?

 

 

Possibly. They have no shame and will build anything!

 

  • Haha 1
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5 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

 

Possibly. They have no shame and will build anything!

 

They do appear to be versatile, yes. I'm not sure if they have ever built narrowboats - I don't recall ever seeing one.

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Just now, Athy said:

They do appear to be versatile, yes. I'm not sure if they have ever built narrowboats - I don't recall ever seeing one.

 

Peter Nicholls built lots of narrowboats. Never heard of a widebeam though.

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6 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

Peter Nicholls built lots of narrowboats. Never heard of a widebeam though.

Here's one: a standard design apparently. From that angle at least, it has far more aesthetic appeal than some that I've seen.

Belle etoile.jpg

Edited by Athy
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1 minute ago, Athy said:

Here's one: one: a standard design apparently.

Belle etoile.jpg

 

 

That's a nice looking boat. 

 

The beam is wide but it isn't what most of us posting here think the OP means when he says he wants a "widebeam" built. 

 

I think the OP has more in mind something like this:

 

image.png.b9de1375fc2d7bbc06756df30d61373d.png

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1 minute ago, MtB said:

I think the OP has more in mind something like this:

 

And someone buying a 'floating flat' will never see the differences between the two. Fenestration rules OK !

 

It's the same - a couple of round winows at the front and a couple of square windows at the back,

 

 

"Lets look thru the round window today said Big-Ted"

 

See the source image

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13 minutes ago, Athy said:

Here's one: a standard design apparently. From that angle at least, it has far more aesthetic appeal than some that I've seen.

Belle etoile.jpg

I love that photo, the boat has its own style with a nod to the working boat, but it also looks the part on the river. Yes, very nice.

 

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16 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

 

That's a nice looking boat. 

 

The beam is wide but it isn't what most of us posting here think the OP means when he says he wants a "widebeam" built. 

 

I think the OP has more in mind something like this:

 

image.png.b9de1375fc2d7bbc06756df30d61373d.png

Aarrgghh!

But both are widebeams, just as in the car world there are beautiful cars, O.K. cars and Dacia Dusters.

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