BOAT TEST: TRISTAR BOATS 50FT
Elsie Alice might look fairly standard on the outside, but step inside and there’s a vibrant interior that’s colourfully different to any other we’ve seen
A cruiser-stern with a quirky and colourful interior that packs a lot in but still feels spacious
You’d think that the outside of a boat would tell you quite a lot about the inside – but in many cases you’d be wrong. Just like books, which apparently shouldn’t be judged by their covers, so it is with boats.
In the past we’ve seen them with very traditional exteriors, but ultra-modern interiors, and here’s a boat that gives a rather sober impression at first glance, but turns out to be bright, colourful and quirky when you go in. Or, as the owner, Claire Creek, puts it, she wanted a boat that was classy on the outside and ditsy on the inside.
Elsie Alice is also a boat that follows something of a trend away from wooden interiors. We’ve seen plenty with painted panels on the cabin sides, or white rather than wooden ceilings, but this boat goes a step or two further, with plenty of paint and colour.
It’s a 50ft cruiser stern with a shell built by Soar Valley Steel Boats, based at Redhill Marina on the River Soar and very close to Tristar Boats who fitted it out. In typical Soar Valley style, the bow is fairly sharply pointed, the roofline is
low and there’s a pronounced tumblehome. There are scrolls in the ends of the handrails and the cants, and there’s a very chunky grab handle built into the forward end of the cabin to help getting on and off at the bow. At the other end, the cabin has a nice diagonal line from the roof to the cruiser stern deck so it looks as though it ends properly rather than just coming to a stop.
This is a gas-free boat, so the locker at the bow provides storage. There are also lockers on both sides of the well deck, and the water tank is underneath. The stern deck is surrounded by a wide wooden taff rail that provides somewhere to perch; it’s supports are again set at an angle, giving the boat a sense of purpose.
There’s one element of the steelwork you might not notice at first sight -- a large horizontal plate on top of the rudder, just under the water. Soar Valley say they’ve been including this plate for a number of years, and a majority of their boats have it.
The idea is to give the boat a little extra power as the water is forced backwards rather than breaking the surface. It has the added advantage of making it easier to get back on the boat should you fall in, because there’s something big to step onto.
And so to the rather traditional looking colour scheme of dark blue cabin sides, with a cream roof and coachlines, and red handrails. It was painted by Tristar, who have recently converted a shed into a climatecontrolled paintshop. This means boats can be shot-blasted and then spray painted in ideal conditions for both the painting and the hardening of the paint between coats. The final coat is applied by brush for a traditional finish.