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

Canal Boat - - Contents - WORDS ADAM PORTER PIC­TURES ANDY R ANNABLE

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.

EX­TE­RIOR

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.

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