BOAT TEST: BRAYZEL SEMI-TRAD

If you had a chance to build a boat, then a sec­ond and then a third, how would you change things – Val and Gra­ham did just that

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

How many boats do you need to ful­fil your boat­ing life’s needs?One, two, or three...

There’s an oft-re­peated say­ing that you only get your boat ex­actly right when you’re on your third one. It’s quite dif­fi­cult to put this to the test, though, be­cause most peo­ple don’t have three boats, es­pe­cially from new.

But here’s a cou­ple who have – and who im­me­di­ately dis­pute the whole premise of the say­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Val and Gra­ham Mat­tock, there was noth­ing re­ally wrong with ei­ther of their pre­vi­ous two boats, it was just that as their cir­cum­stances changed, so did their re­quire­ments.

And that makes sense. When their first boat was built back in 2003, fi­nances were tight and they wanted a boat for week­ends and hol­i­days, so Shanorelle was built as a 52-footer (by co­in­ci­dence, it’s for sale in our sec­ond-hand boats sec­tion this month on Page 84).

By the time of their sec­ond boat in 2009 they were look­ing at ex­tended cruis­ing with the pos­si­bil­ity of liv­ing on board in the fu­ture, so Shanorelle II was a built as a 58ft trad (we tested it in April 2010 if you fancy rum­mag­ing through your back copies).

The liveaboard plan has come to fruition and now the cou­ple’s lat­est boat,

Hart­land, has been de­signed for that. It’s longer again at 60ft, has beefed up elec­tri­cal and heat­ing sys­tems, and a big­ger en­gine.

In­side, it’s sim­i­lar to their pre­vi­ous boats (Gra­ham refers charm­ingly to “the essence of Shanorelle”!) not least be­cause they re­turned to the builder of both their pre­vi­ous boats for this one.

Brayzel Nar­row­boats had served them well and it’s a real vote of con­fi­dence that they’ve gone back to the firm again. An­drew Crook, of Brayzel, says he’s had

a num­ber of cus­tomers who’ve had two boats from him, but this is the first time he’s built a third.

EX­TE­RIOR

Hart­land is very good look­ing. The colour scheme is a classy mix of grey pan­els with black borders, which looks both tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary. The tra­di­tional side is em­pha­sised by hav­ing all port­holes rather than win­dows, but the frames and all the other trim are in chrome which gives a more mod­ern feel.

The steel­work is by Dar­ren Barker of Cauldon Boats of Stoke-on-Trent. If that name sounds fa­mil­iar, it might be be­cause a few years ago Cauldon did some well re­ceived full fit-outs; but Dar­ren’s back­ground was in steel fab­ri­ca­tion and he now con­cen­trates on pro­duc­ing shells.

And this one looks good, with some very at­trac­tive lines. The bow is a pleas­ing shape and the boat sits nicely in the wa­ter. In ad­di­tion, there’s some good de­tail­ing and the handrails have a use­ful fin­ger-grip on the in­side.

This boat is a semi-trad – per­haps the big­gest change from Shanorelle II, which was a trad. That boat had an ex­tra large hatch so there was room for the cou­ple to be to­gether at the stern while trav­el­ling. But that meant Val had to stand up all the time, and she wanted some­where to sit in­stead. So Hart­land’s stern deck has lock­ers both sides; one is the gas locker, mak­ing chang­ing a bot­tle much eas­ier than hav­ing to bal­ance on the nose.

The Mat­tocks have added a pram cover over the semi-trad stern. Th­ese do noth­ing for the lines of any boat, but they do make the space much more use­able – as some­where to dry the dog after a walk, for ex­am­ple – and help keep the rear of the boat warmer in win­ter.

At the bow, the well deck has built-in lock­ers on three sides, with cush­ions so they’re com­fort­able places to sit. The cross locker gives ac­cess to the bow thruster tube.

With the gas locker at the stern, the space in the nose is avail­able for stor­age; it stretches right down to the base­plate, so there’s a false floor di­vid­ing up the space into re­ally long term stor­age below and things you need a bit more of­ten above.

The wa­ter tank is un­der the well deck, and is made of stain­less steel.

LAY­OUT AND FIT-OUT

This is a re­verse lay­out boat (the same as Shanorelle II) which works well with a semi-trad. The gal­ley is at the stern, with a cen­tral walk­way which then curves to the right to take you past an L-shaped dinette. This is another change from the pre­vi­ous boat, which had a Pull­man style dinette. The sa­loon is in the mid­dle of the boat.

A walk-through shower room comes next, with the cabin at the bow.

The fit-out uses oak through­out. There are pan­els on the hull and cabin sides, with some lovely grain on show.

All the trim and fur­ni­ture is also oak and Brayzel’s qual­ity join­ery shines through. All the doors are well made, all the joins are nice and tight, and all the screw heads are prop­erly plugged.

The floor is en­gi­neered oak, ex­cept for the shower room where slate grey tiles have been used.

GAL­LEY

A set of lad­der steps brings you down from the stern deck into the gal­ley. On one side there’s an elec­tri­cal cup­board con­tain­ing the in­verter and a range of con­trollers. Op­po­site there’s a dry­ing cup­board with a ra­di­a­tor in­side. The lower door of each cup­board lifts off, so they can be re­moved with­out hav­ing to move the steps.

This is a good-sized gal­ley – most of the boat’s ex­tra two feet of length has been used here – and con­tains all the ap­pli­ances you need as well as plenty of stor­age space.

The cup­boards have smart oak doors, there’s an ex­tra-wide drawer for cut­lery, and there are draw­ers in the kickspace at floor level. At the end of the shorter run of units, there’s a built in wine rack, and the un­der-gun­wale space has been used for a can cup­board.

There are more cup­boards at high level, in­clud­ing one over the port­hole above the hob, with doors shaped to match, pro­vid­ing a very handy space for

‘This is a good-sized gal­ley – most of the boat’s ex­tra two feet of length has been used here – and con­tains all the ap­pli­ances you need as well as plenty of stor­age space’

es­sen­tials such as spices and oils. The work­tops are a very at­trac­tive grey quartz, a com­pos­ite ma­te­rial made from stone, which is far tougher than gran­ite. There are tiny flecks that sparkle in the light, which is plen­ti­ful thanks to a Hou­dini hatch. Val says the pale colour is far eas­ier to keep clean than the black gran­ite in the pre­vi­ous boat, which showed up ev­ery wa­ter mark.

Ap­pli­ances in­clude an im­pres­sive Belling five-burner hob (with a stain­less steel splash­back that reaches up the height of the cabin side) and a full-size Belling oven. The Candy washer drier is also a full-size model, and the fridge is a 240-volt Rus­sell Hobbs. There’s a freezer hid­den in the end of the dinette.

DINETTE AND SA­LOON

Although the Mat­tocks’ last boat had a Pull­man dinette, this time they opted for an L-shape in­stead. They like the more open feel; it’s es­sen­tially an ex­ten­sion to the sa­loon. The dinette is raised to give a bet­ter view out, and there are draw­ers in the plinth. The seats them­selves also of­fer plenty of stor­age space. The cush­ions are up­hol­stered in an at­trac­tive grey tar­tan to re­flect Val’s Scot­tish roots; there are ex­tra loose cov­ers, as Cheil the dog likes to sit up here.

The ta­ble is mounted on Desmo legs and the dinette con­verts into a bed by pulling out a frame and drop­ping the ta­ble down.

Op­po­site the dinette is the first of two sets of side doors. Both have a glass in­ner, which can ei­ther be dropped back to pro­vide ven­ti­la­tion, or lifted out

com­pletely. There’s also a sec­ond Hou­dini hatch.

In the sa­loon proper, there’s a low-level TV unit that houses a box for the self-seek­ing satel­lite and a car ra­dio, which has speak­ers built in. There’s also a sur­pris­ing amount of stor­age space.

A Morso Squir­rel stove sits on a hearth on one side of the door through to the shower room. The tiles are grey to match the colours used through­out the boat, while the flue is dou­ble-skinned.

On the other side of the door there’s a unit in the style of a dresser. The solid doors of the lower part hide the ac­cess for the toi­let cas­sette; there’s a use­ful charg­ing point, as the sock­ets here have USB ports; the up­per half of the dresser has glazed doors to make a dis­play case.

There’s un­der-gun­wale LED light­ing the length of the sa­loon and dinette, and two very smart dou­ble col­umn ra­di­a­tors in an­thracite grey. Gra­ham and Val say they’re so good they stay hot for a cou­ple of hours after the heat­ing has gone off.

SHOWER ROOM

A very spa­cious shower cu­bi­cle dom­i­nates this room and it’s a larger than nor­mal quad­rant at 910mm be­cause of its bul­bous de­sign. It’s lined with a com­pos­ite board rather than tiles. Be­tween the cu­bi­cle and the hull side there’s room for a lit­tle bit of stor­age.

Across one cor­ner a large unit is topped with the same quartz as the gal­ley with the basin in­set. Along the base of the cup­board is LED light­ing, switched on from the cabin to act as a night light. There’s enough light to show the way when you need a night-time visit to the loo, but not enough to wake up your other half.

On the other side of the room, sen­si­bly hid­den by the door when it’s open, is the Thet­ford cas­sette loo. It’s the model with a ce­ramic bowl, but with­out the usual high plas­tic back. It’s ac­tu­ally a model in­tended for mo­torhomes, but chan­dlers can or­der it spe­cially. It cer­tainly looks more like a stan­dard loo, which can only be a good thing.

CABIN

The door be­tween the shower room and the cabin folds right back out of the way dur­ing the day.

There’s clearly been some dis­cus­sion about the di­rec­tion of the bed. Val and Gra­ham’s first boat had a cross bed which Gra­ham found rather short, so their sec­ond boat had an in-line one. Now they’ve gone back to a cross bed, but made it 5ft wide. Gra­ham says it’s still a lit­tle short, but Val’s wish not to sleep along­side the cold wall of the boat dur­ing the win­ter ap­par­ently won out!

The bed ex­tends fairly sim­ply, with a pull out frame, built in two halves, to sup­port the mat­tress. The bed base has

masses of stor­age space in­side, mostly used for some fold­ing chairs. The doors on the front of the base fold right back to make ac­cess eas­ier.

Ei­ther side of the bed therer are very sub­stan­tial wardrobes, com­plete with in­ter­nal lights and draw­ers at the base. One has a tall dress­ing mir­ror on the in­side of the door. There’s another wardrobe on the op­po­site side of the front doors, with shelves in­side and an im­pres­sive tall ra­di­a­tor on the out­side.

The doors to the well deck are full steel rather than glazed, for ex­tra se­cu­rity and be­cause the cabin is mostly used in the dark.

TECH­NI­CAL

While the Mat­tocks’ pre­vi­ous boat was fairly straight­for­ward tech­ni­cally, this time they’ve taken the de­ci­sion to beef up vir­tu­ally all the sys­tems. That starts with the en­gine, which is a Beta 50, big­ger than you might usu­ally find on a boat of this size. But the cou­ple get about and have done wa­ters such as the

tidal Thames and Rib­ble Link, where a bit more power can be use­ful. The boat also has a bow thruster, a 75kgf unit by Ve­tus.

For the elec­tri­cal sys­tem, there are five 110Ah Nu­max sealed batteries (plus another for the en­gine and two for the bow thruster).

There are a cou­ple of op­tions for a 240-volt sup­ply: first there’s a 3kW Vic­tron in­verter; but there’s also a 3.5kva Trav­elPower en­gine-driven gen­er­a­tor. An auto-changer has been fit­ted, which re­verts back to the in­verter when the Trav­elPower is switched off. There are a cou­ple of 120-Watt so­lar pan­els on the roof, but an MPPT con­troller with spare ca­pac­ity has been fit­ted in case the cou­ple de­cide to add to the so­lar ar­ray.

The heat­ing sys­tem is also quite sub­stan­tial, con­sist­ing of a Kabola diesel boiler. It’s a big unit, mounted in the en­gine hole, but An­drew Crook says that while some boilers are work­ing at the up­per end of their range in a nar­row­boat, this one could do a lot more. It means all the ra­di­a­tors through the boat can be dou­ble ones.

ON THE WA­TER

Gra­ham is im­pressed by the han­dling of this boat and you can see why. It goes where it’s pointed and turns very nicely, even in the some­what blus­tery con­di­tions of our test.

The en­gine is quiet and there’s plenty of space for crew on the stern deck. One un­usual fea­ture is that the Morse con­trol is mounted hor­i­zon­tally rather than ver­ti­cally, due to the nar­row­ness of the col­umn it’s on. This means you push down for for­ward and pull up for re­verse, which Gra­ham says he’s quickly adapted to.

High qual­ity join­ery – such as the din­ing ta­ble – is a key fea­ture of the lat­est fit-out

Re­verse lay­out works well and pro­vides a cen­tral walk­way through the boat

Grey quartz work­stops are tougher than gran­ite

Steps lead down from the stern deck into the spa­cious gal­ley

Per­fect for peace­ful cruis­ing – ideal for a cou­ple who travel more than 800 miles a year

The low-level TV houses a self-seek­ing satel­lite and a car ra­dio with built-in speak­ers

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