Canal Boat - - The Boat Test -

Grape Es­cape is a 58ft semi-trad, built on one of Bourne’s own shells. While the firm has been fit­ting out boats for well

over ten years, they ex­panded into build­ing their own steel­work only a cou­ple of years ago, and this is the first one of their shells we’ve seen for a full boat test.

It’s worth point­ing out, though, that full-fit cus­tomers don’t have to have a Bourne shell.

They also fit out shells from other builders such as Tyler Wilson. Many of Bourne’s shells are sold as just steel­work or as sail­aways. The shell it­self is good look­ing with an at­trac­tive bow and pleas­ing lines.

There’s a sub­stan­tial stem post, and nice curved de­tails to the ends of the handrails, which also have a fin­ger-grip.

The boat sits in the water nicely, and looks just right. One rea­son Karen and Ian chose a Bourne shell was that they wanted a few changes from the stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion, which seemed eas­ier to achieve on site. For ex­am­ple, there’s a longer than nor­mal well deck, as the cou­ple like to sit out­side in the even­ing.

And, in the same vein, the for­ward edge of the cabin sides has been ex­tended, so there’s a def­i­nite cor­ner to snug­gle into when loung­ing on the lock­ers.

The well deck it­self is nicely fin­ished with Per­ma­teek, a syn­then­tic deck which looks just like teak. There are lock­ers to

lounge on each side, and a lit­tle flip-up table for drinks. The water tank is un­der the well deck, while the gas locker is in the nose.

At the stern, there’s more Per­ma­teek on the en­gine boards. There’s stor­age in lock­ers ei­ther side of the deck and one has an out­side tap to make it eas­ier to wash the dogs af­ter a walk.

The deck is also il­lu­mi­nated with lit­tle LED lights.

Wayne Pay­ton, who set up Bourne Boats, was pre­vi­ously a coach painter and his boats have al­ways been some of the shini­est we’ve seen.

His younger son, Ross, has re­cently joined the busi­ness and clearly been learn­ing his fa­ther’s skills as he’s done most of the paint­ing on this boat, which looks ex­cel­lent. The colour scheme is clas­sic dark blue with ma­roon handrails and name panel. The roof is pale blue.

Andy Rus­sell did the sign-writ­ing, in­clud­ing paint­ing a red Lan­cashire rose on the slide. Karen and Ian al­ready have their story sorted for when they ven­ture into York­shire: then it will be re­ferred to as a blush­ing York­shire rose!


This is a re­verse lay­out boat with the gal­ley at the stern. Next comes the sa­loon, which in­cludes a built-in seat­ing area. A walk-through shower room fol­lows with the cabin at the bow.

The fit-out uses oak, with pan­els be­low the gun­wales picked out by mould­ings. The cabin sides are cov­ered in cream faux leather, which gives a light airy feel, and should be both hard-wear­ing and easy to keep clean.

There’s more faux leather on the ceil­ing, which also sports a cen­tral fea­ture made from oak. This has con­cealed LED light­ing which washes the ceil­ing in light. In the more pri­vate ar­eas of the boat (the shower room and the cabin) the ceil­ing changes to oak tongue and groove.

The floor through­out is hard­wear­ing Amtico in a va­ri­ety of fin­ishes. The Cor­lesses have this floor­ing at home, so know it will stand up to their three dogs.

Com­fort­able curves in the cosy sa­loon

Eye-level cup­baords are lim­ited to cor­ners for open feel

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