Rain and thun­der may have punc­tu­ated the evenings of the Crick Boat Shows, but the days com­bined fair weather and bright prospects for canal boat­builders

Canal Boat - - News Special -

With hind­sight, per­haps the or­gan­is­ers of this year’s Crick Boat Show evening en­ter­tain­ments pro­gramme should have booked a Queen trib­ute band rather than the Abba and Thin Lizzy cov­ers acts who en­ter­tained the show­go­ers in the bar tent. Be­cause given the weather in the evenings, “Thun­der­bolts and light­ning, very very fright­en­ing” would have been a lot more ap­pro­pri­ate than ei­ther Danc­ing Queen or The Boys are Back in Town…

But in the day­time when the show was ac­tu­ally open, it was a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. The rain cleared, the weather stayed dry for all three days, and for two of them the sun beat down on the vis­i­tors to the coun­try’s largest in­land wa­ter­ways boat show. I nearly said “nar­row­boat show” there, but the trend to­wards more wider boats of the last cou­ple of years has con­tin­ued, with new broad beam craft on dis­play now num­ber­ing a record 16, com­pared to 26 nar­row­boats plus three cruis­ers and a cou­ple of smaller craft. We’ve got a full re­port of the boats on of­fer on page 41.

Once again the much cov­eted ‘favourite boat’ award, cho­sen by a bal­lot of show vis­i­tors, was split into sep­a­rate widebeam and nar­row beam cat­e­gories – with peren­nial run­ners-up Braid­bar fi­nally win­ning the nar­row­boat tro­phy for semi-trad El­iz­a­beth Anne, fea­tured in this month’s Boat Test on page 28. Smithwood’s

Lady Pene­lope was run­ner-up, with Boat­ing Leisure Ser­vices’ Armstrong third. The broad beam award went to Burscough’s What’s the Hurry, with the New & Used Boat Co’s Aqua­line sec­ond and El­ton Moss’s Kings­ley barge third.

Ex­hibitors re­ported a suc­cess­ful show. King’s Lock Chan­dlery said that nar­row­boat Peaky Blin­der had sold within an hour of the show open­ing, BLS also sold their show boat, New & Used Boat Co re­ported more than one sale dur­ing the show, and Braid­bar told Canal Boat that there had been plenty of se­ri­ous ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est.

Com­ple­ment­ing the boats were the ex­hibitors of­fer­ing ser­vices and equip­ment

– with sev­eral in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ments in en­gines and propul­sion. Bar­ras had two con­trast­ing new models of en­gine: on the one hand the Shire 43 plugs a gap in the range for 50-55ft nar­row­boats with a no-frills af­ford­able 43hp 4-cylin­der Chi­nese-based en­gine; while at the op­po­site end of the range the 135hp Shire John Deere is very much aimed at pro­vid­ing a high spec re­li­able en­gine (they are al­ready used by fish­ing boats and pi­lot launches) for wide­beams and coastal use.

But it seemed to be a year for al­ter­na­tive propul­sion sys­tems. Beta had hooked up with Her­cules Hy­draulics to put to­gether a work­ing hy­draulic drive sys­tem, the slow-turn­ing prop show­ing how much low speed con­trol is avail­able with this setup, and the lengthy con­nect­ing hoses mak­ing the point that it en­ables you to put the en­gine any­where you like. A 40-80hp elec­tric (bat­tery and mo­tor) drive pack­age by Torqeedo (re­cently bought by ma­jor Ger­man en­gine spe­cial­ists Deutz) was part of the dis­play by En­gines Plus, who have just been ap­pointed as UK dealer for this sys­tem which is al­ready in use in main­land Europe. And hy­brid (diesel plus elec­tric) power was in ev­i­dence in sev­eral of the boats on show (in­clud­ing Braid­bar’s win­ner) as well as on all the en­gine stands plus spe­cial­ists Hy­brid Ma­rine and Cheshire Ma­rine Equip­ment. Lastly, the new Ve­tus elec­tric bowthruster uses a brush­less in­duc­tion mo­tor for bet­ter re­li­a­bil­ity and no brush dust, con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion with­out risk­ing over­heat­ing, and vari­able speed op­er­a­tion via a joy­stick con­trol – but all pack­aged to­gether with the con­trol elec­tron­ics so that it can be in­stalled just like a con­ven­tional DC thruster.

New gear which caught our eye in­cluded River Canal Res­cue’s bilge wa­ter fil­ter­ing sys­tem (which uses coated gran­ules to suck dirty oil out of bil­ge­wa­ter as it is pumped through a fil­ter can­is­ter, leav­ing clean wa­ter and an in­ert residue in the fil­ter car­tridge), and the ratch­eted Go Windlass which while not the first of its type, is said by its mak­ers to be sig­nif­i­cantly lighter than those al­ready on the mar­ket. We’ve since tested it suc­cess­fully on some tough pad­dles on the Ken­net & Avon.

For a break from the se­ri­ous side of buy­ing and fit­ting out boats there were craft stalls, sem­i­nars, boat trips, boat han­dling ‘taster’ ses­sions, en­ter­tain­ments, and talks by ‘John Nash’ – 19th cen­tury ar­chi­tect and plan­ner ex­plain­ing his plans for the ‘new’ Re­gent’s Canal in the Canal & River Trust’s mar­quee.

And fi­nally, for the most un­likely fea­ture on a boat on show: nar­row­boat Ohm from

Ohm was equipped with elec­tri­cally op­er­ated mov­able bal­last, en­abling you to trim it to the left or to the right!

Win­ners at last: Braid­bar’s El­iz­a­beth Anne won the favourite boat award (nar­row­beam cat­e­gory)

The boats on dis­play in the ma­rina at­tract plenty of at­ten­tion from the show’s vis­i­tors

A busy scene on the land-based site, with a good choice of gear and ser­vices on of­fer

Plenty go­ing on in the en­ter­tain­ments mar­quee

Two new Bar­ras en­gines: 43hp and (be­hind) 135hp

Dis­play of his­toric work­ing nar­row­boats

Burscough’s favourite boat (widebeam) win­ner

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