Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dreamboats and variable costs

Sitting in the cratch last Sunday evening enjoying the evening air and the sunset over the canal we were chatting to Glyn, the owner of our neighbour boat Humbug. The conversation turned not to toilets strangely, but to what kind of boat we would get if we won the lottery, or even a small share of it.

Looking through the canal magazines, it's clear that a lot of people's idea of a dream boats are a long way from mine. Typically they seem to be getting more and more like floating homes and less and less like boats. All the photos in Canal Boat magazine of the top boats at the Crick show displayed the interiors, never the outside, the hull lines, the paintwork, the engine etc. The going rate for these floating palaces seems to be about £130k.

Why does a (to me) fabulous boat like a Steve Hudson tug cost considerably less than some bland looking boat from other top makers? I don't know about his show model, but you can get a really nice new 58ft tug from him for less than £95k, complete with boatman's cabin, engine room, lovely steelwork and traditional decoration and a smart interior. The difference seems to be that Hudsons build you a great boat and a lot of the others build you a luxury floating home. It has a lot to do I think with whether it has a washing machine, granite worktops, a built in microwave, and all the 21st century trappings of a house. Plus of course all the huge inverters and what not to provide all the electricity needed.

As for engines. Would I pay £130k for a boat with a modern diesel engine? Would I 'eck! For that money I'd be looking for a Gardner or a Russel Newbury. My dream boat would go chug chug not brrm brrm.

Well I'll never own either I suppose, but I can dream. Incidentally, Glyn, whose boat Humbug is an ageing Springer that she has lovingly restored and fitted out says she doesn't think she could bear to part with it now, even though it's well down the pecking order of desirable boats. I agree completely. Springers might be seen by some as the Ladas of the canal but Humbug is a true delight.

While I'm on the topic of inexplicable price differences, I'll tell you about marinas. I've recently been doing a bit of research to see what it would cost to keep Herbie in a marina further north, say within 15 miles of Braunston. The variation in quoted prices is startling really. Anything between £1650 and £2300+ a year. Now it would be explained if the dearer ones offered a lot more, but in reality they don't. The cheapest ones still offer all the security and the facilities you need and are in pleasant locations.

It does seem that prices fall pretty sharply once you leave the main line of the GU, not that being off the main drag bothers me in the slightest as long as I've got plenty of cruising route options. The dearer ones do tend to have more workshops and chandleries etc, but that's just their way of getting more money from you especially as they usually prevent you from bringing competing service technicians on site if your boat needs fixing.

Even more strange. Some of the dearer ones are full. There's nowt so queer as folk.

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