Topic: Changing boat hire company

jo    -- Mar-20-2005 @ 1:27 PM
  We usually go every year with Richardsons, but now feel that the boats are starting to feel a little dated ie not so comfortable to stay on for a week. Dont get me wrong we have enjoyed every holiday we have had from them apart from the last two times when upon arriving to collect our boat theyve guided us to a completely different one we have booked. But we adamantly refused to take them and been given alternative ones.I have also started to feel that for the money we are paying for them, the quality doesnt match up to the boat we should get for our money. I mean if we were to hire a cottage or caravan for the money we pay for the boat i think thered be a few more luxuries in them ie a decent tv lol.So we are now in the process of looking for a new boat hire company , have looked at Blakes any opinions from anyone wo has used them. Our favourite boats are the ones with the well in the front  so my mother in law can sit and feed the duckies. One more thing does anyone remember all the special offers that horizons used to have for the boating hols and short breaks they disappeared completely, is that because the boating holidays took off rapidly?

roya    -- Mar-20-2005 @ 1:52 PM
  Hi JO
lots to choose from our favourites are
Moon fleet marine
Broads tours
bridge craft
we use all these yards and have no compaints .
phone nos are in the buisness section
cheers for now and good luck with your choice


steve    -- Mar-20-2005 @ 2:13 PM
  hi jo,
we recomend royall+son at wroxham,great boats,all moden boats ,all 240v ,very clean ,a warm welcome on arrival,and usaually a bottle of plonk waiting for you on the table of your chosen boat,you get what you see with them. or .
good luck
cheers Smile

steve and vicky

jo    -- Mar-20-2005 @ 2:34 PM
  Hi all, thanks very much for your great info, we will look at your recommends, especially like the sound of the one with the bottle of plonk lol.

smbruce    -- Mar-20-2005 @ 3:11 PM
  Hi Jo

Royalls would probably be first on my list too. Looking at roya's list - I'd just add that Summercraft always look spotless too - though I've no personal experience there.

Good luck.  Smile


This message was edited by smbruce on 3-20-05 @ 3:12 PM

thiswan    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 12:29 PM
  Am I the only one that finds Royalls a touch on the surly side.
Must admit they do have fine boats, but a smile for the customer would be nice too.

This message was edited by thiswan on 3-21-05 @ 5:04 PM

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 6:16 PM
  Hi Thiswan,

Your not on your own, I've never been impressed by them, even though to be fair their boats are ALWAYS smart.

I find their brochure entry stating no all male/all female, no under 25's and pets only if you ask nicely and the operators are in a good mood very univiting.  For this reason mainly they will never recieve my business unless the wording changes, even though I've now hit their 25 year old criteria!

Also, I find there orange colour scheme a bit 1977 personally, and a bit inappropriate/outdated for high quality craft.  I could go on to say I find their interiors good, but soft furnishings a bit bland/conservative and of lower quality than some operators, but I think that might be getting just a bit too harsh maybe!!?

There booking charts are always very impressive, so I'm sure little will change, lets just hope these points never catch up with them all in one go, or they could be in trouble!


trambo    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 6:48 PM
  Thiswan. Agree with Dan's comments on their livery and their fit outs are a little dated in style. They are however superbly presented and maintained.

Had only two experiances with the yard. One was for a pump out and yes I left thinking I was a chore and a distraction from their work. The second was to ask if they would accept an all male booking. I received a very nice reply that they would be delighted to.


shakespeare    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 8:26 PM
  We have hired from Royalls more than thirty times and never had a problem with their manner or the fit-out of the boats (yes the orange is somewhat garish, but you may notice it is being replaced by red, which you may or may not prefer).

Norfolk people are known for a certain reserve in dealing with people, which may perhaps be interpreted as less than friendly. OK, I have always dealt with them as a hirer of their craft so I don't know how they react to those from elsewhere, but they have always been very ready to sort out the occasional problem that has occurred. Also if you are not prepared for it the bone-dry sense of humour and deadpan delivery can confuse.

Conservative furnishings? With the heavy use they get in a popular hire-fleet the boats need a hard-wearing fit-out first and foremost. Hard to please all tastes anyway, so neutral is the best option.

They are by no means the only boatyard with reservations about young or single-sex parties - neither is necessarily a problem but enough have been for yards to be wary.

I have hired from other yards (Broads and elsewhere): there may well be yards as good but I doubt that overall you will find better.


DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 8:48 PM

A great defence!  They are a top quality operation, you are quite right, I don't think anyone hiring a boat from them would ever be disappointed.

All the same, as ever, there is room for improvement on outlook and operation, but I agree with all your points raised, just hope you can appreciate that sadly their generalisations and pre-judgements mean that they will never have my business, and of course what is hard to measure is how many other people fit under this same banner.

All the best

P.S - Is the colour scheme changing to red or are these just the colours of some boats bought from Bristers
P.P.S - I have never heard of a single sex party involved in a bad case of boat damage, inventory theft, disgraceful interior returned etc etc, so whilst they certainly aint on there own in being wary of these crews they still lose lots of points for the mass generalisation in my book (and not giving more thought to the wording so as not to exclude single sex couples)

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 9:56 PM
  Here are some pics from all the fleets mentioned (I think) here.......

Firstly, Royall's..........

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 9:58 PM
  The someone mentioned Moonfleet Marine.......

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 10:00 PM
  Summercraft (best keep the opinion 'bout the bright colours quiet!!)

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 10:04 PM
  Broads Tours/Norfolk Broads Direct who own Faircraft Loynes and Herbert Woods......

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 10:07 PM

DanHorner    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 10:09 PM
  ..and last but not least Richardsons

Broads01    -- Mar-21-2005 @ 10:35 PM
  I agree with a lot of things that have been said on this thread & all the boatyards mentioned are undoubtedly excellent.

I'm reserving judgement on Broads Tours. We hired from Woods & the boat was OK but could have been better. Furnishings were on the tatty side & we had to call them out for a problem that should have been picked up at the boatyard. I've read mixed reports from others.

Regarding Royall's, we too received Alan Royall's own particular brand of customer service when he personally attended to our pumpout. He's not the smiley type but someone who's been in the business for as long as he has must know his stuff.

Moonfleet are of course also excellent & Moon Crystal in Dan's photo is one of the boats they've totally transformed with their colur scheme since purchasing the former Rivercraft fleet.

May I just mention Silverline. Having hired from them for two weeks last year they're undoubtedly the best yard we've ever been with. Excellent service, immaculately maintained boat. First boat I've ever had where they told us not to check the oil & water - they maintained the engine well enough for hirers not to worry about it.


tadlow2    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 10:41 AM
  I was always told NOT to check oil , water etc by Stuart Mendum at Castle Craft.We hired from him for about 12 weeks over 5 years upto him selling and moving on a couple of years ago.We had no problems what so ever with his boats.We have now moved to Royalls.

J&B    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 11:30 AM
  The first boat yard we ever hired from, was "Hampton boats", on Oulton broad....That was 15yrs ago, and they were a very friendly lot.  I have,nt seen the yard in the brochures, so have they moved, or sold up??. horizon craft at Acle, is another good yard, Well it used to be anyway,and when mooring there, the staff are always pleasant, and helpful. Smile

DanHorner    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 11:39 AM
  Hi J&B

Sadly Hampton Boats closed their doors at the end of 2002, and no longer exist as a company.


capelmist    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 12:30 PM
  I would always rate ASTON BOATS for very nice kept boats and great service. P S Always get a xmas card as well.

regards john

billmaxted    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 12:53 PM
  Why do I feel this chaffing round ny neck but Richard says.... I've now been Douglas'ed nice new site, links from boatyards. Yet again different approach Dan will say scruffy boats Roy may agree since he has twisted my arm. We will get there   Evil Grin

New site seems to have got over 80 hits in 24 hours so someone seems interested but only got 3 pairs of hands plus the coypu's 4 feet!

Now we get to the complicated bit an interactive quotation system But I'm sure that Paul will bust a gut rather than be beat. He don't know it yet but he's getting a free holiday down south so his crew don't have to cross Breydon please don't tell

Here's plenty of room before the bridge to get the screen down   Bill...

DanHorner    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 1:28 PM
  Hi Bill

Dan says.......I like the new site, new pics and the boats in the new colours look good.

The site, for others wanting to look is

Picture of Odyssey looks familiar.possibly because I took it one morning just before sliding through St Olaves bridge sideways!! Smile

All the best


P.S - The single gender supplement - does this just apply to group bookings, or does it clobber say two guys or two girls boating together as well??

This message was edited by DanHorner on 3-22-05 @ 1:34 PM

billmaxted    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 3:20 PM
  OK fair cop but spot Paul's morph. That's a pint I owe you. Single gender means what it says. If the party is known to me normally not charged but two fishermen on their own Hummmmmmmmmmm. Somewhere you lead with your chin about such groups never cause trouble, may I beg to differ. On the otherhand Gay lads are rarely any bother, especialy if they have a cabin boy! I would prefer to start tough and then be kind to those who do care rather than to be sweet and wonderful and have to put the prices up because we keep getting bitten.

Here's plenty of room before the bridge to get the screen down   Bill...

DanHorner    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 4:20 PM
  Hi Bill,

Yes I understand the outlook, and the potential danger these parties have with them.   Richardsons do a deposit per head basis, taken on a card at start of holiday and returned back onto the card if back in one piece - this may work better I don't know.

On the gay lads front, not wanting to be a complete a**e, but might be worth looking into how you stand on this point legally.  I know going back several years this was a grey area of the law that I think legislation has moved on with now, and you could fall foul of it if your not careful.  Still, this gayboy won't shop ya, but he wont hire one of your boats either as I think its unfounded descrimination! Smile

All the best


This message was edited by DanHorner on 3-22-05 @ 4:20 PM

Richard    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 4:33 PM
  very nice site - you just can't beat Paul's graphics

trambo    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 6:13 PM
  Bill is the cabin boy inclusive or an optional extra?

Fred  Smile

Phil    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 8:42 PM
  Just had a look at the new site - very nice

Quick question, will Temptress be getting a new paint job as well? I would be interested in how it looks as the others look lots better


Craig    -- Mar-22-2005 @ 11:12 PM

Er, s'pose you can guess my question Evil Grin

could I use any of your piccies on the database (not comments Richard) - you'd get a free advert Playful Wink  but I would need them minus the layout impinging on the photo

Yours grovelling


billmaxted    -- Mar-23-2005 @ 6:16 AM
  Yis of course. if you have any more of our boats I would be interested because we want to add a gallery behind the fleet photos, that goes for anyone else as well if you see them on the river

Here's plenty of room before the bridge to get the screen down   Bill...

billmaxted    -- Mar-23-2005 @ 6:30 AM
  I'm afraid Fred you have to bring your own Cabin Boy or galley girl along with the towels etc.

Yes Phil she will be and it needs to be done urgently, trouble is these pessky customers will instist on hiring her. Cabin sies will be red not sure about the sides of the slider.

Thank you for the kind remarks I'm sure that Paul is quietly going pink somewhere Playful Wink

The only reason the other issue comes up is when I point out that with double berths someone in the party is going to have to share. I learnt a long time ago not to delve into that nor to assume that it's the wife! Evil Grin

Here's plenty of room before the bridge to get the screen down   Bill...

Craig    -- Mar-23-2005 @ 9:27 PM

Sorry, I've only got a photo of Odyssey which is my own copyright - all the others are Dan's and he's posted them elsewhere on the forum.

Thanks for the use of the photos - I'll keep my eyes open this year and you can have copies of any I take, but your fleet don't often get up to Horning


Craig    -- Mar-23-2005 @ 9:29 PM
  John/Betty (J&B)

If you want to find out more about Hampton Boats there is quite a bit on Paul's site at together with the Hampton Owners club web-site

DanHorner    -- Mar-23-2005 @ 10:52 PM

I have posted the only other recent pics of your boats on Tina's thread, no probs using them if they are of use


Broads01    -- Mar-24-2005 @ 9:19 PM

Like your new site & I think it does a good job of selling what you offer. However, you have a line near the top of your home page which smacked me right in the face & might as well have said 'don't bother hiring with us'. The line in question is 'Please note cruising range is normally restricted to the Southern Broads'. Now I can understand your reasons for this in respect of day trippers, but even if I was only on the Broads for three or four nights I would very possibly want to go North. For a week or more I definitely would want to. Explain yourself and you may get me interested in a future hire from you!


J&B    -- Mar-24-2005 @ 9:50 PM
  Hi Craig, thanks for the link to Hampton boats,Have added it to favourites to browse through at my leisure.I have just read the restoration of a safari cruiser, And have learned a few pointers for when and if i can affford to have one.  Cheers mate............John.

RedDuster    -- Mar-25-2005 @ 2:11 AM
  looking at the beginning of this post regarding royall n son we were in hoveton at the time moored at barnes brinkcraft when we wandered and came accross there SMALL yard and we asked would you mind us staring in at your boat to have a look (it was velvet) as we are seriousely thinking of booking with you and will pay 100% of the money now to which they replied no not really as we are busy. So we asked could we come back and take a peek when you are not busy? they replied we are always busy so no sorry Which p****d me off no end as i was going to spend between 500-700 on the spot with them (it was midsummer and we wanted to stay for longer than the week we had just had and they had the boat available)$

This message was edited by steve on 3-25-05 @ 6:27 AM

Paul    -- Mar-25-2005 @ 10:00 AM
  Wow, just came across this thread...
thanks for the kind compliments
Yes, Bill's plan is to make it as easy as possible for customers to calculate costs and submit the booking online. It'll be ready soon, but the logic needs to be as bomb-resistant as possible (programmers never like to say bomb-proof, do they Richard ? !!)   Smile

'but why did they press that key as well ?....'

billmaxted    -- Mar-25-2005 @ 11:46 AM
  Hi Simon, Happy Easter,

Thanks for the comments; we will readdress the exact wording.  Both Paul and I thought it important that we were up front about it rather than tuck it away somewhere.  We will allow northern rivers cruising for something over two days upon payment of a supplement, this has been our practice for some time.  As a small independent yard trying to get to a callout up north is very expensive. It either means we end up spending a couple of hours on the road with other customers work getting delayed or we have to use another yard’s labour at commercial rates with no certainty as to how good a job they will do.

I have been trying to keep costs and charges down as low as possible so it did not seem fair to load the prices to cover an eventuality that, fair number of our customers would never encounter. To be honest, in addition,it’s never good news to have folk rushing about over a couple of days and Yarmouth with the wrong tides and an inexperience crew has been known to put some people off the Broads for life.

With far fewer hires down south these days, we like to encourage our guests to support the local economy.


Here's plenty of room before the bridge to get the screen down   Bill...

Broads01    -- Mar-25-2005 @ 10:43 PM

Thanks for replying. Understand your reasons now & I'm put off no more!


VetChugger    -- Mar-27-2005 @ 9:42 PM
  Nobody has mentioned AlphaCraft! Is this significant?
We first hired from them in the very early 1970's, a small two berth wooden cruiser, "Spitfire" (much grander craft bears that name now). At that time they had very few boats, some trad wooden boats that ended up with Maffett, and some Elysians. We were made so welcome that we have been hiring from them ever since with an odd "holiday away" with the likes of Martham Boats, Aston, Bridgecraft and Breydon Marine. We went through every boat Leland Jillings had, getting bigger and bigger until we hired "Samarkand"(later "Jaguar"). It was when they began to build shiney new expensive boats that we occasionally wandered away. Anyway, during all this time we were always treated royally and the boats were always in good nick. Mrs Jillings always used to join us on our return for a brew. Mr Jillings was always, or seemed to be, fierce,impatient and a bit aloof. The change in him over the years is very noticable. His sons seem to be mainly in charge nowadays and Leland is usually wandering around the yard doing odd jobs but, if you approached him, he would talk your legs off. At January's boat show I spent an hour listening to all his tales of boat building, his family boat building history, different designs, various yards. It was fascinating. He said to me with a very wistful look in his eye "I wish I could live to be 200 and keep building boats". I reminded him that it caused him to once change a damper drive on a mercedes engine in "Samarkand" over a weekend at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station which produced a very wry smile.
We were talking to Langford Jillings and it tickled him to learn that he was a "bump" in his mum's tummy when we first hired those boats.
Seeing all the Alpha designs in all the brochures, I wonder what Leland Jillings is worth nowadays.
We had "Thunderbolt" out late last year, bow thrusters and all. A very impressive boat but I still have a liking for the original "Shackleton" and all Martham's boats.


Maurice    -- Jun-12-2005 @ 3:15 PM
  Well, I reckon its time I put my little oar in. I have just returned home from having 14 days on Royal Diamond. We have been using Royalls yard for rather  over ten years now, having been boating on the broads since the mid 1960s. We look at the other yards and, although we have no doubt that good service is not something that the Royalls have the monopoly of, we are more than happy to stay with them.

   Now to one of the points raised.

              Single Sex Bookings.

  I keep my own boat on a yard that used to have a small hire fleet, and that used to accept such bookings. I saw, first hand, the results of such lettings only too often.

The Angling Parties

Fishing parties hung pressure lamps from the fender points melting holes at four points along the hull. the remains of bait and ground bait is often spread all over the place, and needless to say, the escaped maggots are rife. As for the lamps hung against the side, the boat was out of commission a week for repairs to the hull. The hirer for that following week had to be sent to another yard for his booking and his custom never returned. Oh and contrary to popular belief, Cleaning ladies do not like maggots!
Ok, that shows an extreme case, but there were others not far short. Anglers do not necessaraly make good customers.

Stag parties / Hen parties

These groups hire a boat as a mobile dormatory for holiday where excessive drinking is the objective. I really don't have to say any more on that one.

Alternative Sexual Orientation.

These customers would in all probability be no worse than any normal hirer, quite possibly tidier and more careful. Now tell me, just how would you word the advert in the Blakes/Hoseasons catalogue?

Finally it has to be remembered that the boat owners have the right to hire to (or not hire to,) whomever they wish, and if a certain group is not to their liking, they have, and always should have, the right to say "No thank you".

This message was edited by Maurice on Jun-12-05 @ 3:20 PM

roya    -- Jun-12-2005 @ 3:43 PM
  Hi all
I cannot argue with your point of view

but all i will say there are a few nice folk on this site who maybe have a different life style to us but love a holiday on the boats.
perhaps we can help on this.
and i like to think  they are my mates
help please on this members
roy and gill Cheers


This message was edited by roya on Jun-12-05 @ 3:48 PM

trambo    -- Jun-12-2005 @ 6:23 PM
  Roy. Thanks for those comments. Have to say we have never had any problems with any boatyard we have hired from.

As I said earlier in the thread, Royall sent a very nice email in response to my request for a possible booking in October.

Moores (as Goboating UK) have got the wording right, They allow same sex parties but not hen or stag parties. This protects the boatyard but is also fair to gay parties. Blakes and Hoseasons and any one else will have to follow as it will soon not be possible to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Just one puzzle in Maurices' message. Why would gay parties be more tidy?


p.s However I have to admit I pride myself in always returning a boat cleaner than when I took it out. Smile

roya    -- Jun-12-2005 @ 6:54 PM
  Fred old mate now you have done it
gill  likes to think the same
When we meet you buy the beer and you and gill can sort it out. Smile

clean boats returned or what. Cheers

This message was edited by roya on Jun-12-05 @ 6:57 PM

PizzaLover    -- Jun-12-2005 @ 9:00 PM
  It must be rally hard for a boatyard.

What they mean is, "Please don't hire my boat if you're going to abuse it (or the environment that you use it in.)

And, probably for good statistical reasons, they end up with "no single sex parties."

But that is somewhat absurd.

I frequently rent boats, where there's just me and another guy, and to assume that we are thugs is as equally wrong as to assume that we have some sort of relationship.

A while back, I was sitting at The Swan, and a cruiser stormed up - there were half a dozen guys strewn around it, half of them with tinnies in hand, swearing loudly at each other. "Tuh." one might have thought, "a bunch of hooligans on a single sex trip... why do the boatyards allow it?"
There was the familiar revving and shouting and swearing and wrestling of ropes (but the boathook was not to be seen..)
Then two girls appeared from below.

How DO you detect the people that you don't want, but attract the people that you do?

(Actually, I'm not saying that I think that the crew at The Swan were undesirable... but it would be simple to paint that picture.)

Richard    -- Jun-12-2005 @ 10:50 PM
  Basil Fawlty "..No Riff Raff .." ?

Boatboy    -- Jun-13-2005 @ 10:36 AM
  myself and a group of friends hired regulalry as an all male party from Pacific many times, and once from Richardsons. Pacific's previous owners had a no all male / all female policy but exempted us as we had previously hired with parents so were "second generation" customers. We always returned the boat in a state ready to go out again next week, cleaned inside and out, top to bottom.

Pacific made one exception to an all female party for similar reasons and alas, the boat came back in a total mess, vomit on the cushions, toilets blocked.

I do appreciate the need for yard owners not only to protect their property but even more so to protect their source of income but not all parties are the same. I know one or two happily married couples who I would never rent a boat to if my life depended on it.

roya    -- Jun-13-2005 @ 11:22 AM
  Pizza lover,
once again you have hit the nail on the head.
im just glad i do not own a boat yard, cos how they must chose who goes or not is beyond me.
look forward to your next tale. Smile


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