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The Norfolk Broads Forum / Gossip / Cost of Hiring a Cruiser
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Posted By Discussion Topic: Cost of Hiring a Cruiser

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pauline
Sep-12-2005 @ 4:40 PM                           Permalink
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Hello everyone,

I have been a member for a few months now, but haven't made any contributions for a while.  I browse through the threads frequently, and often come across comments on the cost of hiring cruisers - some think it is grossly overpriced, while others say that if you take everything into account, the cost is not unreasonable.  We have hired on the Broads 4 times now and this is what we have found - our first experience was in September 1981 with my parents.  We hired from Wilds of Horning, the boat was fine and the weather was glorious.  Although I don't remember what we paid at that time, it certainly wasn't an issue, particularly as we were sharing the cost with my parents.  All in all we had a fantastic week.

Once the children came along we spent the next 20 years hiring mobile homes for our annual holiday in a variety of places, always opting for the 'gold star' variety to be sure of a caravan in pristine condition.  In July 2002, children now grown up, we decided to try the broads again, so being none the wiser, we hired the Carribean Major from Horning Pleasurecraft to accommodate 5 of us at a cost of around £1,200 I believe. This boat is a slightly larger version of the cruiser we hired 21 years previously.  We foolishly thought that the cruisers would have been replaced or at the very least, refurbished by now.  How wrong we were!  I don't think this boat had had any attention since we were last there! It was tatty, smelly and uninviting.  We complained to the Manager who would only refund our fuel money.  Nevertheless, in spite of the boat, the weather was glorious and this fully compensated the disappointment.  

By 2003, the bug had really bitten, so we thought we would try again.  We hired Swan Bay from Herbert Woods this time, which again cost over £1,000.  This boat was OK but not really what I would call 4 star quality, but once again we had a week of lovely September weather and we were more than happy.

In July this year, hubby and I decided to go it alone, and hired Shimmering Light from Herbert Woods for a 4 day short break at a cost of almost £700.  The boat was very nice (boats getting better each time!), but unfortunately on the day we arrived at Potter Heigham the heatwave that we had been enjoying stopped suddenly, and we had 4 days of very cool breezy days, the grey clouds just did not budge and we had a few showers as well.  Going across Breydon Water was very wet and windy, the wipers on these boats aren't that efficient! Although this didn't bother Rob at all as he is quite happy just being away from work, driving the boat, stopping at the villages and pubs and generally watching the world go by, to me the lousy weather took some of the enjoyment out of the holiday.  I love to have the roof and doors open, sit out in the sunshine and enjoy the weather. I also feel that the beauty of the broads is somewhat marred when the sun isn't shining.  Just to make matters worse, each time we phoned home to Eastbourne our son and daughter would tell us 'Oh, it's a really lovely day here!'

Of course, things like the weather are completely out of our control and when holidaying in this country it is purely pot luck as to whether or not the weather is good, but what I am trying to say is that from my personal point of view, I do not mind paying the high prices if I am blessed with the good weather, as to me a holiday on the broads in good weather is as good as, if not better than a holiday abroad. Does anybody else agree with these thoughts?

I have to say that I have been very envious of anybody who has been on the broads during the last few weeks as the weather has been so fantastic - it reminds me of the mist rising off the water at Reedham when the sun rises or the beautiful sunsets at Oulton Broad. Think we may try September next year!!



DanHorner
Sep-12-2005 @ 4:49 PM                           Permalink
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Hi Pauline

Nice too hear from you again.

I think your memory of the hire figures has got a bit muddled as Caribbean Major is significantly cheaper than Swan Bay, but like you say the C/Majors are 'old ladies' now and at the budget end of the range of craft offered anywhere on the system for their size and berthage.

Personally I have a great time whatever the weather, but that said it's definately better when the sun's shining.  It's a shame our climate is so unpredictable....when the sun and heat's there I don't think there's anywhere better to be!  I think one of the reasons I like it more is also because my crew are always happier, and so seem everyone else on the river...there's a real feel good factor about and a great atmosphere! Smile

Fingers crossed for loads of sun for my next trip then! Smile

All the best

Dan

pauline
Sep-12-2005 @ 5:15 PM                           Permalink
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Hi Dan,

Thanks for your thoughts on that, and I do apologise, I appear to have made an error on a couple of things there.  Firstly it was the Bahama Major, not the Carribean Major which we hired in 2002, and it looks like we paid around £800 for that and not £1,200 - my memory is letting me down!

Nevertheless, I still feel that the brochures still, sometimes, display photographs from when the boats were brand new, and anybody who has never taken this type of holiday before, or indeed anybody who has never discovered this website, believes that their boat will be as 'posh' as it looks in the photograph.  We discovered this site after we had booked our last boat, and although Shimmering Light was nice, we will certainly make use of all the recommendations given on this site before we book again.  Additionally, it is great being able to look up the age of the boat, something which the brochures avoid doing most of the time.

Thanks again, Dan,

Pauline

PS I have a great photo stored on my PC somewhere of a sunset at Oulton Broad when we were there in 2003 - I will search it out and send it to you for the Calendar.


pauline
Sep-12-2005 @ 5:19 PM                           Permalink
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Whoops, sorry I think it is Richard who is dealing with the Calendars - my memory again!

Ronaldo
Sep-12-2005 @ 9:59 PM                           Permalink
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Hi Pauline, It's not always that newer boats are better. Some of the older boats are amongst the best I have ever hired, in 50 years of hirerjng on the Broads. It very often depends on the way they have been maintained. Sorry if this confuses you even more.
    Regards  Ron.

billmaxted
Sep-13-2005 @ 8:50 AM                           Permalink
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Clearly you cannot count on the weather but you can come prepared. We rarely get entire weeks of rain but being flat it is often accompanied by winds with a chill factor. Being cold and wet to my mind is what takes the edge off things.

Bring enough socks to be able to change them twice a day, nothing worse than cold wet feet. Have a second pair of deck shoes to wear nice and dry 'below decks'

Even in summer bring a woolie in the wind it can get nippy. Early and late season think about the thermals that have been sitting in the bottom drawer since that last sking holiday.

I know it sounds daft but bring a couple of hot water bottles they are great for airing a bed in damp weather.

"Actually I'm very good at going sideways until I want to moor that is!!!"  Bill...

VetChugger
Sep-13-2005 @ 10:39 AM                           Permalink
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While we were down last week everyone we spoke to either "in the trade" or closely involved in boating said the same. "Its the quietest season we've had for years". We went a week early this year which put us in the late August/early September price bracket and we expected it to be busier than last year. Last year we couldn't get a mooring at Loddon for our first night. This year there were only three boats on the main staithe. It was the same all over. Never a mooring problem anywhere where we had previously had problems.Even spaces up by Potter Heigham Bridge. Those nice grassy BA moorings a bit lower down were empty!
It became a subject of debate as these things do as you chug along. "Rapide" is a 15 year old boat showing its age, seems its on its third engine too! For that week it was over £1000 which would take the average family on a reasonable holiday in Spain or other continental destination. We concluded that the Fleets are going to have to up their game to attract custom. The problems we read about here regarding boat condition and breakdowns need to be improved. People now expect more comfort and convenience with all mod cons. Not us I hasten to add, we are satisfied if the boat is sound and everything works! Listening to the Yard owners it seems the profit margins are tight as it is so improving the product seems the only alternative. The downside of this is that boats are becoming more and more like floating caravans. I was surprised to learn that all the Alpha boats, new and old, are on the very same bermuda/bahama F. B. Wilds hull which is knocking on 30 years old and described by an engineer as "bath tubs". This arose from a discussion about Alpha's plans last year to move into sea going boats. But I digress. In bare terms, the economic system of this country means that boat hire on the Broads will find its own working level. This seems to be what is happening now with yards downsizing and selling off boats. Our debate sort of concluded that we are likely to end up with a small number of fleets offering high spec boats operating on minimal profit margins. The exceptions to this tule are, hopefully, the likes of the Martham fleet. We saw a "Juliette" out with some excellent looking timber refurbishment which pleased me no end!
Anyway, just a few of my rambling thoughts.

Trevor

roya
Sep-13-2005 @ 3:27 PM                           Permalink
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Hi Pauline.
Yep its a hard one, a week on the Broads in sunny weather is Spot on.
In the rain it can be be a nightmare.
i think the weather is the biggest thing that is stopping folk with youngsters hiring..
£1500 buys a lot of holiday in Spain.
i do not pretend to know the answer but maybe when the kids are older folk on their own may return for a romantic week on a boat.
lets hope so .
Smile

roya

where are my pink marigolds.

Boatboy
Sep-13-2005 @ 8:26 PM                           Permalink
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A subject which has been debated here long and hard, in all liklihood there is no single answer to hire boat costs, popularity etc.

What we could well be seeing in simply the back of the wave of popularity in hire boat holidays of the 70's and early 80's when many new boats were introduced to meet the growing demand from holiday makers. Almost a kind of baby boom boat style. Many of these boats of 30 years ago are still on hire and perhaps time that they should not be - natural wastage really.

Now those boom days are gone and the current enviroment no longer suits small yards running relatively few older boats for modest income and so we see the "centralisation" of the hire fleet into fewer large yards who can by the sheer economy of scale reduce the overheads per hire.

I don't think there is an issue with new boats being built, with clients expectation etc. Several yards are currently building boats and there are lots in the fleet less than 5 years old with ever increasing levels of fixtures and fittings. The one thing I seriously hope is that we don't lose all of the older, and smaller boats and family run boatyards which offer them in favour of "Gin Palace hires" which would almost certasinly price me, and a good many more people out of the market for good.

This message was edited by Boatboy on Sep-13-05 @ 7:28 PM


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