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The Norfolk Broads Forum / Holiday Tales / Things, can ony get better, as the song goes!es
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Posted By Discussion Topic: Things, can ony get better, as the song goes!es

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Karen&Mike
Apr-01-2005 @ 1:43 PM                           Permalink
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Hi there,

In response to Simon & Dibbler, who picked up on a comment I made in "Sunsets" about having to change boats, this is the story, it's a long one...

Our first real boating holiday (Mike had done it once before @ 19 with some mates). Spent ages looking through brochures. Didn't have a clue about boat styles/facilities ("what's a Bow thruster?" I called across the garden). This was last summer and we wanted to go at August Bank holiday for a week, so after all the pondering, tried to book, (still fairly clueless) and realised choice was limited. Decided a little "ideal for couple" would be just fine.

Come August bank hols, picked up our boat in South Broads and had the quick "lesson" before setting off. Steering bit was at back, outside, above cabin bit (sorry for not using correct terms!). We keenly took folding canopy down and set off. After about 5 mins, nearly had a fit when approached by River police, who had actually ony come over to tell us that there was a big vessel just around the corner and to look out! (phew...).

Once we get going, I decide to have a proper look around - boat is disappointing but we did not know what to expect, though brochures said "3 star - good standard of decor etc." However, double cabin smells(damp/stale/body whiffs etc!)Curtains are v.v.ancient(1970?), threadbare and almost "holed" where they get pulled to close them. Big patch of mouldy damp and rot(white/green,yuk)on wall. Very dirty vinyl bits, ceiling etc (we wipe one bit and make a big white mark!). No carpets. Lots of peeling varnish in and out, v.rusty stool to steer from. And so on. "Ah, well, this must be the standard" says I, "but this cruising along is fab, so let's enjoy ourselves".

First stop Berney Arms, moor up OK! Though get a tad stuck on boat infront as we leave and back end swings a bit (we say Soz!, they push us off, all smiles).We venture across Breydon as we want to get up to the North. Wow, its SOO big, and we are so little! I then get pretty nervous about going through Great Yarmouth after studying the map(we have checked out tide times before this, but I am worried we could take a wrong turn and end up out at sea!) No prob as it all pans out in front of us, though as we turn left to go up river it gets a bit hairy with a strong tide and a slippy back end (the boat, not me!)But Mike has it all under control and we tootle along, feeling relaxed now, and have a good look at all the boats that we pass by. Hmn, they all look quite good, some are fab, most have a Hirecraft logo on, and so we start to get a bit jealous....

Eventually, we moor up at the Hermitage (which turns out to be closed! I have a go this time, as there's plenty of space - just as well, as it's not the best effort...We take a wander along the bank as it's early evening and have a good nosey at (and in!) all the boats moored up (without being rude). "Supermoore" just along from us - really fabulous, but obviously about 4 times the price of our little boat. Even so, our "research" and rechecking of the brochures, leads us to believe we could have got a better deal and we retire, a little dejected!

After sleeping in the dinette to avoid the smelly cabin, we wake up to a beautiful but damp morning (inside not out!), and after seeing even more lovely boats going by, we decide we are not happy. A call to Blakes eventually ends with an offer to refund our card if we take the boat back, less one day. I scour the other brochure I have with me (New Horizon) and give them a call. A helpful girl at Richardsons talks me through all options, works out what we like etc. There's a boat for 4 available, and we decide the extra cash is worth it, though we are getting 2 double cabins and 2 bathrooms!

So, we now have to venture all the way back through Yarmouth, wait for low water, then stop for the night as it will be dark, and get the boat back first thing next morning. As we cross Breydon, we spot "Melody2" stuck up on the mud, some distance from the channel. We can't understand why they didn't stay within the markers and feel quite chuffed with our own adventures so far!

So, after lots of messing about, no refund from Blakes (they now say they will send a cheque, so we have to stump up full cost of 2nd boat, thank god for credit cards), we offload, jump in the car, and take no time at all to get right up to Stalham by 10.00am! (now I understand why, when asking for directions in Norfolk, people ask "Boat or Car?" before explaining timescales as well as route!)Great - "there's our new boat,wow!" what luxury, a bathroom each! 240V! Dual steering positions!a proper galley! About 900% better! We did pay more, obviously, but not 900% more, so well worth it. Disregarding the size etc (though who says size doesn't matter!?), it was a far better deal. We head off to Barton Broad and thus begins 5 more fab days on the Broads, we get better at parking (whoops, Mooring!), and become totally hooked!

So, things certainly can, and do, get better! (though we were not pleased with Blakes, who sent only a partial refund, less than they said, and ages later). We understand the different ratings but really feel we got a bum deal on boat number 1, which was a very low standard. But Richardsons were fab, everyone was lovely, and we are booked with them again.

Bet you wished you hadn't asked now, after having to read all this!

Karen

cheers!

Dibbler
Apr-01-2005 @ 3:42 PM                           Permalink
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Not at all...sounds very similar to our experience.

We'd had a foreign holiday in June '82 but decided to go on the rivers in the September. We'd been with Horizoncraft on a 35' barge-type boat the previous year and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. With dosh being scarce, we booked the cheapest boat in the book at the time (dopey eh?) which was called the Charleen from Sabena Marine at Wroxham. We picked it up on the Friday and were very disappointed with what could only be described as a 'nail'...it was long past it's sell-by date. It shook like crazy when under way...could have made great cocktails as we cruised. The scary thing was though...the oil pressure kept dropping to zero...not the optimum reading! In addition, none of the crockery matched, was all chipped and stained, curtains and upholstery were pre-historic and the toilet(!) smelled like a Cairo sewer. We nevertheless moored outside the Ferry Inn at Horning leaving it until the last minute so nobody saw us (we were that ashamed of the "boat"). Had a meal in the pub as we couldn't face one on board. Went to Ranworth next morning and made breakfast then threw it away as we couldn't face that either!

We decided to take this 'shed' back to Sabena who weren't bothered in the slightest, they offered to pump out the toilet again and tried to bullspit us by saying "it's a varnish smell"...yeah right...first of all, varnish does NOT smell like that and second, the boat hadn't seen any varnish since God was a lad!

We got our money back but we couldn't get a deposit refund as Hoseasons had it. We phoned them from the middle of Wroxham (no mobile phones at that time) and they were superb about the whole thing. They said not to worry about the deposit explaining that we could transfer that to another boat. I explained that we couldn't afford another boat as we were on a VERY tight budget and the very kind lady said "let us worry about that". She then went on to offer us the Royal Command II from Royall & Son, a 30' centre-cockpit cruiser with a GRP hull and timber superstructure adding that Hoseasons would make up the hire charge difference! Service or what!

We took one look at the boat (before it had been prepared for hire) and said "yes please" VERY quickly.
We had a brilliant holiday after that and hired craft from Royall & Son for years afterwards. We actually were the second (or maybe the third) people to hire the Royal Sovereign when she was launched in 1983...felt like the bees knees on that craft. There weren't many like her at that time so she turned heads wherever she went. She still looks good now. The Royalls' attitude may not suit all hirers but they certainly know how to maintain their boats.

Not as eventful as your story but...


John

This message was edited by Dibbler on 4-1-05 @ 2:44 PM

roya
Apr-01-2005 @ 4:00 PM                           Permalink
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Hi all
Spot on Karen and Mike please keep it coming
cheers for now.

roya
Sorry John your input was spot on as well
its only by hirers comments that can make things better for all

This message was edited by roya on 4-1-05 @ 3:04 PM

capelmist
Apr-01-2005 @ 5:50 PM                           Permalink
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I also had a similar experience some years ago.We hired TANGO 2 from richardsons and set off early afternoon and were not very happy with how clean the boat was and also the bad smell of it. Next morning we set off for ST OLAVES and as it was march we tried the heating. All ok untill just after breydon water when a thick blue smoke started to belch out from both the heating and engine.We moored at THE BELL pub and rang the boatyard who said they would send someone. NOW the fun started.
  The wind was very strong and as DAN will tell you to access the engine the whole of the rear part of this type of boat lifts up. the guy from richardsons turned up and lifted the back up and started work .Then without warning the back of the boat crashed down on this poor guys head knocking him out cold. I ran to the pub to call for an ambulance and the poor chap was carted off to hospital. We spent the night in The Bell and waited next morning for another richardsons mechanic. It turned out we were out of fuel . I was not amused as i had just crossed Breydon water. As for the guy who went to hospital , he was just concussed.Richardsons were very sorry and on our return gave us a 25% off voucer which we used on the Thames.

regards john

Dibbler
Apr-01-2005 @ 5:53 PM                           Permalink
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The joys of Richardsons! Bless 'em! NOT!

Karen&Mike
Apr-01-2005 @ 8:35 PM                           Permalink
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Karen&Mike
          

Oh John! cant believe what happened to the poor guy from Richardsons - you'd thind he'd know better! That really is a corker of a story!

And Dibbler - just goes to show we should not put up with things when they aren't right - at least we all got sorted!

Karen


cheers!

J&B
Apr-01-2005 @ 9:13 PM                           Permalink
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I,m sorry to hear you had problems with richardsons john, I have been hiring from them the past 10yrs, with no problems.
betty and I were going to hire tango2 a couple of years ago, But when I asked Peter, the boss on heron quay, he advised against it, and after an hrs chat, he pointed out the best boats, and there faults to me.
I have followed his advice on the last 8 trips, and so far he has been right. he has semi retired now I think,but he lives aboard on the boatyard, and next trip We intend to visit him, with a wee bottle of whisky,to thank him for his help through the years.

John & betty.

Broads01
Apr-01-2005 @ 9:45 PM                           Permalink
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Karen & Mike,

Thanks for telling the story. I can understand your not wanting to name & shame the Blakes yard but I've drawn my own conclusions from your description of the boat & the route. It certainly wasn't Brooms, unlikely to be Castle Craft, so that leaves one Blakes yard I can think of within easy reach of Great Yarmouth.....ooh, must stop.

Do tell a bit more about the Richardsons boat though. I've booked with them this year for the first time & I'd be interested know what boat you had & some more about what it was like.

Simon

Karen&Mike
Apr-01-2005 @ 10:21 PM                           Permalink
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Well Simon, I do not know all the Blakes yards, so can't say if you may be right or wrong...if you are working on distances, I can tell you that we picked our boat up at about 12.30...

The guy at the yard (owner I think) was nice enough, though a bit quieter when we took the boat back (Blakes had called him to tell him we were returning). I suppose that if his boat was classified as 3 star, then fair enough, but it was poorly maintained visually, though ran well enough. Our gripe with Blakes, as first timers, was that the rating/description wasn't accurate and we had relied on that. However, we do realise now that boating is an expensive holiday, and you don't get a lot for your cash, but how many other first timers could be put off? Expectations vary don't they? and if you haven't got anthing to compare it to...

Anyway, it didn't spoil anything for us in the end! Our boat at Richardsons was "Cavalier" - I don't think there's a pic in the brochure, but it's the same class as Distant Horizon, page 20 of Hew Horizon brochure. We prefer it cos it has bigger, lower windows so you can see more ( look at the interior pic and imagine the window starting immediately above the settees). It's dual steering, though we prefer to steer outside unless weather is really really bad. It's absolute luxury having his and hers shower rooms! and its great to see from, being quite high, though won't do Potter, Wroxham, Beccles bridges. From what I have read on this site, Dan is likely to have a pic, though I think that it's not his colours, being part orange, as I recall him saying that's a bit 1970's for him! (though he was talking about another boat/yard).I prob have pic myself...

Anyway, it was v.spacious for 2, but easy to handle.We are hoping to get sis and hubby to come with us next year as there'll be plenty of room for 2 couples NOT to get on top of each other, if you see what I mean! We have it booked again for June this year, just us 2.

Karen

cheers!

DanHorner
Apr-01-2005 @ 10:23 PM                           Permalink
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Hi guys

Great to hear these stories.  I know everyone knows I like the Richardsons fleet.  I've had countless boats from them, over several years and a variety of styles and price bands but always thought the staff superb, and the boats always good for what you pay, and very reliable and superbly maintained.   I think these attributes are a real credit to them, especially given their size of operation.

Forgetting to re-fil fuel is poor, but I think every fleet has done this on the odd occasion, just like the odd pump out will have been forgotten, as I've never heard it before of them I guess as long as it is very few and far between they can be let off?!  The only thing that I've ever thought below par with them was a rip in the upholstery hidden by cushion, rather than being sewn up, which hardly ruined the holiday!!! Smile

I wonder if many of the people who don't like the fleet are judging on out of date outlooks, as the last five years or more has seen a continual upgrade period, and many craft even not listed as refitted have new, or partially new interiors.  There's more new laminates in them boats than any others I've seen!

So, big suprise to everyone, but they get my vote!  Roll on June!

All the best

Dan
P.S. My guess on the boat is Cavalier.
P.P.S - Hope everyone is rating these fleets under the boatyards section and then "add a review". Smile

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