Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The collywobbles

Three at the back on Shadow

Jan has admitted to me that she has the collywobbles over getting a boat with a trad stern. Now, I appeal to all you lovely blog readers, please help me to convince her (and me!) that a trad stern is a Good Thing.

The trouble is, you see, that we are used to boats with cruiser or semitrad sterns. Shadow is a semitrad; Willow, Lee Swallow and other boats we have used in the past have been cruiser sterned.

The concern is that a trad stern is less sociable.

The thinking is that there will be room for only one person at any time in the hatch, and that's the steerer. It is possible to sit on the cabin top, with legs dangling in the hatch, but I don't think Jan would want to do that. Nor would she be at all happy about standing on the gunwale, clinging on to the hand rail. When she's steering, of course, there wouldn't be so much of a problem, but I tend to do the lion's share of steering, except in locks.

And the "problem" would be exacerbated when we have guests. On a warm and sunny day we have enjoyed being able to congregate at the business end, watching the world go by and partaking of tea, or even the occasional beer.

Go on. Convince us.


No Direction said...

Halfie, we could leave a comment but you wouldn't like it.

Halfie said...


Nev Wells said...


I fear your specification is adrift of the what a trad stern will deliver. If you are planning on taking joy riders then you need a semi trad or cruiser but you know that. It might help if the boat has a good size front well deck as the guests can socialise there and let you or Jan get on with the steering, sorry now what you wanted to hear I'm sure. Not sure what your budget is but I have looked at NB Naraw at Great Heywood boat sales . She is a trad on a great shell, needs a new paint job but has a very sociable trad stern. Good luck, it should be enjoyable !!

Amy said...

I'm not sure how to comment given that Jan doesn't like standing on the gunwhales. All I can say is that when James is steering, I either sit on the roof with my legs in the hatch or stand on the gunwhales and we've done 14 hour cruises like that (taking turns of course), perfectly comfortably! We've also had two people standing on the gunwhales on each side, for short periods.

Of course the other argument is that work on the engine can be done in the dry if it's raining!

Good luck!

JR said...

Hi Halfie
Cruiser stern every time!
The social aspect is extremely important - and so is being lonely!
We only considered a cruiser stern option when buying which actually made things a lot easier as it "narrowed" the field down considerably.

No Direction said...

I stand on the Gunwhales when crewing on Nutfield, being a working boat there is nowhere else, you have to take care when passing under bridge arches.

Nev Wells said...

What you need is a nice recently painted 50 foot semi trad, good covers, with newly installed solar panel and calorifier good engine perfect functional insides... just like Waterlily...?? Then I could buy a trad and be the unsociable sort I am !!


Neil Corbett said...

Sorry Jan, but even though I agree with all the things you have against trad sterns I would still prefer one! Neil is the one who is pragmatic and brings up all the objections. We have a semi-trad and I still sometimes find myself standing on the gunwales even though there is an inside space, as do some of our visitors. Of course, some trads have more space on the back, and wider gunwales, than others, could you not find one of those. Neil suggests going out to the boat with a couple of friends and try it :-)
Kath (nb Herbie)

Neil Corbett said...

Actually, Jan, thinking about it I think you can, quite rightly, tell me to mind my own business ;-)
buying a boat is not easy, is it?
Kath (nb Herbie)

Sarah said...

It's east to get used to standing on the gunnels.
It feels like proper boating when you do.
When it's just two of you, you can both fit on the back; when you have guests, one o you can entertain them on seated comfort of the front while the other steers.
Serious socialising happens when you're tied up, or on the bank, or while doing locks. How often do you actually gather a large number of people together on the boat while on the move? I am sure this is something that happens more often in people's imaginations than in reality. When you have guests they are usually keen to get stuck in, not stand about!
The advantages of a trad outweigh this slight loss - better use of space, warm feet and a better looking boat.

And don't forget, the engine is dry and accessible, and you won't get wet when going down leaky locks. (as per your earlier post)

There Halfie. You knew you could rely on me.

Jim said...

Our guests on Starcross are invited to stand on the gunwales or sit on the roof (legs over the side,please. If they don't like that they can sit in the front well - but we won't consider them proper boaters if they do. (They are still friends of course).

Nev Wells said...

So is it gunwales or gunnels Halfies guests will be standing on ?


Halfie said...

Thank you all for your comments.

I think that's more for than agin a trad. But you haven't really done a very good job of persuading us to go the trad route. Apart from Amy and the reliable Sarah (why didn't I buy Warrior and be done with it?). Kath, you seem to have a foot in both camps.

I do like the idea of having a warm lower half when steering in weather which is less than clement. I like the prospect of being able to close the doors and slide against me and still be able to steer, mug of tea conveniently to hand.

Anyway, despite the initial rejection of our offer on the trad we've looked at, that offer still stands. If the vendor changes his mind we'll go ahead with the purchase. Meanwhile we're back to looking at semitrads. The looks of a trad with the space of a cruiser. (Or are they neither fish nor fowl?)

Sarah said...

Definitely neither fish nor fowl. Funny looking; fake-looking; not much usable space. I've been a guest on a semi trad and ended up sitting on the roof anyway; you couldn't sit down and see out, and when you stood there was nothing to lean on (whereas standing on the gunnel and leaning against the cabin side is surprisingly comfortable). The steerer is exposed to the elements, and you can't effectively cover the space. The only real choice is between a trad and a cruiser; a semi trad is definitely the worst of both possible worlds in every way. Cruisers to my mind have distinct disadvantages, not least with regard to the engine (access and water ingress) and the comfort of the steerer, but if you want socialising space you might as well go the whole hog and have plenty of it; I can't see a semi trad has any advantages over a good honest cruiser.

Nev Wells said...

Well I don't agree with that... but that's the benefit of owners giving their feedback.

I have a semi trad and enjoy the benefits of a social space as well as the protection of the trad style.

Our 50 foot semi trad can easily take 4 people on the back. Two can sit on a storage locker and enjoy the view and the chat. Plenty of space to lean on inside without the risk of falling in (useful for less confident cabin guests). We have a good cover that we open as we need to. Sunny and its rolled back or removed allowing lots of social space. If it rains I can steer inside the back doors with the cover either 3/4 fixed or really poor weather just one corner open so get a lot of weather protection with lots of flexibility.

As to the engine hole I can work on it with the cover on if needed and with the back doors closed, same as a trad? I have had a cruiser stern, very sociable, easy to get on and off if you have older or infirm relatives (I do) however when the wind blows it can be very cold, not having the benefits of the sides with open space within. Plus a very wet bilge.

As I said in a previous comment for social space cruiser or semi trad is the way to go. I would still like a trad as we normally cruise as a couple and I feel that the trad as others have said can accommodate this by standing in tandem (close, but we like that) sitting on the hatch cover or standing on the gunwales, plus I aspire to a mid engine boat with a boatmans cabin.

Happy for you to visit to talk in more detail or just experience the semi trad option.

Enjoy the search and the discussions on options....


No Direction said...

Halfie, you and Jan have been on boats long enough to make your own mind up, everyone will support the type of boat they own, it's your hard earned cash after all.
(Just dont ask which type of toilet to have).

Sarah said...

But Nev, Halfie was explicitly asking for points in favour of a trad - not the opposite!

Sarah said...

.... if some one had asked for arguments in favour of a semi trad, I'd have just kept quiet :-)

Halfie said...

Nev, thanks for the offer. It would be good to meet up one day. Is Waterlily on AD?

Ray, you're absolutely right. Except that we haven't really experienced cruising on a trad. (And we've already decided on the loo question.)

And Sarah, I partly agree with you re. trad/semitrad/cruiser, but I think I'd have to side more with Nev. We've had lots of boating fun on (semitrad) Shadow, and I think the looks of a trad aren't compromised (except, perhaps, from above). The semitrad, as Nev says, does give a degree of weather protection with the rear doors shut. I'm not sure I'd go down the tonneau cover route, though.

Sarah said...

Halfie, you asked people to convince you that a trad stern was a good thing, and I did my best from the bottom of my heart. But it sounds as if the naysayers are starting to sway you... At least I stuck to what was asked for!

Halfie said...

Gosh, Sarah, I know you did! And it almost feels like a betrayal if I come across as wavering ...

But we're not talking historic boat here, we're talking modern "cruiser", in the sense of something which will convey us in reasonable comfort over as much of the system as is practical.

As you say, there weren't many people who came out in outright favour of the trad stern. You, Amy, Kath and Jim (and Ray, sort of, but he has a foot in both camps, as it were). Actually, that sounds like quite a few now.

Oh, I don't know!

What I wanted was a list of the advantages of trad over the other types of stern. Which you, as I have said, provided. Thank you.

Adam said...

You can add my name to the trad camp -- and I speak as someone who hired cruisers, had a shared ownership semi-trad, and now owns a trad.

Things I like about a trad include: they look right; it feels right steering from inside the hatch; the engine is inside; the 'buffer zone' of the engine room between the cabin and the outside world (this obviously isn't true for trads with a back cabin with an engine room beyond); more interior space.

Some semi-trads are more sociable if you've got lots of guests, but it really depends on the boat. Debdale had plenty of room because there was a locker only on one saide. I've been on plenty of semi-trads with lockers down both sides which have very little space (and very tight access to the engine).

I still maintain that when you find the boat for you, you'll know -- regardless of whether it's a trad or a semi. So if you're not distraught at this offer being rejected, that might be a sign. (And I'm not even going to mention what we call the train carriage roof...!)

Anonymous said...

The biggest 'no', apart from the obvious ,with semi trads is that a great deal of internal space is lost with the 'social space and the access down below.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happens, you must both want the same thing!

Nev Wells said...


You are right, Halfie did ask to be convinced, and I perhaps should have kept quiet, but I detected a friend in a dither and wanted to explore the considerations. You may note I commented I would prefer a trad next time and I gave my reasons. All in all just adding to what has been a good amount of comment.

Halfie, no Waterlily is not on AD, as until I find a boat I would happily replace her with she is not being marketed. I am still tempted by NB Nawra, did you have a look on Great Heywood’s web site? It is a really nice fit out on a Norton Canes shell. The interesting (for you) attraction is IMHO a liveaboard boat but the rear trad hatch is very big and whilst technically being a trad opens up to more like a semi trad back end. I have photo's from when I viewed her if you want to let me know an email address I'll forward them on.

Happy hunting

Still a bit tempted myself for Nawra...;-)

Anonymous said...

If you type in 'trad stern' to google images, Shadow, the semi-trad is the eighth picture!

Halfie said...

Adam, thanks for joining in! So what DO you call the train carriage roof, then? Or is that it?

Nev, your detection system is working well. As for Nowra, it doesn't meet two major criteria for us: it's two feet too long and it has the wrong sort of loo. Nice looking shell, though.

H.S., I think Jan and I are going to agree to agree.

Anon., that's amazing! How does that happen?

Roger Smith said...

Allow me to muddy the waters a bit.
IIRC, the justification/excuse for buying this boat was living accommodation for a young couple, so why not maximise that by getting something like an 'Ensign' with a large wheelhouse at the stern which can be used for white goods and or living accommodation?
Here is a link to a short one, but they do come in longer sizes.

Halfie said...

Roger, thanks. You're right that a young couple will be living aboard for a year or two, but then we'll have it for our exclusive use. They'll just have to "put up with" whatever we end up getting. And be grateful!

Ein Hafod II might be someone's idea of a summer house, but it sure ain't ours!

bert the gnome said...

For what its worth,heres my input ...
ive cruised on all 3 types, both as steerer and guest. Trad wins hands down on both counts IMO ... as a steerer in inclement weather, pull the hatch over, shut the doors behind you ... toasty! As a guest, nothing beats standing on the gunnels, taking in the views and chatting away to the steerer ....a trad just looks and feels 'right'.


Adam said...

I saw you asking on the CWDF about Liverpool shells -- spottable a mile away by their train carriage roofs!

Halfie said...

Adam, oh well. Now I know.