Boat Report 1998

Reports : 1998 - 2008 - Fran├žais

Broad beam canal boat

Moet Chandon is a broad beam canal boat, beautiful example of boat building from the Ledgard Bridge Boat Company in Mirfield, as written by Jim Sharpe for Canal & Riverboat Magazine

One if the many pleasures of testing boats for Canal & Riverboat Magazine is the wide variety of vessels I see. Many would say: 'When you've see one canal boat, you've seen them all', well I can assure you that simply is not true. Every canal boat is different in one way or another, and not only in size, for every single boat has at least one characteristic which identifies it from all the others.

broad beam and narrow boatThe broad beam of Moet Chandon is accentuated by the diminutive narrow boat, Lystra.

Now, at a time when most boat builders are only building to order - the days of stock narrow boat building being largely a thing of the past, most bank managers don't like it - yet more individuality is gradually, but inexorably creeping in, with the prospective customer's wanting to place their own personal 'stamp' on their particular boat.

Also gone are the days when boaters were prepared to rough it a bit, like people did in the days of the working boats. On the contrary, they want their boat to be a home from home with all the comforts and facilities they would normally be used to on land. consequently the boat builders must be prepared to accommodate the customers own ideas and preferences. One such boat builder is Richard Fee, proprietor of the Ledgard Bridge Boat Company's at Mirfield, where I recently tested one of his latest creation's Moet Chandon which to misquote the old saying slightly, has everything including the kitchen sink!

turning the boatMoet Chandon during our test, turns away from Ledgard Bridge Wharf.

Moet Chandon can by no means be classified simply as 'just another canal boat', to begin with 24 tons (24,384 kg) steel broad beam cruiser style vessel must rank amongst the heavier weights in the canal boat world. At 56ft 6in (17.22 metres) long, by 10ft 6in (3. 2 metres) across the beam there is certainly enough room to pack in a lot of personal preference.

The well deck is very large and uncluttered, on the day of the test it was so hot the owner had two full size garden chairs out there, and there is sufficient space for at least two more plus a table if required.

Large forward cabin doors permit easy access to the interior, they are half-glazed with rectangular frames in gold anodised aluminium, and above them is a headlamp centred at the forward edge of the cabin roof. The remainder of the forward bulk-head is plain green steel, the reason for that becomes apparent on entering the luxurious open plan cabin.

Three steps lead down to the saloon floor which is covered with top quality lounge carpet. Moet chandon is fully lined and fitted out in light oak capping's. On each side of the forward entrance are matching display cabinets with leaded glass doors which fill the top third of each corner. Below each cabinet is a full-width shelf. Two further cabinets with beautifully crafted solid oak doors fill the corners beneath. These have table tops on which to display ornaments or, as in the case of Moet Chandon, the television and hi-fi system. Although small the cupboards are quite spacious inside.

Moet Chandon saloon is certainly not lacking in internal space, the broad beam creating internal accommodation with dimensions akin to those of a small cottage, the open plan design accentuates the feeling of openness.

saloon kitchen 1Forward Cabin - saloon and galley are open plan.

saloon kitchen 2This shot illustrates the sheer size of this boat.

A squirrel solid fuel boatmen's stove stands on a hearth with a brightly tiled back, edged with light oak, it is situated near the centre of the starboard saloon wall. the stove has a black boiler, and is the power source of this boats extensive central heating system.

Four large windows with neat curtains and valances matching those at the forward entrance let in a good supply of daylight, their is also a transparent roof hatch at the aft end of the saloon. Electric lighting here, is provided by five circular lights set into the ceiling lining boards.

Between the windows on the port side is framed picture, this can be lit by a single brass wall light. The familiar brass clock and barometer are also in evidence in the saloon, one on the port wall the other on the starboard side. A brass tidy and coal shuttle adorn the hearth by the stove. the only other furniture in the saloon is free standing, it consists of a small stool in forward starboard corner, an expensive leather settee with matching chair, and three bar stools which are lined up on the saloon side of the breakfast bar room divider which separates the saloon from the galley.

Moet Chandon saloon is certainly not lacking in internal space, the broad beam creating internal accommodation with the dimensions akin to those of a small cottage, the open plan design accentuates the feeling of openness. As previously mentioned, the division between saloon and galley is a breakfast bar, above which is mounted a display unit with three glass doors like those of the saloon corner units. The three stools nestle under the front of the breakfast bar under the corner of which is a beautiful turned oak pillar, at first glance it appears to support the table. It is however, purely cosmetic because the one piece bar top is actually supported by the galley cabinet beneath, nevertheless the pillar adds a very nice touch to the overall appearance.

The galley is situated on the port side of the boat, it has a dark green sink/drainer unit under the window and there is a sizable utility cupboard beneath. All the other fittings and equipment are installed on either side, to form a rectangle with an open end onto the fore to aft corridor. On the right - fore end - at head height is the back of the saloon display cabinet, its doors matching those in the saloon, here it is used for storing the crockery. The galley side of the breakfast bar is an extensive - at least in boating terms - area of working surface with a storage cupboard beneath, together with the full-size domestic refrigerator.

kitchen saloon 3Combined breakfast bar, work surface and fridge space.

saloonExtra Beam which creates a very spacious interior.

To the left - the aft end - is a four burner gas hob again full-size and on either side of that, yet more areas of work top. Above and two fitted oak cupboards and in between a wall-mounted kitchen clock. The base unit is further drawer and cupboard space, with the domestic gas cooker and grill in a specially made unit on top, this contains a microwave oven. With the notable exception of the fridge, all the galley equipment is colour co-ordinated in green to match the sink/drainer. The floor here is covered in a good quality linoleum for easy cleaning. Unlike the saloon, the galley has a venetian blind over the window, which in my opinion is far more practical than curtains for this part of the boat. the port side of the galley has no window at all, here it has been replaced by a side hatch.

Moet chandon starboard fore to aft corridor, with its oak walls and doors, 18in (45.72 cm) porthole windows centre hinged to open, wall mounted radiators, and ceiling light fittings is extremely impressive, the extra width of the boat allowing much more room to move freely. The bedrooms, shower room, toilet and laundry etcetera, are located here. These also have the advantage of the extra space afforded by the broad beam hull.

The shower room has a complete shower cabinet, a pump-out toilet, and a vanity basin. The basin is set into the top of an open-fronted compartment used for keeping spare towels. Above the basin is a large mirror and a narrow shelf. This room is also used to store utility items such as cleaning equipment and ironing board, and it is also vessels laundry, it houses a full size washing machine and dryer.

Moet Chandon is designed as a four berth boat, with one double bed and two single bunk beds. In the main bedroom the double bed occupies the fore to aft position along the port wall, it has a shelf over the bed head with light units beneath. There is a full length fitted wardrobe just inside the door, and a half-length unit adjoins it, across foot of bed. the window is one of the 18in opening porthole type. Here, as with the rest of this boat much thought has gone into the selection of soft furnishings to create exactly the right atmosphere.

The second bedroom is also a spacious compartment, this too is fitted with an 18in porthole window. This room contains two single sleeping berths, bunk-style, but not directly over the other. The top bunk is wall mounted, and runs in the fore to aft position beneath the porthole window. Whilst the lower bed runs transverse, along the right - fore end - compartment wall, with it's head beneath the head end of the upper bunk.

Furnishings here consists of five large cupboards on the left of the entrance one of which runs under the foot of the top bunk. A shelf runs along the port wall from the cupboard to the lower bunk head. Yet more cupboard space is provided just inside the door on the right at about head height. Each bunk has it's own independent light source for reading. Here again the soft furnishings are in keeping with the surroundings.

kitchenCooker, grill and microwave are fitted at eye level over each other in the same unit.

engineThe 1957 ford 592E 57hp diesel engine.

Having described the internal accommodation aboard this superbly fitted out vessel, I now turn to the engine. The engine is one of the really unique features of Moet Chandon, it is here the owner's personal preference have been brought into sharp focus, in his rejection of a new marinised diesel engine, in favour of a unit first built 40 years ago!

Ledgard Bridge Boat Company would normally fit a Beta BV2203 50 bhp engine in a new boat of this size. However, on this occasion, the customer - Moet Chandon's owner - supplied a 1957, Ford 592E hp diesel engine. The unit had been completely stripped down, re-conditioned and rebuilt before being installed on the boat. Power is transmitted through the gearbox to the 15 x 11 propeller. The diesel fuel tank has a capacity of 66 gallons (300litres).

Electricity is supplied by a Lister/Petter 5.5kva diesel generator, in a compartment behind the engine and electrical control panels. Their is 4 x 130 amp batteries and a single engine start battery. A 45 amp alternator is used to charge the batteries when the engine is running, and a separate 50 amp charger, powered from the mains or generator, can also be used to maintain the battery bank. All this heavyweight power supply equipment is required to ensure all the full-size appliances have a permanent electric power source.

Out on the water, it is important to remember that Moet Chandon is a larger and heavy broad beam boat and as such, control must be exercised with care. The size and weight of the boat are major factors in determining its ultimate manoeuvring capability.

Control is of course achieved by the usual and well-tried system of tiller and single lever engine control, these are situated inside the port side of the aft cabin hatch, above the circuit breaker switches for the electrical services.

Despite its age, the boat owners claim to have thoroughly overhauled the Ford engine, and this was apparent. It was much quieter than I anticipated it would be, and it has power to spare, pushing the boat along with ease, it preformed perfectly.

bedroomSecond bedroom with two single bunk beds, one running for to aft, other port to starboard.

At 57ft 00in long and 10ft 06in wide, Moet Chandon presented no problems to speak of and the vessel cut smoothly through the water producing a relatively small amount of wash. the boat is well ballasted and the trim is excellent. Response to the tiller is not slow in coming, although the weight and width of the boat obviously make steering response slightly slower than that of a narrow boat. To overcome that minor difficulty, one simply has to think a little way ahead. that said however, with care this boat can be manoeuvred admirably in quite tight areas.

The same applies to stopping, with a little forward thinking, Moet Chandon can be stopped where the helmsman wants her to stop. One simply has to realise the extra weight causes the forward momentum of the boat to continue for a while, even after action has been taken to stop it. For obvious reasons the reverse trust of the propeller cannot be expected to take instant effect. Just like applying the brake on ones car will not instantly arrest the forward momentum of the vehicle.

saloon furnitureThe saloon has a nice mixture of fitted units and free standing furniture.

Left & right turns were well executed, with the boat following the predetermined course, and side drift was non-existent. Reversing from a standing start was accomplished without difficulty, but there is a little less steering in reverse.

Turning to return to base, at the only point available to us on that part of the waterways, involved the equivalent of a three point turn. I confess I was surprised how easily Moet Chandon coped with what could have been a difficult move, because there was only ten feet to spare fore and aft when broadside on to the waterway.

What then is my personal assessment of Moet Chandon? this boat is a shinning example of what can be achieved when the boat designer and builder work closely with the customer. The input of ideas and the resolution of difficulties on both side has been interpreted perfectly to design, build and fit out a broad beam boat of outstanding quality. The craftsmanship is of the highest standards, both in terms of hull construction and fit out, and the maroon, green and white paint work, together with the associated artwork, add a splendid finishing touch.

The open plan cabin layout is ideal, and the extra hull width allows for the more adventurous layout of both fixed and free-standing furniture. Here it must be said that Moet chandon owner supplied all the free-standing furniture, carpets, curtains, and other soft furnishings. Although I perceive the apparent intervention of the female half of the ownership in selecting these.

In general Moet Chandon handles very well, in some respects it is a little slow to respond as I said earlier. Yet one must bear in mind that this is a broad beam boat, and as such, it's handling characteristics will inevitably be slightly different to those of a narrow boat. On the whole I was pleased with the way it performed on the test run, and highly impressed by everything else about this boat.

Canal Riverboat - February 1998