Some words from our customers and others...
"The decision to finally make the jump and buy a narrowboat began with several visits to the Annual Crick Boat Show over a period of 4 yours or so. These shows gave us the opportunity to look at different boats, different layouts, equipment - indeed, the whole raft (sorry for the pun) of elements which go into making a narrowboat.
Finally, the decision made and a budget established, we went to another Crick Show and began specifically looking at boat-builders and the quality of their workmanship.
Whilst I am sure there are several good boatbuilders in the north of the country, geographical considerations came into play at this stage. It was clear that during the course of the build, we would want to visit the builders regularly, poke our nose in, crack the whip and ascertain progress of the build.
We finally narrowed our search down to a few companies and then visited each with an outline of our plans.
The first one was knocked into touch within about five minutes. It became patently clear that they produced boats to a very specific plan and the slightest variation from that plan would cause major problems. They even told us which engine we would have to have fitted - some make of which we knew nothing. We had decided on a well-known and popular unit - with a view to the availability of spare parts and consumables as well as the familiarity of engineers with the engine around the canal network. Having a boatbuilder dictate the engine they would be prepared to install was a step too far.
The next one began the conversation by asking how much we wanted to spend. We explained that we don’t do business that way but would tell them what we wanted and they could give us a price for that. The builder said that boats normally left them at between £165-180 thousand. We gave them details of our requirements and subsequently received the quote - a dozen lines with little detail. One line read “refrigerator - subject to available space.” As if a narrowboat without a fridge would be much use for extended touring. The price - including a contingency sum for unforeseen items - spot-on £180,000 to the penny.
So, onto the third one. We gave them the details and they arrived at a quote, again contained in just a few lines which stated “As “Such-and-such a boat” plus ……. That one was in the region of £160,000. We hadn’t got a clue what “Such-and-such a boat” looked like.
Eventually, we arrived at Tristar Boats in Nottingham. We sat down with them for a lengthy period of time going through exactly what we wanted in our boat. By this time, we were alert to the fact that negotiating with boatbuilders could be problematic. Was our wish-list the problem perhaps?
The reaction from Jeremy and Michelle was effectively - Anything you want, we will do - if it will fit in the boat. If you want a 72” plasma TV, then we might have to discuss that a bit further but otherwise …….."
They made copious notes and sketches and then sent us a quote running to well over a dozen pages covering every single item in the boat in detail, including particulars regarding equipment and specifications. This included a detailed plan of the layout. Everything we wanted was included - and they even found space for the refrigerator !!!
A few more discussions to clarify a few points and then we gave them the green-light to get started. The shell was manufactured by Soar Valley Boats who are located literally a few yards from Tristar. This meant that they could keep an eye on the production of the shell and any ambiguities which arose could be solved in minutes. Extra ‘unusual’ welding was required on this shell as a result of our detailed plans and wish-list. That being said, everything was done just as we wanted it.
This was then moved into their premises and Tristar began their work. The boat was painted by a professional boat painter, again based yards from Tristar and they have done an absolutely first-class job.
At every stage of the build, Michelle took photographs of the progress and posted them onto a ‘blog’ for us and we visited them regularly. Staged payments were agreed and we were able to keep track of the state of play through the blog and our visits.
I have to say that they made the process of the build - from our point of view as customers - as easy as possible. Investment in a boat is a significant commitment and we didn’t experience any worries at all during the process.
As an aside, when we notified one of the significant suppliers for the boat that we had chosen Tristar, they said that, whilst they couldn’t say anything before which might influence our decision, if they were having a boat built, they would have chosen Tristar. So that gave us an added confidence in the knowledge that someone ‘in the trade’ as it were had the confidence in Tristar to produce a quality vessel.
Finally, the boat was launched - again, a matter of yards from their premises - and they completed the final finishing touches to the boat and it was ready for us.
I cannot praise Tristar enough for our boat. We got exactly what we wanted, the layout, the equipment, everything and the quality of the build is simply first-class. I don’t know what else I can say. Whilst I doubt if we will ever look to having another boat built in our lifetimes, if we did, then there would be no question as to who we would choose to produce it." David and Stuart, narrowboat Ohm from 'ome, March 2021
"We are so grateful for all of your hard work bringing to life Rachmaninov. We are certain that we do have the most incredible boat on the inland waterways!" owners of The Piano Boat, December 2020
"Working with Tristar on my very non-standard painted hybrid sailaway has been an absolute pleasure.... the boat has received many compliments from other professionals since it arrived home for its internal fitout. I'm extremely glad I chose them and look forward to cruising back to Redhill to show them the finished product one day." owner of Nancy David, March 2019
"It is no exaggeration to say that at least 10 people a day (every day) have said ' that's a beautiful boat' 'what a lovely colour' everywhere we went. We feel immensely proud of her and have sung your praises all over the cut. We've had loads of interest in the fact that she's hybrid, fully disabled accessible complete with lift and all electric. The bit that gets admired so much is your work..." owner of Nancy David, November 2020
"Michelle, Jeremy and the rest of the Tristar team...worked with us to give us the lovely boat that we so much wanted. Tristar are a great team and we would be happy to recommend them to anyone looking for a fit out." owners of 'The Power of Dreams', 2019
"Many thanks [for the boat]... we absolutely love her!" owners of 'Hello World', 2018
"The quality of the work is outstanding. They have made my dreams come true! A huge thank you to the whole team at Tristar Boats." owner of Elsie Alice, May 2016
"The organisation and execution of the whole project was a treat!...[it] exceeded all my expectations and the craftsmanship is excellent..." owner of Kathleen Rose, October 2015.
"...the best builder when only a bespoke boat will fit the bill...this is an exceptionally well equipped boat." Canal Boat Magazine boat test for narrowboat 'Ohm from 'ome', Nov 2018
"...we absolutely love it!" owners of 'Daphne' 2017
"Thank you for your effort and patience working with us to produce such a fine boat, we are constantly receiving comments regarding the design and look of the boat, many times we have been told it is the nicest narrowboat people have seen on the canals." owners of Lynden, October 2016
"Michelle, Jeremy and the team have given me complete confidence from start to finish. Michelle worked closely with me in designing the layout and finish of Elsie Alice. The end result is beyond all my expectations. owner of Elsie Alice, May 2016
"It's better than I could have dreamt of!" John Varley II crew member, April 2016
"I was exceptionally impressed, both with the standard of fitout and the design." Mark Langley, Waterways World Magazine, review of Theophilus, out November 2015.
Some thanks from us...
We are fortunate to work with a great range of people and businesses. Here are some of our favourites, (more to follow) we recommend that you give them a try!
SOME RECENT BOATS ...
This attractive 9' wide canal boat with striking red glazed fireplace. Have a look on our facebook page for photos or look at the blog here.
Margaret Wroughton II
The big and beautiful 'Keelson' (Dutch style barge) a Category C boat with a range of features including a powerful hybrid driven engine has now left the UK for mainland Europe. Have a look at the blog here.
This clean energy narrowboat has been designed with extra care for easy access, including plans for a stern wheelchair lift, this will be a boat share project, with fitout completed by the owner...Have a look at the blog here.
Our first architect designed 'Keelson' Dutch style barge has a stunning bright interior. Have a look at the blog to see some images.
Ohm from 'ome
This striking narrowboat with a luxurious interior was our boat on show at the Crick Boat Show 2019. Take a look at the blog for photos of the build and acceptance trial.