Re: I Willgress and Chris, gotta call a spade a spade
I was starting to warm to you but you have really p****d me off. What is wrong with my Reliant Robin!
Seriously, as a long term Birchwood owner, I think you are wrong to include them as a down market make. Have a look at how many Birchwoods from the seventies are still doing sterling service and I think you will find its most of them - Can you say the same about Fairline? or Sunseeker and of course, Sealine were not around. I am not sure about Princess.
The hull shape is good and gives excellent service both in terms of sea Keeping and general robustness.
I now come to the Achilles Heel. The window shapes are just naff on current models and need to be changed. They actually spoil the appearance of the Flybridge and aft cabin models. On the sports cruisers, the windscreen design is very similar to Fairline and is just about OK.
Nick sorry to P you off, not meant. I was referring very clearly to the CURRENT Birchwood range. I said that 3 times in my post. I completely believe your reports of sterling service from your boat, and I would even believe the new boats are capable of the same (I've no idea actually). But what I mean is the current boats lack kind of chicness, brand appeal or whatever, and by 2001 standards they are ugly. The knuckle is a big prob, it's costing them zillions yet they just wont drop it. It's not enough to say the window lines etc are simialr to Fairline or whatever, the difference between looking good and bad is pretty fine. This isn't rocket science, they can go to Italy (er...or Coventry) and hire a designer just like anyone else, but they gotta let go the sacred cows like the knuckle. Sealine are the same, but they're moving in the right direction with the T range, still some way to go. They have a different type of shareholder of course (a buyout fund, hungry for return)
I didn't start this thread to knock Birchwood - quite the reverse. Nor I am saying that Fairline are the way to go, at all, and despite being an owner they have lots to improve upon in other ways. Nor is it the case that the boats are at all bad - your own experience shows otherwise, especially since it's 12years old. I would dearly love Birchwood to be a possible option for more purchasers, like me, and at the moment, they aren't.
For example, the Commander range was aimed squarely at the sex-and sizzle dreamboat market. Targas and lots of sunseekers are there too. The looks are vitally important, and they're just wrong on the Birchwood. You might not buy a boat like this, but I did. I had a T48 and whilst considering replacements a year or so ago I didn't even bother looking at the newer big commander - cos of the odd windows and hull appearance. Many buyers(gasp) don't have a test drive beforehand. But then most expensive cars aren't test-driven either. A buyer looks first at the styling, then checks a few other aspects to see if they are acceptable. And that's it.
As for Fairline (since some seem keen to even things up) the styling is fine BUT... their record of not being up front in announcing delivery delays, poor communication between production and design, little feedback from users/dealers to design/production for a better (and cheaper) product, lack of understanding of marine environment, slightly brainier appreciation of materials/fastenings, and lack of leadership with "happy to help" and "do an even better job" and "I'll face the music" attitude as shown by the Birchwood director above, and not shown by Fairline in current or earlier form. All perhaps fixable by someone happy to crack a few heads together and fire those with thicker undamaged skulls. Okay, they've had duff decisions (43AC, sq52) but have dropped them and can afford to do so.
Nick, the thrust was to improve things for Birchwood, helpem sell more boats and so on. Sorry if this came across as negative.
Consider a 48-50 foot open med style boat today and.. there's a fairline, sunseeker, princess or sealine, also a cranchi, or yank boats. And there 's the ugly duckling commander, possibly a pile better than the others in lots of ways, except that they look crap, so a non-starter. You'll say this isn't logical, but lashing out on this type of boat is as illogical as buying a convertible car. Safety features and solidness are all secondary considerations at new purchase - although of course for you as long-time owner these are the issues that now matter most.
All explaining why you got cheesed off ( I hope not too much), why B'd won't sell many if any large commanders unless dump price to 240k, and why merc clk convertibles (ok I bought a 430) outsell plug-ugly volvo convertibles by miles.
Re Matts and JFM, I was a bit tongue in cheek saying I was p***'d off as I have said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder - so I forgive you on the basis of a stiff whisky when next I see you.
I do think Birchwood have had some really useful feedback from this forum and it is for them to take it on board.
This has, however, started me thinking and I wonder if those of us who have am interest in the health of the british boating industry, might not be prepared to form some kind of feedback group for the principle manufacturers. I know that if Birchwood or Princess or anyone else were to ask my opinion on the appearance of a proposed design I would be happy to give it. In the real world they call it market research!
Nick, forgiveness appreciated and yes whiskey or whatever promised if we bump into you. Actually aside from all the comments on style etc I would like to add my vote of respect for Bwood MD in engaging in a discussion here. There are so few businesses that appreciate that customer complaint etc is the very best form of feedback/market research. I'll look at your other post.....
Haaa ..... I wondered if you would spot it!!! You did, shouldn't have doubted you!! I meant very firmly the Irish substance, rather than the ahem... less preferable Scotch variety. All this out of reverance to my own half-Irishness. Oh and one of my larger clients is Old Bushmills and I'd hate them to cut me off their Christmas present list!!
PS - The Bushmills distillery, that's a great place to visit on your next cruise, must be an easy trip for you? Then you'd see the light!
Oh no! Where is the man's taste? Does'nt like purposeful knuckled hulls. Does'nt like proper whisky, probably has a Fairline, drives a Merc?. And admits to being half mad, sorry Irish. And introduces sex to the conversation (talking of Black bushes!) when we were all proper and straight up.
Out of curiosity, I notice one of your boats was Braveheart - I presume all these names can't relate to one boat! Was she by any chance a Princess 388?
Meanwhile I'm blimmin parched here. It says in the mag that we get a whisky for a letter published. Whereis it eh? Worryingly, its some Doublewood/Birchwood whatever but prob ok as rusty nail or with red bull.
Reminds me of a longstanding joke at Bushmills and their parent (Pernod) about the Irish Bushmills guy on business in NY and in a bar a gorgeous black barmaid comes to take his order and he asks "Do you have a Black Bush?"
Nope do not drive merc except when Mrs jfm lends me hers (that's rare, it's cheaper for me to call Hertz), I'm about to drive nothing ahem due to lack of licence. Braveheart is a fairline phantom42 in Lymington, Musketeer is an ickle Jeanneau in Lymington (I'm 50:50 ragnstick:stinkpot) Maeve is a Boston whaler centre console job in Ireland and therib is a generic expression to cover various other junk including a rib. This may sound extravagant but it's not I share Braveheart and Musketeer with someone else to they all add up to one boat really, kind of, so I just consider myself a boat owner not a boats owner. Sorry if that made no sense I can't figure it either
Re: I Willgress and Chris, gotta call a spade a spade
As far as I'm aware Birchwood have the crusader range which include a 400 aft cabin and a 340 aft cabin with two different layouts, very good for inland cruising maybe we should check the Birchwood's before we critisize them to much