A LOW-PRICED BARGE YACHT WITH AUSTIN SEVEN ENGINE
I AVING already tried various fairly fast Austin engined boats, we were glad of the chance to
see how this remarkable little engine will perform in a heavier type of craft. Therefore when Mr. Scott-Moncrieff told us to take his yacht ” Watergirl ” and do what we liked with it, we took him at his word and repaired to Kingston, where it was lying, to see how we liked it. Although described as a barge yacht, it differs considerably from the conventional idea of this type. Whereas a barge yacht is usually primarily intended for use under sail, this particular example appears to be intended chiefly for use under power. As a result of giving really full head room in a boat of only a few inches draught and under 20ft. in length, there is a considerable amount of top-hamper, and this is bound to restrict the sailing qualities except under favourable conditions. A centre board is provided in place of the more usual lee-boards, and this simplifies handling under sail.
The engine is neatly installed under the floor of the well, and the reverse and throttle controls are within easy reach, thou7,h personally we should have preferred a longer lever on the reverse control. A marine type reverse is fitted in place of the standard gear box, which simplifies manoeuvring. The full electric equipment of the standard engine is included, but when it is required to start up by hand this can be done from the cabin. The accommodation is remarkable for the size of craft and it will sleep four in comfort. In fact the whole layout and design is obviously intended for comfortable
use on comparatively sheltered waters, though, even if the headroom was considerably sacrificed, and the cabin top and free hoard reduced to enable the craft to tackle heavier weather, it would still be a roomy boat and we would personally prefer to forgo some of the present headroom to this end. This is, however, a matter which could be arranged to suit an ‘individual purchaser without materially affecting the cost.
The speed under power is just over 4 knots. Although this is rather low, it is chiefly due to the fact that the engine is only run at comparatively low speed, and therefore does not get a chance to develop its full power. This has been done intentionally on the actual boat we tried, but it could he greatly improved by the use of a more suitable propeller.
The mast is mounted in a tabernacle, which is a necessity for inland waters such as canals, for which the boat would be ideal, and although this form of cruising does not seem to be much in vogue, the writer can vouch from personal experience that it makes a very interesting and enjoyable holiday.
The construction of this boat is on very robust lines throughout, and should last indefinitely with the minimum of attention. The equipment is remarkably complete, even to crockery and a cooker in the galley, and includes all standing and running gear, electric light, cushions etc. Considering the very generous strength of all scantlings, and the good finish the price of £225 makes it a very attractive proposition.