When we took delivery in 2009 we thought we had an outstanding boat.
After more than seven years living aboard and travelling, we KNOW we have an outstanding boat.
This page deals with why we chose the boatbuilder that we did.
We looked at a lot of builders, none of whom are still in business. (One - a very good builder - is in a reformed business, but went into administration before restarting.)
We chose Braidbar - a choice we are certain was the right one, after seven years on the boat.
When choosing a boatbuilder, there are three questions that must have positive answers. A negative answer to any of them means "Look for another builder"
1. Can we relate to them?
2. Can they build what we want?
3. Will they still be in business when the time comes to collect our boat?
The first question is a very personal one, though it may end up being the decider if the short list comes up with a couple of builders who can match questions 2 and 3.
The second question covers quality, style, technical requirements (which for Felonious Mongoose was a little unusual) as well as ensuring that you can afford your dreams.
The third question is probablythe hardest to get a definite answer to - assets, order books, efficient use of labour amongst others. All our questions were answered - despite at least one being something of a surprise! I suppose the bottom line is probably trust.
Their sound business was clearly demonstrated by the way things went through the slump following 2008. So many boatbuilders (including some really good ones) went bust. Braidbar didn't miss a step. (Indeed they only had on gap where they had a cancellation - and that could have been filled but Peter and Susan took a well deserved break)
This well deserved popularity provides a continuing problem for prospective owners, because if you want to buy a new one, the next build slot is about two years away!
Braidbar are a family owned firm, started by one family (Iain and Luisa Bryceland) and continued by another (Peter and Susan Mason) in 2007.
Although we had been attracted by the boats made by Iain and Luisa, and we started dealing with the firm during the changeover phase, the positive impression we received from all of them dealt with our concerns - a decision vindicated in retrospect. Seven years down the line we are as pleased with Felonious Mongoose as we were the day we moved on board.
Peter and Susan have built on Iain and Luisa's already high reputation - and kept the ethos of the firm. This is clearly demonstrated in two ways:-
They have the same team of outstanding craftsmen working for them. (Well almost - retirement has now affected a little!)
Their boat owners continue to support the firm, through the change of ownership and subsequently.
A good test of the relationship is demonstrated to us by the "display team" at Crick - all of whom are satisfied Braidbar customers, doing it purely because they like the boats and the firm.
I haven't found any other builder who demonstrates their show boat this way.
There is a personal element to this that boils down to feelings - and these will be different for everyone
Braidbar have said on their say on their advertising "Arrive as a customer, leave as a friend" That was very much our experience,
We started the project with a huge list of "want to have"s developed over twenty five years of hiring boats and seeing others.
Some of these were mutually contradictory, and the whole lot would have needed an aircraft carrier rather than a narrow boat to accommodate them.
Braidbar were great - they will accommodate any proposals you have that will fit, but they will also use their very considerable experience to advise. As this was our first boat, this was invaluable.
The bad news for Braidbar is that we will never buy another boat from them - they have built us exactly the boat that we want, and it will undoubtedly outlast us.
Hiring Skye for a fortnight not only showed the quality of their builds, but also eased the internal design decisions, for Skye was very close indeed to the layout we wanted.
They also listened, and advised. They were open minded .
Where we wanted something new (the hybrid motor) they supported the idea, and helped it along. They also used their experience to help us to sensibly modify ideas with little practical behind them.
Probably the hardest question to get a firm answer too.
Assets behind the firm, a full order book,"openness" and sensible utilisation of craftsmen are all important.
Boats utilise different craftsmen at different stages of the build. A full order book with three boats at different stages of construction, helps balance things out.
Braidbar increase the efficient use of their craftsmen by building a "spec boat" without a delivery date.
All of this increases the likelyhood that they will stay in business - though I suppose the bottom line is trust.