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Soprano From Richardsons


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I just wanted to post my thoughts on this boat after hiring in October 2016.

Soprano is the Aquafibre 38 foot dual steer design,  built around 1992. Unlike more recently built dual steers,  it was designed to pass under Broads bridges with an air draft around 6 foot 9. This gives it a 'best of both worlds'  advantage of a great visa from the outdoor steering combined with bridge passage.  We passed through Wroxham Bridge with no issues. 

The saloon is spacious and airy and Richardsons as usual have maintained this well.  The sofa is comfortable and large.  Unlike the majority of this design there's no quarter berth in the saloon area and this may contribute to saloon space.  The gallery to the rear of the saloon area feels spacious also with good size cooker and fridge.  I didn't use the interior helm position which is bizarrely on the starboard side and I'm not sure if this might inhibit the view. 

The fore cabin has a double and single V berths with the double possibly narrower than average.  There is a forward wash room of average size (not ensuite). 

To the stern there is a good size double cabin with good size Island double and modest size ensure. 

The flooring would benefit from one of the Holly and Teak updates Richardsons have added to other boats in the fleet. 

In common with many others of its type,  Soprano was originally built without a stern door.  However,  Richardsons added a stern door when the boat moved from the former Thames fleet.  In practice we found limitations to the door's use.  Whilst it was useful for stern moorings,  for side on moorings the central door (to the outdoor cockpit)  was easier to use because the stern decks are very high. As you exit the stern door,  there is a steep step up to one side and no step at all to the other,  so requiring a gymnastic exercise to move on that direction!

Overall we really enjoyed Soprano,  especially the outdoor steering and interior saloon space.  I'd love to hire again. 

Photos to follow. 

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The Coltishall mooring looks fantastic. Which of course it is. The north's answer to Geldeston Lock, without a pub, so, not a ten, an eight. But there is a short cut, but mind those cows and bullock's and dykes at night. Stayed there many a time over the years and nearly always on my own.

Super boat, love it to bits. For me it encapsulates all that is required of a modern Broads cruiser. PH bridge a wish too far. Beccles, not sure. I would give it a go, Thorpe Green, Wroxham, walk it through. Line the boat up and put the boat in neutral, pull it through by hand, on the roof of the bridge. Not to be tempted in difficult tide conditions or high winds.........thinking about it a blast through Wroxham might be best.

One last comment, for what's it worth, a clete amidships would not be amiss.



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Yes definitely agree about Coltishall lock Andrew.  It was our first visit there as in the past I've always chickened out as the river starts to narrow but it was possibly the highlight of the whole trip. 

We used the pilot at Wroxham as per the rules and I looked up and saw the acres of clearance as we passed under,  despite the bridge gauge showing 6 foot 9 as I recall. Beccles would be easy peasy with careful consideration of tides.  Potter would be tough but it is so for most boats now anyway.  We moored at Ranworth between a Bounty 37 on one side and an Alpha 42 centre cockpit on the other and our air draft looked lower than both of them. 

I forgot to mention the exceptionally wide side decks.  Advertised width is 12 foot but although appearances can be deceptive it looked wider. 

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