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Early in March I was able to spend four nights on Barnes Brinkcraft new 4 berth cruiser, Brinks Serenade.

While she incorporates some very modern technology, from the batteries, charging system and 'fly by wire' throttle and controls, she actually is a very classic and elegant boat.  Powered by a 50HP Nanni engine with hydraulic drive she is not a Hybrid Cruiser, and has no generator, but despite this has a full electric galley and as I found out using the electric oven or boiling a kettle of water does not need the engine to be run.  Even if you need to, the underwater exhaust system and well insulated engine bay keep any outside noise to the minimum.

Brinks Serenade Boat Review:


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Really, really enjoyed this review Robin! What a boat. I loved the innovation and attention to detail your review illustrated. The little things like the auto door catches can have a big impact on your hiring experience. Whilst all the electronic benefits of the boat were really impressive, the non-electric stuff made their mark on me - the folding, swivelling table is brilliant and the finish on everything looked luxurious. 

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Really enjoyed watching this. Barnes are certainly putting some innovative technology on their boats. 

There's one thing I am curious to know. Is this designed to be a forward steer boat or more like a centre cockpit given the raised helm seat? The windows looked small and therefore the view looked quite restricted. I'm used to a forward steer boat having much deeper windows and that looked more like the view from the inside helm on a flybridge cruiser.

When I have hired a centre cockpit boat there is nothing like getting the canopy back and standing at the helm. Can you really do that on this boat if you put the roof back? Is the steering wheel at a comfortable height for that?

And how was the view from inside when moored up?

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I agree a great review, the boat had many interesting features.

I could see issues with the table however with the movable helm seat, tables with sharp corners could result in bruised thighs. When the table is fully open the raised hinges are a problem and would require different hinges or they need to be recessed.

The storage is good, you can never have too much storage on boat.

Keeping the air draft low will help protect those solar panels, these certainly help maintain the batteries on this boat, it would be interesting to know how many batteries are aboard.



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Cannot disagree with some of your main comments - this general design stands the test of time with some of the original ones now around 30 years old. I am delighted that someone thinks the original design is still fresh and modern, with a few tweaks! Will help secondhand values a bit I hope!

The trouble is a lot of the bright shiny new kit will not stan dthe same test of time.  You might like the fancy stuff but when the original design came out, Brooms were one of the first to fit inverters at a cost I believe of shedloads! It was even before the internet! Think of what modifications that will be needed and the costs to keep on upgrading the stuff to include the kind of kit you cannot even imagine 'cos its not been invented.

Thats not meant to be a criticism at all but high tec means high cost and it will not make the boats cheaper - however i do accept there are many Luddites like me who cannot be bothered to even put a telly on the boat!!!


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The view actually is not as bad as you may think - even though the windows are shallow at the helm, you can easily see the full width of the river and that helm seat being more like a 'bench seat' and in the centre of the boat makes long periods of cruising a breeze - so much so I wished I had more time and could head south because it felt like a boat you could just go and go and arrive with no aches form a bad seat arrangement.

This is not quite a centre cockpit boat, more 'centre forward' I did point out to Barnes that the seat to the left of the helm works well on a sunny day laying down with the canopy open - but also means when you want to exit the boat there is the easy way - out the side thus over the seat - and many will choose this option and poor old upholstery.  I was told they considered this but had wanted to make it 'less obvious' as a route out so the steps have gone from the starboard side, and the moldings changed on the port side to make this harder and of course, if you are a careful hirer you can remove the seat foam and step on the plywood base to exit/enter the boat from the side.

You can easily stand up and have your head out the roof - it is not as comfy as on a centre cockpit sliding canopy boat mind you - but then this is not trying to be one of those, neither is it a bathtub which is why I like it.  It is fresh and modern but low so I took advantage of this and headed to Dilham - you cant do that in newer duel steer boats and while you can with a centre cockpit, if you look at Richardson's while very lovely, they are also 45ft long so makes turning harder up there.

The inverter along costs over £2,000 but it has to be up to the job - 5Kw - this also means everything connecting it to the batteries are beefy with massive cables, 400Amp breakers etc so the cost of this will keep on rising, but once it is installed they really tend to go on and and as their cooling has improved and and the sensitive circuity has been enclosed in resin to stop moisture and damp doing its destructive thing.

One point I forgot to mention in the review - the stereo - you won't  find it there on future builds because t is right next to masses of electrical interference from the inverter, WiFi system, and passing by it are the wiring for the much of the electronics all giving off lovely RF interference and meaning the radio suffers.

That said, it was a very comfy boat and I liked the quite cruising and general look and feel both outside with the tinted windows and inside with the trim and wood they have used.


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Very good review and the boat does seem to be packed with a lot of technology, which has got me wondering about something? Barnes have a reputation for good engineering, and to a point over engineering things at times. I'm sure that everything they do on the boat would be well thought through and as safe as they could make it. However I cannot help but wonder how they get such a boat through the BSS? I'm not calling into question their safety or design here, but the BSS itself!!!!

Even today the BSS is very light when it comes to 240V systems. A boat such as this is verging on competing with a residential premises in terms of 240V complexity, in fact probably more complex. It would be more appropriate for it to have a landlords electrical safety check, than a BSS, or both.

The rings on the hob are probably rated at 1.5KW each. That's 6KW. The Samsung Smart Oven is I believe 900W for the microwave, 1.5KW for the grill and 2.1KW for the convection side. Add in an immersion water heater and the ability to use an electric kettle and suddenly that's a lot of 240V current being drawn. I believe I read somewhere the battery bank is 20KW at 24V, which is probably going on for 18 - 20 batteries. That is a lot of power to manage, charge, invert and use safely.

Please don't get me wrong here, I'm not calling into question Barnes ability to install and operate all that lot safely, but I do seriously wonder where the BSS examiner starts when he has to inspect that lot. :-) and the ability of the regs to be relevant to such a boat. It does seem that such a boat has moved on far in excess of the BSS standards. Hats of to Barnes though. The moulding may be based upon an older design and perhaps their newer boats don't have the same outside flair as offerings from Richardsons and others, but they sure make up for it inside. A Barnes Richardsons hybrid would be an interesting prospect.



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  • 1 year later...
37 minutes ago, Rshillibeer said:

Hi new to this site.

Does anyone know if the Serenade goes under Wroxham bridge give or take the tides. As we are trying to make a reservation in Coltishall for the Friday evening.

thanks in advance



Yes it does go under Wroxham given the right conditions. As always though, no guarantees. 

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For the sake of a few quid and the peace of mind, I’d be more than happy to let the pilot take it through.

its a holiday, enjoy it, if you spend a few more pennies than you’d planned, deal with that when you get back, it’s a couple of pints at the end of the day ?

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  • 1 year later...

I've literally just finished a week on Serenade today and I had really been looking forward to it, but regret it now.

I have to be open about something first, I'm carrying far too much excess baggage. So sometimes things can be a tight squeeze.


  • the induction hob is great. We didn't use the microwave as we ate out most of the time. The galley was well stocked with equipment if you want to self cater and enough room for preparation etc.
  • I had to squeeze a bit to get through the rear bathroom but once in there was enough room even for a hippo like me to have a shower. The toilet seat was fine as well. We had a boat in the past where I described the toilet as trying to sit on a polo mint. The mirror however was pointless as you have to crane your neck to use it.
  • The double bed was ok but could have been deeper and softer. With exits both sides I was able to get out without clambering over her. I actually found the bench in the centre cabin more comfortable but we were only given bedding for the declared manifest so I couldn't sleep in there anyway.
  • The heating worked very well. We had problems on our previous boat.
  • Plenty of cupboard space although I always manage to live out of a small suitcase anyway.
  • The stern exit is good. I did manage to get it wrong at Womac Staithe at Ludham and stepped on the very wet and greasy wooden sleeper that forms part of the dock. I lost my footing and ended up with one leg in the water and the rest of me face down in the gravel. They need to put some sort of grip surface on those timbers.
  • The engine is very quiet.

If I haven't mentioned it then the rest of the boat was ok apart from ...


  • As I mentioned above I'm no slim jim but I wasn't able to get in to the forward cabin. I don't think the door could ever open 90 degrees because of the layout. However that is then reduced by a piece of timber that forms part of the door catch so a few more  degrees are lost. Then you have the door catch itself that reduces the opening by a few more degrees. Finally there are the door handles. The gap between the left hand of the door frame and the handle is only 375 mm. This is significantly less than the  door frame width. I measured the width of the frame and rear cabin shower frame door and I was able to get in to that. Fortunately our guest, the wifes brother, is 9 stone wet through so he had no issues. The opening could be widened if they used different handles and put the door catch on the top of the cupboard that the door opens up to.
  • The step up to the driving seat is about 560mm, or two inches shy of two feet. With no grab handles to help haul yourself up this is too high if you have mobility issues(see slipping at Womac). Fortunately I had brought along a footstool for my wife to rest her foot on. She never got to use it as I commandeered it. Our grown up kids also came on board during the week and two of the son in laws agreed it was too high. The one who is 6' 4" was not bothered by it.
  • Once you are up on the seat the view is dreadful. I couldn't see the brow of the boat. You have to open the sliding roof to see the edge of the boat. When you have people in small fishing dinghys they disappear out of view when you get closer to them. Driving the boat into boatyards is a nightmare. I had to open the roof and put the seat down so I could stand and see what I was about to hit.
  • It rained this week and the front screen misted up. Everyone struggled to get to windscreen to wipe it clear. Vents or a mini fan are needed here

To summarise to live aboard this is a very comfortable and well equipped boat. To drive it is awful and I will going for something that either has the wheel at the front or something with a second driving seat up top next time.

Finally, I brought our kids and grandchildren up to the broads this week and put them in the sail loft apartments. These are brilliant for the price. With the free day boat they are hard to beat.







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