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Brinks Encore Plus


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Here's a few thoughts on Brinks Encore Plus which I've just hired for a March week.

Encore Plus is a 2-4 berth forward-steer cruiser class available from Barnes Brinkcraft and is one of their "Elite Fleet" boats built around 2020. It's a modern take on the well established Opal 28 design, adding in an island double bed, Yanmar engine, modern battery-management systems and a fancy electronic throttle. There are other toys like a console display and Bluetooth music system.

I'm a fairly regular customer of Barnes but this was my first time on an "Elite" boat and having paid a premium price my expectations were higher than usual. On first impressions I was a little disappointed, mainly due to the saloon upholstery looking tired beyond it's years and suggesting an insufficient quality fabric had been chosen. I was also disappointed by the absence of any hooks or towel rails anywhere.

The island bed in my view doesn't work. To fit it in the cabin space, the headboard is curved to make just about enough walking space to the stern door, there's so little width each side of the bed it's a bit pointless and worst of all the bed is too short. I'm 6 ft 0 and I could just about fit in the centre of the bed being in the centre of the headboard curve but I had no chance on either side so it's a good job I was sleeping alone.

The saloon was unfortunately exceptionally drafty. Im very used to sliding roof boats so I'm well aware of their limitations in this respect but Encore has a lack of any draught brushes or equivalent so the draught was noticeable.

Other niggles were the console display screen seemed to be 15 year old technology, the Bluetooth worked but the radio was an old style AM/FM instead of modern DAB and there was the common issue of the warm air heating not being powerful enough in the cabin.

Fortunately, there were some aspects to like. The Yanmar engine has an aircraft-style electronic throttle which feels very different to a conventional one but actually enabled easy fine tuning of revs. The stern-mounted engine is one of the smoothest and quietest I've come across and the bow thrusters are powerful. On the boat interior, the wood finishes are unremarkable but I did like the galley which is all enamel with the sink and drainer being in one piece with the remaining worktop. The same material is used in the washroom which isn't generous in size but does make good use of the space.

Overall, would I hire the boat again? Probably not because given it's relatively premium price I'd choose Royal Velvet 2 which I hired last October, paid less and liked more.

https://www.barnesbrinkcraft.co.uk/hire-boats/encore-plus/

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8 minutes ago, Broads01 said:

I forgot to take any photos of the interior but these do give some indication of the upholstery.

 

 

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Cheeky looking little bugger :default_rolleyes:

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I have to say that for an ‘Elite’ boat, hired at a premium price, the upholstery looks poor and if I were you, I wouldn’t have been as understanding of the requirement for three call outs.  One of them should have been dealt with but adequate explanation of the electrical system at handover.  A broken bolt is not acceptable, being able to secure the boat is a given and issues with the heating this early in the season, when the boats should all have been thoroughly checked over is poor.  The heater on Moonlight Shadow is serviced as part of winter maintenance and one hopes that hire craft are treated similarly too.

We hired from Summercraft several times over the years and the biggest issues we experienced were a blown bulb in the heads, that we replaced, much to Sue’s disappointment, as she told us we should have called them out and paid me four times the cost of the bulb in recompense.  We also had a faulty hairdryer on one boat and again Sue told us we should have called to get one sent out.

It seems that some yards are happy to let the customer find the faults and repair them as they go.  The fact that they were repaired quickly is a bonus, but should they have happened in the first place?  Of course, the failures may just have occurred, but it’s only March.

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Hi Simon, 

Great write up.

Any idea who built here? I hired Silver Coral and she was built by Silverline along with Brinks Encore 1 and 2. I know what you mean about the island bed. The only boat where that worked that I hired was Swan Reflection as you didn't need to put your feet under the side. Pointless in a Heritage 286/Opal as they are not wide enough to fit an Island properly. Bolero had a lovely interior sprung mattress which was more traditional and fitted. Pacific Sunshine has a more spacious loo and is very reasonably priced, I have got here in July. 

Surprised the upholstery was tired, I believe no6 dates from 2021. 

All the best and looking forward to your Thames write another favourite of mine

Neil 

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Forgot to say I am surprised it had no brushes on the roof. Bit tight on a boat that would cost you 175k private. I can only think it maybe considered part of the ventilation for the BSS. All the ones I have hired had them as I have slept in the saloon essential out if season 

Neil 

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She's a lovely little boat. I'm not knocking Barnes but with the tired upholstery and the problems you've had, to call it Elite is a bit of a stretch

We had this on a boat we hired from one of the big yards. The furniture was faded and stained and the pull out bed in the saloon was missing a leg so you couldn't use it. The next day we went straight back, I took the saloon seating into the office and asked them would they pay nearly two grand to sleep on that

We got an upgrade to one of their new boats and an extra night. Sometimes it's a good thing to complain, we're good at that :default_biggrin:

Great write up and photos of your holiday Simon, thank you

Grace x

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1 hour ago, Mouldy said:

We hired from Summercraft several times over the years and the biggest issues we experienced were a blown bulb in the heads, that we replaced, much to Sue’s disappointment, as she told us we should have called them out and paid me four times the cost of the bulb in recompense.  We also had a faulty hairdryer on one boat and again Sue told us we should have called to get one sent out.

I'm sure working at Summercraft was what gave me the inability to do a job any way other than 100% the right way. Their standards really stemmed from Dick Sabberton, who could be a bit hard to read, but always had half an eye on everything. Every boat got checked 100% and we cleaned every inch of the exterior every turnaround. I think one of the key differences between them and your average yard now is that everyone employed was familiar with boating and the hire industry, so they tended to really care about what they were doing.

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I like island beds and the one on Royal Velvet was fine but as Neil says this boat isn't wide enough. I forgot to say also the mattress felt like typical hard hire boat foam and nothing comfortable about it. I don't know who the builder was.

Malcom you make fair points but I do think a broken bolt is small enough to be missed and of the 3 call outs, only the 3rd one with the heater caused me any inconvenience at all. The engineer said they used to use Eberspacher units which were repairable but expensive. They now use Chinese units which are comparatively "throw away" at £80-£100 each but just as reliable. The heater issue would have been a hard one to spot as the heater worked perfectly well for an hour or two at a time initially. I also took into account I may well have been the first hirer of the year.

Dom you make a good point also and Barnes always give a slightly chaotic, frantic impression at takeover and return times, as if needing to rush around to fit all the work in. I do wonder if attention to detail can be there. It doesn't help that I think their fleet is too large relative to the real estate they have available, even though they acquired the old Royall's site and developed the marina space. They have to spend time on turnaround days slotting boats in to tight spaces and moving customers' cars around. They would probably argue they need to run a profitable business and they have to earn the maximum from available resources.

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14 hours ago, Broads01 said:

 The engineer said they used to use Eberspacher units which were repairable but expensive. They now use Chinese units which are comparatively "throw away" at £80-£100 each but just as reliable. The heater issue would have been a hard one to spot as the heater worked perfectly well for an hour or two at a time initially. I also took into account I may well have been the first hirer of the year.

Point taken regarding the bolt, but surely a mention of the electrical system during a handover isn’t too much to ask for?

As for the heater, I get that the Chinese ones are cheap and probably not worth repairing, but for a hire yard who appears to push technology and battery technology, it does seem strange to use something that is potentially of dubious quality in a premium product.  I know that several Forum members have used Chinese heaters and some for several years, but I am also aware of safety concerns and failures too.  There are mid priced heaters with a proven track record that are cheaper than Eberspacher or Webasto (who are generally considered within the industry to be the best, as I understand it), like Autoterm/Planar and Mikuni.

Still, they have their own business model and are doing things their way.  Good luck to them, but maybe some customers wouldn’t be as forgiving as you, Simon and unreliability may cause them to lose return business in the long run.

 

 

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a few years back now I hired Marthams Jayne 2, I was the first hirer after they had completely rebuilt (Jayne 1 came out with a rotten keel, and Jayne 2 had a new top put on. I knew they had only just launched her when I arrived, as finishing touches were being added (front windscreens, toilet roll holders etc), and  I had a two hour wait until they deemed her ready.

when I brought her back after a week, i had a snagging list for them, I told their bridge pilot as they brought me back through PH bridge, and by the time I got to the yard the whole team was assembled, ready to jump on the snags.

it was only little things- a loose alternator bolt (the nut came off and went into the bilge under the engine- the bolt couldnt fall out, but I put a zip tie on to stop it anyway, one diesel injector was weeping slightly, and the shower pump didnt seem to be working (turned out someone forgot to connect the wires).

on another trip the cupboard door fell off, - reported as i went through the bridge, and within minutes of my arriving the part with the hinges still on had been removed and everything whisked back to the workshop to be reglued ready for the next hirer. in neither case was it worth calling the yard out for what were minor things, and each time they were ready and waiting to sort it out when i got back.

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I did have to call Barnes on these occasions though, even the broken bolt because I couldn't secure the boat otherwise. With the electric hook up issue, to be honest it probably could have been resolved over the phone by giving me the right instructions but the fact the engineer arrived within 20 minutes was good service I feel.

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