Dan’s Boating Pages

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“Miss Louisa

Connoisseur

In 1979 Porter & Haylett of Wroxham launched their new “Connoisseur” cruiser range. This luxurious 37ft 6 berth cruiser was very successful and a variety of layouts were built. A 42ft 8 berth was launched soon after and the company expanded to have many bases in France and a brief spell on the Thames. The company today is owned by First Choice Holidays Group and runs under the umbrella name of Le Boat - which is a fusion of their other brands - Crown Blue Line & Emerald Star (Ireland) brands.

The hirefleet now operate out of a large basin at Horning which has allowed taller craft to join the fleet from France & Irelandons, free of the restriction of Wroxham Bridge. The company retains the site at Wroxham.

For 1992 an updated version of the earlier centre cockpit design was launched. At 40ft the layout was very similar, with a little more space in the rear cabins. The 45ft followed a year later to allow up to 8 berths to be offered. Known as the C40 & C45 and Commodore & Admiral for their French bases.

Towards the mid ‘90s the 42ft Continentale was built for their French bases. Such had been the success of then rival (Now owned by the same group of companies) Crown Blue Line’s

The following year a 4 berth version was launched, “Corvette”. I can only think times were getting even harder though as these were original 37ft craft which they had by this time a mass of. A new superstructure was created similar to the Continentale but that would fit over the existing cabin with new sections in places - such as where the sliding canopy would have been and fill in pieces where the original door was, albeit with new fitouts! This cobbled superstructure can just be noticed in the above picture where the joins are quite visible!

The 29ft forward steer was introduced around 1983 as a luxury two berth. This had a fixed double aft with saloon with two armchairs forward, these were later replaced by a settee and were very luxurious two berths at the time.

The design was based around the 37ft but without the forward cabin. A number ran in the companies Norfolk hirefleet during the 80s and 90s. A number continued to run during the 2000s in France before being retired around 2007, with a number then being bought by

Norfolk companies and returning to the Broads. The living accommodation is unusually spacious and sociable - seeming almost dis-proportionate to its original two berth design.

A few shots of the 37 & 42ft centre cockpits.
The 37ft launched in 1979 and the 42ft around 1981.

The 42ft is unusual in the aft cabin not being full width, with the engine mounted in the space at the side, rather than behind the accommodation as on the 37ft.

Classique & Crusader models offering all fixed berths, dual steer and garden furniture on a spacious sundeck that the original 42ft hull mould was used, with a new superstructure design on top. From 2012 some of this class were brought back to run on the Broads when the company started hiring from Somerleyton.

2010

900FB:
A 29ft x 11ft flybridge created for the companies French fleets from around 1990.

Sometimes known of as Ha’penny - a name Le Boat/Connoisseur used for the class for the last few years they hired them.

Internal accommodation is perhaps more pleasing in arrangement than the exterior. There is a flexible aft cabin that can be set out as bunks or a double, a seperate WC/shower and a sociable galley/saloon that offers a second double and a forward well. Choice of forward steer or from the flybridge in good weathers!

These were all ran abroad but when the class was retired around 2009 most were bought by Norfolk companies and brought back and sold or put in their hirefleets. Available to hire from Barnes Brinkcraft, Silverline or Richardsons.

1070FB:
A 35ft version of the above.

Also created for Connoisseur’s European bases. Sometimes known of as Merchant - a name Le Boat/Connoisseur used for the class for the last few years they hired them.

Around eight were produced and four were bought by Richardsons and brought back to Norfolk, early 2011 to become “Astral Gem”.

The class features the same forward arrangement as the 900FB but has a double and bunk cabin aft. They were built with a second toilet though those that have been brought back now feature one shower room & one toilet.