The best boats you've never heard of?

I love this job. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, something sneaks up behind me and slaps me round the chops. Just take a look at three of the boats we’re featuring in this issue. Until a couple of weeks ago I’d never even heard of a Paragon and the XSR48 was one of those mythical boats that only ever seemed to exist on paper. Even the Wim Van der Valk sounded more like a fairy tale character than a classy Dutch cruising machine, and that’s before someone tried to convince me it was powered by four IPS drives. Now my eyes have been well and truly opened. It turns out that all three of them are among the most exciting, innovative and downright desirable boats we’ve tested in the past five years. The best boats you’ve never heard of? You’d better believe it.

The other thing that is exercising everyone’s mind at the moment is the dreaded credit crunch. Frankly, if I see another BBC report with that miserable financial crisis logo one more time, I may have to chuck an anchor at the television. Yes, things are tough out there but it doesn’t mean we all have to sit at home in the dark and wait for things to get worse. Why not do something about it and either take advantage of the great deals to be had or at least find a way of continuing to enjoy boating on a tighter budget.

We’ve been out talking to readers who have done just that. Some have bought new or second-hand boats that they might never have been able to afford pre-credit crunch others have joined boat sharing schemes or membership clubs that give them all the pleasure of boating at a fraction of the capital outlay. You can read about how they beat the credit crunch on p54 and p58. Good on them. Now if I can just convince Robert Peston to adopt the same attitude, things might start moving in the right direction again.