Our 60 foot Semi-Trad Narrowboat Smok is for sale. Smok is a beautiful narrowboat built by Amber Boats in Poland over 2005/2006 and fitted to a high standard. Some minor works are required (not structural) which we may address before the sale subject to negotiation – or you may prefer to do this yourself. Please ask for details. Currently at Devizes Marina.
Tour starting at the stern
Semi Trad Stern: lockers with seating, engine bay, excellent built in generator, battery bank.
Sliding hatch and steps down to:
Main Bedroom: electrics cupboard with space for storage, fixed double bed, hanging rail, under bed storage, shelves built into the gunwhales, radiator. Over bed cupboard recently removed as I found them a bit claustrophobic.
Studio/Office: good sized desk with four drawers on one side and a cupboard on the other, power points, TV aerial point, window above desk, duck hatch opposite the desk, radiator.
Bathroom: lovely bathroom with built in shower, tiled floor, pump out toilet, counter-top wash hand basin unit with small cupboard below, wall cupboards and shelves, radiator, extractor.
Twin Bedroom: two single beds with small overbed and under bed storage cupboards. Wardrobe with hanging space and storage space beneath (plumbed for a washing machine)
Galley: convenient kitchen with granite worktops, diesel powered Uno range cooker, inset sink, fridge, storage cupboards and drawers.
Saloon: delightful spacious saloon, open plan to kitchen, built in corner cupboards and shelves in the gunwhales, radiator. We removed the dinette for our own comfort, but kept the removable table in case it is needed by the next buyer.
Steps to well deck with seating area, water tank, bow thruster.
Engine: Isuzu 42hp
Batteries: 1x Starter 4x Leisure
Electrics: 12 & 240v via shoreline & Victron 3000w inverter
Space Heating: radiators throughout heated via the engine and the Uno Heritage Diesel stove.
Water Heating: calorifier via engine, immersion heater and the Uno Heritage Diesel stove.
The boat is gas free.
Cooking: Uno Heritage Diesel stove.
Flooring: laminate wood effect
Boat Safety Certificate new in 2019, valid to 11/03/2023
Full Survey May 2017
The survey is available to view.
We were very lucky to be encouraged by our surveyor, Ben Sutcliffe, to attend the survey. Not only was it a great opportunity to see what lies beneath the waterline, but we also had the chance to ask endless questions while Ben worked. He was immensely kind, answering all our queries patiently without ever being patronising. We learned a great deal about our new narrowboat. Please, if you are considering buying a boat, do attend the survey. You won’t regret it.
Smok is an Amber boat, and having done my research, I am well aware that there is a degree of controversy about the company. This seems to have generated some suspicion about the quality of their craft. We were therefore very relieved and excited to find out that Smok is extremely well engineered. Ben was hugely impressed that the Polish factory could produce such superb quality.
Among the many plus points Ben noted were the beautifully shaped swim; the lovely paintwork; the properly placed HIN (hull identification number) on the outside of the hull; the lovely sliding doors between the cabins, which slip neatly into a double skinned wall; the extra stops where the rudder meets the hull to prevent excess wear; little steps built into the hull and going up the roof; the powerful generator; the sensible positioning of all engine and electrical components away from the cabins; the two waste holding tanks for the toilet; the study… the list went on and on!
After some discussion with the staff at the marina, Ben told us that it looked as if Smok was well known on the cut, and that she was rumoured to be a show vessel for Amber boats, hence all the impressive details. (We later discovered that this was not the case). He felt that we had secured her for a very fair price, and that Smok would hold her value well. What a fantastic result!
More about Amber and Smok
Amber Boats Ltd was incorporated on 18th December 2002. Tom Smith from Evesham Marina (sadly deceased in November 2016) wrote about Amber Boats on the Canal World forum in May 2007: “Amber Boats was started in 2002 by a guy called Paul Geary and he was funded by a UK investor. One of my companies was approached by Geary, who had heard that we were looking for 20-30 new boats for our own fleet. One of our other companies, Heritage Boat Builders, who have been building boats for over 20 years could not build them as their order books were too full. We then agreed that Amber could build our boats. The designs that Geary had were terrible and so the MD of Heritage went over to Poland and showed them how we wanted the boats built.”
Amber began by commissioning the construction of narrowboats in Gdansk, Poland, which is famous for its amber. The company then moved to their own factory in Tczew. In May 2005 Amber Boats SP z.o.o. purchased 2 hectares of land in the former Makop Lines Plant in Malbork, near Gdansk. They planned to build a new factory and move all production there. I am not entirely clear about the relationship between Amber Boats Ltd and Amber Boats PL z.o.o..
Smok was built by Amber Boats PL z.o.o. in late 2005 or 2006 in the new factory, which I believe was at Rakowiec 11, 82-200 Malbork. She was commissioned privately by a British-Polish customer, Andrzej Miczyk. Tom Smith’s son Steve confirmed to me that she was a one off, and no following Amber or Heritage models were based on her.
Whilst he was having Smok built, Andrzej Miczyk decided to buy into the company and became a partner in Amber Boats. Paul Geary confirmed on the Canal World forum that in September 2005 Andrzej Miczyk was a 20% Shareholder. Geary held 40% and his friend Trevor (Trevor Morley I think) held 40%. Geary stated that after a falling out Trevor wanted to sell his share in Amber Boats and offered it to Tom Smith and Malcolm Burge of Narrowcraft. Tom Smith wrote: “Up until the beginning of 2006, we had taken over 90% of Amber’s production and our own demand was coming to an end.”
Then things became rather complicated. I won’t attempt to unravel the story here, but eventually Amber Boats was taken over by Geary’s investors. Tom Smith wrote: “They told me the whole story and as a result, I became a Director and shareholder of Amber Boats PL z.o.o.. We then set up a new UK company to handle the sales side of the business, which is Amber Boats (UK) Limited, based at Evesham Marina, of which I am Managing Director and the two other investors are Directors.”
Companies House records show that Amber Boats (UK) Ltd was incorporated on 15th Aug 2006. Amber Boats PL zoo held 100% of its shares. Amber Boats (UK) Ltd sold their Polish built boats from Evesham Marina and Sawley Marina. Tom Smith wrote in 2007: “We have purchased the factory in Poland and employ more than 90 staff. We are also planning a new Factory on or own site to increase our fit out unit in Poland.”
In the Evesham Journal on 22 Aug 2007 Noel Creary, the sales manager for Amber Boats, wrote: “Our factory in Malbork is able to call upon the combination of steelwork skills of the famous Gdansk shipyards and the craftsmanship of the region’s yacht building industries, Europe’s largest. We employ a dedicated workforce of over 100 men and women from administration, designers, quality controllers, welders, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and engineers who work on around 12 boats simultaneously. This provides economies of scale which we can pass on to our customers in the form of competitive prices. This combination allows us to be a lot cheaper, typically £20,000 – £30,000 cheaper.”
Amber were winners of the IWA Lionel Munk Trophy in 2008. One of Amber’s boats, Paris, was feature in Canal Boat magazine, in the January 2009 issue. Boating Business reported on 31st March 2011 that Amber had ceased trading: “Amber, which operated out of Evesham Marina, was a Polish based company supplying narrow and wide beam craft, writes Harry Arnold. No customers have lost money and the operation of Evesham Marina and its own boatbuilding range Heritage Boats is not affected. The operation of the actual factory is also not affected and it’s hoped that Evesham Marina will continue the supply of Polish boats marketed under its own Heritage name.”
In the meantime, Andrzej Miczyk and Smok had cruised some of the Polish waterways including the Elblag canal with its unique inclined planes. After that he shipped Smok to England and cruised many English waterways including York, Manchester, the Huddersfield Narrow canal, Weaver river, Stratford, and Severn, before selling Smok on. Andrzej Miczyk’s resigned as a director on 10th Sept 2011. Amber’s website was redirected to Heritage Boats. Amber was dissolved on 15th Oct 2013.
Records passed to us by the previous owner tell us that Smok changed hands several times before we bought her. The first we are aware of is Mr Naylor and Ms Burrows (purchase date unknown). In December 2014 she was sold to Mr Tucker and Miss Stenner. In May 2016 she was sold to Mr and Mrs Wells, and they sold Smok to us in May 2017.