Cabin Cruiser

Aqua Fibre Ltd in Brundall, Norwich was founded in the mid 1960’s, and produced fibreglass hulls. One of the models in the early days of the company’s existence included a 30 ft. hull designed by Rip Martins. Vic Bell was one of the original founder directors, and this gave his company Bell Boats Ltd. the rights to use any of their models for building boats for their own benefit.

cabin cruiser boats

One of these boats, using the 30 ft. hull, was sold to a Captain in the Rhine Army, and which he named “Cabin cruiser”. The captain unfortunately passed away and Bell Boats Ltd was asked to sell the boat. David Buxton purchased this craft and kept the name “Cabin cruiser” and commissioned Bell Boats to produce a more luxurious model, which amongst other items included soft linings throughout. Upon completion of this craft he advertised it for sale, and the response was so great that he was able to place an order for six more almost immediately. And hereby the Cabin cruiser came into existence. The early part of 1968 the Cabin cruiser 30 production began in earnest.

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When the Cabin cruiser 36 was introduced in 1969/70, orders in hand were completed, but no further orders were taken. All in all 52 Cabin cruisers on the Ocean 30 hull were produced.

The Cabin cruiser 36 Softrider was introduced as the market demanded it, requiring a bigger boat and Royal Navy Architect Robert Tucker was the original designer of the hull. Bell Buxton Boat Builders was then formed to produce the Cabin cruiser 36 under the name Cabin cruiser Marine. Bell Buxton produced all in all 122 vessels.

On July 12th.1971 the yard was taken over by Colin Chapman (known for his Lotus Sports cars), under the name Cabin cruiser International. Chapmans arrival in boat manufacturing was no accident. For months he had been considering designs of a new boat in the 30-45-ft. range.

He redesigned the superstructure and thereby gave the boat the elegant look, which today more than 30 years later, still makes the boat impressive.

From 1973 Cabin cruiser was produced under the name JCL Marine/Cabin cruiser Motor Yachts, and with minor adjustments the manufacturing continued until October 1980, where the builders folded, a victim of the recession that gripped the industry at the time and a mistaken strategy venturing on models as Marauder, Mirage, Mamba and Mystere.

In 1987 the manufacturing was taken up again by Aqua Bell / East Anglian Marine in Brundall, Norwich. The boats were then called Cabin cruiser Super 36, and traded through Monitor Marine / D.C.Developments. The last boat is built in 1991 to the manager of Aqua Bell, Vic Bell.

Still, it is possible to place an order on Cabin cruiser Super 36, but don’t order less than 4 at a time, ordering less would make the cost prohibitive!

In the period as a hole, more than 400 Cabin cruisers were built, the first 300 of which were all built before end of 1974. Cabin cruisers were sold to more than 30 countries including Bahrain and the USA.

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Product Development

Cabin cruiser was offered in 6 different versions and various accommodations. “Open wheelhouse / Aft cabin”, “Open wheelhouse / Aft. cockpit”, “Flybridge / Enclosed wheelhouse / Aft. cockpit”, “Flybridge / Open wheelhouse / Aft. cockpit”, “Flybridge / Enclosed wheelhouse / Aft. cabin”. Models with Aft. cockpit was called “Sportsman”.

Today the early versions with Flybridge are known as “Buxton Flybridge”. From 1972 only the redesigned Colin Chapman version was manufactured. A few of those made as “Sportsman” with Aft. cockpit, but mostly as “Flybridge / Enclosed wheelhouse / Aft. cabin”.

Bell Buxton earliest boats are later known as A-type , with wooden forward spray rail and aft ski rail bolted to the hull. At the end of 1970 / beginning of 1971 was the Series II developed, hereafter known as B-type , with spray rail integral with the hull, which incidentally had been standard for some time on the Police Patrol Boat variant and other similar applications.

The early version of Chapman’s model from 1972 is named C-type. With an extension of the forward cabin is the D-type introduced. 1974 is the E-type launched, with external exhaust boxes, sliding patio door to the wheelhouse and changed radar mast. On the F-type from 1976 the wheel is moved from port to starboard which gives room for a settee, stainless steel is widely replaced with aluminium. The following years minor cosmetic changes are made, i.e. 1977 F-model and 1979 F-model. Super36-type from 1987 is in the main the F-type, and has a new radar mast and once again stainless steel. Super de Luxe-type from 1991 has a lowered flybridge, and is the last vessel built.


The Cabin cruiser (powered by 2 engines) was offered with various engine alternatives: Perkins 6.354 / 115Hp, T6.354 / 145Hp – 112kW, T6.354 GTM Lowline / 175Hp – 135kW, and Ford Tempest 180Hp. After 1987 is powered by Perkins T6.3544M / 185Hp – 136kW, and the latest in 1991 built is powered by Mercruiser D254 / 220Hp.

Gearboxes fitted are 1:1, Paragon P41 or Borg Warner 72C.

The most common model in Denmark is Colin Chapman Flybridge / Aft. cabin powered by Perkins T6.354 GTM Lowline 175Hp.