Tag Archives: narrowboat

Why a Narrowboat? A Combination of Things…

As the time fast approaches our move aboard and we visit canal sites to perform our last duties as gongoozlers, we’ve realised rather than standing by canal bridges, we will soon be going under them

Combination - Great Bedwyn - Bridge image

We’ve also started to analyse what it is that makes the move aboard so appealing. The conclusion is it’s a culmination & combination of things.

Culmination and Combination

It seems to be that moving aboard a narrowboat is a culmination of things we have experienced in the past

Glastonbury – the trek in, the excitement of the alternative, the sights, smells & sounds, the Green Fields of Glastonbury, setting up camp. Lots of different areas to explore.

Camping – under canvas, making a home in the outdoors and moving from place to place. Oh, and tea from a Ghillie Kettle.

Holidays in a Campervan – setting off on an adventure with all you need, packed into every little nook and cranny.

A Land Rover Defender – its strength, engineering and industial heritage.

Outdoors – walking, exploring, map reading, photographing

In some part, living aboard a narrowboat is a combinations of the essenses of the above experiences.

Well, that’s what we keep telling ourselves 😉

Combination - Great Bedwyn image
View from a bridge at Great Bedwyn

See you on The Cut.

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

Hold the Front Page – rename of the Narrowboat

Rename/Remodel*

Hold the front page, stop the press, read all about it! And any other outmoded method of communication.

We’re re-naming the narrowboat!

Rename - the Narrowboat name plate closeup image
Name goes here…

“But you haven’t even renamed it from its existing name yet” I hear you cry, in indignant outrage…

There’s a Problem

This is true, but there’s a problem. In my initial post about naming the narrowboat, I drew the reader’s attention to the fact that we saw a video where another narrowboat was named the same; ‘Out of the Blue’. We passed this off casually thinking two narrowboats on the cut with the same name is, OK.
I waffled on about not worrying about uniqueness of name and some such, however, I recently saw another narrowboat named the same – Out of the Blue. I quickly headed over to The Boat Index and performed a quick search and to my horror, came up with 23 vessels named Out of the Blue!
Either lots of people are obsessed about Roxy Music’s 4th album or they similarly just decided to go narrowboating; just like that!

Enemy Action

We had to re-evaluate; once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action** but 23 times is the universe surely conspiring to blast us into oblivion!

It was difficult enough in the first place trying to come up with a name. Now, it was near impossible! We went through the old contenders but nothing seemed to work. We had not chosen them originally for a reason.

Many narrowboat names died to bring us this information***

We poured through books and record sleeves and obscure arcana for something unique. As anyone will know, trying to come up with a unique name for a website is nigh on impossible these days – this was worse!

In the end we have adjusted the original slightly. We’ve come up with a slight twist which follows on historically from the original and is hopefully unique (as far as we can possibly know in the registration of narrowboats via The Boat Index). It has a slightly ethereal feel and it embodies our feelings at this time but mostly, it’s hopefully unique.

So?

We are going to name the narrowboat

Out of the Mist

This is it! It’s final! No re-thinks. It will not change.

So, until next time. No. I didn’t mean until ‘next time’ we rename the boat. I meant… until next time you’re at this blog. I… Uh… Oh, Never mind…

 

* Sorry Roxy Music

** indebted to Ian Fleming
*** indebted to Mon Motha & Star Wars

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

Looking Back Along the Narrowboat

Looking back from the deck to the stern

Looking Back (crop) image

A photogrpah taken stood looking from the tug deck, along the roof, to the stern in Whilton Marina. This is the opposite view to an earlier photo so you get to see the boat from both ends. It turned out to be a beautiful day but bitterly cold.

 

Work to do

The roof needs a sanding & coat of paint and the mushroom vents need a polish. I’m hoping once the engine’s running and the batteries are charged, the headlight is going to work.

Why do I get the feeling this is going to be like painting the Forth bridge?

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

 

Gas Isolation Valve

Hatch to the Gas Isolation Valve photo

Gas Isolation Valve image

 

Gas Isolation Valve

This is the hatch to the gas bottles and the all important Gas Isolation Valve. We will need to use this when we change over the LPG bottles, which run the hob and oven. Hopefully this is the only time we will need to isolate any gas 🙂

Before we can drive off, the gas locker has to be ‘hammer tested’ (presumably hit with a hammer) and ‘inspected for its gas tight integrity’ (presumably this doesn’t mean striking a match or lighter near it to see if any gas is leaking!). Craig Allen from Craig Allen Marine is going to ensure it’s all boat shape and Bristol fashion.

It’s a quality brass sign.

rp – peace and narrrowboats

There’s Room for Everything

On a narrowboat, there’s room for everything!

Fully Laden I B+W image
Fully Laden

Ready for Winter

This narrowboat is fully laden, stocked up for Winter. The makeshift adaptation and patina of age make a great visual subject as well as capturing for me, the spirit of liveaboards throughout the canal network.

Picture taken on the Kennett & Avon Canal in Wiltshire in December 2017.

 

I’ll be taking pictures of narrowboats that inspire me and posting them to show the wonderful diversity on the canals of England and Wales.

rp – peace & narrowboats

Finding a Narrowboat Pt 1 – Second Hand

Second Hand

The narrowboat we’re buying is a second hand one. It’s an old one but this is in keeping with the ethos of why we want to liveaboard and off-grid. We like to think of it as a form of recycling, re-purposing. The budget also had a hand in the choice. OK It was mainly the budget.

Skills

Bringing this 1991 narrowboat up to the expectations of our liveaboard dream is a challenge, not least because of the fundamental lack of skills I possess in mechanics and carpentry. I put shelves up once. They fell down. For gardening they say you require green fingers. I have collector’s fingers. I can collect things; comics, Books, pottery, magazines, bits & pieces (I have many bits & pieces). Over the years I have become very adept at collecting things, and more importantly, not letting them go. The trouble is, when you are planning to move into a 57 foot long, 7 foot wide tube, collecting things is not a skill to brag about. I will learn new skills though, have no fear. The first thing I have to learn is letting …

I have already learned a whole host of new things in the very short time, regarding narrowboats since deciding to purchase one. But, where do I start? The most important thing I have learned is that if you are buying a second hand narrowboat (or indeed, any type of vessel intended to float in water) – commission a survey!

Get a Survey

The survey is worth its weight in gold, ours literally was the weight of a gold ingot. It was so long! We thought there would be some things pointed out; the paint works is a bit scratched, the engine needs a service, things of that nature. Oh no. No no no. The document created by the marine surveyor we commissioned was a tome, a weighty tome. It was a thing of beauty. The problem was we wanted a short list of fixable items, not the War and Peace of narrowboat failings. It turns out that we did want the War and Peace version because the very thorough and detailed survey carried out by Craig Allen of Craig Allen Marine became the blueprint for bringing our narrowboat up to the expectations of our liveaboard dream.

We opened the PDF to a nice nautical logo, business-looking font and some kind words about our Holy Grail. It then started to list, in logical order, section by section, the short comings of said Grail. If Arthur had read this, he wouldn’t have bothered about searching for the grail. Had we chosen poorly? It looked like we had. I didn’t know a boat could have so many things that could be fixed on it. At first glance, it seemed as though there was for to fix than boat – a floating aggregation of broken pieces. We were starting to hyperventilate and a black storm cloud was starting to come in off the ocean and we hadn’t even driven in her yet! But, wait. We went back through from start to finish, section by section, the night was still young (good job it was!). Upon logical review, the items started to change from impending disasters into fixable items by a competent boat-fixing person – what are you looking at me for? I collect things, remember?

Waiting

For a number of nights we clung to the vague hope that the Marina brokering the sale would somehow (against all odds) be true to their word and ‘fix any BSS-related issues and get her ready to sail away’. To be fair, most of the issues were BSS-related so we took some comfort from this. I mean, I could polish the brass mushrooms on top of the boat so that would be one less thing, wouldn’t it? Those nights before we could get up to Northampton to ‘discuss’ the survey on the Sunday were some of the longest we have ever experienced. We just saw our deposit, cost for lifting the boat out of the water for the survey and the survey fee, floating like jetsam (or is that flotsam?) down the canal of lost dreams.

When Sunday Comes

Sunday finally came, we were up early (we must have been worried) and we made our way to Whilton in Northamptonshire, stopping off at the Solstice Services at Avebury in Wiltshire (we hadn’t actually got very far by this point but that early in the morning, you need sustenance of some sort early on). There was some trepidation here as last time we had made this same journey to view narrowboats in general, I had left my camera bag at said services, only realising once we were up in Northamptonshire that I didn’t have my trusty bag and new camera with me. Thankfully, that tail of woe ended happily in that the lovely people at Costa had looked after it for me until our return back that way. If we had set off back at that point, we may never have seen the narrowboat we were traveling up to hopefully purchase.

Another little point that was preying on our minds at this point was ‘Winter Stoppages’. “What are Winter Stoppages?” I hear you cry. Well, in winter, the Canal & River Trust carryout routine and required maintenance on the canal network. His means that sections of the canal are closed for periods of time. This means that when trying to get our narrowboat ‘home’, in addition to moving through cold and ice, we could potentially get stuck, in the middle of nowhere for swathes of time.

I may as well detail at this point, we haven’t actually driven a narrowboat before or been on a trip on one but we have stood on several and pretended. This seemed pertinent to the above discussion.

‘I’m on my Way’

The drive up to Northampton from Wiltshire (by car, I cannot yet comment on by narrowboat) is a beautiful one and it managed to assuage some of the anxiety that would have otherwise built. However, upon arriving at Whilton Marina (missing the turning once again. Another skill I need to develop’ better mapping skills. Perhaps that should be charting skills) we were both as nervous as if going into court. We needn’t have been. The people at Whilton Marina greeted us once through the door.

“where here regarding our narrowboat”.

“Oh, yes. Come on in. We have a copy of the survey here and have hi-lighted the relevant points. There’s a lot to do!”.

“Ye-s, we thought so as well”.

“Not to worry, it’s all covered in the price agreed as it is one of our boats. All the items are BSS issues so it will all get done”.

This was no courtroom; it was an ante chamber of some hitherto unknown heaven. The anxiety and worry of the previous days slipped, we both had beaming smiles and it was at this point we knew we were buying a narrowboat. But it didn’t stop there.

It Takes Time

“It will take some time to address the issues obviously what with Christmas and the Winter Stoppages. You will be unable to move the boat and it would be unfair of us to expect you to so the earliest it would be ready is end February, maybe end April if we needed to address the hull in detail”.

If she needed a new hull, they would provide one! Re-Blacking, engine fully addressed (a replacement one if deemed necessary)! etc. etc. The only thing they didn’t mention was the polishing of the brass mushrooms but hey! I can do that! This turned out to be one of the greatest days of our lives; issues will be addressed, timing is perfect and we got to go and spend time on ‘our’ narrowboat.

Continues in Finding a Narrowboat Pt 2 – All Aboard

rp – peace and narrowboats

Hello world!

Hello World - From the Pointy End image
From the pointy end

Hello World – We’re Buying a Narrowboat

Hello World! We’re buying a narrowboat, doing it up, going to liveaboard, going off-grid (as far as is possible) and eventually going to continuously cruise the canal network of England & Wales, visiting interesting and obscure places, both pastoral and industrial.

If you’re interested – jump aboard!

Hey! Be careful, the weight distribution’s critical. We’ve a finely tuned ballast 😉

For a regular update on progress, follow

Tales From the Bilge – life aboard a narrowboat

rp – peace and narrowboats.