Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Seeds Are Set!

Over the years Cath had taken the view that old boats were lovely to behold, but they were not a practical proposition for people in our situation.  I had talked longingly of finally wanting to have a "proper" boat, but in my heart of hearts, I too could not see the idea as rational.

Then we started meeting more and more apparently irrational people!  Yes, there were folks out there who decided they wanted one of these things, managed to secure a deal on something that had really taken their fancy, and then perhaps learn only by experience what that actually meant.

We talked with people who had fully fitted out a brand new boat, and then swapped it for the hulk of an ex working boat, knowing that years of slog, and a lot of cash would be needed to turn it into what they wanted.  We met people who already had a very nice boat, with all you need for comfort afloat, who had still decided they actually wanted something where the living accommodation is little more than 8 feet long.

Just a tiny fraction of the boats at the 2010 Braunston Historic Boat Show
We found we liked these people, and really they didn't seem that unhinged at all! (Yes, you know who you are!).  We attended as visitors the events they attended with their boats, and, like them, we started to be hooked.  Note not just I, the long term admirer of working boats, started to get hooked - Cath was now as enthused by this mad idea as I was.

But how to go about it ?  Boats clearly change hands fairly frequently, but the vast majority never appear to be commercially advertised.  Boats change hand often by word of mouth - someone knows someone who might be selling, and someone who maybe wants something like that.  We started putting out feelers, but we didn't know what we really wanted!

We want to be able to carry on doing long boating trips with more than just the two of us - so a simple unconverted working boat with minimal accommodation couldn't be a CHALICE replacement.  We also didn't feel ready to take on a full length, (70 foot or more), boat.  It is generally frowned on now to add cabin conversions to historic boats not already so treated, so a lot of boats would not be an appropriate choice.

We saw two possible options......

Fellows Morton & Clayton TASMANIA, originally an unpowered boat.
Firstly we could try and find a boat long enough to be our full time boating boat, but hopefully still short enough to be able to access the canals with shorter locks.  This probably meant finding a boat already suitable for our needs, without doing anything new that was inappropriate to it's history.

The boat pictured had sold within recent history, and seemed the kind of thing we might look for.

Alternatively there was the "wild card", (or "barking mad"!) idea.  Keep CHALICE, but try and find a small tug that we could keep as well.

We quickly dismissed "plan B" as too impractical, too expensive, and, anyway where would we find a suitable tug!

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