Mak­ing Merry on the cut

Canal Boat - - Me & My Boats - WORDS & PIC­TURES BY LES MERRY


The text from our youngest daugh­ter and her part­ner read: “We’re in St Pan­creas Basin, we’ve bought a nar­row­boat!” Sev­eral months later, an­other text: “We’re at Fox­ton Locks go­ing to Kilby Bridge in the morn­ing for the win­ter. Come and cruise with us.”

Nei­ther Su­san or I had been on a nar­row­boat be­fore, al­though I had had a cou­ple of hol­i­days in the late Six­ties on the Nor­folk Broads. In fact, nei­ther of us had re­ally taken any no­tice of nar­row­boats or the canals for that mat­ter. We were stuck in the rat race, both be­ing to­tally ex­hausted af­ter a day’s work and putting all of our en­er­gies and money into our house. So this ex­pe­ri­ence was go­ing to be some sort of a rev­e­la­tion to us.

We or­dered a taxi to take us from Mountsor­rel to Fox­ton, never hav­ing been there be­fore. We joined our youngest daugh­ter and part­ner on board nb Mer­cus­sio and off we went not know­ing what to ex­pect.

It was slow, quiet, re­lax­ing and we were ac­com­pa­nied for a while by the first king­fisher I had ever seen. What a mar­vel­lous jour­ney, so peace­ful. The seed was sown!

A few weeks later I pur­chased my first CanalBoat mag­a­zine and then we spent time go­ing to look at used boats of all shapes and sizes but noth­ing said “yes this is it”, or ticked all of the boxes. Af­ter all, we were now ex­pert nar­row­boaters, hav­ing spent one whole day on a 45-footer. Not know­ing if it was a trad, semi-trad or cruiser stern, or port from star­board – “there’s no red port left,” that’s how to re­mem­ber it.

I pur­chased the lo­cal weekly pa­per and there was an ad­vert for an open day at Bea­con Boats. I hadn’t re­alised they were just five miles from our house.

I went to see the new boat on the

Af­ter just one day on a canal boat, Les de­cided to have a new one built, sell the house and move aboard

then he spot­ted an ad­vert on eBay for a widebeam...

at Mountsor­rel on the River Soar

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