Keep on danc­ing!

Why stick to mag­no­lia when you can have colour on your boat? Find out how David cre­ated a ‘play­ground for the mind’...

Canal Boat - - Me & My Boats - WORDS & PIC­TURES BY DAVID FULLER

If an idea or dream nags enough, at some point, you have to take no­tice and act on it. For me, as for many read­ers here, it was the dream of a boat and the free­dom of the cut. Af­ter trips to mari­nas and many hours on eBay, Disco was the re­al­i­sa­tion of that dream. An old boat, one of only two boats built by Brian Duval in the early 1970s.

A few years af­ter con­struc­tion, the wooden su­per­struc­ture was de­stroyed by fire when a neigh­bour­ing boat caught fire. She lay half sunken when Pip from the Tate gallery came along and fell in love with her. Pip called in a Tate metal sculp­tor to re­place the de­stroyed wooden top with a steel one, try­ing to keep the orig­i­nal de­sign. She then lived aboard for the next 19 years.

I came to this life with no knowl­edge of canal boats and, boy, have I had to learn.

A friend of a friend of a friend had of­fered to bring her down from York­shire. I gave the chap a lift up and, on the way, he ad­mit­ted to know­ing noth­ing about en­gines and not be­ing able to see be­yond the end of his nose. He aban­doned the boat be­fore de­liv­ery with many scars as well as an over­flow­ing toi­let cas­sette. The scars have gone, but the smell of that toi­let will stay with me.

The fi­nal leg of de­liv­ery, now with a much more help­ful friend of a friend, Dave Wake­field, was go­ing well un­til the TMP gear­box gave up but, with the help of more boater good­will, she was towed to her berth in Saul. TMPs are hard to find these days but it turned out that Ben Selfe, my new neigh­bour, had one ly­ing in a field. We thought the dif­fer­ent ra­tio would per­haps re­quire a dif­fer­ent prop but sadly, with an inch dif­fer­ent drop, re­quired the mov­ing of the stern tube and, there­fore, a big hole to be cut in my new boat.

I’d been told that Disco liked straight lines and she was re­luc­tant to turn. While out of the wa­ter at R W Davis in Glouces­ter, di­rec­tor Phil Trot­ter pointed at the stern plate and said: “that’s your


out­side,butjust wait­un­ti­ly­ougetinside!

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