So many options, so many decisions...
Iam at a crossroads. Where do we go from here? Left or right? Our boat Harry is about to leave the boatyard and we have to decide which direction to head.
But I sense a bigger crossroads looming in the not too distant future; one with more than a simple choice of which route to take.
We’ve been narrowboating now for ten years and covered 90 percent of the inland waterways in Harry and before that Star. Before them we river boated in our GRP Freeman and then our beautiful money pit, the 1930s wooden Broads cruiser Venus.
So where now? Do we carry straight on ahead – rent our newly improved house out once more and keep on keeping on, continuously cruising in Harry – or maybe we should contemplate retreating to land in the winter, even though the winter months are often the best time to be on the water?
Or, as we get older, perhaps we should start thinking about returning to a boat that is smaller and easier to manage? We are not quite in the Tim and Pru age group yet but watching dear old Pru struggle at locks is a salutary reminder that boating does get harder work when you’re not as nimble as you once were.
On the other hand, a smaller boat would mean no space for our rapidly growing grandchildren and that would be a great shame as they love
I went down to the crossroads... boating and we love having them to stay.
One of our narrowboating friends is having a widebeam built and we know other narrowboaters who’ve opted to ‘go wide’ as well. All want to trade less cruising opportunities for more space – and that’s an option, too. Space for friends and family, and plenty of gentle cruising locations. On the Thames you even have lock-keepers to do the hard work for you: perfect when the old back or knees are playing up. They’re just so damned ugly, though!
But these are just the obvious routes. We have been contemplating taking more radical steps, too. Boating abroad has always been a temptation. It would be a bold move to sell up and buy a boat especially for it but we could perhaps ship Harry over there for a season or two… or three. I’m sure our old boat moving chum Ray Bowern would give us a quote.
Boating in Europe is much more a seasonal affair than in the UK so we could leave the little ship there and return here for the winters. The Canal du Midi did look tempting on Tim & Pru’s programme...
All these boating programmes on TV do put ideas in your head: the Scottish canals would be marvellous but I can’t see there’s enough boating there to merit relocation, or what about doing a Timothy Spall and leaving the security blanket of the canals for the high seas? I would have to convince Mrs B that my navigation skills were better than Mr Spall’s, though, before she came with me.
Maybe it doesn’t have to be boating? We are certainly not ready to retreat to our house and tend the garden, but there are other ways to indulge the wanderlust. We could opt for something even smaller than a narrowboat – a motor caravan. It’s another popular follow-up to boating: good friends of ours sold their boat last year after ten years and are even now happily touring in their ’van.
It has its appeal – there are plenty of very beautiful spots in the UK alone which can’t be reached by boat. And you don’t have to travel all day to achieve ten miles. Unless you’re stuck in a jam on the M6, of course.
The more you think, the more complicated the choices become. At the moment I’m finding it hard enough trying to decide which way we head from the boatyard. All the same, I might just make that call to Ray Bowern Boat Movers. Just out of curiosity.
‘It would be a bold move to sell up and buy a boat especially for boating abroad but we could perhaps ship over’