So many op­tions, so many de­ci­sions...

Canal Boat - - Me & My Boats -

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’

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