Visiting Britain, an Australian couple spotted canal boats and fell in love but how could they make their dream come true and own their own narrowboat?
Twenty-two years in the making, ten years in the planning and now we have purchased our very own boat – the realisation of a long term and certainly a long-distance dream.
Wanting to purchase our own narrowboat when we live 11,000 miles from the nearest narrow canal seemed rather absurd to us, and even ‘crazy’ to some of our Australian friends.
The embryo for this unusual plan was first hatched back in 1993, when my husband Steve and I were on our first ever trip to Europe and the UK. It was the ‘trip of a lifetime’ and given the distance and cost, we weren’t sure if we would ever be back.
Among the blur of 20 different countries in just over a month, we took time out for a long walk along the beautiful River Avon in Bath. It was here that we saw canal boats for the very first time and fell instantly and hopelessly in love.
I was envious of the owners as they sat on their sterns in the sunshine sipping wine before preparing their dinners. There and then we decided we had to come back to the UK and hire a canal boat one day but, at that early stage, we never imagined that we would ever be owners. We returned in 1998 for our first hire experience and, over the next 17 years, we hired a number of times, sometimes for several weeks, as we explored more of the canal network and fell more and more in love.
This love grew in spite of a few adventures. In our very first days we had difficulty working out how to actually stop the boat as opposed to slowing down, leaping and hoping for the best and I had a panic attack sailing through my very first lock.
After Steve drove through our first flight of 12 at Bosley, I quickly decided that locks require muscles, a job much more suited to men, so I needed to learn