ANDREW RIDLEY’S LOVE of canals began when he used to cycle the towpaths of London. Then a friend bought a boat and he saw the appeal of living afloat. He bought his first boat in 2012 and has been on board since retiring in March 2015.
That first boat could hardly be more different from Rocinante: it was just 42ft 6in long and had a cruiser stern. He chose it mainly because it was virtually the only one of those he looked at that he could stand up in. Since then, he’s come to appreciate the look of traditional boats and the extra interior space offered by a trad stern.
Andrew had already spoken to Jonathan Wilson about building the shell for his new boat when he read CanalBoat’s review of the Tyler Wilson Sheffield Keel widebeam, which had also been fitted out by the company. Before then, he hadn’t realised they did any fitting-out. By the time he came to place an order, Finesse Boats had been formed and Andrew saw the case for having the whole boat built in the same place.
Choosing a name for a boat is often problematic, but Andrew was reading Don Quixote at the time and liked the name of his horse. Just don’t let the boat look up Rocinante’s Wikipedia entry, which says the horse is Don Quixote’s double: ‘Awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capabilities’!