ME & MY BOATS
She’d done her research and bought a second-hand boat, now all she had to do was get it to the marina. How hard could it be?
A first trip out – how hard could it be...?
Iwas looking up everything about living on a narrowboat for my boss. He loves fishing and was thinking about getting one, but he wanted to know all the downsides first. While I was looking all this up, I thought: “I can cope with all this.” So then I started to look up prices and thought: “I can afford that”. So I started to look at second-hand boats. I knew a few things I was looking for; I wanted a semi-trad or traditional stern and I didn’t want to feel cramped inside. I looked for hours at internet adverts for boats for sale, I also went and walked along the canal and had a look in a few boats for sale.
Finally, I found one that was exactly what I wanted. She was lovely and spacious for her size and had a more open layout than most boats I saw. She even had a lovely name, TheTudorRose, what a lovely British, name. The seller was going to service the engine before I took her.
So, a couple of weeks later, my mum, my boss and I went to pick her up and bring her to my new marina, a journey we were told would take a couple of hours. Little did we know...
We started the journey off happily, the seller took us through the first lock, telling us how it all worked and going over with us how the boat worked. And then he left us and we were on our own. Steering the most expensive thing I have ever bought. My new home.
Luckily, I had learned to sail when I was a teenager and my boss grew up by the sea, so he had a lot of experience with boats. My mum had been on a canal boat holiday in her youth, so she had an idea of how the locks worked. Off we went.
At first all was going great. We remembered to pass boats on the right, didn’t get stuck in the locks, kept the boat the right side of the cil marker. We also met a lovely couple taking their boat back to Birmingham who went through five locks with us, then we went on alone.
We were doing all right, me and my
boss taking turns on the tiller and the other doing the locks with my mum helping and then, on a long straight bit, we let my mum have a go on the tiller. She steered us straight in to a tree! One with prickly branches that hung over the canal. We had to reverse and try to push off with sticks to get the boat into the main drag again. Needless to say, we did not let my mum take the tiller again. The journey continued on. A couple of hours passed, and then another hour, and consulting the guidebook, we found we were only halfway there. We tried to pick up the pace a bit, but when we did that, the engine started overheating. So we had to pull over and wait until it cooled.
We chugged along happily for a while and then we came to another lock, we went through fine, but on coming out and to save my boss walking over the lock gates again, I pulled in to the non-towpath side of the canal, a very bad call it turned out. On that side there was another channel branching off the canal and it had a very strong current.
My boat was trapped in the current and we could not get it away. There was a floating barrier across it so we did not get swept down the channel sideways (thankfully). But we could not turn the boat to start going along the canal again as we were in the current and jammed against the barrier.
We had no boat poles and the engine was overheating. We tried pulling it backwards with a rope, we even had some passers-by pulling the rope, too, but all in vain.
After about half an hour, some men from the canalside pub or social club appeared. We explained our predicament and they started climbing down the wall (about 10ft) and on to the moored boats below. Then they said to throw them our bow rope, and they pulled us forwards by walking along the moored boats,
until we were in a more or less straight line. Then we could engage our engine and pull away. As we started to pull away, they threw us our rope back and we called back our thanks.
After that we continued without incident, apart from the engine overheating every 20 minutes. Very frustrating. We spent almost more time pulled in waiting for the engine to cool down than we did making progress. We carried on and arrived at the marina well past its closing time.
We only knew roughly where we should be so we went around there and tied up to the pontoon. The boat was safe, but we still had to get out of the marina to where our car was parked. The gates were locked and we didn’t have a key. It was three hours after closing time, so we wandered around the marina until we saw a boat with lights on and explained our problem to them and they kindly let us out. Then we drove home happy but tired. Boaters are nice people.
Our journey took seven hours rather than the expected two and we had some adventures on the way, but we got the boat back safe and sound.
The boat engine kept overheating because, when it was being serviced, the engineer left a valve open so once the water heated up, it leaked out and we had no water in our water cooling system for the engine. The moral of the story is: expect the unexpected with boats.
TheTudorRose – fitted the bill perfectly
Warmthfor chilly nights
Roses and now strawberries? Very English
On the Grand Union near Uxbridge