ME & MY BOATS
How two young couples rescued a decaying boat and spent 20 years fixing it up for holidays
Finding a boat in their price range seemed an impossible task and the one they found would give even a ‘doer-upper’ a bad name, but they persevered...
One autumn, many moons ago, two young couples embarked upon the adventure of a lifetime. After many small trips on hire boats, the four decided the time had come for them to buy their own. They were ready. Their price range was a little small, to say the least.
Armed with nothing but their good(ish) looks and wavering charm, they found naught. The boating aristocracy appeared to sneer down on them and even the fixer-uppers smirked at their meagre savings. After arduous weeks traipsing around boatyards and facing obstacles no man could dream of, the fates turned. Someone, it seemed, was looking down on them.
It was by chance that Paul – the tallest and least charming of the lot – stumbled upon the advert. The golden light shone down upon a picture of a rather rundown, semi-drowned boat up for sale. It was destiny.
The two couples viewed the boat separately and decided it was the one for them (mainly determined by their budget limitations). A survey showed that this was exactly the sort of boat that you would find stewing in its own filth on the outskirts of a city, drinking up the canal. However, the inches of water obscuring the floor and the floating mouldy bed did not deter them. Despite the fact the sofa was crawling with more life than anything found outside the boat, they bought it. They knew there was a long road ahead and their struggle was far from over.
As destiny would have it, this was no ordinary garden variety boat, it was Miranda, the first purpose-built hire boat by Wyvern Shipping. The four knew they had bought a pedigree boat. As the surveyor noted, it was of a good quality steel that had been treated with an
epoxy-based red oxide that had preserved the hull very well. Originally it had a wooden top but this had since been replaced with steel. It was a boat like no other. After years of hauling around holidaymakers, Miranda retired. She was looking forward to years of knitting and drinking tea, but alas was burned out in Coventry basin. According to legend, she was bought by a farmer but left to vegetate and rot in a field for some years, at this point she now known as Saville Row. Her retirement plans destroyed, she withered and crumbled, unloved and uncared for. Until that fateful day when she passed into the hands of Paul, Juliet, Hugh and Bernadette – the two young couples. And so the boat was revived, under the great name of Dvbris. The first step was to make the sofa walk the plank. They reached out to some more experienced, skilled help – installing a water tank and a new tiller. They prioritised jobs. They got the alternator, gas and water heater up and ready to go. With a Lister SR2 engine and a somewhat undersized propeller (which required several days’ notice to stop the boat) emergency stops were not its strong point.
While cleaning under the floor, Hugh – the tough Welsh one – pulled the seacock out, leaving a one and a half inch diameter hole in the floor. This was considered to be a problem. He stuck his foot in the hole while the team drove the boat as fast as its undersized propeller would carry them. The same day a very obliging boatyard fixed it up for them. It was mishaps such as these that led to the fixing up of the boat taking more than 20 years.
As their families bloomed, the number of voyagers increased to nine. It was, Hugh thought grumpily in his Welsh lilt, a bit cramped. It was time for an upgrade. The operation involved splitting the boat in two and whacking a new chunk in the middle. The boat ended up all original with a new top, new bottom, new fit-out and a new engine.
Dvbris was now 68ft and roaring to go. The years passed and the time came for the two families to go their separate ways. Paul and Juliet had been saving for a Hudson built boat of their own for years. They were in luck, one of Hudson’s customers had just dropped out and they nabbed his spot. Thunderfield was on its way to being born. The first few months of building
Thunderfield went smoothly. It was in
‘She withered and crumbled, unloved and uncared for, until that fateful day when she passed into the hands of the two young couples’
the winter of 2014 that progress slowed. The unfortunate and unexpected passing of Steve Hudson closed Glascote basin and halted any boat building.
By February 2015, however, things were looking up for Thunderfield. Paul and Juliet had sought the help of other boat builders and finally found Stoke Boats at Longport Wharf to be the chosen builders to finish Thunderfield in the original style. Later that month, Thunderfield travelled not by canal but by land on the back of a lorry to Stoke and the building began again.
One October Thursday, Thunderfield graced the murky waters of the canal. From there it travelled back to Glascote Basin to be painted the dazzling yet traditional cream, green and red colours by Norton Canes. The two boats, one old and one new, were both setting out on another adventure.
Dvbris had gone from being a barely floating shell to a warm loving home for nine. Hugh now envisions a new fit-out to make it a nice boat for their family.
Meanwhile, Thunderfield is go!
Thunderfield emerges from Hudson’s yard
Paul steers Thunderfield on the Coventry
The restored Dvbris near Braunston
AsThunderfield is ina traditional style,ithas appropriate decorations, both outside... ...and inside