Built as part of one of the last batches of cargo-car­ry­ing nar­row­boats, cut in half and turned into a leisure boat, ex­tended, re­built... Fal has had an event­ful his­tory

When Alan and Pa­tri­cia Cos­nett moored for the last time and left the wa­ter­ways be­hind, they took their wan­der­lust with them and hit the road in a mo­torhome, us­ing their beloved boat to bag a bar­gain...and switch­ing from 68ft to 20ft

Canal Boat - - Contents -

Af­ter an ac­ci­dent, I could not use our small triple hull dory on coastal wa­ters. So a friend David sug­gested we put it on the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Kin­ver near Hyde Lock, where he lived on his steel nar­row­boat Bar­racuda, formerly one half of the River Class work­ing butty Fal.

He was the com­mis­sion­aire at the en­trance to the com­pany where I worked as a con­struc­tion en­gi­neer manag­ing petro­chem­i­cal fur­nace de­sign.

In­stal­la­tions took me to many places in Europe, Canada and Amer­ica and as I left the of­fice to catch for one par­tic­u­lar flight, I told David not to sell his boat be­fore I got back. On my re­turn, I had a late call from David ask­ing if we wanted his boat.

As I was leav­ing again the next day I said “yes we will have a look at it tonight” so at mid­night we all went down to his boat with my builder’s lump ham­mer and tested the hull along the wa­ter­line and be­low. I told him that “if it is still float­ing in the morn­ing I would give him the money then”. He had his money and we had our canal boat at last.

From 1986 to 2001, we searched for – and found – most of the River Class boats but never a men­tion of the Fal un­til some­one sug­gested we go to see the man who cut the butty up to make the

Bar­racuda and the Seeker at Tarde­bigge. As luck would have it he had left just be­fore we ar­rived with the Bar­racuda; how­ever we were given a copy of the orig­i­nal hol­i­day brochure show­ing both boats. In 2001, we de­cided to ex­tend the

Bar­racuda from 54ft to 68ft and re­name her to her orig­i­nal name of Fal. The reg­is­tra­tion num­ber re­mained as 66470.

The Lis­ter SR3 – which be­came known as Ivor the En­gine – was stripped, re­built and mounted in the en­gine room af­ter the back cabin and be­fore the toi­let and shower room.

A new pro­pel­ler and stern gear were fit­ted, the 12V electrics were up­graded to 240V. Work was com­pleted on the bed­room, open lounge and forward lounge which was heated by a Jo­tul wood­burner. The boat­man’s cabin was warmed by a diesel heater.

In 2003, Pa­tri­cia was con­cerned about the boat sur­vey but the sur­veyor – a Mr ME Braine – told her: “My dear, this boat is as sound as the day it was built. It is Bri­tish Steel, not Ja­panese.”

We en­joyed the canals with our two daughters and had many ad­ven­tures on the sil­ver high­way, though us­ing canals at night would no doubt be frowned upon these days.

Since we part-ex­changed her for a mo­tor home, the Fal has gained a longer stern deck for a bet­ter cruiser set-up with the Lis­ter back un­der the counter as it was when orig­i­nally con­verted at Tarde­bigge. The boat­man’s cabin is now re­moved and the port hole type win­dows have been re­placed in the lounge area.

The Fal lives on.

A work on the progress as the new vi­sion takes shape

Not quite ready for the wa­ter

Mod­ern decor and mod cons on board

Back to the ba­sics as builders take over

The orig­i­nal Fal which took the Cos­nett fam­ily on many ad­ven­tures

Those port­holes will have to go

A bit of black­ing re­quired

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