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
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