Sunday, 25 January 2009

We've done it!!

Last week we visited nearly ten marinas and saw something in the region of fifteen boats. We had a lot of thinking to do, but we finally settled on one in particular, we put our offer in and after a little haggling on price we drove up to Daventry to write a cheque, the deposit is down and the good "ship" Wilshampstead is nearly ours! We're absolutely over the moon!

We had another look around, Jem measured up the curtains and we had a good look at what we might do with the space inside. We're planning to have a multi-fuel stove installed in the saloon. Following a recent hull survey commissioned by the current owners, there is some hull re-plating to be done, particularly on the areas that receive the greatest wear and on the gas lockers. A full service on the boiler/gas system is due too, as is an in-water survey that we're having done once work is completed. All of which means that we have a moving-in date somewhere in the 4-6 week range. Hopefully it'll all go smoothly.

This does give us some time to find the right insurer, to pack up our wordly goods, to prepare ourselves for the move, to look into moorings etc. So I think a photo of our new home is in order!

We're hoping to install a little more storage in the bedroom, space for a small writing desk would be amazing and the consideration of what to do on the washing machine front goes on... Not to mention our ongoing investigations into sustainable energy solutions, we're looking into wind turbines, solar panels, numerous water-based schemes of course and (my personal favourite) a steam powered generator! We're also investigating how best to assuage the wrath of the maritime gods when it comes to changing a boat's name... More to follow soon!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Zen trance, a mad week & the legend of the anti-gravity toilet...

In the space of less than one week we've visited nearly ten marinas in search of our new home! We put in an offer for one boat only to have our offer rejected and a subsequent offer voided by some sneaky so-and-so getting a deposit stuck in there minutes before we made our second offer! Thus, yesterday was not great fun. Jem tenaciously scoured the net for boats while I sulked heroically in the next room...

Back to the drawing board. So today marked the start of Boat Hunt Mark II! We visited three marinas today, covering a hundred miles or thereabouts in the car, and some interesting finds it turned up too! One of the things that I've been most impressed with since we started looking for a boat way back in the halcyon mists of 2008 is the energetic and positive advice we've had from all sorts of folk, marina workers, boaters themselves, all sorts. Answering our questions, advice on everything from where it's best to moor up - right up to reasons not to own a pumpout loo if you're cruising up north in the winter, even posing new potential problems to watch out for when looking for boats. At this stage, all advice is welcome.

It seems like the one piece of information we started out with has held out to be the best, if the engine and the hull are sound, that's the main thing. Obviously we don't want something that needs completely rewiring or that needs major work in a serious way, but interior fittings we CAN do! I think. I hope. For one thing it's beginning to look very likely that we'll need to fit a washing machine of some description, as so few narrowboats in our price range seem to have them fitted already! We don't intend to live residentially in a marina so using laundrettes is out of the question for the time being, and it seems there are some really well-designed creations out there for saving space and getting the job done in confined areas, such as wot we will 'ave soon! If we go for a washing machine we'll almost certainly need a new inverter, which could easily set us back another £2000... Food for 'fort! We've probably looked at twenty boats in person by now, and the tiny details of each one just blend one into the other after a while... I was staring at brokerage websites for so long the other day that I thought one boat had an anti-gravity toilet... Which led me to believe I had discovered the hallowed narrowboat-buyers zen trance, when all details are clear even when the website contains only half of the things you need to know, when all you need is a fuzzy exterior photo to tell what size the inverter is and whether the fixed seating in the saloon is comfy or not.... I wish!

In short, the hunt continues, but it feels like we're getting there! One day we'll be river rats!


Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Hunt Begins!

Well this seems like the best possible time to make our first post here! This afternoon marked our first visit to a certain marina in the south west, where we viewed a number of narrowboats, we are hopeful that one of them might just be the thing we're looking for! Until we buy the boat I have an urge to keep the specific names of marinas and potential boats off here, no real reason!

We're looking for something built around 1990 or more recently, narrow not wide, of around 50-60ft, and which isn't a complete wreck inside! We have a growing list of smaller details we'd like to see already installed on our future home, such as a solid fuel stove, not too many (or too few!) thousand hours on the engine, a long time remaining on the BSC, a trad stern if overall length is under 60ft, a decent interior layout - and some hull integrity would be nice! Every search we do in magazines or online turns up more and more potential boats, looks like a well organised road trip around the country's marinas might be necessary!

We've been meticulously researching the entire topic of living aboard, of cruising the British waterways, of maintaining a boat (read: of just how much all of it can cost etc!) in the last few months, and, as with most things that are worth researching, it seems to be a topic of almost infinite depth - my wishlist on grows ever longer...

Spirits are high! We're hoping to have found something before the Spring really gets into its stride, well that's the plan anyway...

We're adjusting (at least in our heads for the time being) to what could be quite a major lifestyle change for both of us, but we're so eager that we can't wait to get the deal done and get on with it! There's no rushing some things I guess. I signed up today for two boating forums, both of which look (albeit at a glance) to be packed with info and opinions, which I can't get enough of right now!