Saturday, 1 September 2012

Wow! Did we just buy two narrowboats?

Isn't life strange, Glenda and I (Chop) were both stressed and needed to chill a bit, we decided to try for a last minute booking at the excellent Wharf Inn on the Welford arm of the Grand Union, as luck would have it, they'd had a last minute cancellation, we got the same lovely room we had last time, which looks down on the canal ;o)
While there, we found a copy of the Towpath Talk and in it we saw that there was a canal festival at Blisworth that weekend, Glenda also noticed that there was a pair for sale at the Aqueduct Marina brokerage.

We went to the festival and talked about a 70' pair I tried to buy previously, and the 50' something pair she'd found in the paper.We got home, and after much discussion, decided to head to Church Minshall, the following weekend to see them.
We went, we saw, we measured and photographed, they seemed ideal, but in need of TLC.
Glenda applied her financial brain to the practical side and came to the conclusion that it would be just about impossible for us to afford at this moment in time ;o(
Much gnashing of teeth and more than a few tears later it was decided that we would make an offer, subject to a favourable survey, and if the survey turned up more than £1000 of work (over and above the replacement of the sacrificial anodes on Freyja and a few other bits and bobs) we would walk away and accept that it was not to be.
A surveyor was enlisted to survey them and, as we were very tight on the dosh, was asked to do a hull only survey (£530) on the butty Christina. If that survey did not turn up anything like a re-plate then he could do the hull survey on the motor Freyja (£530 increasing to £800 for the full survey). Freyja's hull survey was not so rosy ;o( The filler pipe on the water tank had hardened and the jubilee clip had rusted, allowing water to leak into the bow section and soak into the pebbles that had be put there as ballast, this had caused the hull to rust from the inside and reduced the thickness to a scary 2.7mm! Overplating needed on both sides of the bow. There was also wear in the stern cutless bush and a list of advisories that will fill many a future weekend. But, at least, she didn't need a large scale re-plate so we asked John to continue to do a full survey, lots of maintenance issues and a lot of advisories to simplify and bring wiring, plumbing and security into line with modern standards.
The sellers kindly agreed to to allow £1000 towards these repairs and with great trepidation a deal was struck.
Moorings were another cause of financial head scratching, we both work out of Sudbury, on the Essex, Suffolk border, the nearest marina at Roydon marina quoted £6700pa individual moorings or £4600 breasted as a widebeam, GULP! But as it is within easy reach of London, the prices were bound to be high.
On the way home from viewing the boats, we called in at Billing Aquadrome marina and then decided to stop at Willy Watts marina at Ringstead on the River Nene. Clive at Willy Watts gave us a much better price for two moorings, at their new Blackthorn Lake marina, with a possibility of a cheaper widebeam mooring when more pontoons are added ;o)
So now we wait for the repairs to be done, I will give the hulls a couple of coats of black before they go back in the water so the raw water cooled AMC 1800 engine can be started, checked and serviced, ready for the 2 week trip to the Nene.
Sorry, if this was a bit long winded, but I hope it will help others who are in the same position.
We will post regular updates on our progress, maintaining, repairing, tidying and personalising this pair so that they'll be ready to continually cruise the UK and possibly the continent.