I am pickled tink – in the process of buying my #narrowboat home

The blue one – 57′ of hunky chunky 6′ 10″ wide narrowboat

Went over to the Bro’s in Cheshire last week and on Wednesday decided we’d pop out for a mooch around a couple of boatyards just to see what’s what. Stepped aboard the first boat from my “to see” list and promptly began the process of buying the wee beastie. Stuck a deposit down there and then (using the bro’s credit card, thank you Bro)!

The pointy end

It’s a bit like buying a house – offer, negotiation, survey, contracts – and should take about six weeks to complete, assuming that the survey finds no horrors.

This one felt solid and friendly from the first, has 6′ 6″ of headroom (handy when you’re 6′ 2″ on a good day) and ticked all of the boxes regarding layout, engine (Isuzu diesel, 38hp), gearbox (hydraulic, PRM150), shower (proper cubicle, no icky curtain jobbies), kitchen (minimal, splendidly simple), Victron inverter/charger (good capacity), new(ish) batteries and on and on… The blunt end is a “semi-trad” which suits me just fine – a halfway house between an open cruiser deck and the less-friendly/sociable fully trad. The back is somewhere to get out of wet and muddy clobber. The sharp end is chunky and businesslike (and just needs a cover).

The view from the “driving” position – 47′ of cabin, 5′ of pointy bit invisible beyond that and 5′ behind – rather like me, needs a good scrub down with some soapy water

The interior wants for a spot of wood flooring to replace the carpet, some carpet installing on the sides up to the gunwales and some wooden venetian blinds to replace the curtains. The “dining” area is not to my joy but it is in the right place to be easily half taken away and half replaced with a proper desk/study/working area. Somewhere to get my finger out and to come up with a few canal-related stories too… This on top of publishing The Dog With The Bakelite Nose in the next couple of months!

Once the buying is done with I will be doing some initial maintenance jobs – blacking the hull, hugging the engine, giving some smoochies to the heating and plumbing. Oh yup – then buy my CRT licence, new Boat Safety Certificate test (the equivalent of an MoT), boat and contents insurance… Then it’s move aboard and begin the learning curve, the steep one that leads to not looking like a complete plonker at locks, on rivers, mooring up…

Multi-fuel stove, diesel-powered central heating, double-glazing, LED lighting and lots of luvverly headroom – plus oodles of storage in all sorts of places…

Interwebnet access will be by dint of Huawei gizmo, booster aerial and England’s somewhat capricious mobile PAYG network. Gawds alone know what a chap does about post, prescriptions, NHS quacks, dentists and so forth. I’m sure that something will occur.

Now, I also need to arrange to be adopted asap by a hound from a rescue home, preferably a big butch mutt that’s au fait with tiller-work, ropes and putting knots in boy scouts. One that can perform man-overboard procedures when I fall in, is experienced with a VHF radio, cleans for fun and makes decent coffee.


We also need a new name; the boat’s current name is not one that appeals. I suppose that this will involve officialdom, a small bucket of paint and a large bucket of champagne over the bow. Will probably get Canterbury and a couple of other denominations to mutter a few maritime words, that sort of thing. Maybe a fly-past from the Red Arrows and then let off some Chinese fire-crackers.

The current list of contenders for a new name include “Porterhouse Blue” (Tom Sharpe reference); “Poonah in ’43 or ’44”; “Darjeeling Station” and “Cardinal Wolsey”. Still thinking, no rush.


I have decided to award myself the rank of Admiral, so that makes me Major-General Wing-Commander Admiral Sir Hutson D.S.O., D.D.T., I.T.V. & Vitamin B by The Bar. Any more and I’d have to have fold-out business cards, so it makes sense for the moment.

Let the exploration and inspection of the English canal system commence – lots of aquaducts and long tunnels to be braved, locks and connecting river stretches to be mastered. This bearing in mind that (at the moment) I can’t swim a stroke and some of my worst recurring nightmares are deep-water related, thus proving beyond doubt my absolute insanity.

The blunt end with something that is apparently quite important and is called “a rudder”

Sherry and warm cherry cake on the poop deck, soonest.

Run the cabin-boy up the mast, splice anything that’s not pre-spliced and open the gun-ports, run out the cannon. I wonder if I should fit torpedo tubes? Would that be sociable? Depth-charge launchers mayhap, and one of those burp-burp guns that fires a trillion rounds a second and takes out incoming missiles automatically before they hit…

Have I mentioned that I am tickled pink, quite beside even myself and jumping up and down with the need to shout HUZZAH! every five minutes?


Well, I am. Fingers crossed. Chin-chin.


  1. My wife & I considered one some years ago but the mooring costs on the Thames were the problem. Still like the idea of one when I walk along the Kennet & Avon canal which is no so far away. Like the name Porterhouse Blue, Read the book so if you go for that name you have to have a Tom Sharp painting on the side. Enjoy you never know you might find a photo of your boat on my blog some time if I see it.

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    1. I believe that moorings in London can be a nightmare – hopefully there’s enough room for me to pay a flying (2mph) visit sometime, to have a look around! Porterhouse Blue is high on the contenders list for the name. Tis a difficult decision! 😉


  2. I think I’ve seen that boat before (or possibly the marina in the photographs!) You must give me a shout when you bring her to Middlewich, perhaps you could join us at the Folk and Boat Festival? It’s a hippy delight and my favourite time of year in our little town… 😉

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  3. You sound just a little pleased by your purchase Ian. I hope the survey goes through well. I’d be tempted to see if I could get to Cheshire and find you by looking out for a boat called the Huzzah Porterhouse Wolsey and with an Irish Wolfhound sunning itself on the roof .
    Your local swimming baths probably does lessons for adults which are quite small and away from the prying eyes of kids.

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    1. Just been on the ‘phone again – survey likely next week, so it’s back over to the boatyard to watch. The other essential that I need for swimming lessons is a decent Edwardian striped all-in-one full-length gentleman’s swimming costume… somewhere must sell them! The list of contenders for the new name is growing daily…


    1. I need to find somewhere very private and very quiet where a chap my age who is thoroughly embarrassed about not being able to swim can learn! I was almost there at school and suddenly the pool was closed, we moved to another area and the matter never arose again. It’ll be waterwings until I learn!


  4. Ian, get that eye-patch and jolly roger now – oh, and a captain’s hat too. She looks beautiful. What does it cost to keep such a lovely thing in a marina with services (electric, water, gas, etc) where you plan to keep her and live-aboard. Most of all, congratulations on a wonderful decision. Bill and I lived aboard for five years and loved it.

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    1. I plan on only being in the marina until I get into the swing of things and have a few little jobs done on the boat (solar panels for one), then it’ll be “constant cruising”, moving at least once every two weeks as I work my way around the system. There’s 2,000 miles of it, so at 2mph enough to get lost in for a while. I need to work up to braving a couple of connecting river stretches and see what’s what before I settle in any one area. That’s the plan, and we all know what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men (squeak)! 😉


  5. What splendid news! I think I should be as thrilled as you are if it were me buying a narrowboat. I am looking forward to hearing what you name the old girl and then for stories from the towpath.

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    1. It does seem to be a great way of being allowed to be a “respectable” hippie – tune in, drop out! Lots of stories to come, with photos and videos. Preparations first in the marina where she is now, then venturing out onto the high seas… 😉

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  6. Your excitement practically leaps from the page. Watch the old ticker or you may have man overboard! We are deeply envious and will be shadowing you like a German U Boat to see if a life on the ripples might work for us too.

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