The worst decision we ever made

Published: Monday, 29 July 2019

AS YOU champion boaters I don't expect this article will see the light of day, writes Josie Blackburn.

Selling our house and moving onto the canals to live was the worst decision my husband and I ever made, that came from talking to those already on the water, as it were.

Very naïve

We thought we were sensible in buying a large boat, a broad beam in fact, to give us plenty of space to allow us to fulfil a long time ambition to explore the waterways of England, but alas it has proved that we were very naïve, hearing only the good points.

Perhaps it was our own fault for a last minute change of hearts to go for a broad beam instead of the narrowboat we had first decided upon, seeing how little space there was, not really investigating the canal as we should have done, soon discovering that launched on the Grand Union Canal at Crick, where the broadbeam took our fancy, we quickly realised that there was no way we could get to our family at Wolverhampton, and are in fact stuck on that canal or the rivers, that neither of us cared for, with their propensity to flood.

We were stuck

Yes, we had discovered there were two kinds of canal—broad and narrow, and the latter was no good for the size of out boat. So we had no access to our belongings that were stored in a friend's property in Wolverhampton, and certainly no space in the boat. We were stuck.

We then discovered the lack of facilities for anyone moving short distances, pump-outs and water taps were few and very far between, so we were controlled by having to reach such facilities, then to find they were closed as they had been dispensed with.

Perhaps I should mention that we ordered this boat at last year's Crick Boat Show but it was not until October we took delivery, as the alterations we required proved too much for the builders who were more set on their own, really useless, design.

Winter continued the rot

The winter continued the rot, as the Eberspächer [diesel heater] we were advised to have installed just was not up to the job, and had to go back for repairs twice, leaving us extremely cold during both late November and early February, as we did not want the dirt and clutter of a stove stuck at one end of the boat.

It was from this that we discovered that boats have about one inch of insulation, that is practically useless, as they are very cold in winter and very hot in summer, it being those hot days last week that had us joining others on the towpath who too were driven out of their 'ovens' by the hot weather, that we are told is to be the norm in the future, that prompted me to write.

Go in with your eyes wide open

There must be others, who like us,believe the delights of living on the water, and even some who obviously take to it, but please, unlike us, go in with you eyes wide open.

I feel much better for getting this off my chest, even if you will not include it, but have had pleasure in sending a copy to what we both thought were fairly useless boat builders, I understand new to the business, that I can well believe.