Sunday, April 29, 2012

How it all started

Having enjoyed reading numerous blogs, particularly those which are waterways related, we have decided to document our travels on our narrowboat 'Blue Moon'.

We first experienced narrowboating in 2005 when we hired 'Katrin' from Viking Afloat at Worcester. It didn't all exactly start well, as our youngest son, Luke, decided he was going to fall in the water before we had even finished the boat briefing or started the engine. However, things improved very quickly and since then we have been 'hooked'. Our first trip saw us head out onto the River Severn and then head north along the Staffs & Worcs and the Shroppie as far as Brewood, before re-tracing our steps to Worcester. We were blessed with fabulous weather which undoubtedly helped, but the sense of relaxation we experienced was just fantastic. 

Whittington Lock - Staffs & Worc
On the return home we put the radio on in the car and were listening to reports about Hurricane 'Katrina' in New Orleans, which was news to us. The fact that it had occurred six days earlier and we knew nothing of it brought it home to us how far away from everyday life we had been.

Within a few weeks we had booked our holiday for 2006, a fortnights trip this time from Chirk Marina on a Black Prince boat called 'Miranda'. We managed to cover the Llangollen, Four Counties Ring and most of the Caldon, before crossing the 'Ponty' on our last afternoon before handing the boat back. 

Great Haywood Junction
2007 saw us hire 'Natasha' another Black Prince boat, this time from Wigrams Turn, for a trip down the South Oxford as far as Thrupp and then back to Braunston and up to Norton Junction before the short trip back to base. Just a week on the waterways this year, but our enthusiasm was as strong as ever. 

Summit Level - South Oxford Canal
Whilst on the 2006 trip we met people who had a 'share' in a boat and got us thinking about shared ownership. We researched it then but didn't feel confident enough to commit. We visited the OwnerShips show at Braunston in 2007, picked the brains of those already involved, but still held off. After the 2007 trip, we considered it again, and this time we decided that the time was right. We signed up to a share in a new boat 'Marbury' and we were the first aboard her in February 2008. A very cold week but most enjoyable too.

Market Bosworth
The waterways were becoming an addiction. Not only Marbury, but later that year we decided to buy a share in another OwnerShips boat, 'Inglewood'. This gave us at least 6 weeks cruising a year and this was the case until 2010. The groups of owners on each boat were fantastic. All were enthusiastic and lovely people, but despite having our own share, it never felt like 'ours'. I would say to anyone considering the shared ownership option, it worked well for us and totally fulfilled our needs at the time. It beats hiring hands down and is a chance to become involved in the running of a boat - your boat (or at least some of it).

Bosley Locks - Macclesfield Canal
Our last trip on Inglewood was in August 2010 when we ventured down onto the River Avon from our base at Fradley. Unfortunately we became stuck at Bidford-on-Avon due to floods and had to stay put for 3 days, but on our return to Fradley we discussed the possibility of buying our own boat. We wanted something to call our own and something where we could please ourselves. We chatted for hours and hours about whether we could stretch to buying a boat outright, what make and layout we would prefer etc etc. We viewed a couple of boats at nearby Mercia Marina and came up with a short wish list of what we wanted.

Many hours of internet trawling followed, until one Saturday night in September 2010 it happened. A private advert on Apollo Duck suddenly appeared and our short wish list was ticked in virtually every box. We just stared at the advert in disbelief. 'That's it' we said - 'That's what we've been waiting for'. A sleepless night, followed by an early morning telephone call to the advertiser and an hour and a half later we had travelled to Blisworth Marina to view 'Blue Moon'. As soon as we stepped aboard for the first time we knew this was the boat for us. We immediately got on with the owners David & Sarah and left them a couple of hours later having agreed in principle to buy the boat. We called at the first pub we found and walked in as though we had won the lottery (it would have been useful at this point) and had a celebratory drink, not believing that we had agreed to buy our first boat. Interestingly, David had told us that 'Blue Moon' was not the original name of the boat, but that they had changed it when they bought her two years previously. She was originally called 'Stephanie Jane' when new, but they didn't care for that and so they had changed it. That immediately rang a bell with me. 'I've seen that boat before' I claimed. 'Where, are you sure' queried my doubting wife Louise. 'In a magazine' I replied. I'm sure from the look on her face that she didn't believe me, but when we got home I found the magazine in question from 2009. There I found the advert of 'Stephanie Jane' for sale with the New & Used Boat Company. Spookily, the advert was circled in pen signifying it as a boat I would like to buy. It was obviously meant to be !!

We were invited back a couple of weeks later and got the opportunity to take David & Sarah out for a' test drive' finishing off with a lovely pub meal. They were selling 'Blue Moon' as they were having a new boat built, but as they were in no great rush to sell and we were in no great rush to take delivery, we agreed to leave the boat at Blisworth over the winter. Over the winter we counted down the days until the deal was completed on 26th February 2011. We left Blisworth exactly a month later for the journey north to our base at Kings Bromley Marina on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Louise at the helm having left Blisworth 26.3.2011

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