Okay, the title might be slightly misleading, I actually bought the second narrowboat I viewed. However, I’d like to add that the first one I viewed was way out of my budget and so was never realistic… With that in mind, the first in budget boat I set foot on ended up mine.
Waking Up Horribly Hungover
I was horribly hungover and nearly called off the viewing entirely. ‘The fear’ often creeps in to my hungover brain, but rarely with such good reason. Thoughts of being sick on the seller, agreeing to a sale price thousands of pounds above my budget, falling into the water, you name it, swirled around my fuggy brain.
Thankfully my long suffering dad managed to get me into the car and away before I’d had a chance to begin reversing the plans. Having only visited a couple of marinas, (mostly because I wanted a picnic and a nose at other people’s boats), I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. We pulled up a slightly run-down driveway that lead to a veritable little oasis. Thanks in no small part to the lockdown, the water was full of lily pads. Even fish were basking in the sunlight, given a little confidence from the lack of engine noise for the past few months.
There was the boat. I wasn’t keen on her name initially, Sumo. Then, remembering my trembly legs and fragile head, I thought a strong name might turn out to be quite a good thing after all.
We got an exhaustive tour, for which I dearly wish I’d bought a dictaphone. Being a total novice at all this, there are bound to be hundreds of things I will come to regret not having notes of. All I knew, thanks to hours of forum trawling, was that I wanted a solid hull, an easy and reliable engine, and in an ideal world, solar power. A BSS, a wood burning stove, a working kitchen and bathroom featured further down the list. I needn’t have worried about prioritising – she had all of them!
Test Driving the Boat
We fired up the engine and took her out for a potter down the Old River Nene, which could have been quite literally anywhere in the world. The river makes everything look entirely different. Once plain landscapes turn into havens of nature. The sun was glaring off the water. We saw moorhens, fishermen, ducks – and people feeding them, more dragonflies than I could count, and even a kingfisher.
If you’re looking to sell a boat, then the best advice I can give you is to try to postpone the viewing until the sun comes out – I can’t imagine a more wonderful way to spend a hungover Sunday than bimbling down the river. I would defy anyone to leave ‘boat-less’.
By the time we were back my sore head and churning stomach was all but gone. The Fear, however, had multiplied. Was I really going to part with all of the money that I had in the world? I spoke to my dad about it and we both said I’d be crazy not to. Oh no! He was agreeing with me. Was he also a hungover idiot? Or had we landed on our feet and immediately found exactly the boat I needed?
Buying My First Narrowboat
We may never know! Either way, I bought the damn thing. Sumo was mine. I completed all the formalities and walked away with the keys. I didn’t shout or jump around, I was just a little confused at how quickly everything had happened. It could’ve been the hangover, it could’ve been that strange thing in my brain that makes big decisions feel as though they’re the most obvious step in the world.
It’s been a couple of weeks now, since the day I bought her. Unfortunately, I’ve got a shop some 150 miles away to finish closing, a flat to move out of, and all of my belongings to consolidate. I’ve got two weeks left in which to do all of that and then the adventure starts for real. I am itching to get back on board!