© Tony Dyer 2004 - 2021  
Rivers & Canals Cruising Aboard my Narrowboat on the Rivers & Canals of England
Buying my Narrowboat
Over   the   weeks   and   months   leading   to   the   time   when   I   eventually   made   an   offer   and   finally   bought   a narrowboat   I   looked   at   a   huge   number   of   pdf   marketing   brochures   from   just   about   all   the   brokers spread   around   the   UK.   There   were   also   boats   being   offered   by   private   sellers   on   Facebook   and Apollo   Duck.   When   the   time   finaly   arrived   for   me   to   start   viewing   the   boats   on   my   shortlist,   the   UK and   rest   of   the   world   was   fighting   the   Coronavirus   pandemic,   which   made   travel   around   the   country restricted   and   problematic.   On   this   page   you   can   read   about   the   priorities   I   had   when   selecting   the best   boat   for   my   requirements,   see   pictures   of   my   final   shortlist,   and   the   steps   I   took   to   eventually become the owner of the narrowboat that was to be my winter home. When scrutinising specifications of potential purchases, my priorities were: Within budget purchase price following out-of-water survey, a satisfactory sea trial, subsequent negotiations and the cost of project work needed to be carried out; Length no more than 47ft (Minimum 44ft - Maximum 47ft) from reputable boat builder. Less than 20 years old and with 10mm original hull steel construction; Beta Marine, Vetus or Barrus Shire (Yanmar) engine with low engine hours and regularly professionally maintained; Minimum 4 berth including one fixed longitudinal double berth; Modern professionally installed 12v electrical system, including a reasonably sized inverter (1800w or more) and solar panels, with minimum of 3 domestic batteries (Over 300 Ah total capacity); Comprehensive 230v shore power system including contact breaker protection and three pin sockets throughout boat; Semi Traditional or Cruiser with reverse layout; Eberspacher, Webasto or similar diesel fired heating system with radiators, plus multi fuel stove; Recently blacked with new anodes fitted; Long dated BSS Certificate; Comprehensive (written) operating instructions and documented maintenance history from previous owner; Confidence and documentary proof that the previous owner was actually the legal owner of the boat! The   spreadsheet   I   used   to   evaluate   and   compare   all   the   many   narrowboats   I   considered   also included   headings   such   as:   Year   of   build,   builder,   engine   type,   horse   power,   number   of   hours   and last   service   date,   whether   a   240v   power   connection   was   fitted,   the   number   of   batteries,   the   power   of the   inverter,   whether   there   were   solar   panels   fitted,   details   of   the   heating   and   hot   water   systems   and if   radiators   were   fitted,   whether   or   not   a   multifuel   stove   was   fitted,   galley   equipment   (cooker,   fridge, microwave),   bathroom   (shower)   including   waste   management   method,   dates   of   last   blacking   and Safety   Certificate   validity,   if   hull   anodes   were   fitted,   whether   a   washing   machine   was   fitted,   date   of last   survey.   Finally   I   also   carefully   scruitinised   pictures   of   the   internal   layout   and   fittings   and   of   the upper deck to get a feel for how well the vessel had been cared for and maintained.
These were some of the narrowboats on my final shortlist. Not one of them fully met my priorities, but the final choice met most of them. Time will tell if I got it right.
On   Saturday   5th   December   2020   after   having   viewed   my   shortlist   of   boats   over   the   previous   week,   I made   an   offer   for   the   Narrowboat   “Alkeny”,   which   after   some   negotiation   was   accepted.   So   started the   purchase   process   including   sea   trial,   deposit   paid,   out   of   water   survey,   paid   balance,   survey work completed, fitting of additional equipment, handover, acceptance. Alkeny I   took Alkeny   for   a   “Sea   Trial”   on   Sunday   6th   December   2020,   starting   from   the   Thorne   Narrowboat Sales   boatyard   in   South   Yorkshire   and   cruising   west   along   the   Stainforth   &   Keadby   Canal   for perhaps   3   miles   before   turning   around   and   returning   to   the   boatyard.   I   was   on   the   tiller   for   most   of the   time   and   found   the   narrowboat   easy   to   handle   and   manoeuver,   including   turning   the   boat   twice in   a   little   over   boat   length   and   navigating   a   lock   and   opening   bridge   on   the   outbound   and   return   legs of   the   short   trip.   And   so   that   was   the   first   stage   of   the   acceptance   process   completed.   The   next stage   was   to   have   the   boat   hauled   ashore   for   a   full   survey,   which   was   booked   for   15th   december 2020. Alkeny   was   surveyed   by   Rick   of   Marine   Engineering   Services   on   15th   December   2020.   He   gave   the boat   a   clean   bill   of   health,   albeit   that   there   was   a   list   of   three   essential   defects   that   needed rectification.   There   was   also   a   longer   list   of   other   items   that   he   recommended,   and   a   further   three items   to   satisfy   the   requirements   of   the   Boat   Safety   Scheme   (BSS).   The   survey   was   carried   out professionally,   efficiently   and   thoroughly   and   I   was   happy   with   the   comprehensive   report   when   I received it the following day. Rick the Surveyor On   17th   December   2020   I   revisited   the   boatyard   to   discuss   the   Survey   Report   with   Nationwide Narrowboat   Sales.   The   final   list   of   work   to   be   carried   out   was   agreed   and   was   to   be   estimated before   agreeing   funding   through   the   brokers   with   the   seller.   I   also   agreed   a   short   list   of   other   work that   I   require   to   be   undertaken   before   finally   taking   ownership.   It   was   estimated   that   the   boat   should be ready for departure from the boatyard by the end of February 2021. The   arrangements   for   funding   the   remedial   work   to   be   caried   out   following   the   survey   were   agreed and   work   started.   All   work   that   was   required   to   be   carried   out   before   launching   was   completed   and Alkeny   returned   afloat   to   the   canal   on   22nd   December   2020.   It   was   a   beautiful   day   with   a   clear   sky and   no   wind,   so   I   was   able   to   take   plenty   of   pictures,   including   video   and   stills   from   my   drone.   I   was pleased   to   have   been   able   to   capture   the   day’s   activities   for   the   record.   On   completion   of   the launching   evolution   I   took   advantage   of   the   fine   weather   and   flew   my   drone   for   a   second   time,   over the   Stainforth   &   Keadby   Canal   in   the   vicinity   of   Thorne.   Later   after   returning   to   Debryshire   I   flew   my drone   for   a   third   time   in   the   day,   this   time   over   Mercia   Marina   at   Willington,   which   is   where   I   intended to   base   Alkeny   after   acceptance.   All   videos   are   availble   for   viewing   in   my   YouTube   Drone   Flights Playlist - take the link from the toolbar at the top of this page.
Drone picture Alkeny being craned into the water on 22nd December 2020 South Yorkshire The Nationwide Narrowboats Sales boatyard at Thorne on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal
The   day   after,   on   Wednesday   23rd   December   2020,   I   placed   orders   for   a   multifuel   stove,   three   new “house”   batteries   and   a   Battery   Charger.   All   were   delivered   before   the   New   Year   and   the   boatyard commissioned   to   fit   them.   I   also   awaited   the   other   work   requested   to   be   completed,   although   it   was agreed that I should move aboard on Saturday 9th January 2021. Crucial   to   moving   on   board   was   the   fitting   of   the   battery   charger   and   new   batteries,   which   would allow   all   onboard   systems   to   be   used   whilst   drawing   power   from   the   240v   shore   supply.   Other   work would   have   to   progress   after   I   had   become   a   resident   on   board!   With   a   new   national   Covid-19 lockdown   imposed   as   of   Wednesday   6th   January   2021   it   was,   at   this   point,   difficult   to   predict   when Alkeny   would   be   ready   to   move   away   from   the   boatyard,   and   even   if   it   was,   whether   or   not   the   rivers and canals would be open for navigation? During   the   days   preceding   my   move   aboard   I   fully   paid   the   balance   for   the   purchase   of   Alkeny, insured   the   boat   (GJW   Direct)   and   booked   a   berth   at   Mercia   Marina   at   Willington,   Derbyshire.   I   also purchased   essentials   for   living   aboard,   such   as   all   the   paraphernalia   associated   with   the   new   stove, LED   lighting,   Electrical   equipment   such   as   a   battery   monitor   and   new   switching,   a   replacement   fresh water   filter   element,   additional   warm   clothing   and   some   bedding.   The   excellent   services   of   Amazon proved crucial! I   was   vey   satisfied   with   the   installation   of   the   multifuel   stove,   carried   out   by   Stu,   one   of   the   willing band   of   workmen   employed   from   time   to   time   by   the   Nationwide   Narrowboat   Sales   boatyard.   A professional   installation,   the   stove   was   eventually   fitted   over   a   period   of   5   working   days   and   was finally   commissioned   on   Tuesday   2nd   February   2021.   It   added   much   to   the   homely   ambience   of   the boat and provided enough heat to keep the whole boat warm day and night.
Mercia Marina
Launching Alkeny
Thorne, South Yorkshire
Nationwide Narrowboats
The stove fully installed, including with tools, fan and scuttle During installation My new home
The addition of the multifuel stove created a homely and warm environment for my new home.
Stu (My Mini mad friend) provided a very professional result Making space
During   the   early   days   of   February,   with   the   country   still   in   the   Coronavirus   Pandemic   lockdown   and   the weather   hovering   around   freezing   point   most   days,   frequently   wet   and   occasionally   snowy,   more essential   work   was   carried   out   by   the   boartyard.   The   engine   was   serviced,   more   of   the   survey   items were     rectified     and     the     Webasto     central     heating     system     flushed     (unfortunately     without     any improvement!).   Later   in   the   month   I   set   about   purchasing   a   new   sofa-bed   for   the   main   saloon   area,   to provide   additional   sleeping   accommodation   for   my   visitors.   Eventually   I   settled   on   a   product   from   “Elite Furnishings”   at   Tamworth,   but   because   it   was   to   be   manufactured   to   my   own   dimensions,   it   was   eye wateringly   expensive!   Slowly   my   narrowboat   was   progressing   to   the   point   where   it   would   be   able   to leave   Thorne   and   head   along   the   Stainforth   &   Keadby   Canal   to   the   River   Trent   and   later   along   the Trent   and   Mersey   Canal   to   Mercia   Marina.   Eventually   I   decided   to   purchase   the   Canal   and   River   Trust cruising licence to commence on 1st March - that would be my earliest date for departure from Thorne.
My shortlist My shortlist Rick from Marine Engineering Services Settled at last
Into the second half of February with the weather becoming milder my narrowboat was almost ready to depart from Thorne in South Yorkshire for the trip to Mercia Marina in Derbyshire. I was happy with my new home and had confortably settled in.
Thanks to the anonymouse painter Thanks to the anonymouse painter Thanks to the anonymouse painter
I took my car to Mercia Marina in preparation for the forthcoming river and canal trip from Thorne to Marcia, and whilst waiting for the train at Willington Station to return north I saw these murals painted on the wall by the track. I had no idea of who to give credit to for their brightening of the station platform, but thought that they were too good not to be included on my website. If anyone seeing my website knows who painted them, please contact me.