© 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   finnaly   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, and see pictures of my final shortlist. 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 hull steel construction; Beta   Marine   or   Barrus   Shire   (Yanmar)   engine   with   low   engine   hours   and   regularly   professionally maintained; Minimum 4 berth including one fixed double berth; Modern   professionally   installed   12v   electrical   system,   including   a   reasonably   sized   inverter   and solar panels, with minimum of 3 domestic batteries; Comprehensive   230v   shore   power   system   including   contact   breaker   protection   and   three   pin sockets throughout boat; Semi Traditional or Cruiser with reverse ayout; Eberspacher or similar diesel fired heating system with radiators plus multi fuel stove; Recently blacked with new anodes fitted; Long dated Safety 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 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   to   purchase   process,   sea   trial,   deposit   paid,   out   of water survey, paid balance, 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    Tropman    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. 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   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   second week of January 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   river   and   canal   navigation   would   be permitted? 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 bedding.
Mercia Marina
Launching Alkeny
Thorne, South Yorkshire
Nationwide Narrowboats