April 2013

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It will be forever. Or a couple of weeks. I’m not capricious, but you weren’t exactly upfront about what lay beneath the surface.

You don’t choose the boat, the boat chooses you. Everyone tells me this. Okay, I’m dreaming of the boat. It’s calling to me. In my dreams. Choosing me. This is quite nice, it makes a pleasant change from, ‘abandon ship, she’s going down’. The dreams I wake up from in a cold sweat, oh good lord what were we thinking of? The dreams where the surveyor turns to me with a sad face, ‘I’m very sorry to tell you, but…..’. The dreams where I’m screaming, ‘jump, jump you fools’.

So yes, there’s this lovely dream, all is calm, and the boat says, ‘Pick me, Pick me’. And I say, okay, sure, what’s your name? Hey, come back, you didn’t tell me your name. Oh god, we’re sinking again, grab the, uhh, what, grab the what? I’ll need to make a plan for that. ‘Pick me, Pick me’…ok, you’re going to disappear but I’m paying attention now. I see you have maroon seating. And….noooo, come back dammit, they’ve all got maroon seats. I need a name!

We start actually visiting boats. 57 foot in Worcestershire. No. Andy, who has not set foot on a narrowboat before, but knows that 60 foot is too long (that’s the length of our house!), says, ‘this is way too small’. Yorkshire, 70 foot, no. How can a boat be so long and yet feel so cramped? Northampton marina 1. Woah, get me off this boat. I’m sure it can sleep 17 but I can’t breathe. Northampton marina 2, ah, maybe……

But then, there’s the first boat I saw. It has a 5 ring hob, and a dinette. And spotlights on the ceiling. And nice cushions. It’s LOVELY. I love it, and clearly it chose me. Why is it so cheap, I ask a friend. Um, it hasn’t got an engine? I read the ad again. Ah. Now I may not be very mechanically minded, but even I can see the downside to this. Not to worry, we can put an engine on it! Okay, we’re in business. Can I see the survey that was very handily done last year? Sure. Point 4.7 The boat had taken on water and the reason for this was not ascertained. It would be advisable to look into this before  re-launching the vessel. Advisable??

Northampton 2. Yes, let’s go back to Northampton, there are LOADS of boats there, and lots of them have got maroon seats.

Why not? Other people do, I even know some of them. I have friends. I’ve been on their boat, it’s very nice. We could do that! ‘We’, being me, Andy, and Astra. Well, me and Astra mostly. Andy is immersed in the land of cognitive processes as he races towards the end of his phd. Which is in, well, cognitive processes. And music. All at the same time. ‘Live on a boat? Oh, okay then’. 

Astra loves the idea, absolutely, wants every single boat we set foot on. Even the one with holes in the bottom. She’s 7, she doesn’t let things like that worry her.

‘Oh, they’re nothing to worry about, that’s perfectly normal’, says the salesman, as he pulls his hoody further down his forehead. He gives me that half smile that says, ‘you don’t know the first thing about boats, do you?’. Well, no, but I’m not going to let that stop me. And those are definitely holes. Later I learn that they are indeed holes, but not holes I need to worry about. And I have a long chat with the hoodied one about whether or not we could remove the toilet tank. Six square feet of steel that would need to be cut into pieces on the boat, and which might be empty but then again might not….and he and his friend tug on their goatees and sip from their mugs and ponder how much that job would be worth to them. Not very much, it seems to me, but I’m not going to argue. And then while we’re standing on the boat discussing how much the contents might spray around, or not, someone else phones the office and buys it. The boat that is, not the toilet tank. Although they get that too, of course, all inclusive.

Ah well. The toilet tank was a problem, and it had holes in the bottom anyway.