Life

Dry Land

boat-stories

‘May the road rise up to meet you’, goes the saying. In eight years I spent living on a boat, the water did rise up to meet me quite suddenly once or twice: one minute ‘down there’ and the next ‘rushing up to meet me at speed’. On other occasions, during floods, it rose slowly, deliberately, made its point and then ebbed away…

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Guyana

boat-stories

My first boat, Dawn, arrived with a Lister LR2 diesel engine. When I bought her, the boat was about 20 years old, but the engine was double that. What lives, I wondered, had the engine had before it ended up in a boat?

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Wot? No Diesel?

boat-stories

Canal boats aren’t quiet. They may seem that way from a distance, but when underway, the captain is often unable to hear the first mate over the sound of the engine. Important communications, such as offers of cups of tea often go unheard…

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Icebergs

boat-stories

Boats are akin to swans. Which is to say that they’re like icebergs. Whatever their appearance, there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface than you’d think. On an afternoon stroll down the river, one might spot one or more boats, swans and / or icebergs. And unless someone’s having a really bad day, you probably won’t see what lies beneath any of them…

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Balti Express and other Imaginary Boats

boat-stories

People get funny ideas when it comes to naming boats. After all, our boat is called Monstronauticus and it’s virtually the only name that my wife and I could agree on. But the phenomenon can be explained by good old British bureaucracy…

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Going in

boat-stories

Experts agree: the best way to learn something in depth is immersion. Whether you’re trying to pick up a new language or learn a new skill like boating: in at the deep end, you’ll be the wiser for it…

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What's that sound?

boat-stories

I spent the first week aboard my floating home-to-be surrounded by the sounds of nature trampled underfoot by the chugging of the diesel engine, the wail of tungsten carbide disc on steel, underscored by a whirring petrol generator. Though nature is famously noisy, that week definitely represented the triumph of the industry over environment…

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Hoisting the flag

boat-stories

Whatever happened to that Lister LR2 engine that valiantly got us from Staffordshire to Oxford on only one cylinder? That was hoisted out and replaced with a model with only marginally higher horsepower?

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Listers never break

boat-stories

After much searching, I found the boat that I wished to call home. Dawn, for it was she, was moored in Staffordshire. My father and I both booked precious time off work and, after testing the suspension and kicking the tyres, we set off for the week-long journey. Destination: Oxford.

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Eight Boat Stories

boat-stories

November, fast unfolding as I speak, marks eight years since I stepped onto a boat and called it home. Boat-buying typically starts in summer, when all is bright, exciting and verdant (if you’re lucky). Like house-buying, it can take ages. There’s an array of things to fix: Surveys, licenses, insurance and, in my case, an engine. I’m not the first to move in just as a brutal winter descends.

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