Canals and Narrow Boats

New pictures from Christmas 2000 and New Year 2001 here  Click here

The history

I have been a canals enthusiast since the 1960s and took several canal holidays in the late 60s and early 70s, progressing from a 19 foot outboard powered plywood boat via a centre cockpit cruiser until, passing through Trefor on the way to Llangollen I discovered real boats at the Anglo Welsh base there. From then on I knew that narrowboats were the thing and hired from various companies in the years that followed. I even started to convert an old grp on ply hull and had almost completed the cabin when circumstances (Divorce No1) made it necessary to sell it. From that time I have always said that one day I would own a narrowboat. One useful tip I followed in those days when hiring for a family was to always hire a boat 2 berths larger than the number in the crew. This gave extra space and in particular saved making up the dinette every night. The last time out I hired a boat called Flying Condor from a company called Boats of Warwick. There are pictures of some of the boats mentioned in The Picture Gallery

The awakening

In 1996 a crucial thing happened in my life. I found George's canals pages on the internet. From that moment my latent interest was rekindled and by Mid May I was afloat for a week checking whether after 25 years not my body as well as my mind could cope with single handed boating. I rang round to try and find a boatyard willing to do a good deal for a single hander at short notice. The company to come up trumps was Kate Boats and when I went to take over the boat I found that the yard was exactly the same one as I had hired from on the last occasion in the 70s. The answer to my question was a resounding YES as recounted in The Secret Canal Diary of Guy Morgan aged 52 and a bit. My thoughts then turned to possibly buying a boat and going to the GIG (Great Internet Gathering of canals enthusiasts) made up my mind.

The quest

Weeks of searching the pages of the canal magazines followed, while I tried to balance the sort of boat I wanted against what I could afford. I had seen what I felt was the ideal layout at the Braunston show - J L Pinder's almost complete 47 foot tug - boatman's cabin, engine room with single cylinder Gardiner, galley, shower, lounge area with double berth pulled out from under the tug deck . However the cost of this or a comparable boat was out of my range by a considerable amount so I kept the idea in mind and went on looking. The essentials were that the boat should have a boatman's cabin and the engine in a proper engine room not under the deck. The first was largely for the look but the second for the very practical reason that if I have to maintain my own engine I didn't want to stand on my head to do it.

The Holy Grail

Early in September the quest came to an end when I saw an advertisement for the narrowboat which was to become known as "nb Unnamedtug" or simply John Forth's tug. After some negotiation I decided to buy her. She is as near to my ideal as I think I will find within my present price range. I later discovered her original name and there are more details of nb Thorn and random jottings from her log on separate pages.

You can see a picture of her taken by Martin Purbrook on the moorings at Ansty. As a bonus there's a bit of Sonata's roof in shot and the head looking out of the side doors is Jeff Dennison of the Bantock butty Coronation. Other pictures get added from time to time!!

The next step

Nearly two years after I bought Thorn, I heard on the towpath telegraph that a 30 foot butty might be for sale in Coventry. I followed up this lead and found that the owner of a matching motor and butty was interested in selling the butty as both boats had been out of the water for some time. I eventually bought the butty, Persephone and moved her to Warwickshire Fly Boats yard.

Persephone now has her own page.

Most other sites with canal related material can be reached via

To share in sometimes intellectual and often anarchic conversation about things related, however tenuously, to canals and boating, join us on the canals newsgroup uk.rec.waterways or the mailing list

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