"We've always wanted a boat, so when Geoff took early retirement, we said, "Why not!" rather than let the money sit in a bank.
I would definitely recommend it - I'm so glad we did it! We bought our boat last November and haven't regretted it, not for a minute. Well, ok, apart from perhaps when we had that downfall the other week and were in a lock getting drenched. It was torrential!
When we were looking for a boat to buy we saw this Aqualine narrowboat at New & Used Boats. It was seven years old, but its last owner had mostly kept it static in a mooring so its engine was still like brand new when we bought it. For us this boat is exactly what we wanted. It's been designed as a reverse layout with the bedroom at the front and kitchen at the back, which is great because Geoff can talk to me as he's driving along. Once you've had your first boat, you learn what you want most from the boat design. If we could buy a boat now, knowing more about the practicalities of boating, I don't think we'd change anything apart from perhaps having a longer bow with a bit more room to sit.
There was the excitement of finding the right boat for us, then there was the first journey. We set off in July and we're just pottering round the Four Counties Ring... starting off at Stourport, on to Anderton then to the Peak District and Macclesfield. We moor overnight and move on most days, except for weekends. We've been on the go since seven this morning so we're going to stay here for a bit and do a bit of fishing.
It's a really sociable way of life on the canals, and because the boat is so close to home everyone wants to come and visit, even friends from work. My sister visited last week, and the week before Geoff's brother visited us and we're having our grandchildren here tomorrow. They're six and eight and absolutely love coming to a boat to see their grandparents!
I'm really enjoying our first summer on our own boat. Since about 2000 we did holidays on hire boats, and loved it. But then we found ourselves cycling down the canal every weekend just to look at the boats...so that's when we thought, "We’ve got to get one!"
Caroline & Geoff, Tixall Wide, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal