This post isn’t so much about past trips or the present renovation of BCN 18686, this is a bit of a soapbox piece, prompted by John Liley’s [always] thought-provoking article in the December ‘Waterways World’.
It’s a plea for simplicity and an approach to inlanding that’s affordable and democratic.
In these depressingly bloody times of financial meltdown and ever-increasing anxiety, surely one way to help remain sane is access to the waterways. I for one never feel more relaxed, resolved and rested than when I’ve been a-water.
And yet, having just navigated the second-hand boat sales market and see what’s available out there I despair of younger people ever being attracted to the waterways.
In our experience, boats under £20K were a liability, often a disgrace, and certainly ‘holes in the water to throw money in to’, whilst boats under £30K were often bland, poorly fitted out, depressing caravan afloat. New boats under £40K were close to non-existent, and those under £50K so standardised to cut costs as to be utterly bland, same-ey and so often soul destroyingly uninspiring.
I know there’s a huge and popular market for the Ford Mondeo model of canal boat, but surely there’s also a place for character craft? The kind of craft once embodied by the working boat conversions, the converted lifeboats and the camping boats? The kind of informal, ad hoc, quirky craft that first drew me to the canals. Boats that sung loud of adventure, and above all else were fun!
My first boat opened up a whole new world for me, and pretty much redefined my life, and it was bought for £3500.00. So come on someone, take up John’s challenge, let’s have the simplest of boats, a cheap and cheerful boat, with the simplest of lines, yet as John says a craft that could ‘provide the kind of experience we had. And the whale of a time that was’.