I’ve Blogged about the boats found on the cut (canals) a couple of times now. The sizes, shapes, colours and boat names are a constant source of amusement to me. Personalised boats are what make the canals interesting. That and the sights, sounds, smells and sojourners along the way. Some old-time boaters may not see it that way, but that breed is fading fast. The attrition rate is staggering. New boaters are coming aboard at an astonishing rate every year.
It used to be, so I’m told, that only older boats dared enter the city of London. Long-time boaters and traditionlists scoffed at new, clean, well-kept boats. But all that has changed. Now we dare and dare big. I was expecting to see mostly old, derelict boats on the way into the city this past summer. But, except in a few instances, such was not the case.
The longer I live on a boat, the more I become aware of what I would like if I built….or more likely had built for me….my own boat. My design. My specs. That’s not to say I don’t like our present boat. I do. Love it in fact. Has almost everything we need, including a shower and a washing machine. In a year or so, we’ll have the boat repainted and may even change its name. They say that’s bad luck, but I don’t believe it. People change the names of their boats all the time and all is well.
If and when we do change boats, I think we’ll keep it pretty traditional….not like some we saw on our trip into the city.
The hauls are still the same….can’t change those much because they have to fit in the locks. But the more jazzed up the boat is, the more visible it is. So, an oncoming boat is either warned of its presence or mesmerised and blinded, leading to collisions and such. Flourescent paint might be great for night travel (not that night travel is the best idea) but it isn’t great for the environment.
Boats are definitely a personal thing. You can tell by some of the names and the paint jobs. Many take pride in such things and it shows. Others find their uniqueness in leaving their boats to rust and take on that lived-in, ‘who cares, it’s just a boat’ look. The chap who put in our new wood/coal stove told us he scoffed at people who continuously care for the outside of their boats, washing them, waxing them, painting every scratch, artsying up the sides and having every convenience known to man (and especially woman) on board.
But that’s his opinion. And the way he went about putting in the stove, it’s no wonder he’s not interested in how the boat looks. Besides that, he hasn’t that other half in his life to remedy his unkempt ways. Even without that half, I could never just let the boat go to rust and ruin. It may get cluttered once in a while, but never would I become negligent. Not that he is….I guess intentionally inattentive would be more like it.
I saw one boat that looked a bit like The German World War 2 battleship, The Bismarck, but with an astroturf covered roof. It was just in front of the cartoon boat and just outside of Little Venice (refer to an earlier Blog).
People will take just about any sea going vessel and drop it onto the canals. My favourites are the ocean life/rescue boats that seem to be popping up all over the place and in a multitude of colours. I’d love to see the inside of one of these to see what the owners have done to them.
It’s a mad world out on the Cut let me tell you. Craft of all shapes and sizes are showing up all over the place, even out of the city of London and into the more traditional north of England. But the south wins the prize for unusual craft. I love the names too. Geronimo, The Rose of Shiraz, Daisy, The Castle, Minnow and so on. Big boats, small boats and weird boats. All have distinctive names and painted features, making each boat unique in some way. Never a dull moment out on the Cut.
But the strangest of all is The Stealth boat, the Balhalla. Sneaks by you without a sound. Invisible at night and submarine-like. But as vulnerable as any other boat on the Cut. It passed us almost undetected one morning before we cast off. The man at the tiller was as stoic as his boat. Never looked left or right. I waved and said ‘Good morning’….nothing. No acknowledgement at all. So, we set off and a little while later and, just past one of the locks, there he was, stuck over at the side, trying to rip out a tyre (tire) that had attached itself to his propeller. Dead in the water and I had no torpedoes….Damn it!