Shop front in the summer

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The flock return

Well as the title suggests we have had a busy couple of days here at Norbury....just for a change....ha ha. All the boats that went out last Friday, Saturday and Monday have all returned and some have even turned around and gone out again, not with the same crew on I might
We had 6 boats back yesterday and Pippin and Sphinx both went out again, and 5 return this morning with Ember and Phantom going back out, Phantom is out for 4 weeks ;-)
We had 2 day boats out this morning which Peter showed out and both returned without any issues and a great day had by all.
The tea room has ticked over nicely today with Denise and Sylvia and the help of our newest member of staff Zoey. Zoey is only 16 and has done really well, we are proud to have her in our team.
Bernard has been doing engine services and being a general change there....he even made me walk down the gunwales to get off Ember as he had the deck boards up, charming!!!!
Peter has been doing the internal checks on the hire fleet and did the show rounds on the boats going out.
When he was turning the boats round yesterday he decided to give the roof on Sphinx a good clean with a broom and suds. I went onto the boat to give it a final check I could hear a scratching on the roof, I walked out the front door to see what was going on and got a face full of suds....lovely, I had already had a shower that morning and didn't need another one thanks.
We had the Shropshire star trip boat go out last night with a fish and chip supper, there were 25 people aboard who all had a great time with Will as skipper and Sandra as crew.
Joyce has been doing her usual Ebay listings and sales. She bought some lunch with her yesterday, chicken salad. She came down to the kitchen at lunchtime and searched the fridge for her lunch. I heard her asking where it was and I had to skulk away as I saw it in there, someone asked for a chicken salad and I sold it....sorry Joyce.
Mrs Handbag has been cleaning the boats today and we have both been cracking on with all the washing that needs doing in the laundry. Surprinsingly, for information purposes only of course we have washed 84 towels, 11 double duvet covers, 20 single duvet covers, 11 double sheets, 20 single sheets, 84 pillow cases, 10 bath mats, 7 shower curtains, 10 rubber bath mats and 18 tea towels and the same again for tomorrow.
David has been looking for new computers for the 3 of us....yay
Well that's all from me for today, until next time, byeeeeee ange. 


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Not a normal Wednesday

Its quite possibly the busiest week of the year for the hire industry on the canals, We certainly have every hire boat out on hire, including the day boats, and I know that most of the other hire companies are fully booked too, now on a Wednesday we are usually stacked out with work, customers and the phone doesn't stop ringing but today has been unusually quiet, it could easily have been the other way though with breakdowns and boats everywhere, It does bemuse me somewhat, as I said most of the hire companies have their fleets out yet the canal has an eerie quietness to it, we haven't seen many boats around today at all, the wharf has been quiet and the visitor moorings have been empty, so where are all of the boats?

Although its been quiet today we have had three day boats go out first thing, one did book on line lase last night however, we haven't docked a boat because the one that is currently in the dock is waiting for parts to arrive for its bow thruster and it was scheduled to be in all week as it was being grit blasted and painted in a two pack epoxy paint system, the weather hasn't done us any favours either today and I reckon that has kept people away too, there is no rest for the wicked though and Lee has cracked on with the tug that he was painting and at around four o'clock he announced that he was finished, and what a smart job he has made of that, just a nit of sign writing to be done and that one will come out looking like a new boat.

Im off to battle with the rain, so until tomorrow

Saturday, 24 May 2014

very busy

hi all, we have had 4 boats return to us this morning and all had a great time. three of them have turned round along with wharf cottage which is now out for the week and they have also booked a day boat, we do reduced rates on day boats for cottage residents.
well we had phoenix, phantom, princess and ember return today, all but  phantom have turned round and we have also seen phoebe, python and summer wine on their way, hopefully for a nice sunny this space.
well we had 2 day boats out first thing that peter duly showed out, both returned on time and despite the rain had a great day.
denise and mrs handbag have done the cleaning on the boats today and what a sterling job they have done, my biggest bug bear here with the hire fleet is the amount of washing we have to do at the end of the turnround....mmmm...
sylvia and trudy have been working in the tea room today which has been quite busy, especially early on when everyone could smell the breakfasts cooking.
mr hb as he is now known (doesn't like the hand bag label) has been doing turning the boats round and peter has been doing the internal checks on the boats and wharf cottage. bernard has been a general nuisance and engineering the hire fleet.
i do wish that the boats could be better placed when they are returned to us....i got stuck on the tiller  arm of pacific today, so low, almost knocked myself into the canal....pmsl
well thats all from me for today, til next time....byeeee ange.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Getting Afloat - Part 9

Peter Underwood looks what turns ordinary people into boaters
And now for the extras – only some of them optional.

Licences, insurance, breakdowns, mooring fees, maintenance they are all part of the cost of running a boat. Here's what it will all cost you to own a boat as well as a look at the equipment you really need – as opposed to what you might like to have – and the cost of key items. 

We'll also suggest how to order your priority buys and how to get the best bargains as well as looking at buying online versus buying in a chandlers.

Everyone wants to dip into your wallet!

COSTS on the waterways usually vary with the size of your vessel and many are unavoidable, but you need to know how much a boat is going to drain out of your wallet each year.

To make life simple I have based all the costs quoted on a second-hand, 60ft, steel narrowboat, in reasonably good condition, moored in a Midlands marina, used for leisure and worth around £45,000. If the vessel you are thinking about is different you will need to check the costs out for yourself. You will find marina charges and licences usually vary on size, whilst insurers are more likely to look at location and value.

In many ways the obligatory licence or registration of your boat for the waters on which you plan to use it is fairly straightforward. Most inland waterways in this country are operated either by the Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) or the Environment Agency. Hopes that the two would be merged in the next couple of years have now been abandoned – although it remains an ambition.

The Trust offers two types of licences for private boats, the one most people buy is the Canal and River licence which covers all the canals plus the CRT rivers, the Severn, Trent and Yorkshire Ouse. That will cost our hypothetical boat owner £925.97 next year after several years of price rises well above inflation, although there is a promise to limit rises to the Consumer Prices Index in the coming years. 

The second type is a Rivers Only licence which drops the cost to £555.58 for our boat but you are limited to using it on the CRT rivers. This option is mostly used in London by boats moored on the River Lea who then buy a top-up licence when they want to use the canals.

The Environment Agency charges according to which of their river systems you are moored upon. Our boat would pay £627.12 to use the Thames and £825.26 to cruise the Anglian waterways.

Boaters who look to travel extensively across the UK system will often opt to buy a Gold licence that gives access to the waters of both organisations. This costs £1,234, so it's good value if you are a long distance cruiser.

There are, small scale bodies who control parts of the system. The Bridgewater Canal remains separate and has it's own fees and parts of the River Cam are locally controlled with some expensive and slightly odd charges, especially for visitors. You can even moor in the Fens, on the waters controlled by the Middle Level Commissioners around March which link the River Nene with the Great Ouse, and not pay a registration fee or a licence. The downside is that the Fen drains are not the most scenic part of the world and moorings are very limited. You will, of course, have to buy a licence as soon as you leave the drains.

Insurance is also obligatory in the sense that most navigation authorities won't sell you a licence without it. Comprehensive insurance will give you the cover you need and insurers are somewhat coy about quoting on hypothetical boats. Simone Spinks Group Communications Manager for Towergate Insurance, told me: “It’s hard to quote an exact figure as there are so many variables, but, as a very roughballpark figure; cover for fire, theft, accidental damage, sinking, storm and flood, Legal Protection and £3,000,000 third party cover, there would be a range between £195 for someone new to boating and £150 for someone who has boating experience and 5 years no claims bonus.

“For a top tier policy it includes all of the above plus protected no claims discount and an element of recovery and rescue if you break down, the range would be between £250 for a new boater and £200 if 5 years no claims bonus had been earned.”

Like cars, even the best boats are known to break down and there is another form of insurance that may appeal if you are a newcomer to boating with little mechanical expertise. River Canal Rescue provides a form of breakdown insurance that costs £155 a year for the silver level of cover for which you get a call-out service and cover of up to £1,000 on the cost and the labour in fitting certain new parts.

If you have enough experience to spot the likely cause of a problem there are plenty of experienced engineers at boatyards and even on boats around the system. Expect to pay around £60 for a call-out, which may include the first hour's work. Then hourly rates are usually around £40-50 an hour, more in the South-East.

The sums are easy, you just have to make a judgement about how likely your boat is to break down, and how often.

The other big cost is mooring your boat and it is fair to say a lot of boaters are finding this the biggest drain on their resources, especially in the posh marinas that have been springing up around the system in recent years.

Mooring our boat at ABC's Alvechurch marina on the Birmingham and Worcester canal next year would cost £2,760 if paid in advance. At Mercia marina on the Trent and Mersey the same length of boat costs £2,600 a year.

In the BWML marinas, owned by CRT, prices vary according to locality. Mooring our hypothetical boat at Sawley on a non-residential mooring will cost £2,700 but at their Packet Boat marina in West London it rises to £3,888.

Unless you have bought a traditional working boat, Buckby cans 
and mops are certainly optional extras.
Those sort of costs are putting many boaters off and I met several holiday boat owners this year who only pay to moor in the winter months and move their vessel between towpath moorings in the summer.  That is a cost saving measure only made possible because most marinas have spare berths and it may well be significant that one marina near Stafford is offering a year's mooring for any length of boat for under £1,000.

There are also owners of holiday boats who appear to think a mooring is unnecessary, even though the CRT rules say that if you don't have a home mooring you must declare that you are a continuous cruiser. I have met London-based boat owners who leave their boats on 14-day visitor moorings but travel out of the city to move them a few more miles every fortnight.

CRT are currently putting in place controversial new mooring limitations and fines (they call them overstaying charges) in the South East and they may make life more difficult for those trying to economise on marina charges.

Personally, I would be looking to make a deal with strapped marina owners, although you won't get much change out of those in popular spots who can still charge what the market will bear.

Without any of the running costs of the boat itself, our 60ft pride and joy is already costing us just under £4,000 a year in recurring fees for licence, mooring and insurance.

Maintaining your investment
Once you have spent tens of thousands of pounds it would be short-sighted if you didn't make every effort to keep your boat in tip-top condition (although a surprising number don't) and that means a regular service, every 100 engine hours or so and at least once a year. The cost of a service depends on who you listen to with marinas quoting any thing between £70 and £200 for a normal service on a normal engine – so shop around but make sure the service includes checking items such as the engine mountings, hose clips and other bits likely to work loose or wear.

Some will be able to change oil and filters themselves which reduces costs to consumables, around £40-50 at retail prices.

Bear in mind that the more you travel the more you need to service your engine and it could be a twice a year job if you are boating for long periods.

The outside of the boat needs some TLC and regular washing costs nothing but will keep that paintwork looking good for longer. Eventually, of course, it will get tired and a full repaint of our 60ft boat could easily eat up anything between £5,000 and £10,000. Repaint once every ten years and that adds £500 to £1,000 a year to running costs.

Every couple of years you need to have the boat out of the water and the bottom re-coated with blacking. On our boat budget for around £600 plus a fee for craning it out or using a dry-dock and probably another £150 or so for new anodes. Probably not a lot of change out of another £1,000.

Then there is the major consumable – diesel. The average engine uses around a litre an hour. As a holiday boater the Inland Revenue expect you to declare a 60 per cent propulsion (paid for at the full VAT rate and 40 per cent domestic (paid for at the reduced rate). On current cheapest prices this would mean 100 litres of diesel costing around £120, although it could be as high as £`150 in some boatyards.

A week of cruising for eight hours a day will use around 50 litres or, say £75. Use your boat for ten weeks a year, including weekends and that is £750 in diesel costs.

 Some extras are certainly a matter of taste, but for some people
a floating hutch on a small butty is an essential extra.

Bits and pieces
Owning a boat is all very well but it is difficult to use it without certain other pieces of kit. If you are buying second-hand try to ensure that the previous owner is including in the sale key items like mooring lines, mooring pins, chains and hooks, long and short shafts and a gangplank. You do sometimes find such things removed.

A quick online checks shows prices vary considerably but a set of three lines, bow, stern and centre, along with two mooring pins and two chains or hooks, a long and a short shaft and a gangplank will set you back over £200 and these are things you probably shouldn't go boating without.

A set of three lines, bow, stern and centre, along with two mooring pins
and two chains or hooks, a long and a short shaft and a gangplank will set you back over £200.

I'll probably get wrong for saying life jackets are optional and we never wear them on the canals. However, we do own life jackets, at around £80-90 each and use them on rivers. Life rings can be bought for around the £25.

On rivers, of course, you also need an anchor, another £70 or so plus chain and rope.
The other item I would regard as essential is a set of guides for the waterways you are travelling. Say a set of five Pearsons or three Nicholsons to begin with, another £50 or so.

That makes around £4-500 if you buy new. You can save a bit online and even more if you can pick up second hand equipment on sites like E-bay – as long as you make sure the things you buy are actually fit for use.

Total costs
Put it all together and over a ten year period you may end up paying out £5,000 to £6,000 a year on top of your original investment.

I suspect only those boat owners to whom money is no object will actually spend all that. Most of us find ways to save money, learning how to do our own service and breakdowns, is a good start, keeping the paintwork washed and polished helps it last much longer and you might well be tempted to black the hull every three years rather than two.

Buying second-hand helps keep prices down, but do be careful of quality online.
You could probably half that figure by doing much of the work yourself and, of course, a major expense like a repaint can be put off until you can't look at your boat with pride any longer.

However, if you begin boat ownership by realising that the price of the boat is just the start, then it won't all come as a nasty shock later.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The new "working" boats

I suppose I can be classed as a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to old boats and the canal system. 

I have always classed the ex-carrying boats as "working" boats. It wasn't until yesterday when a pair of hotel boats; Kerala and Karnataka, breasted up and duly tied on our wharf alongside the day boats (that we were in the middle of turning round) that I actually thought to myself that these are the modern day working boats, that bring good revenue to the canal system.

Kerala and Karnataka tied abreast of Victory and Defiant.
Here at Norbury we have got day boats, weekly hire boats and a trip boat that are all worked hard, carrying passengers, rather than hauling freight as the canal system was predominately designed to do when it was built.

I must add, that it was a great sight to see a pair of hotel boats still actively trading. So many of the hotel boat pair's have stopped trading due to a number of factors, but I guess the main one being lack of trade. I remember Mabel and Forget-me-not, Dawn and Dusk, Duke and Duchess, Oak and Ash to name but a few actively trading - all of which have been retired now.
Hotel boating is a way of life, just like working in a boat yard and I take my hat off to the people that go and do it. I've only had a short experience with hotel boats, but it's something that I have always wanted to go and do for a season. It probably won't ever happen now that I have settled down here at Norbury. Working in a boat yard is not a job or even a hobby - you've got to take the rough with the smooth, but at the end of the day when you lock the door, you've got to be content and expect the next customer to knock on the boat and ask for a bag of coal! 
Will the hotel boats come back to life? I do hope so!


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Slow start but got busier

As the title suggests we had a slow start to to the day today. We had 3 day boats out first thing this morning all duly showed out by Peter, all returned on time and had a great day, a couple of them were a little bit really do need to apply sun tan lotion when you are out on a boat especially when the sun is out.
The trip boat has also been operating today, we didn't start until 12.30pm as not many folk are up and about at 11.00am, if I wasn't working I wouldn't be....ha ha, but as the day wore on there were more takers. Will was steering and Mike was crew. We had a little joke with them today, we stuck an L plate on the counter band just under the fender, they knew it was there all along.
We have docked a boat for survey this morning, undocked and docked again for blacking.
The tea room started off busy as usual on a sunday morning and then went very quiet so the girls have been out getting the boats ready for next weekend, they each took a radio with them so I could call them back if necessary, this has to happen as i make so much mess in the kitchen even making a bacon Then the flood gates opened and all hell broke cream and cake busy this afternoon. I have spent the best part of the afternoon filling the ice cream freezers and re-ordrering stock for the shop and tea room.
David has completed the sale of Tug, Dawnstar, Hazel and fire fly today, we have had a great week with brokerage, please visit our website or contact us on 01785 284292 if you have a boat to sell or are looking to buy....that is all from me for today....byeeee ange.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

sooooooooo busy

Wow what a busy day we have had here at Norbury today.
We had 3 day boats out first thing this morning which Peter duly showed out, all returned on time and had a great day and no one sunburnt I am glad to say. After he showed the day boats out he got on with doing the internal checks on the boats that have gone out today and doing showrounds.
Mr Handbag has been doing the turnrounds on the boats, serving diesel and gas and pumpouts on the wharf.
Bernard has been engineering the boats that have been turning round and generally making a nuisance of himself, I was having a conversation with Mr Handbag and Bernard said "speak up, I can't hear you"....I said "I'm not speaking to you, mind your own business"....he said "I like to know what's going on, now speak up", nosey.
We had 4 hire boats return to us this morning, all with happy people aboard despite the horrible weather that we had at the start of the week and we have had 4 go out this afternoon headed in all sorts of directions.
Denise and Sandra have manned the tea room under lots of pressure and have coped very well, it has been very busy down there today with lots of cyclists and walkers, they even called on me to go and help a couple of times.
We also had the trip boat out this afternoon for a 2 hour trip, Shebdon and return. Will was the skipper and Sylvia was crew. All had a fab time.
Mrs Handbag and Trudie have been cleaning the boats and we now have a MASSIVE pile of washing waiting to be put through the washing machine :-(
Well that's it from me until next time, byeeeeeee ange.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Simply stunning!

I was away abroad on business over the weekend in quite a warm climate and I kept a close eye on the weather back home, I was pleased to be in the warm but disappointed that good old Blighty was suffering, I returned on Monday evening to cloud and rain and my heart sank at the prospect of a poor week, but I think that I must have bought the good weather back with me, Tuesday turned out to be a nice day and today has been stunning, I arose early this morning to the usual early morning chorus and streaming sunlight, the Grass was heavy with Dew and there was a frost over the windscreen of the cars, but what a lovely way to wake up, I thought then that I must have bought tyhe weather back with me, according to the forecasters its here to stay for a while, fingers crossed!

Its been a busy one at Norbury today, we had three day boats out first thing, well it was two really, as Mick and Jude took a boat out with some friends aboard, Peter showed the other boats out and what a great day they have had, a bit later on in the morning we had the trip boat go out on a 6 hour cruise up to the Wharf Tavern at Goldstone, I bet Paul the owner of the pub was pleased with having the best part of 50 hungry mouths to feed on top of his normal trade; the morning then settled down to the norm, we had a boat on the dock for survey first thing which Bernard and Mr HB sorted, they left the surveyor to it and carried on with bits and bobs around the boats and the yard, just before lunch they flooded the dock and just after lunch they then docked another boat but for blacking this time, of which Mr HB pressure washed the hull and left it to dry for the rest of the day, Bernard went on to it to satrt its full engine service, and Peter went on to start constructing some new entrance steps down to the moorings, Ange, Joyce and Sylvia looked after a busy shop and tea room, and not forgetting Lee, who has been painting the undercoats and preparing the boat in the dock, that's going to look great when finished!


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Is it a sign of the times

We all know that this country has been in a recession since about 2008 and I do wonder what real impact this is having on the canal system, I don't mean in just financial terms but in social terms, with most large ticket items being reduced in price, borrowing difficult to obtain, mortgages having been difficult to get hold of in the recent past and of course less money around in general, is this leading to people looking at narrow boats as a cheaper housing alternative, I know people have been looking at boats for that very reason for years but it strikes me that we are seeing more and more people looking for a cheap liveabord, bigger boats have come down in price quite a lot, probably because they are less affordable to run, and maintenance is higher too,what ever the reason boats are becoming very desirable to people who can only just afford them; Over the last couple of years I have seen the number of people seeking cheap liveabords rise, and they all seem to want the same thing, a boat with a reasonable hull and engine and then they will make do with the rest and 'do it up' as they go along, they don't want a mooring as they intend to continuously cruise; Now given that we are all entitled to use the waterways within the current CART guidelines then there should not be an issue, but unfortunately not everyone does.
 Now my question is this, with more continuous cruisers, more people looking for a cheap home, more people staying in popular spots for longer than they should, is it only a matter of time before the canal becomes less desirable as a place to relax and go boating, are hire boaters looking elsewhere for holidays, are private (no continuous cruising) boaters getting fed up with it, or has that time already arrived? Is the canal slowly turning in to a sort of floating social housing system? Is it a sign of the times?


Sunday, 11 May 2014

April showers?

Well, we have all heard of April showers, but they must be running late this year because the weather has been so changeable today! One minute the sun has been shining and the next the heavens have opened.

That's just typical as I have been working outside for most of the day. Lee and I docked a boat first thing whilst Peter showed the dayboats out and Mick sorted a few minor problems with a couple of "regulars" boat's.

Once the water was drained from the dock the Steve Hand carried out his "pre-purchase" survey. That gave us time to finish shifting a few boats around and doing some maintenance jobs around the yard! 

The top blew off of the tap in the gents toilets last Sunday morning, so it has been isolated all week whilst we got a replacement. Peter's made a good job of it and there's no longer the need to nip in to the ladies to wash your hands!!!

Once Steve had finished with his survey, I flooded the dock and Peter and I docked Lilliput. This is another "regular" here at Norbury for docking and blacking. We do find that we have a lot of repeat custom with dockings etc. and we build a good relationship with the customers when this happens.

Peter pressure washing "Lillyput".

Although the weather hasn't been too kind to us today there has been a few boats on the move, calling in for the normal diesel, pumpout and other services that we have on offer. On a cold wet day the tearoom makes a welcome retreat while one of our lads carry out your requests.


Lee's been working hard preparing Arwen Evenstar prior to painting this week and I have managed to get a few photographs as the primer was being applied earlier today. We sold this boat to the current owners about three years ago and they have returned to us to give her a fresh appearance.

 Arwen Evenstar in the Wet dock.

 Arwen Evenstar with primer applied to the starboard side.

Front end of Arwen Evenstar.

That's it from me today. Until next time.

Best regards, David. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Not much to report but getting busier

Hi all,  my turn soon comes around again. Well as the title suggests there still isn't a lot more to report but I will try and keep you entertained.
We had 3 hire boats return to us this morning, no issues and all had a great time. We have turned round Summer Wine and Python and Princess and Phantom have also gone out to play for a week. Yesterday saw Quince, Solace, Sphinx and Pippin go out and on monday we have Pacific going out with a returning customer of ours....Nigel Booth and party, you know who you are :-) and Wharf cottage is out for a short break.
We had 3 day boats out first thing this morning which Peter duly showed out, one party was very eager to get going, they were there before we, but all returned safe and sound despite the very dodgy weather that we have had here today.
Mrs Handbag has been turning the boats around with help from Mrs Tupp (our Denise),  both have been cracking on with the washing, giving one of our moorers boats a thorough spring clean aswell as serving in the tea room and cleaning the Shropshire Star ready for her 1 hour cruises tomorrow starting at 11 am. In their absence Sylvia has been serving in the tea room.
Mick (Mr Handbag, who incidentally doesn't answer his radio if you call for "Mick", he now only answers to Mr Handbag as we also have Mick Thompson working here), has been turning boats around today and Peter has been dong internal checks and showrounds.
Bernard has been his usual annoying self and David and I have looked after the office between us, serving customers, taking day boat and holiday bookings and meeting and greeting holiday makers.
Well that really is all for today, i've been playing catch up all week after the fesival last weekend and my brain is frazzled....more to come next saturday so until next time, bye........ Ange. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Getting Afloat - Part 8

Peter Underwood looks what turns ordinary people into boaters

Buying a boat that has been owned before is no different to buying a second-hand car or even a house – it will always be a balance between price and condition. You are buying what you can see in front of you and you will only have one opportunity to bargain with the seller. It is important to get it right – and perhaps we can help.

IF you were a car dealer, selling a second-hand car you would clean it, polish it, touch up the paint and present it in the best possible light to get the maximum price, wouldn't you?

Even estate agents these days give careful advice to sellers about making sure their home has neutral colours on the walls, is clean and smells fresh before potential buyers are given a viewing.

So why do so many of the people who sell second boats – either brokers or owners -happily offer for sale, scruffy, often dirty, vessels showing all the signs of neglect?

When you begin your trek around the brokers and private owners offering boats for sale do not expect to be dazzled by cleanliness, shiny paintwork and spotless engines. In fact, if you find a boat like that, I would look at it very closely, simply because the trade as a whole is so bad at presentation that you have to wonder what is being hidden.

The plus side of that approach is that you will see boats warts and all and it should be easier to identify potential problems.

We will deal with all the things you need to bear in mind whilst on your boat search later, but I want to make one key point before we do.

If you are buying a boat today all the power is in your hands – this is a buyers market. There are more boats for sale both with brokers and privately than I can remember in nearly 20 years of boating.

The recession has meant that many families are finding it difficult to spend the £3,000 or so a year it costs to keep a boat licenced, insured and moored and need to turn their investment into cash.

That means that boat dealers with ready cash are offering anything up to half the asking price and still making deals.

 You will find plenty of brokers and private sellers,
but make sure that they meet all of your criteria.

In that context this is the best possible time to buy a second-hand boat – if you are willing to haggle and haggle.

Once you see the boat you like, do not assume that the asking price is the real price. Make an offer. It may well be that the dream boat you thought you couldn't afford is now within your reach, especially if you are a cash buyer.

Brokers across the country will admit privately that any seller who over-estimates the value of his craft and refuses to accept offers is likely to see his or her vessel on the broker's books for a very long time.

Well before you set off you will have gone through the business of narrowing down the sort of boat you are looking for, length, width, layout, style etc. So you should be comparing like with like.

Unfortunately, second hand boats are not like cars, with ownership registered on some central computer, nor are they like houses with the deeds stashed at the Land Registry. That means you need to be able to trust the people you may be buying from.

If it is a broker it will help if the firm belongs to one of the trade associations with an enforceable Code of Conduct such as the British Marine Federation (BMF), the Boat Retailers and Brokers Association, a group within the BMF), or the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents(ABYA).

It's worth asking if the broker operate a properly administered client account and whether the money you pay over will be kept in this account during the brokerage transaction?

You should ask whether there marine finance on the boat and the detailed arrangements for it being paid off before the boat becomes yours.


Knowing who really owns a boat, especially an older one, can be difficult to ask about title documentation. It could have a Part I Registration, Builder’s Certificate if it newish or there could be previous Bills of Sale.

Evidence of compliance with the Recreational Crafts Directive and the VAT status are also helpful but, above all make sure you are satisfied with the seller’s title documents before you sign a binding agreement.

There are standard BMF/ABYA contracts and when you are buying second-hand you really need to make sure any contract is subject to an independent survey.

It wouldn't be a bad idea if the contract included a specification and inventory so that there is no future argument about whether a specific item of kit is included. Some brokers offer extras, like an opportunity to moor, but don't overestimate the value of such perks, marina berths are not in short supply these days.

Finally it is important to spell out when you will become responsible for licensing and insuring the boat.

All those precautions make sense but I would flag up that buying a second-hand vessels is very much a case of buyer beware – you will have little or no comeback on the broker or previous owner unless they have actually misled you in some way, and even then it could take a court case to get satisfaction.

Make sure you boat is up to the job you want it to do,
and that means getting a survey before aiming for waterway wonders like at Foxton.
That is not said to put you off – merely to drive home the need to ask all the right questions and make sure you are happy with the answers.

Most of the questions are basic – you will know as soon as you step on board whether the boat been well looked after.

Check the paintwork, look at the fridge, cooker, heating system and shower – are they all in good working order?

Make sure there are central, fore and aft ropes, and that they are staying on the boat, along with a windlass and mooring pins?

Oh, and if the boat is out of the water make sure you know who is going to pay for it to be craned back in.

You need an expert to check what you can't see or don't know about. Primarily this is the thickness of the hull and whether any repairs are needed. Having said that, even surveyors make mistakes and when we bought our ex-hire boat we were assured the hull was sound only to be told five years later that it was very thin on the edges of the bottom plate thanks to wear when it was operated as a hire boat.

Ask when was the boat last 'blacked' in dry dock, with the hull protected with several coats of bitumen.

If you are not a mechanic it may be worth getting one to check over the engine and gearbox as some older craft have some weird and wonderful kit in the engine room.
Check the batteries (three leisure and one starter battery is standard) to make sure there are still working well and look for a battery management system and an inverter to convert 12 volt battery power to 240 volts if you want to run mains equipment on board.

You have to go over the paperwork that comes with the boat. A vessel less than four years-old must have a certificate Recreational Craft Directive (Class D Inland Waters), which says it's built to laid-down standards.

Boats more than four years must have a Boat Safety Certificate (BSS), which is a bit like an MOT and confirms the basic safety systems - engine installation

Where did that go?

Where did the morning go to, it started off early as we had to drop off Graham and his wife to collect a boat that is due in to us for brokerage, they wanted an early start and to be honest so did we as we had a lot on today, A day boat went out first thing, and the people were waiting for us when we came in to open up, I think they were a bit keen, Peter duly showed them out and off they went, and what a great day they have picked as the sun has been out all day, Bernard fitted a set of anodes on the boat in the dry dock and then went on to carry out a full engine service on a private boat, Fred was in turning boats around, four hire boats today and another four tomorrow, he then went on to dig up a bit of the wharf that covers a water pipe that has developed a leak, there is always something to repair in place like this, Mick has been refitting window frames on the boat that has just come out of the painting dock and Lee is still preparing the one in the wet dock, I will see if we can get some pictures of before and after, me and David have been shuffling brokerage boats around and putting them in to the brokerage moorings, that sounds easier than it is trust me, and then we carried on producing all of the brokerage information and getting it uploaded and finally but by no means last, Ange and Denise have been looking after the shop and tea room while Mrs Hand bag has been cleaning the boats and the cottage ready for the next set of holiday makers.

I hope you all have a nice weekend

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Boats everywhere

What a manic day it has been today, from very first thing this morning it has almost been non stop, the shop and wharf have been quiet and so have the phones, in some way I am quite glad because I don't think that Me or David would have cooped, it doesn't sound like a lot but we had three boats turn up for brokerage first thing and two boats complete and go out so five sets of customers to deal with and all of the associated paperwork to complete, that took most of the day between other jobs, in fact David is still working on getting the advertising sorted on the many websites that we use, I| managed to get a rough draft put together for a couple of the boats and that just leaves one to get some pictures of tomorrow, make sure you have a look at our website for the details of the new boats as they are quite nice! As well as the three extra boats we now have for sale, we also have several boats turn up for work to be carried out, so as you can imagine it is a bit tight so to speak, boats everywhere at the moment, it will soon change!

Bernard came in today and got 6 boats ready for the weekend,but we do have 9 out and the cottage, Fred blacked a boat on the dock as well as mouched around the yard in the rain looking for somewhere to hide, and Lee is still in the process of stripping a boat down that is in the wet dock, sorry we haven't been keeping the blog up to date, time just seems to run away with us, but we will endeavour to keep you a bit more up to date over the next couple of months.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Another freebie and a cracking weekend

Firstly a huge thank you to everyone that attended the canal festival at Norbury over the weekend, and secondly a massive thank you to everyone that worked so hard to make the 2014 festival another success; Norbury was blessed with good weather, Saturday was excellent, Sunday was OK and Monday was nice Too so we were very lucky, the people turned out in their droves to attend, the canal society reckons in the region of 9000 visitors, plus of course all the attending boats, numbers were slightly down on last year but still an excellent turnout, I think in terms of canal festivals Norbury must be well and truly on the map now!

As always we have boats that need moving and currently we have one on the Caldon canal which needs to get to Norbury, that's the easy bit, all we need now is some one to steer it, its a 38 footer and will sleep two, if anyone fancies a nice little trip then let me know via email, all you will need to do is get yourself to Norbury and we will take you to the boat, drop me a line but be quick as the last one was taken up the day after posting the details


Saturday, 3 May 2014

May day festival weekend

We have had a very busy day today here at Norbury. We had 3 day boats go out first thing, 2 of which Peter duly showed out and the other one was doing short boat trips for the festival.
We had Phoenix, Summer Wine, Princess and Phoebe return to us this morning all with happy customers aboard and who also enjoyed great weather. Summer Wine, Ember and Python have all gone out today and we have bed and breakfast customers on Phoebe and Phantasy.
Everyone has been really busy here today in one way or another. The tea room has been especially busy which has kept Denise, Sylvia, Sandra, Jenny, Mrs Handbag, Sarah and myself (at times) occupied. We have sold loads and loads of ice cream and loads of cream teas and cake.
David and Joyce and me (sometimes) have been in the office....I have to keep putting words in brackets after my name because Simon said that I wasn't to help out in the tea room unless it was absolutely necessary....well Si it was ;-) and Sarah and Mrs Handbag have been turning boats round.
We also had the Shropshire Star running 1 hour long trips to Grub Street and back today with Will as steerer and Mike as crew.
Bernard, Mick and Peter have been engineering and doing the internal checks on the hire fleet as well as getting the day boats turned round ready for them all to go back out again tomorrow :-)
There are loads of boats here at Norbury at the moment for the festival weekend, there is the cheese boat, fudge boat, someone making nice belts and dog collars, Peter and Jill Jaggers selling their jewellery etc, Big Knitting wool stall, someone selling unusual tiller pins....Mark asked if he had a basset hound tiller pin, he replied "no, I've never seen one but I have one of a dachsund, I suggest you change your dog"...change my Dylan, never :-)
Well I can't think of anything more to say about today, hopefully we will be really busy again tomorrow, until next time, byeeeeeeeeeeee ange.