Friday 24 December 2010


Went down the Sailing club today and found the river Dee completely frozen over so our annual Boxing Day sail looks to be on hold for this year ;-(  The last time it froze over like this was back in the 60s.

 Not much has been happening on the design front on AmyJo for now as we are concentrating our efforts getting the house ready to sell in the New Year.  I have been busy painting the Kitchen and utility room and plan to start the dinning room after the holiday.  Meanwhile Chris has been scouring to find a suitable property but there is not much for sale we like the look of just now.  One small detail is we have managed to commission renowned narrowboat painter Andy Russell to do our art work on AmyJo for us so we look forward to that part.

For now though our attention is on the Christmas holiday so we would like to wish our readers a very

Merry Christmas
a Prosperous New Year

Steve and Chris

Saturday 13 November 2010

Early Start to Stourport-on-Severn

Chris and I had an early start today and hit the road for Stourport to visit Jim Sparks at Alexander Boats.  We left home in bright sunshine and had an excellent run down the A483 making good time to the workshop.  We arrived to find Jim hard at work finishing a 62ft Semi trad hull that was due to leave on Thursday.  By the looks of it he has a few late nights to put in to finish in time though the owners are not going to be disappointed she's beautifully made..

We spent a couple of hours with Jim while he showed us around the boat discussing various things like the type of bow we wanted, whether we wanted a bow truster and so on.  I asked about the recessed panelling he had done and that we would like one at the stern of AmyJo. 

I have to say were really impressed with the workmanship Jim and Craig are putting into the boat, so much so it's made us even more determined that AmyJo would be one of their boats.

You can tell Jim is proud of his work as he showed us photos of the builds he has done in the past but pride of place is this one on his office wall a customer had done for him (thats Jim on the Left)

You can't see from the photo very well but there is chain link fencing in the photo as the background and the smaller photos are held in place by it.  We looked for a long time trying to work out how it was done but could not work it out, an impressive work of art!

We could see Jim was busy so we said our goodbyes and headed home stopping off in the Hare and Hounds for a pub lunch.  Having Seen what Jim was doing we feel even more happier he is going to build AmyJo and look forward to working with him.

Monday 8 November 2010

Hull Builder sorted

Whilst on our visit to Fernwood we looked at two hulls in their workshop, one by Tim Tyler and one by Alexander boats.  Looking at the two we preferred the Alexander hull so following Julia's advice  to speak to the builder we have booked a visit to the factory at the weekend to see them and discuss our build with them.

We've also been busy on the house front and think we may just have found somewhere we both like.  It needs a bit of work but has plenty of potential for us.  That in mind we have arranged a second viewing on Thursday and are planning to put in an offer.  We're also getting valuations on our own home and are please to find it's worth what we thought so are putting it on the market if our offer on the other property is accepted.

 Chris and I went for a run out to some of the local marinas to look at moorings and have settled on the new Tattenhall Marina.  We like the site and the staff there are extremely helpful.  We are going to reserve our mooring for AmyJo in the new year so at least we know we have somewhere to moor her.  It's probably a bit too soon to be getting a mooring sorted now but in fact around these parts there are not many places vacant for a 65 foot boat.  Plenty for 57 foot and under so we decided we will put the deposit down in the new year and that will hold our spot until AmyJo is ready to reside on it.

Friday 29 October 2010

A very expensive diversion on the way home

Having found out Chris's dad has bone cancer a few months back and with half term apon us we decided to go home to Essex for a few days to catch up with both Chris and my parents.  Chris's dad, Roy, is not in the best of health suffering extreme pain and is getting more frail as the days pass.   He is in good spirits and enjoyed listening too our plans for AmyJo.  It's even given him something to look forward too rather than thinking the worse.  It was good to see the family once more and catch up on old times andChris feels much happier having seen her mum and Dad.  I think she feels more re-assured Roy is as well as he can be for now.

Before leaving for Essex I had phoned Julia at Fernwood boats to go visit them.  So instead of coming straight home today we diverted our journey and spent the afternoon looking around the workshop and discussing our design ideas with Ken and Julia. One can see why their boats are such good quality as they are totally imersed in the business, even the guys working in the fabrication area you can see take great pride in what they do.   Three hours later, after touring the boats being worked on and chatting for a long time, Chris got out the cheque book and now we have booked our build slot!!!  So around May 2012 AmyJo looks likely to become a reality

Now, 6 hours later, sitting at home we still cannot get over the excitement and the fact we are actually going to own a narrow boat.  I don't want to wish my life away but I'll make an exception for the next 2 years!   All we have to do is sell our house, buy another and work out how AmyJo will look inside and out.  Looks like we're going to be busy for the next few years!

Thursday 21 October 2010

Dive, Dive, Dive

Nothing to do with AmyJo but I simply could not resist sharing this with everyone.  I was looking on the BBC News website today and found this in pictures report.  Now I've seen some sights on the cut but I simply love this one!

Go to this link for more pictures

Hats off to her skipper for inventivness, looks she'll turn a few heads as she slips past.  We are crusing the Leed Liverpool next year so look forward to coming across this vessel!

Monday 11 October 2010

From Sail boat to Narrow boat to Gravy boat

There are not many days these days we can settle down in the evening and say we really enjoyed today but yesterday was an exception.  You know the type of day, you get up after a lay in, the sun is shining and the whole day is spread out before you and what is planned is what YOU want to do not what other people have planned for you?  Yesterday (Sunday) was one such day for Chris and I.

From Sail boat. 
Our morning started like most of our Sundays with dinghy racing on the River Dee in Chester.  With the leaves on the trees turning gold and the sun beating down as if a summer's day the fleet was a larger one than usuall and looked resplendant in the Autum sun..  I was on duty running the rescue boat and Chris decided as conditions were perfect she would sail single handed in one of the club's RS Feva's.  4 Mini (20 minute) races were planed and a thoroughly great time was had.  Chris even did well finishing mid fleet.  Concidering she normally crews for me that was a great result.

To Narrow boat

Al and Del on Derwent6

Having met Del and Al in Derwent6 at Crick, Chris and I have been following their blog every day (see their link on the right of this text).  Del and Al have been a great inspiration for us in our quest to own a narrow boat and so when we found out they were heading towards our neck of the woods we simply could not resist paying them a visit, so, after giving them a call, we arranged to visit after the sailing was over.  We spent a wonderful time relaxing and enjoying their company in the afternoon in the cratch of Derwent6 with the sun shining down on us.    We loved listening to Del and Al's exploits and both offered us so much help and advise we are most indebted to them.  I have to say we could have stayed there much longer but we did not want to impose on them too much, and, we knew Al did not want to miss her strickly, LOL.  With a wonderful sunset we said our goodbyes with the promise to meet again and have a meal some where on their return trip.

To Gravy Boat.
Chris and I are privileged to have two great daughters and the youngest, Joanne, has met a young man (Tim) who just happens to be a fantastic cook (lucky Joanne!).  On our return home from Derwent6 we opened the door to the smells of a Roast Beef dinner about to be served.  We sat down to a gastronomic delight,  superbly favoured Beef laced with English Mustard with roasted vegetables and roast potatoes washed down with a lovely glass of red.  All this topped off with profiteroles and cream.  I think after that I'm gonna need a slightly wider narrow boat for me to fit in if we eat like that too often!!  Nice one Tim you can come round and cook again any time :-)

After all that we sat down in the recliners and contemplated what had been a wonderful day.  Thank you Del, Al and Derwent6 for making it a great one!  You guys are soooo lucky and we cannot wait to make AmyJo a reality now having spent time with you.

Monday 4 October 2010

Tentative step

Well it's been a while since I last posted and we have had our holiday.  It turned out to be one of the best we have had for a long time.  We went to Oludinez in Turkey having great fun Paragliding and going on jeep safaris and so on.  If you don't mind bartering for goods and being constantly asked to buy things as you pass the shops  I can reccommend Oludinez though not much there for the kids to be honest but then for the two of us it worked out great.  All that and we came back refreshed with a great tan as well!

Well time to think about AmyJo again (we seem to have settled on that name as nothing else appeals so far) and with the holiday out of the way I phoned Fernwood and spoke with Julia there.  We arranged to go visit this month to talk about our idea's.  Julia was please we want to come see them and has cleared her diary for us so now we cannot wait to meet both Ken and Julia.  We talked briefly to them at Crick and I was amazed that Julia remembered us. (I hope it was a good impression we made for her to remember us LOL).  We plan to visit the parents in Essex for a few days and will make the trip to Fernwood on the way home.

Chris has been looking at properties for sale and we've been to view one or two.  There was one we both liked but it's been on the market for over a year so we have some reservations.  Still we have some time yet and we both feel something will come along.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

If only....

Not much is happening with AmyJo's progress at the moment  (to think of it nor will it for some time yet).  Chris and I have a much needed holiday coming up soon so thoughts of AmyJo are on hold for now.    I have started a scrap book which seems to be the usual thing to do, got an A3, 40 page, display book so everything we like and want can go into that.

I have though been mulling over about what external colour scheme we would have.  I discussed this with Chris and we quite like the light grey side, black panels and red piping look at the moment, very traditional though don't know how practical from a "keeping it good looking" point of view it is.  I want to avoid the hire boat red and green.  Not that there is anything wrong with that it's just I'm not a red and green person.  I have been involved in sailing for years and green is always seen as unlucky on a boat when going to sea.  I'm thinking something along the line like this tug's colour scheme:-

Have desided to ring Ken and Julia at Fernwood when we get back from holiday to arrange a visit  to their factory.  I'm going to put my thoughts so far to them to see what they think.  I'd also be interested to know what people think about hull builders too.

Who knows if I can get Chris to agree to it I might even take the cheque book with me.  When we last spoke to Julia their build slots were full to August next year.  By now that it is probably much later so we have time to downsize the house etc.

Friday 4 June 2010

Deciding the layout

We sat down last night and gave some thought to AmyJo's layout.  We quite liked  the layout in Derwent6 so we thought we would use that as a basis with some tweaks of our own (hope you don't mind us copying you Del & Al?).  We'll run this by the builders when the time comes so some changes are inevitable.

As for colours and fabrics we have not made the choice yet and will leave that until nearer the build time.  One thing we are sure of the timbers will be of light Oak.  I did think of light Ash but was told this can warp easily whereas Oak does not.  It's also a lot more durable too.

We originally wanted a 58ft boat but seeing the day room area in other Fernwood boats we decided to up the anti and go for 65ft.  This means the day room can convert into another double berth giving us 2 plus two berths for when we have visitors stay with us.  We are an old fashioned family and believe meals should be eaten at a table and not on your lap so the table in the dayroom suits our needs for that too.  For us it's the one place the family comes together and have a good old catch up on each others day or plan events like our infamous annual Bar-b-qs.   As a bonus it can also double as a study for the computer too!

The saloon is still flexible in layout and we have no firm choices for this as yet.  Again Derwnt6's layout worked for us so a variation of this might be the end result.

One area we would like to copy from Derwent6 though is the kitchen.  Chris loves the layout and style Al has in hers and found it looks very practical with oodles of storage.  Al offered much advice on this area and we are greatful to her for that.

Looking at the bathroom area we really love Fernwoods wet room designs and so we hope to have one in AmyJo.  It will have to be a walk through bathroom and I know some people would advise against this but for us the room a wet room gives is more important.

The main bedroom too is pretty well decided.  I'm just shy of 6ft so a cross bed is out for me so this will have to run lengthwise with a pull out section to convert to 5ft.  Chris likes the overhead cupboards running along the side above the port hole rather than at the head of the bed and wardrobes with glass doors to give a feeling of extra room.

So that just leaves the back cabin.  We both want the area to serve as utility room and somewhere to discard the wet muddy clothes after a day out in the rain and often muddy towpath.   We hope to squeeze in a washing machine and tumble drier, bike lockers and a small desk for the laptop and GPS when underway.

One option I am concidering after spending several holidays on hire boats is the problem of needing someone in the bow when cruising as look out for bridges and corners. I thought of having some sort of remote control in the bow for steering and throttle but the "KISS" (Keep It Simple Stupid) principal rules this out.  I like gadgets though so am thinking of having a small CCTV camera mounted on the Cratch board linked to a small 7 inch monitor back at the stern.  This is both easy to install and not much can go wrong with it but will give a pretty good view of whats ahead.

Thursday 3 June 2010

To buy or not to buy that is the question?

We have been contemplating buying a narrow boat for a couple of years now. Our two daughters are in their twenties and are big enough and beautiful enough to look after themselves so what are we waiting for?

Well, like me my wife Chris, is as keen to buy one but making that final step worries her. We have to sell the family home and downsize to release the equity to finance the boat and it's that very fact give Chris the nerves.

Let's face it, it's a big desicion to make. Boats are not cheap and the property we will be buying is going to be a lot smaller than our current home so is it the wise choice?  I beleive so and listening to people like Del and Al on Derwent6 it's the best thing to do.  Del and Al are a great couple we met at Crick boatshow and own a fantastic Fernwood boat.  They are one of the happiest couples I have ever had the priviledge to meet and extremely proud of their boat (rightly so, it's a fantastic boat). They are already living our dream and have not looked back.  It was spending the morning with them on Derwent6 that made our minds up.

I may not post much at first but as we follow the path to ownership I'll try to keep you posted of our progress, I may also ask for your help and views making those important decisions on what to put in the boat and so on.

So far all we have is a name
so called after our two daughters Amy and Joanne. Other than that we have the desire and a preferred builder, Fernwood boats. So we'll take it from there.