We gave ourselves notional "budgets" of £40,000, £50,000 and £60,000 to see what we could afford at each of those price levels. With the exchange rate firmly in our favour at the moment we'd be looking at the higher end if we were going today. But on our last trip together it would have been the lower end. Who knows what might happen over the next 2 or so years.
What the process taught us is that at whatever budget we have, we would be able to find a boat to suit our requirements. There may be some compromising at the lower end of the scale but we could find something we'd be happy with.
At £60,000 we found our dream boat at Harral Brokerage - Billy Whizz. It had everything we wanted, was immaculate and the price had already been reduced. Whenever we talk about the boats we looked at we always remember Billy. If we had been looking to buy a boat we would have looked no further.
At £50,000 we found a boat at Whilton Marina that needed a little repair and new paintwork. It has been for sale for a while because it was one we'd looked at on the internet a while ago. We remembered the name because Pukeko is a New Zealand bird and Mick was born in NZ. There was some damage on the roof and the paintwork wasn't the best but allowing for repair and paintwork in our budget would resolve that. The boat had a lovely open feel and pretty much ticked all our boxes. It didn't have a washing machine.
At £40,000 there was a lovely little boat at Braunston Marina called Puddleduck. At 50ft it was a little shorter than we'd prefer and had a smallish water tank but was in great condition. It was priced at just under £35,000 but there were quite a few things we'd want to do. I see today that someone has bought Puddleduck. Great little boat.
Our wishlist has been a bit of a moving target over the last couple of years. This trip has really given us more definite ideas. We spoke to so many helpful people and learnt so much!Our main preferences at this stage are :
Length - between 55-60ft.
We'd prefer a semi trad. Mick's really not keen on cruisers and we feel a semi trad might be easier to sell at the end than a trad. But... if we found the right boat.....
We want a washing machine. If there isn't one already, there needs to be somewhere to put one.
We would prefer spay foam insulation, which seems to be the norm on boats less than about 10 years old.
We want to have 2 sources of heating - a solid fuel stove and a central heating system. So we'd be looking for a boat that has the scope for these to be fitted if they aren't already.
Good ventilation - opening windows/port holes and we would like to have a side hatch.
We'd like to have a pullman dinette. We want somewhere to sit and eat and I'd like somewhere I can use my laptop and write or sew.
We want a decent size water tank.
We took note of ideas we really liked. Not that we're likely to ever build a boat but it's good to remember what we liked in case it gives us inspiration for what might be done in our boat.
Here's setup we really liked. A semi trad stern with a little utility area - space for a washing machine and even a little desk.
We thought the tiled area on entering this boat was a great idea.
Oh, and finally, we saw a couple of familiar boats at Braunston.
We've enjoyed the DVD's "Narrowboat" and "Narrowboat Afloat" featuring NB Dover.
And we've also seen some footage about NB Raymond and the restoration.