Having been awake in the night thinking about the plight of Tom, Jan and nb Waiouru it has reminded me of how much more challenging planning to cruise the UK canals is when you're starting out from the other side of the world. We don't know many people in the UK... we aren't very familiar with the towns, roads, canals... we won't know which shops are better for buying things, and we've never heard of a lot of the stores... buying groceries will take longer with so many different brands we've never heard of... we aren't used to the UK weather.... there'll be a bit of "culture shock"... we won't be able to access our stored belongings once we fly off into the sunset... we'll be leaving behind our family and friends... but biggest of all is the process of acquiring a boat to begin the dream.
If you're buying a second hand boat like we will you can't go out on weekends and browse what's available. How much easier it would be if that were the case. We'd have a much better idea of the market in a much shorter time if we could look at boats for sale on a sunny Sunday. Instead we can only look at photos and descriptions provided by brokers and they aren't always a realistic representation of the boat.
We've had two visits to the UK that we've looked at boats for sale. The first time in 2007 was more a pipe dream but last year it was with the plan firmly in mind. There were certainly brokers with every boat just as we expected it would be from what we'd seen on the internet. But there were also many that the photos appeared to be a bit of trickery. Of course when you're selling something, whether it be a house, a car or a boat, you want to show it at it's best. There were a couple of boats that were a sad disappointment! One had exterior paintwork in terrible condition. The photos on the advertisement were at an angle that you couldn't see this. Another one had extremely shabby timberwork inside but with all the interior photos of that boat being at a distance you just couldn't see it. And another... well it just stunk! You can't smell a photo!!
Having a new boat built? Well... if the thought made me nervous before, it is now something we wouldn't even consider unless we could be in the UK during the process. We did consider the option - I have a blog post about narrowboat sponsorship. I even went to visit a boat builder in 2008 that built boats for sponsorship to discuss it and it was a tempting option. We just couldn't see how we could have a boat built for us if we couldn't go visit it and see the progress. We would want to be regular visitors, not just once or twice.
I wonder if any boat surveyors offer a service of "build progress inspections". They could inspect and photograph the progress to date before the next instalment was paid. Paying for this type of service would be money well spent!