Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The most essential "optional" extra on a narrowboat

Last Friday I enjoyed a short boat ride as first mate on nb Humbug, Herbie's next door neighbour. I really like Humbug. She is a 60 foot (stretched) Springer and belongs to Glynn who lives aboard . For those who don't know, Springers are the 2CV of the waterways. Low cost, flimsy, quirky, suprisingly long lived, and with bags of charm. Also like 2CVs they are no longer in production.

Whilst she (Glynn that is) has performed many DIY wonders in making Humbug into a bright, cosy and comfortable home her confidence ends at the point that she gets hold of the tiller and she has yet to do a solo trip. Humbug needed turning round so I accompanied Glynn up to the winding hole and back and talked her through the turning manoeuvre. Before we started though, there was a job to do, which was to clear the prop of weed and plastic bags from her last (aborted) trip. And here was the one thing about this Springer that I really don't like. Really really don't like. It is the weedhatch.

Humbug has a trad stern with a reasonably large counter, but there is no trap door in it to reach the weedhatch. That has to be done from inside the boat by lying in a "Superman in flight" posture on a board above the engine, then stretching your arms forward as far as you can reach to undo the clamps and lift the heavy hatch assembly out. This would be no mean feat for superman let alone me or Glynn. Then of course you still have to reach in and clear the prop then put the whole thing back together again. It is the main reason why Glynn is reluctant to take Humbug out cruising, and she has my sympathy. Of course she could get someone to cut her a weedhatch access door, and that would be my first job if the boat were mine.

When we were shopping for a boat I saw a few with this problem, and dismissed them right away. A proper easy-to-get-at weedhatch is THE essential optional extra for me.


Simon said...

Curiously (and I've no idea why I knew of their importance) I remember that being something I was aware of when boat shopping, along with wide gunwhales (or at least not narrow ones) and a front deck worth sitting in...

Vallypee said...

Useful insights for potential buyers Neil. I think I am like Glynn when it comes to cruising. DIY is no problem, but getting my barge out of its mooring against currents, wind, tide and tightly packed boats has me all shakin in my shoes, it does.