An Early Start
Saturday 25 January 2020
It’s Saturday 25 January 2020 and we’re on our way up to Whilton Marina in Northamptonshire. A month ago, if you had told me we would have been driving back up to look at narrowboats, we wouldn’t have believed you. It was the furthest things from our mind.
We decided on the 2nd January 2020 that we were going to buy another boat and promptly went to Saul Marina on the 3rd with a mind to potentially finding a mooring there and what a journey to Bristol would be like.
The journey to Whilton, via the Solstice Services at Amesbury for porridge took in a grey day but no amount of drizzle could dampen our excitement. Our times at Whilton purchasing Nb MIRRLESS are documented in Tales from the Bilge and the great memories of our times there came flooding back. Even though it was only a year before, they had been packed tightly away at the back of our minds. The thoughts of having to sell MIRRLESS and return back to land, our daughter’s wedding and the day to day of work seemed to push the thoughts of boating adrift.
We’re only here to look
We looked at three narrowboats that potentially met our criteria: Early Bird, Sara Louise and Dippy Too but they didn’t seem to suit. They were too dark or too old-fashioned (as opposed to Traditional) and just didn’t have that ‘thing’. We learned from living aboard MIRRLESS what worked, what didn’t and what we would like so we were a lot more choosy this time around. We were only here to look.
First stop was a visit to Whilton Marina Cafe and the lovely people there. We then went over and met Harvey and Fred in the Sales office – they remembered us! We chatted about old times and how things were and about what we were looking for. Fred explained that there was a boat, it was on hard-standing at the end of the marina that would seem to fit our bill. It had had a hull survey completed and would be over-plated. It was called Silverdale – a cool, Lord of the Rings-sounding name to my mind. We asked if it was possible to take a look and after a bit of discussion with the engineers and staff at the wet dock, it was. After all, we were only here to look.
mu and I walked down the length of the marina, past where Nb MIRRLESS has been moored when we purchased it, to the hard-standing area. Nb Silverdale, maroon in colour stood on huge blocks of wood, towered above us. Blue movable steps had to be moved into position for us to get aboard. They barely reached the side above the gunnel but we scrambled on and into Nb Silverdale. We entered via the Cruiser stern to a modern bright interior. Each of the windows (of which there were a lot) were louvred. I loved this look and it was one of the things I wanted a potential future narrowboat to have – this had 11 of them!
This is the One
We liked what we saw, it had some great features like 12v sockets easily accessible, a safe and built in staging for books and things.
Back at the Sales office we explained that
“We’re only here to look”
but ummed and arrhed…
We knew it would ‘go’. As yet, it wasn’t on the books but it would be on Monday morning and it would sell (one boat we had seen on the website and had planned to look at had already been sold and was gone. A week’s turnaround.
We arrhed and ummed as we were only here to look…
But in the end, we bought it! Little did we know we were searching for Silverdale.
We put down a deposit to secure Nb Silverdale. Our search for ‘the narrowboat had ended barely before it had began. We had found it. It seems that since the decision to buy a narrowboat had popped into our heads, we had been searching for Silverdale. And we had found it. It was longer than our previous boat, by a full two feet! A Cruiser stern as mentioned, ticked another box. It a had a large Galley. It had storage and it had those louvred windows. The colour was still to grow on us. We talked about re-painting it Olive Green or Midnight Blue as we drove to Northampton to stay the night at the Travelodge there. We were making the most of our trip and walked over to the comfortably placed Sixfields pub for a pint and then on to Frankie & Benny’s.
The Next Day
The next day we awoke excited at our purchase. Bang had gone the idea of visiting all the marinas possible to look at all the possible boats. We had bought one.
After vacating the Travelodge (basic but adequate), we travelled into Banbury under miserable weather. Cafe Nero beckoned for Brunch. After said nourishment, we stood and watched a narrowboat come up through the Town lock. It brought memories flooding back. We had travelled down through that lock and stopped at the facilities there on our Long Journey Home.
The drive home was wet. We stopped at Amesbury to complete the journey. Once home, we watched The Narrowboat Experience and an episode about painting their narrowboat. We were painting Nb Silverdale in our heads.
Our searching for Silverdale was over. So much for “We’re only here to look”.
rp – peace and narrowboats