I posted this first in October 2008. Strangely, Arthur has yet to visit the boat at its new mooring. Work and family commitments limit his chances to come East, but I’m looking forward to the day he makes it there. Meeting up with him again has been a real bonus.I really don’t think without his help and advice I would have got a boat at al. I’d have given up in confusion somewhere before the finishing line.
I found Arthur on a website. I was looking at marinas with boats for sale and up popped his picture. I recognised the name at once. There was also a picture. He was a bit older certainly, but there was something about the blurry photo that told me he hadn’t changed much. Except now he owned a marina and lived in a house. It’s salutary to think if I hadn’t started this boat buying business we might never have got in touch again. We used to work together many years ago. When I started looking for a boat I thought of him, and realised I had forgotten his surname. He’d always had a nice blend of irreverent humour and acerbic wit, which seemed just right for boat advice. We had gradually lost touch. Not least because he lived on a narrowboat, and the telephone connections were, in those long before mobile days, to say the least, erratic.
Because catching up with Arthur has been areal bonus. A second chance at a friendship that fell prey to time and geography. His support through my boat searches has been invaluable. Think of him as an aquatic Phil and Kirsty. At first I fell in love with every improbable boat I saw. I’d email the details to Arthur and wait, almost dizzy with anticipation for his comments. Mostly they were quickly dismissive, sharp nudges to reality. I was warned away from various types of craft; given lists of things to look for and to avoid. It felt a bit like getting an essay marked and realising I needed to read more widely. I soon realised a zero response meant he thought I was off my trolley. For several months it felt like he was ignoring me. I suppose his experience allowed me to be reckless, rather than succumb to the timidity I’d have doubtless felt without his backing.
We had one false dawn. I’d emailed details of two boats to Arthur. One he dismissed out of hand. The other got his approval. ‘This boat,’ his email began, ‘shall we go and look at it?’ I felt like I’d finally passed a test. At last, a boat I liked was deemed worthy of attention. And it did look lovely, with everything I needed and a manageable length. A Dutch barge, moored in London. At least that’s what the ad said. It turned out the owner had moved it to the Netherlands to save on mooring fees. We were welcome to fly out and take a look… Ah well, back to the search.