Replay: Arthur

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.

9 thoughts on “Replay: Arthur

  1. Isn’t t’internet marvellous? 😀

    I had a friend who moved to London to live on a barge circa 1985. I don’t know what became of him although I can still remember his surname. He does not appear on internet searches however.

    How long were you looking till you found Das Boat?

  2. Well given that I couldn’t have searched for him because I didn’t remember his name, I think it was pretty marvelous that he turned out to own a marina!
    Your friend wasn’t called Arthur was he? If so, it might be the same person as he gave permission for me to use his real name.
    It took the better part of a year to find my boat. Once I’d fallen for the Dutch barge it helped, because I had a much clearer idea of what wanted and what felt right.

  3. No, although it is a small world, my friend wasn’t called Arthur.

    I had another friend who used to watch Ebay auctions for boats and ended up taking a part share in a yacht from the 30’s that used to belong to the SS. We haven’t been in touch for a long time so I’m not sure if they eventually made it seaworthy.

  4. Co-incidence is always possible. On two occasions I’ve met people who lived within 200 yards of me when I was a child – and it wasn’t in Edinburgh that I met them.

    My friend’s life was a bit of a novel in itself. He was always up to something, having a fascination for setting firework displays, drug taking of all sorts and sailing. I should get back in touch.

  5. Lovely story Isobel, the Internet sure throws up some interesting knowledge with regard to people. Spotting people you knew way back when, throws you off synch a bit. I recall reading some information a while ago and it wasn’t until I read to the end, I thought “I know that name”, it turned out I went to school with the man, junior school as that.

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