<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
5 ISSUES FOR JUST £5 Subscribe to Canal Boat today click here

Me & My Boats: Sarah Jury

PUBLISHED: 10:47 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:47 29 March 2017

The Griffin passing Market Bosworth

The Griffin passing Market Bosworth

Archant

How a ‘mongrel’ boat was transformed over the years into a comfortable, and reliable, home from home

'Wendover' the bear gives amusement to children as the boat passes by 'Wendover' the bear gives amusement to children as the boat passes by

Every boater experiences at some point the same questions about their boat from curious bystanders at locks. This is a conversation I often have:

Gongoozler – “Is it yours?” Me – “Yes.” Gongoozler – “Isn’t it cold on board in winter?” Me – “No.” Gongoozler “How old is it?” Me – “Ah, It’s complicated.”

Our boat, The Griffin, is a bit of a mongrel. My husband Mac bought her around 1982 when she was a five-year old 36ft Hancock & Lane little tub called Magpie III with a Lister SR2 engine. She had been fitted out by the previous owner who had pulled apart a Dawncraft cruiser and inserted the galley, dinette and even part of the fibreglass hull inside his new steel boat.

It was an interesting idea and suited him, but Mac had very definite ideas about how he wanted his boat to be, and it wasn’t long before work began on changing things around. Thirty four years later and work is still in progress – as many boat owners know, the job will never be totally finished.

Inside the Griffin's saloon Inside the Griffin's saloon

The first task was to change the name of the boat. Magpie as a boat name may be okay, but Magpie III was not for us. Mac owned a heating and plumbing company and one of his major clients at the time was the Fuller, Smith & Turner Brewery. The chief surveyor suggested if he named the boat The Griffin, the brewery would provide bits and pieces to decorate her. This escalated over the years to providing the splendid signage now in place. As an enthusiastic customer of Fuller’s products and with no better idea at the time, Mac leapt at the offer and the boat was duly renamed.

However, this was done when she was still in the water and although we’re not superstitious, we do wonder if this was unwise as it is said to be unlucky to rename a boat unless she’s out of the water. Shortly afterwards there was a major fire on board (caused by the gas fridge), and later on the same holiday, water came in through the sink waste hole overnight and she was in danger of sinking.

However, all was sorted out and The Griffin sailed on to fight another day. In 1985 Mac decided a larger boat was needed as he was in danger of finishing the fit out on the first 36ft. He commissioned Paul Castle to put 20ft in the middle. As the budget was, to put it mildly, tight, the work was carried out in an old disused factory at Springwell near Croxley Green, Hertfordshire and Paul did a good job. However, a bigger boat meant a bigger engine was required and the trusty Lister was removed. Mac had spotted a 1935 Perkins P4 engine gently rusting in the yard at Cowroast Marina. It had (allegedly) been restored. This engine was going cheap (£350), but over the ensuing years, not really going, at least not for any length of time. Many hours were spent after each breakdown bow hauling the The Griffin to boatyards for help and Mac was often upside down in the bowels of the engine hole trying to fix the latest problem.

I eventually issued an ultimatum – replace the engine or I’m not doing any more boating.

The Griffin at 36ft as built... The Griffin at 36ft as built...

As he needed someone to help with the locking, steering, cooking and the myriad other jobs required on boats an engine was duly identified – a 1965 BMC 2.2 accompanied by a new PRM gearbox. This time the engine was fully and properly rebuilt by Terry Yates and his son at Newbold on the North Oxford Canal. It was then installed in Aylesbury by Mac and marine engineer and boat builder John Pattle. This engine was not going as cheap as the last one, it cost £1,700, but at least it was going, and has continued to go ever since.

In 1992 Mac was again in danger of finishing fitting out the newest section of the boat. The opportunity arose to add a 14ft front deck with a Josher bow to replace the original bow from the Hancock & Lane Merlin hull. An excellent job was done by Roger Farrington assisted by John Pattle at Braunston Bottom Lock. Initially the deck was made up of wooden planks but a steel deck was recently put on making it water tight, so an inboard generator is now in place. There is also a lot of storage space under there. It’s amazing how much essential stuff has to be carried about with us (I am told by Mac).

The main benefit of our lovely front deck is when we use it as our ‘patio’. A table and chairs with tablecloth and flowers often prompt the comment: “How civilised!”, and when Wendover, our over-sized large bear (won at a Wendover Arm Trust auction about 20 years ago) is sitting at the table, there is often much amusement and waving from children of all ages as we pass by.

We worked hard on the boat for many years but had just two weeks’ holiday available for travelling the system. The worst part of these holidays was coming back to base - we would often look wistfully along a fresh section of canal at a junction as we passed and comment “wouldn’t it be lovely just to turn up there and keep going”.

...and after extending by 20ft to 56ft ...and after extending by 20ft to 56ft

Having now retired we have now realised our ambition of long-term summer cruising. All on our beloved boat which is 39, 31 and 24 years old. We travel north from our base on the southern Grand Union to the Midlands and beyond for three or four months. This year we plan to visit Leicester, Birmingham, the Ashby Canal and are already thinking about where to travel next year. We don’t cruise for hours on end to keep to a schedule any more, or travel in the rain if we can help it. We have even been known to tie up outside a pub or two.

We can now also decide to make an unplanned turn at a junction and simply keep going.

Thank you Sarah for sending in your story

Now it’s your turn to tell us about the boats in your life. If you would like to be featured in Me & My Boats in a future issue of Canal Boat magazine, send your story (about 1,000 words) and photographs (don’t worry, we’ll return them!) to editor@canalboat.co.uk. If it’s used, you’ll win £100!

__________

You may also like:

Boat Test: when hire meets private

Me & My Boats: dog days afloat

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Canal Boat visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Canal Boat staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Canal Boat account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Canal Boat

If you had a chance to build a boat, then a second and then a third, how would you change things – Val and Graham did just that

Read more
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How a ‘mongrel’ boat was transformed over the years into a comfortable, and reliable, home from home

Read more
Monday, March 6, 2017

If you’ve had a life-long boating history, how would a new husband with dry feet feel about an old love affair?

Read more
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From South African newbies to experienced liveaboards, all they had to do was downsize – and learn to steer

Read more

Many of us like to go cruising with our partner, but sometimes in life that’s not always the way things turn out to be

Read more
Friday, February 10, 2017

Take a 360-degree tour of the first private boat from Ortomarine

Read more
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Whether or not widebeams are your thing, this ‘planet-saver’ is one of the most technically intriguing boats CB has tested. Adam Porter investigates (pictures by Andy R Annable)

Read more
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Save yourself time, money and problems later on by checking the whole hull when you hook your boat out of the water for blacking

Read more
Friday, January 13, 2017

Canal Boat has something new for you in 2017 – fabulous 360-degree videos inside the boat on test

Read more
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Finding a boat in their price range seemed an impossible task and the one they found would give even a ‘doer-upper’ a bad name, but they persevered...

Read more
Maintenance
Marina Guide
Boating Holidays

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Like us on Facebook



Follow us on Twitter