Me & My Boats: voyage of discovery
PUBLISHED: 12:07 04 October 2018
When 14-year-old Aneesa Salim stepped on board, it was the start of family adventures on the waterways
In 2012 my dad, who works with young people and had been working with ‘the narrow boat project’, was invited to hire a Nottingham city narrowboat. At this time the Olympics were taking place in London, so the council wanted to encourage communities to use the waterways.
We went on this trip as a family and invited our friends to join us. We had a fabulous time and were taken aback at the incredibly slower pace of life and the amazing people and places on our doorstep. A weekend felt like a week away and we hoped we would have the opportunity to do it again.
Life carried on until May 2013 when on a walk along the Erewash towpath my parents stumbled across Misty, a 20ft cruiser. It had clearly seen better days, however they could see the potential and how this could be their perfect getaway.
It wasn’t long until we became the official owners of Misty. We spent time making it our own and learning the ropes along the way. It was a great starter boat. We even managed a trip to Alrewas negotiating the locks, meeting people from all walks of life, learning to love the waterways and even having a go at fishing.
Although we loved Misty, my brother and I were getting older and needing more space as a family of four, so our thoughts then turned to purchasing a narrowboat.
After looking on many websites and visiting boats around the country we came across Hagar a 40ft narrowboat at the Normanton on Soar Boat Club. We visited the boat and after speaking to the owners it was clear to see that it was very much loved, having being built in 1987 at Kegworth Marina by the owner’s brother.
After some negotiating we finally purchased our second boat. We knew we would miss Misty but this was the start of our new chapter. We had cushions and curtains made, decorated the inside to our taste and soon after we were able to set off.
Hagar is currently moored at Mills Dockyard on the Erewash canal (where we first saw Misty) so each weekend we have a choice on where to go: the Erewash, the Trent and the Soar where Normanton on Soar Boat Club is the club where we purchased Hagar.
We became members of the club as it’s a great place to go as there are many events to take part in, including canoeing, sports activities and just getting to know people. Its great to be apart of it and experiencing all that it has to offer with our fellow boating friends.
For the first few trips we stayed local, going to Shardlow and our home city of Nottingham. We wanted to experience the new life we had with Hagar and enjoy the idilic surroundings and the extra 20ft that we purchased! We had many weekends away, until we had our first summer trip in July 2016, undertaking the Leicester Ring. It was a great experience, we met some amazing new friends, had great quality family time and loved visiting the exciting and different towns and villages. They were all very pretty but when we got to Leicester we saw a car that had sunk in the river. How charming.
Tackling the locks was the most fun part as my brother and I could see who was the strongest (obviously it was me) but most importantly experience things we would have never dreamt of doing. After our three-week trip, Hagar was back in its moorings, ready for the new adventures it was going to take head on.
Last August we had another annual trip in which we took on the four counties and ventured to the Llangollen. This was something I had always wanted to do when we had a boat as I had seen it on many programmes and people had always said how great it was.
And so all the tales were true, it was magnificent and worth the long hard days on the waterways. Crossing the Pontcysyllte is by far my favourite memory of the boat.
The boat had been brown and white for over 20 years. We finally decided a few months ago it was time for a fresh lick of paint, and so after much deliberation over the colour scheme it was painted. It is definitely now our dream boat and we are looking forward to the coming years of new adventures.
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