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Trip prep

The plan for getting to the boat has had a hiccup. We have arranged with my sister to meet the boat in Gloucester, 90 miles west of London. We booked a flight from Wichita, Kansas, for July 26, to London Heathrow arriving on July 27, with a connecting flight in Houston. From there, the plan was to take a train to Gloucester.

I just found out the trains will be on strike on July 27. This is very common, unfortunately, in England, to have a strike disrupt plans. At my sister’s suggestion, I quickly checked the National Express Coach service before they got sold out due to the strike. They have comfortable seats with service directly from LHR to Gloucester. This is more convenient than the train with two transfers, and the bus is less money. Who knew.

So, cross your fingers, problems solved.

Our Current Boat

My sister Pauline and her husband Steve wanted to buy a canal boat, so we agreed to become partners with them and buy a different boat.  They would have the major share of 2/3rds as they would spend more time on the boat and be responsible for maintaining it, but we would share the purchase price and upkeep.  Steve is very handy, with very high standards, so we had no concerns the boat would be in good hands.

A boat was found, and we all agreed on the purchase.  Shellypop was the name, and while it had good “bones,” it was a little tired on the outside and needed a lot of love.  The boat was moved by road to a marina near Gloucester, near Pauline and Steve’s home. 

Steve enthusiastically set to work.  The primary task was stripping and repainting the exterior, a substantial job.  Some upgrades were also needed to the wheelhouse roof and to make the living space more comfortable.  We eventually sold Frederick II.

Steve spent a lot of time getting the boat shipshape, ready for our first trip on the newly named “Endeavour.”  We had only seen photos of the boat up to now, and we were looking forward to seeing it in person.

The personal items we kept on Frederic were held at Pauline and Steve’s house and would be on the boat, ready for our visit in late July 2022.  Most of our clothes were included, so we don’t have to travel internationally with a lot of luggage, and there is little room for suitcases on a canal boat.

We had been on an extended cruise [see blog RodMerryTravels] and only got home on July 6, so we only had twenty days to unpack, do laundry, get the house under control after a long absence and repack for our next adventure.

The Narrowboat

In 2019, we came across a very unusual narrow boat, Frederick II, built by a tug boat captain when he retired, a copy of his working tub boat but narrower to fit the canals.  It was fitted out like a country cottage inside.  We were charmed by it and bought it, with the plan to spend a few weeks in the summer each year on the canals.

We enjoyed every minute on our boat, but it was a bit of a challenge to keep it maintained during our long absence each year, and it was a bit awkward to navigate the layout with our aging bodies. 

Merry & Rod Traveling the English Canals

My name is Rod, and I was born and raised in Southport, England.  I moved to the US in 1981, where I met and married Merry.  We have been married for 39 years and enjoy traveling in our retirement.

We revisit England often, partly because I still have family there but also because Merry loves to visit England.  Many times during our visits, we have hired a canal boat on the English canal system.  There are over 2,000 miles of canals that criss-cross the country. 

The canals were mostly built in the late 1700’s to transport goods around the country, so the canals pass through all the cities and little towns.  The barges were originally pulled by horses.  One side of the canal is a dedicated right of way called the towpath that still exists today.

Now, the barges have been converted to living units, like motorhomes or caravans and modern boats have been designed specifically for comfortable living on the canals, either for a holiday or as a permanent residence.

This blog will document our travels as they happen.