My husband and I (wow - that sounds regal!) were in the midlands last weekend and decided that, before heading off to his puppet show performance, we would go to Norbury Junction (http://www.norburywharfltd.co.uk/) to check out a narrowboat we had seen on their website that was for sale for the bargain (we thought) price of £7,500.
Well, we learned that, as with most things, you get what you pay for and for £7,500 you don't get a hell of a lot.
The whole process of finding, buying, and living on a narrowboat will be a huge learning curve for us both - and neither of us have any pretense that we know much about what makes a good boat and what makes the nautical equivalent of a Ford Edsel! I do, though, know a tiny little bit about engines, and before our visit to Norbury Junction, we spent some time looking into what one should ask and look for when buying a narrowboat.
The boat had been advertised as having been adapted by an "undiscovered inventor". I read that as "lots of weird gadgets and perhaps dodgy wiring!". When we got there, we found that there weren't that many weird gadgets (aside from an electric rising bed) but the circuit board looked like a piece of modern art with wires of all colours springing out - taped, glued, and even blu-tacked together. The engine, though clean looking, sat in filthy bilge water and featured the odd wire hanging directly into the water. All very bad signs that even amateurs like us could spot!
We quickly decided that this was not the boat for us, and checked out a few others that were on offer, but out of our price range. This was useful as it gave us an idea of what a good boat should look like, and also gave me a chance to see properly how an engine should be fitted.
We left the boatyard a bit wiser and with a better idea of how much money we might need to spend, a clearer idea of what we want from our boat in terms of layout, equiptment, and design, and still excited about the prospect of becoming liveaboards in the near future.