Big Lift

Fish out of water – narrowboat Kodran astride railway sleepers pending his pre-purchase survey
Narrowboat pre-purchase survey

A nail-biting few hours for any prospective narrowboat purchaser, Kodran had his pre-purchase survey in August and we never doubted he would pass with flying colours.

I’d never seen a canal boat out of the water at close quarters and had no idea what to expect.

How bad was the hull going to be?

Kodran has been part of a hire fleet for 12 years and I expected Kodran’s metal skin to bear all the scars of piloting by inexperienced first-timers. I’d had my own fair share of collisions with lock entrances, tunnel walls and the occasional run-aground, so I feared the worst.

But having watched my future home-away-from-home hoisted from the shallows of the Staffs and Worcester from the towpath at Gailey Wharf on Wednesday and placed on a stack of railway sleepers in readiness for his check-up, Kodran looked at least to me, to be in great shape!

“One Careful Owner”

I shouldn’t have been surprised really as he had been under the stewardship of his builder JD Boat Services since construction and had undergone the stringent annual services and checks required for certification by the Canals and Rivers Trust ever since.

The business end – surveyor’s hull thickness marks

I sat with the first of my many mugs of tea, furnished by the JD Boats family who had guided the dangling Kodran onto dry land. The team regaled me with anecdotes of the number of times Kodran had been rescued from the bottom of the canal, the number of goldfish they’d raised in his tanks etc. etc, while “Dr” Justin of JG Marine Surveys pored over Kodran’s hull with his electronic stethoscope.

Surveyor’s Marks

The surveyor scratched his hieroglyphics over Kodran’s hull at each test point. Was 24″ good? Did it even mean “inches”? 3 further mugs of tea later and Justin allayed any fears I had. All was fine, just normal wear and tear of Kodran’s hind quarters, easily remedied with the application of a couple of plates.

Justin confirmed my previous information of dry docking at the end of every season which meant little exposure to electrolytic corrosion or thinning. Sitting boats can be prone to this, the subject of many a schoolboy chemistry lesson, especially in more industrial areas, as a result of dumping metal in the cut.

I Name this Ship

That was the hard bit over, now all was left was the internal inspection which I was more confident of having spent some time with Kodran and the team at JD Boat Services. They must be fed up of my questions by now!

Kodran refloated after his hull survey at Gailey Wharf, Staffs and Worcester canal

Kodran was hoisted back into the water and Justin continued his survey afloat. The Gailey team continued ribbing, now expressing mock surprise Kodran had floated once more.

The internal survey was at least as comprehensive as the hull inspection. Justin went through Kodran from engine to water tank, only finding a short list of trivial items which were passed on to JD Boat Services to rectify.

Overall, an exercise I initially felt I didn’t need to be present for, turned out to be full of information about what to look out for when owning and maintaining a narrowboat. And a second boat was surveyed at the same time so I shared the cost of the crane!.

My thanks to Justin Green of JG Marine Surveys, David Matthias and the crew at JD Boat Services, Gailey and ABA Cranes for a job well done and a very informative day!

Click on the image opposite for a time-lapse of Kodran’s re-floating.