Wanted: small boat for excited woman and three cats

Once I’d decided I wanted to live on a canal boat, I must admit I didn’t spend much time looking before I (well, my partner Emma actually,) came across Tingletrees. My budget was pretty small, and had to include any renovation work – so my choices were limited…however I was really surprised about what you could get at the budget end of the market.

First, there was Le Cochon Noir – a gorgeous 30ft Springer moored just three miles up the Rochdale Canal at Callis, Hebden Bridge. She was a cute little thing with beautiful wooden floors, slidey-sideways windows and a big open space in the centre. But she had a wooden roof and would need some expensive work doing, taking her over my modest budget.

Then there was Pequod – a 60ft homebuild project with a super stunning bathroom and not much else (including only half a floor)… I was all set to buy her but when I rang the chap it turned out he’d sold her just one day earlier. Sigh.

Then there was Piglet. Now, Piglet was something special. Another little Springer, she was in fantastic condition and had been dearly loved by her owner Christine. Here was a boat I could trust, could rely on to keep me warm and dry (with ongoing maintenance of course). But I would have wanted to completely change the entire interior, and at £10k for the boat, there was no way I could afford to have her how I wanted her.

Then came Tingletrees. Emma spotted her on eBay one morning and emailed me the link – one look and I was in love. I phoned the owner and headed to Chester to view her a few nights later.

Tingletrees - a 30ft Jennel Cruiser currently moored on the Shropshire Union Canal at Taylor's Boatyart, Chester.
Tingletrees – a 30ft cruiser moored on the Shropshire Union Canal at Taylor’s Boatyard, Chester

It was a sunny, beautiful evening, her sliding section was open and I was so enchanted I didn’t even notice the shabby paintwork or the fact that her battery was swimming around in an open pool of oily water (!!) To me, she was perfect – windows all around, a cosy cosy cabin bedroom, nice open space in the galley and a dinky little size. As I sat on board quietly letting her talk to me, I knew that this was a boat I could make my home.

If I’m honest, I would have paid for it right there and then, but the condition of my loan was that I had any potential boat surveyed first, and rightly so. I headed home knowing I had found my boat, and booked my survey the very next day.