Page updated: 18 March 2021
Back in 2001-2002 I did experiment with a share in a narrowboat. Unlike the sales pitch for such schemes, it felt much more like being an investor in someone else's hire boat than owning your own. On Easter Day 2004 I bought "Imagination", SeaHawk #267. Owning 100% of your own boat feels rather different.
See also the Broads section which includes exploits in my father's SeaHawk during the 1970s.
I refuse to bid in an eBay auction, but buy the boat afterwards when it goes unsold.
Trying to launch a boat for the first time causes problems. The second attempt goes OK!
Brother Mike and I make an attempt on the Three Rivers Race - a 24 hour marathon.
I manage to reach the head of navigation on this most northern tributary of the River Thurne.
I find a fellow SeaHawk owner from Scotland to make my second attempt on the Three Rivers Race.
For my third attempt at the race I finally find a Norfolk-based boat builder to act as crew.
I cruise to Barton Broad to meet Bryn Weightman and try out his Tideway Dinghy. Back in the 1950s he used to skipper a working Thames Sailing Barge.
Imagination is brought home. A strip down is executed before she is moved to a local boatyard.
The plan is to rub her back to the original gel coat, before a full repaint with two-pack paint is executed.
Having moved Imagination to the boatyard a break is taken over December and January.
It's still chilly and the process of stripping the old paint off Imagination for her repaint begins. It's not straight forward! Interruptions, include a lack of hot water at home and sander breakdown.
Having completed sanding the port side of the hull by the end of February sanding continues with the starboard side.
Sander issues continue and on a couple of occasions I have to spend some time baling out the boat.
By the end of March both hull sides had been sanded down to the gel coat and the cockpit benches and cabin roof was done.
This month work starts on the foredeck.
This month sees the completion of sanding back the old paint to the gel coat.
It's not the end of the job however. There's lots of small holes and blemishes to fill and sand before painting can start.
After the completion of sanding last month it takes me another month to fill and sand all the little nicks and blemishes in the gel coat.
July will see her in the paint shop!
I begin to consider part of the refit as the repaint begins. Should I have a wooden strake along the gunwales or rubber? The need for a repair to the bottom half of cabin door is discovered.
And nothing much seems to happen while we are away in Germany!
In spite of appearing nearly done at the end of July, it is the middle of the month before Just 17 comes home.
Now the refit can begin!
Following a decision taken while in Germany, the refit begins with plans for the new name.
The Broads registration number is refitted, the new name applied and work begins on the cockpit.
There are problems getting the cabin door catches to fit. Various bits of electrical conduit are successfully refitted. Externally, the anti-slip pads are cut to shape and applied, the remaining steelwork is back in place, as are the rubbing strakes. The toll plaques adorn the bows.
Just 17 is launched and takes up her mooring close to the front door of the Pleasure Boat Inn. However, there is a various bits of further work are undertaken inside the cabin, such as varnishing the woodwork, gluing in place an additional support under the galley floorboard and fitting the electrical control panel.
I was not intimidated! For Just 17's shakedown cruise, the first after her repaint, I warned Diana that I panned to compete in the Hickling Passage Race. Somewhat ill-prepared, we arrived just 30 minutes before the race briefing was due to be given. In spite of that we ended the day with a trophy!
I suppose it's part of the refit continuing although in my report on 15 September I claimed it was complete. However it is classified there was no doubt the boat needed a new battery to drive the outboard.
There was more refitting to be done, this time the solar panel!But after the work was done on the Saturday Diana and I had the fun of a short sail around the Broad, and on Sunday, a long cruise and picnic with friends aboard.
John and Hugh plan a cruise in company and invite me along for what turns out to be a perfect day for a mid-week cruise. I invent a new collective noun for SeaHawks cruising in company. It's different from the collective noun I coined for a set of neighbouring SeaHawk moorings.
It's blowing a Force Five when Simon Pollington visits to see if a SeaHawk would suit his needs. In one dramatic moment I am confronted with a wall of flame. I also describe some rather special Broads sailing techniques which I don't believe are used elsewhere.
It's the most glorious weather and Diana and I take a cruise around Hickling Broad, encountering a SeaHawk adrift and hear the woes of a boat owner on one of the Broad's swinging moorings. There's even time for a sing song or two!
It's January and I find a reason to visit Just 17 in order to help out a neighbour with a blocked loo.
While I'm there I pick up as much of the contents of the cabin as possible so it can be cleaned ready to be returned to the boat.
February has come and so has the snow. It's freezing as I remove the contents of the cockpit lockers so I can bring the hatches home and get them ready for a coat of stain. The other wooden fittings get an oiling.
The cabin's carpet tiles get their annual shampoo and are returned to the boat and re-fitted.
Spring is here. I finally get round to measuring up the keel handle so I can get some rubber to use as a seal. Friend, Ian, is able to supply some pond liner material that's just right for the job.
Work continues on the new quay heading around the dyke at the Pleasure Boat Inn and the ducks are enjoying the mating season.
It's Easter! On the Saturday there were still things to do to get Just 17 ready for the season. I record some thoughts on the storage space needed aboard now that Diana can be expected to be overnighting on her.
However, Diana and I had promised ourselves a short cruise so on the Sunday, in spite of the poor weather, we found ourselves aboard again.
It's a holiday weekend. On Saturday night the Muddy Broad Blues Band plays at the Pleasure Boat Inn and on the Sunday Glenn, the landlord, has organised various boating activities. The only thing he failed to get sorted was the weather!
Just 17 is dressed for the occasion and takes part in a cruise in company as do the crews of many other boats that turn out for the day.