We drove up to Swanley on Wednesday last week, arriving just after lunch time. The immediate task was for Mike to do those parts of the sorting and packing that he felt the need to tackle! We also made contact with the brokerage office and established that we would probably be able to leave with them a small amount of our belongings until the end of the month, if it all failed to fit into two cars.
We continued the next morning with as much as we could at this stage and after lunch we drove to Crewe station where Mike caught a train to York for the five day meeting of General Synod. Christine returned to the boat where she spent the next couple of days doing more packing. As she had no mobile phone and a weak wifi signal, the only communication with Mike was by email (on the few occasions when he was able to sit down to write an email).
Christine also wanted to contact the engineer at Middlewich but this took a little time although eventually all was clarified.
Andrew drove up on Sunday and arrived during the afternoon. They managed to scrape together enough ingredients to make a roast dinner, albeit with the meat already cooked back at home!
They set off early the following morning as they had a full schedule of boat builder visits already set up. Today they headed down to Braunston and Colecraft before returning northwards to Elton Moss at Middlewich.
On Tuesday their visits were not quite such a long drive away but still rather tiring. They began with a couple in the Stoke and Stafford area before finally calling at Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewich Branch.
By late afternoon Mike had made his way back to Crewe by train where he was met by the other two and then taken back to the boat.
Christine and Andrew then debriefed to Mike from their visits and we gradually whittled the shortish list of six down to a final three (there was a fourth but it seemed that although they could do what we wanted it was not really in their comfort zone)
What also emerged from the visits was that we could not really do much more in discussion with the various builders until we have selected one to work with. Obviously, there will be a short period before we sign on a dotted line but we cannot expect others to develop spec layouts in any detail.
A table had been booked for us at the Dusty Miller in Wrenbury where we ate at the end of our final trip on nb Take Five. Our discussion continued and by the end of the evening we were pretty confident that we were agreed on who we would talk to first and hopefully that will lead to a delivery date well before next Easter. (Some of our short listed builders had to be ruled out because it emerged that their best delivery dates were in 2018!)
The following morning, our last staying on board the boat, began quite early as we gradually took everything off the boat and lined it up at the end of the pontoons. We then sorted into those items to go back with ourselves and those which could go with Andrew to be stored in his garage. By the end we only had a few boxes of books and a small amount of other items to leave at the marina until the end of the month.
The final task was to visit the brokerage office and finally sign the Bill of Sale so that Take Five is definitely no longer ours.
At this stage, you will no doubt understand, there is quite a bit 'under the wraps' but will will post an update when things start to be clearer. We will also have to let you know where our blog will continue.
We do have to make one last visit to do a handover briefing to the new owners right at the end of this month. Alas, our expected month-long trip during August is no more and we have booked a couple of weeks in cottages, one near Leek and one near Durham.
We are now boat-less for the next few months.