You’re Going to Need a Boat
Either you love planning things, or you don’t. It doesn’t really matter if you are going on a grand tour, or a weekend adventure. You, or someone else, is going to have to do some planning. Even if you chart your trip with meticulous care something will go wrong. How wrong it goes has a lot to do with preparation.
As I shared before, Donna is a confirmed insomniac. She is also a Virgo. The astrological gurus will tell you, “A Virgo sincerely assumes they can accomplish a task more completely and accurately than anyone else. They are usually correct in this assumption.” I have learned I can either resist, or succumb to Donna’s clear edge on all things involving detailed planning. My job is to provide color commentary, and careful criticism. It works!
Donna’s research regime is well-rehearsed and has sent us on amazing vacations here at home, as well as in Italy and Portugal. It’s VRBO for accommodations. It’s Rick Steves, Travelocity, Chowhound and Urban Spoon for dining destinations. A restaurant has to have at least three excellent ratings to make it onto Donna’s list. Sorry Mr. Steves, your recommendations are only useful if we are looking for wifi, or American tourists.
Finding a rental boat was new territory. The specifications for the boat were minimal. A berth for two, a flushing head, a shower, and a galley. The galley had to include a sink, two burners, a fridge, and an assortment of pans, mugs, and dishes. I also wanted an outside steering station, preferably a flying bridge. Negotiating through canals, locks, under low narrow bridges, and docking in crowded marinas requires maximum visibility. This is especially true if you are a novice. Nothing I read described canal boats as being nimble. “Find the widest place in the canal to turn around.” “In reverse your ability to steer is limited.”
With these parameters and known limitations in place Donna narrowed her search for boats to three outfits. Locaboat, Nicols, and Le Boat all had fleets of canal boats that would suit our needs. (locaboat.com, boat-renting-Nicols.co.uk, leboat.com)
The Nicols boats have a sleek modern look with light faux wood and plenty of Naugahyde. Without designer boat clothing you’d probably feel out of place on these stylish confections. Locaboat has boats that make me drool. Their fleet of Penichettes are beefy and beautiful. They are leisure versions of working boats. In the Pacific Northwest the Nordic Tug is the equivalent. Le Boat has the greatest range of boats and prices. Donna started there.
There are really only two basic considerations when it comes to boats. The first is utility and the second is comfort. You will never be comfortable if your boat doesn’t perform well, or suit your needs. You won’t have a good time if your boat’s accommodations make you feel like you are traveling in steerage. Reviews made it clear which boats to steer clear of. Some see rough use, minimal repairs, and were never designed for slamming into lock walls and gates. Style is always a consideration, but it isn’t essential. It also comes at a price.
We finally decided upon the Le Boat’s Cirrus B. It appeared to offer easy on and off access. That is an important consideration if you are going through locks. The taller the deck the further the jump, and the higher the climb. If you are young and spry that’s not much of a consideration. We are neither.
The Cirrus B also had an outside steering station. Its accommodations appeared to be ample, and comfortably utilitarian. The boat all but screamed, “Tourist!!!” It would do nicely.