Yearly Archives: 2024

meet charles garven

meet charles garven

waterways chaplain since 2021

Charles Garven, waterways chaplainMeet Charles Garven, who has been a Waterways Chaplain since 2021. He used to spend a long working week as a lorry driver but took early retirement during lockdown and, as life began to return to normal, re-evaluated his time.

Having served inside the church as Lay Reader for over 25 years, he wanted to take his faith out into the community and becoming a waterways chaplain was one way of doing just that. He and his wife have been live-aboard boaters since 2005.

Currently, they have a mooring near Saul Junction on the Gloucester and Sharpness canal, which is a wide ship canal bypassing the dangerous sandbanks and huge tides of the River Severn.

He is Senior Waterways Chaplain for the Severn and (Stratford) Avon, and his team covers Sharpness through to Worcester and also cross to Stratford. They can be ‘on call’ for the Monmouth and Brecon and for the upper Thames and one of their members covers the Penarth and Cardiff Bay marinas.

The waterways chaplains minister to anybody and everybody they meet on the towpath – boaters, walkers, fishermen, canal staff, local businesses, etc. etc. There are no boundaries. He says that the root causes of many problems stem from loneliness, poor health or financial poverty.

He relates that, a few months ago, he met a boater who owned only the clothes he was wearing that day. He was unwell with a long-term condition which made him unemployable, and his medication gave him depression. His income support was mostly spent in the pub, which did in fact help with the depression, but sadly only contributed to his ill health. Charles asked for help through the local church news sheet.

Within three days, he was able to deliver five large bags containing clothes, some of which were brand new and had been bought especially. This gentleman must now be one of the best dressed people on the towpath!

Another man he met lives on his boat with his wife and family. He was a jobbing boat builder and had done some work for a client who hadn’t paid him. This brought hardship to the whole family. A couple of visits from the local food-bank was enough to put them back on track. When he saw them again, they were overjoyed. “They even gave us Easter eggs for the children!”

I asked Charles if the problems of those he tries to help depresses him and were there any upsides. He said that he was well supported both at home and by his local church and local waterways chaplaincy. So, he doesn’t really get depressed, but he does feel for the people he meets and shares their concerns.

He added, “Yes, there are upsides, of course. There is happiness to be shared when a friend comes through a difficult patch. And having 100 people on the towpath for a carol service at Christmastime is a joy!”

I asked him why he undertook this ministry. He said, “Quite simply, to offer practical, emotional, and spiritual help as it is needed. If you try and ram Christianity down someone’s throat, they will choke on it. But by being a friend and trying to help, and perhaps reminding someone of things that were important when they were younger, I am planting the seed of evangelism.

And, of course, I enjoy it!”

climate change and the UK inland waterways

implications of climate change

for the uk's inland waterways

Despite being brought up in Norfolk during the period of the 1953 floods all along the East  Coast, living on the Dorset coast for the past fifty years and undertaking my boating activities both recreationally and with the Portland Coastguard patrol boat mainly in the English Channel, until very recently I had given scant attention to the implications of climate change on our inland waterways.

My attention to the very serious implications of climate change on our inland waterways was brought home to me very forcibly as a result of my wife Lois and I relocating our boating activities to the Norfolk Broads a few years ago and my subsequent involvement as a member of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association and Lois’s membership of the Broads Society.

Given the exceptionally wet weather over a period of six months and more since October 2023, coupled with several named storms and some exceptionally high spring tides it was hardly surprising that the Broads river levels including those on the rivers Bure, Ant and Thurne all “over topped” the quay headings in several places and that as a result lots of moorings including those at several large boatyards were inundated and in some cases became unusable.

Management of the waters of the Broads, especially as regards navigation, is actually quite complicated, involving the Broads Authority, Anglian Water, and the Environment Agency, with the added complications of there being several lifting and swing bridges operated under the control of the Highways Agency or Railtrack!

These complications are exacerbated by the fact that the Broads Authority is a actually a National Park but is unique amongst the UK’s National Parks in being responsible for navigation in addition to the normal responsibilities of the other National Parks. This is a unique situation whereby the Broads Authority is required to cater for the needs of people engaged in boating (both in privately owned vessels and in hired craft) and to cater for the needs of local residents and for the needs of the thousands of holidaymakers staying in hotels, guest houses, campsites etc! These two fairly distinct groups are known locally as “Navvies” and “Parkies”

Currently the most vexed problem as far as boating on the Broads is concerned is the recent increase in the annual tolls levied on local boat owners and hire boat operators alike; legally, according to the Broads Authority/National Parks remit these tolls are to be used exclusively to maintain the Broads navigation, including such matters as dredging, weed cutting and clearance, quay headings at public moorings, but there are suspicions being voiced lately claiming that a proportion of the tolls revenue is being used to subsidise non-navigational activities within the Broads area, arguably at the expense of the provision of mooring facilities, adequate dredging of those Broads used for yacht racing and other navigational matters, and that this problem has been exacerbated over the past eight months as a result of the extremely wet weather and increased flooding.

The future of the UK’s inland waterways, and the Broads in particular, at a time of very significant climate change is the subject of an interesting strategy document produced by the Broads Authority called theBroadland Futures Initiative

it’s getting hot in here

the boating bard

it's getting hot in here

It's getting hot in here
Like sitting in a furnace
We're both in our under gear
Why did no one warn us?

We've gone one log too many
It's 3000 f'fing degrees
We've got everything wide open
and we can barely breathe

Our spuds are near cremated
We fear we will combust
Hotter than the earth's mantle
Or Mount Vesu-vius


log fire blazing

We're worried about our firebricks
Concerned our glass will crack
Our temperature gauge on overdrive
Our stove fan on full whack

You'll probably find us melted
A pool where once we sat
Mines the chair with pants and bra
Not y-fronts and flat cap

tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

dawncraft chronicles

tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

Where to begin? I suppose some bright sparks idea to change the gas bottle sizes meaning if I wanted gas, I am going to have to earn one the hard way. I needed to raise the tank sides by at least 25 cm to accommodate the bottles. I did get a quote to do this in situ without disturbing the tank but sadly where it sat meant the extra size bottles wouldn’t clear the deck beam so nothing else for it. Time to remove the gas tank, its drainpipe, and half the cockpit with it. Oh yeah, the quote! £400 hmm. Now before we go much further there is a quaint term used when I am busy doing something that many have neither the skills nor aptitude to try - it’s called tinkering! How lovely... let’s get started.

First tank hasn’t been out in forty years so plenty of rust treatment – I use the Hammerite rust convertor. That done, order £50 quid’s worth of 3mm steel plate cut to size and a pack of 5mm welding rods – we going to have to get it hot. An hour's tinkering later, and the tank is now 25 cm higher. Next - which I hadn’t bargained for - replace the rotten ply it sat on. Tank painted yellow with a large gas sign, and it can go back in if I could find a 28mm Metal to copper fitting for hull and a small length of 28mm tube.

After a week searching (something has gone wrong post Covid: no one seems to stock anything) I found a second hand one on E bay. Always remember copper olives for anything gas never brass. Tank back in and guess what - it fouled the water pump locker and worst the door... OK, two foot of water pipe later and pump is moved; mercifully the boat was so badly built there was enough of a gap around the door to move it across by half an inch and I made it fit properly.

Now for the hard bit: the gas bubble. This came with two shocks: first the cost for what is a safety device and secondly the fitting. OK in the UK we tend to still use imperial pipes so in my case 3\8th but the bubble is made by our French cousins, and they don’t, so its 10mm. If you are a non-tinker and clueless on the gravity and severity of most situations, that’s a 0.5 mm gap – big enough to blow me and boat to Valhalla. There are no 3/8th to 10mm fittings and my tame gas engineer (or rather fitter, as an engineer makes things work) promptly shook his head and said he couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Hmm ! OK. With years of old bikes, Morris 1000s and even a Morris Ital, one learnt to flare brake pipes – a process whereby they are stretched slightly, I used a proper hydraulic type to get an even flare to 10 mm – sorted.  Tool of the year - small pipe benders, remembering you can fail on unnecessary fittings.

gas locker

dawncraft "dawntreader"

Time for some gas which mercifully fitted the locker snugly, put fluid in bubble tester and try. I have never felt so deflated, mentally exhausted and down-hearted as it looked like a glass of champagne. Rowlocks now what the heck do I do? Worse still, where is the leak? One thing many can’t do is think laterally, start at cooker (the furthest point) and turn off its tap. Hey presto bubbles stop and why? because I ran out of gas this time last year and the cooker knobs rely on high melting point grease to seal them – that’s quite frightening when you think about it.

OK - magnetic tray at the ready and dismantle the gas rail and get the knobs out , if you have ever done this you will see what the magnetic tray is for, as the springs try and fall out the moment they are unscrewed. Cleaned, greased and re try and no bubbles even for three minutes- ooh we are winning. But not only that, the gas “ engineer “ was happy with everything including the pipe clips .

Next kettle de-scaler through the water heater and wait for leaks – the stuff that came out of there and shower was amazing !! Another bubble test and all is good. The engine bay has its own fire blanket because the outboard is probably the biggest risk, it also has a spill kit (not that that’s in the safety, but ought to be). We have two co detectors because of the fumes from boats in locks, and three extinguishers whose job isn’t to put the fire out but shove it back whilst I escape.

Day of the test and a heart stopping moment when gas pressure dropped because we left cooker slightly on (I think bubble is a brilliant idea) and she passed with one advisory. Wait for it ……………. Ventilation in the door - which if I hadn’t spent hours making it fit properly the gap alone would have sufficed. Still you can't tinker it all .

the noble tug named mayfly

the noble tug named Mayfly

a short story from "here we go" by michael nye

The morning was pure summer as depicted on postcards and chocolate boxes. Blue sky, candy-floss clouds and warm sun of the kind that umbrella manufacturers secretly pray will not last long. After feeding the remainder of a hearty breakfast to a group of ducks the couple, just hours away from being a week married, were under way again. Their destination was the limit of navigation on the river to spend some time looking around before returning to the canal system for the first time since the odyssey that brought them together. The locks on this part of the river were manually operated, smaller than before, but still big by canal standards and all were manned. The ones lower down the river were worked by a hydraulic mechanism of some kind, apart from a couple that still had an earlier, and possibly experimental, electric system.

bridge over river

clearwater sky

The channel too was much narrower with shoals to be avoided as they rounded the many bends. During the afternoon they came across a rather large hire cruiser, named Clearwater Sky, that was firmly lodged on one of these sandbanks. The initial effort of trying to plough through the obstruction, or reverse out under engine power had proved completely futile as was the use of the more ornamental than useful boat-hook supplied with the vessel. The family, having failed to work out quite how to deal with the situation, had decided to wait for further inspiration.
“Can we help?” Amanda shouted as they approached.
“Thanks, but you won’t have the power to lug this thing off. We’re well aground,” the captain, otherwise known as “Dad” replied rather despondently.
“We can try,” Amanda said as Jim brought the bow of the Mayfly round towards the hopelessly grounded cruiser.
“No harm in that surely,” the first mate, otherwise known as “Mum” answered, gratefully accepting the offer.

boat clearwater sky

Clearwater sky

Mayfly, being of much shallower draught than the centre cockpit wooden hire boat, was able to edge in alongside to a point where Amanda was able to hop aboard with a length of rope, one end of which was tied around the centre thwart of Mayfly. As Jim gently edged the craft back, and turned to face it down river. Amanda, tied the rope firmly at the stern of the hire cruiser and headed off to the cockpit.
“Right,” she said with such authority that nobody questioned her youthful appearance. “I’ll reverse whilst you rock the boat, I mean really rock it. Once Jim's taken up the slack, we go.”
As the line tightened, Jim heard Amanda’s barked orders. “One, two, three, ROCK!” He gently applied more power until the little outboard was at full throttle. Gradually the hire cruiser started to move, Jim reducing the output of his own motor as it did. Once she had judged they were at last floating free, Amanda instantly put the motor of the hire boat into neutral to stop the line from fouling the propeller. Jim then cast the rope off for Amanda to retrieve.
“Pick me up at the lock, it’s only a short way,” she shouted. “It’ll save us getting stuck all over again.”
Jim waved in recognition and continued as Amanda set to aiming the cumbersome cruiser to avoid any further shallows.
“Pretty niftily executed,” Captain Dad said. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“Bit of a long story,” Amanda replied.


river lock

“Go on, tell us,” the younger of two girls, pleaded. “Is that your mum and dad’s boat? Or did you hire it like this one?”
“Don’t be so nosey Emily,” first mate Mum said to her eight year daughter.
“Actually she belongs to Jim and me,” Amanda smiled. “That’s a long story too.”
“Will you tell us. Please,” Emily insisted.
“You’ll distract her and we’ll be aground again,” her eleven year old elder sister intervened.
“She won’t do that Debs! She's an expert she is!” Emily persisted.
“Enough from both of you little tykes!” Captain Dad said firmly, feeling rather worried about the chance of hitting another shoal. “And thanks, are you heading for the top of the river this evening?”
“Hopefully,” Amanda replied.
“Then we’re buying you two a drink as a thank you, and before you say no, we insist. Our daughters won’t forgive us if they don’t get some of these long stories out of you!” he smiled.
“Then thanks, we’d love to,” Amanda answered for both Jim and herself, noticing a raised eyebrow from the first mate.
“We both like telling our stories so prepare to be bored to death. By the time we’ve finished you’ll wish you were stuck on the mud again,” Amanda smiled.
“Is he your brother?” Emily chirped.
“That’s another long story,” first mate Mum, having seen the rings on Amanda's finger, replied. “Or at least I think it may be?”



At well over twice the length and a good deal wider than Mayfly, Clearwater Sky wasn’t blessed with best of handling characteristics. Where Mayfly answered almost instantly to a small move of the tiller, Amanda found herself waiting for replies to her commands as cables and pulleys moved an undersized rudder. Once in the lock she switched back to her own boat as soon as the water level in the chamber allowed. The family in the hire boat assured them that they would be fine after their short course in avoiding mud and insisted that Jim and Amanda go on ahead. The politeness was partly due to pride on the captain and first mate’s part, but was contested by the two girls who, as minor crew members, were overruled.
“I may have landed us in for some serious interrogation,” Amanda said as they were back under way.
“As long as they don’t use thumbscrews, I really don’t like thumbscrews very much,” Jim replied calmly.
“They asked us, out for a drink. They were pretty insistent, so I accepted. Hope you don't mind,” Amanda smiled.
“We knew we’d have to explain ourselves at some point,” Jim kept the deadpan tone.
(© 2024 Michael Nye)


the boating bard


I've got boater's feet
And I think I know why
Mostly kept in moist conditions
Now they need to air dry

Flip flops are quite breezy
But I don't like them in wet grass
And sliders and boats don't mix
You end up on your ass

Rubber boots are not conducive
To keeping your digits dry
And tights pulled up to kingdom come
Just cause a rising tide

That sock and croc combo
Encourages sweating beneath
With athletes' foot and fungal toes
What I need is two webbed feet


muddy boots in mud

casual wanders on the caldon canal

casual wanderers on the caldon canal

Caldon Canal, Staffordshire

Mum and I had a wander on the Caldon Canal from Etruria Junction to Emma Bridgewater Factory in May 2022.

Hanley Park, Caldon Canal, Staffordshire

The Caldon Canal is 18 miles long and runs from Etruria, Stoke on Trent, to Froghall, near Uttoxeter. The canal also branches off to Leek, a town in Staffordshire. It originally was one of the branches of the Mersey Canal Company, at the time, and formed part of the said canal. Opened in 1779 and despite not being officially closed, the usage of the canal declined in the 20th Century and subsequent restoration took place. In 1974, the main line to Froghall was completed and the Leek branch soon after.

Bridgewater Factory, Caldon Canal, Staffordshire
We started on the Trent and Mersey Canal at Festival Park in Etruria, and we walked to towards the junction where the Caldon Canal begins. There we continued on until we reached the Bridgewater Factory Shop. It is a pleasant place to stop and have a drink, admire the grounds’ gardens and buy some earthenware.


The two miles or so stretch on the canal is calm and green with the canal running through Hanley Park and its cast iron bridges. This was enhanced by the sunny and warm weather we had that day. We walked back from the Bridgewater Factory shop to the park. The park is nice and spacious though lacking in facilities. The Pavilion, the main building at the park, was empty and there probably was a café in there but closed a long time ago. It is a pity as the Pavilion is a beautiful building and the current state sadly resemble the emptiness and its lifeless ambiance.

It was a pleasant walk along a small stretch of the Caldon Canal and we plan to explore more of this interesting waterway on a future trip.

The photographs in this article are of multiple exposure using the Snapseed App on my mobile device and the App enables double exposure of photographs and the use of filtering.

By Dawn Smallwood
Facebook: Dawn S Art
Instagram: artwithdawns
Etsy: artwithdawns

Paul Robert Watson

Paul Robert Watson Paul Robert Watson has been a journalist all his working life, and has now written his first novel. 'Cut to the Chase' is partially set on the canal system, in and around Braunston and the Tunnel.

The main character is an ex policeman who lives on a narrowboat, and is on the run from corrupt police and a gang of drug runners.  He makes his unlikely escape on his old narrowboat, Longfellow.

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paul robert watson

featured author of the season - spring 2024

paul robert watson

How it all came about is a little hazy. At some point, I must have agreed to the idea of a narrow boat holiday. Certainly, I was not the prime motivator and red wine was probably involved.

So it was that I found myself in a darkened room watching an instruction video on the basics of boat handling, how to negotiate a lock, mooring a vessel and the like.

That was Easter fourteen years ago at Market Harborough, then the base for hire company Canal Times, With me were my wife, Sue, and daughter, Rosie, her friend, Hannah, and her mum and dad, Linda and Dean.

Although we didn't know it at the time, we were about to embark on a journey that would lead us to travel, if not the length and breadth of the waterway network, then large sections in the north west and Midlands.

We emerged blinking into the daylight, were shown a model of a lock, then ushered aboard Hartley's Best, carrying our gear for a four-night trip. Briefly we were informed of the boat's operation. Push the throttle lever forward to go forward, back to go back; steer left to go right and visa versa. Oh, and reversing is tricky, but you'll get the hang of it. Honestly, to this day, I never really have.

Our instructor rather hastily stepped off at the entrance to the marina and we were left to our own devices.

The secret of happy cruising, at least in the early stages, is that you have to be prepared to leave your dignity on the quayside. Forget about looking nonchalantly professional like a seasoned boater and embrace the laughter you will inevitably hear from the gongoozling crowds, just like I did.

Yes, I was the first to get wet, left clinging to a top rail while my feet dangled in the water. Why did the girls draw the blind as my face appeared outside the kitchen window? All I could hear was the sound of embarrassed chortles.

A swing bridge? All right, we can manage that. But who's getting off to operate it? The sequence, so blindingly simple, had to be worked out for our first effort.

Turning for the first time was also a challenge and the bottom of Foxton Locks is hardly the ideal place to learn. After a display of cringeworthy ineptitude, we managed to moor.

Paul Watson - Foxton LocksEven for experienced boaters, Foxton can be the cause for some head-scratching. Long, steep, with staircase locks, your readers will be all too familiar with the scenario. We read the instructions and, with the aid of the lock-keepers on duty, we made it to the top. It felt as though we had scaled Everest, such was the sense of achievement.

On we cruised. With no locks, this was easy. Through Husbands Bosworth tunnel, then a stride across the fields to the White Hart, all the while becoming more enamoured with this boating life.

A better executed turn and an excursion to Welford on the way home provided the crew with greater confidence and Foxton was negotiated without incident. After good food and drink at the Black Horse, we returned to Harborough.

The trip, as they say, had seemed like a good idea at the time. And it really was.

Within six months we had become shareholders in Sometimes, an Ownerships vessel. You'll be familiar with that particular sorry tale but the syndicate survived without incurring too many losses, unlike some less fortunate.

I had become a committed boater rather than an accidental one.

So why not employ some of the experiences, sights sounds and scenes in a story that I had long hoped to write?

And that's how Cut to the Chase became a reality.

the book

cut to the chase by Paul RobertsCut to the Chase, some of which is set on the canal network, is available as an e-book from the Kindle store.

It is an adventure story, in which the main character, John Clubb, finds himself at the centre of a web of police corruption and drug-running.

Part of the story is based in and around Braunston and the tunnel, of which I have personal experience, having been a canal boat owner for the last 13 or so years.

The basic premise is that Clubb is on the run from a gang of drug smugglers and a corrupt policeman. He escapes their attention but is pursued from Scotland to the south east of England and thence to the Midlands.

An ex-policeman himself, he is aided by a former colleague, Brian Digbeth.

He escapes on his old narrow boat, Longfellow, aboard which he attempts - very slowly, naturally - to evade his pursuers. The plot eventually takes him to Scotland, where he is able to assist the police in tracking down the drug-runners and corrupt officers. And, of course, there is a twist in the tale.

The novel is published as an e-book on amazon under the name of Robert Watson and will cost £2.35, although it will be available free for a limited period. A paperback version is planned if reaction is favourable.

Paul Robert Watson

Paul Robert Watson considers himself to be a Derby lad, as it was there that he spent his school days. Throughout his adult life, he worked as a journalist, working mainly as a sports journalist and editor.

He is a member of a syndicate which own NB Sometimes, currently moored at King’s Orchard marina, where she has undergone an extensive programme of renovation and repair.

He lives in Egginton, not far from Burton, with his wife Sue. They have a grown-up daughter, Rosie.

The novel is published as an e-book on amazon under the name of Robert Watson and will cost £2.35, although it will be available free for a limited period. A paperback version is planned if reaction is favourable.

Paul is happy for readers to contact him for more information.

Please call him on 01283 736383.

bob chase – barge fiodra

featured roving canal trader

bob chase - barge fiodra

Fiodra was carefully designed to be a flexible, floating, event platform and a place to live. We have been running a successful programme of our own events since 2018, as well as hosting a huge variety of events for hirers.

This project brought together my experience and several passions. I come from a maritime family, my father was a marine pilot and one of my brothers the skipper of a tug. I began living on my first boat in 1990. I have also had a career in community arts and in venue management. I have always found hosting shows, cinema and events to be great fun and rewarding.

I began designing Fiodra before I left my final full time job at the National Autistic Society in 2016. She was built in Poland, to my design, by the Viking Canal Boat Company. After delivery in 2017 we took her on a maiden voyage to Bristol and back. We launched our business in Spring 2018 with a residency in Paddington Basin. We hosted story telling with Kate Saffin, poetry from the Canal Laureate Nancy Campbell and classic canal films.

Since then we have travelled most of the waterways we have access to in a wide beam. We have made visits to Oxford, Guildford, Maidstone, Hertford and all points on the Grand Union. We used the opportunity to explore what worked and what didn't work onboard.

barge fiodra - mindfulness

Barge Fiodra - Art Gallery

By adding (removable) gallery panels and 12v gallery lighting we were able to create a beautiful gallery space for visual artists. Our first season in Little Venice was in partnership with the Guild of Waterway Artists. It was successful from the get go and we have since been able to host many exhibitions of paintings, illustrations and textile arts.

This Easter (2024) we will be hosting a textile art exhibition by Marissa Stoffer. Marissa stayed on Fiodra last summer on the River Lea where she collected the natural dyes she has used to create this work. Check out our website for details.

We also managed to install a micro-cinema in the boat using a digital projector and high quality sound system. Everyone loves the experience and we have been able to show several indie films including the launch of the film TIDES. However we quickly discovered that mainstream films were uneconomic for us to show in a cinema with only 24 seats.

We have also tried our hand as a Cafe and Jam Shop. Fiodra is designed with extra features that enabled us to register as a food business, with a 5 star hygiene rating. Selling home made cakes, coffee and tea on the back deck worked really well. My partner Moira also sold her gourmet jams. She usually delivers locally by bicycle under the banner of the Jam Pedlar.

barge fiodra - cinema barge

Our latest project, the Floating Camera Obscura, was inspired by another partner, Ben Nathan from Pinhole London. Photography is another string to my bow, having a diploma in photography and having worked, as a photographer, in London for several years.

Ben and I have now run several pinhole photography workshops onboard with young people. We convert the saloon into a darkroom where photographs can be developed. We also teach the history of photography and have installed three camera obscura onboard. Everyone is
amazed to see this fascinating technology on a boat!

Besides our own projects we have grown the hire side of the business. It took a knock during Covid but we now have to turn people away. Our partnership with Tag Venue has been very productive especially when they made us a SuperVenue because of our positive reviews.

It’s impossible to list all the events on the boat but they have included: Argentinian wine tasting, the launch of a music CD, meditation workshops, environmental talks, poetry evenings, pinhole photography, yoga, and of course lots of family parties.

barge fiodra - café barge

barge fiodra

What's next?

Well I'm the sort of person who loves a new idea and enjoys making it happen. I just don't have the stickability to carry on forever. So now I feel ready to let go of this project and look for a new challenge. Travelling all the canals, we have not been able to see, in a narrowboat, is one distinct possibility.

What would be lovely is to find someone who wants to build on what we have achieved or to take things in another direction altogether. It’s a fantastic opportunity for someone. Just by doing a few hires a year it is possible to cover the main costs of boating and live afloat for free.

If anyone wants to find out more about Fiodra they should go to

I’m really happy to discuss plans and ideas with any potential buyer.

Bob Chase 6/3/24

Bob Chase - Barge Fiodra

I've been around boats since a boy. My (late) father was a marine pilot, in the Wash, and from a local fishing family. My brother Bill was skipper of a tugboat. We built boats for ourselves large and small over the years and my family owned a few canal boats. I've lived on two narrow boats on the southern English canals. Fiodra is the newest and biggest vessel.

After careers in photography, arts management and technology, I am now a freelance mindfulness teacher and web-consultant. Oh! and I run Fiodra.

You can find out what is happening, where and when by visiting Fiodra's Website