At their Stoke Prior base Black Prince has what looks like a floating polly tunnel. They use this to float the boats into so they can control the conditions while they work on the paintwork, both stripping back to bare metal and respraying.
These picture cover a few weeks work in the tunnel.
Black Prince will paint your boat almost any colour you like, we wanted the boat to be a little brighter and Sonia my wife likes blue, we had also been advised that a dark colour on the roof could lead to a very hot interior.
So with the aid of Photoshop I took a picture I had of the boat we had hired in 2019 and started to recolour it.
First was to replace the red sides and remove any logos
Then after a bit of tidying up we could add the colours we had selected from the Black Prince recommended paint supplier Symphony Coatings (West Midlands Ltd), we could have chosen any paint from any supplier, but I have found it always best to stick to the recommended. Our picture was meant only as a guide to the painter to what we had in mind, I am sure he will improve upon our work.
Over the past year, while we have been waiting to collect our narrow boat we have been looking at marinas. We wanted something that was friendly, had enough facilities and was near enough to a town so that we can get supplies and go for the occasional meal out while we are working on her.
I have scoured the published lists of marinas. I made a list ones in the area we would like to be based at the start our narrowboat experience.
During the summer we had the opportunity to hire Chloe (Soon to be Floydtilla) for a week and decided we would head down to Droitwich and onto the river Severn and then into Worcester and back up the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Stoke Prior. Not a very long adventure and we had plenty of time to stop and look about.
Droitwich Spa Marina
Our first stop was to look at the Droitwich Spa Marina, where we had a Covid safe look around. The place was well equipped with a slipway and machinery capable of pulling us out for blacking etc. There was also a small chandlery which luckily for us sold ice creams, they even had one for the dog (no a common thing for him).
We also liked the shower block and they even had a dog shower.. as well as a laundry room with washing machines and dryers.
The marina was mile or two from the town, which has a Waitrose and a very nice coffee and muffin shop, amongst other things, to recommend it. We tried the food at the Eagle and Sun pub which is just a short walk away.
We decided we would put ourselves on the waiting list and see if a space became available.
Diglis Waterside & Marina
Next, we stopped in Worcester and had a look around the city, it looks a very nice place to visit, and at the junction with the river Severn was the Diglis Waterside & Marina which is part of the Aquavista group of marinas who have sites around the country.
This looked also very interesting as a base for our boat, unfortunately at the time the office was closed, but we had a good look around and liked was we saw. Our only concern was that noise may be an issue once we were post covid.
I emailed the contact details on the website to ask if there was any availability for 2021.
Hill Farm Marina
Earlier in the year, Sonia visited Hill Farm Marina on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal which she was very impressed with and was put on our shortlist for ‘not straightaway’, a possible for future years.
A lot of the smaller marinas we contacted did not know if they would have spaces for next year. With the Covid-19 pandemic, owners did not know what would happen and may stay moored up through this period.
Just a few days after our visit to Droitwich Spa Marina we had a call with the potential offer of a space for 2021 which we decided to accept. This was one more thing ticked off my todo list for owning a canal boat. In December we sent completed the application form and sent a cheque for the deposit.
Edit: We finally heard from Diglis Waterside & Marina in October 2020. They had been having a problem with email/website and this delayed them answering. They expected to be fully booked for March 2021 so that did not matter, you never know, we may give them a try in the years to come.
As part of our purchase of Chloe, we were offered a weekend on her to make sure she was what we wanted. As there was a week available in the August we decided to pay to extend the offered weekend for the whole week.
We feel very lucky, as when we booked, we didn’t expect the Covid-19 to be such a big thing but by the time our week came around we where still able to go.
We picked Chloe up at Stoke Prior and headed toward Droitwich as we had not been that way before, we had also planned to drop into Droitwich Spa Marina to start our look for a mooring.
Our plan was to turn onto the Droitwich Barge Canal to the river Seven, and then down the Seven to Worcester and back on to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal returning to Stoke Prior.
I knew that the Droitwich Canal passed under the M5 Motorway and that it would be a tight fit, but it still came as a bit of a surprise.
Oddly we did not take many scenic pictures on this trip, but we mostly seemed to be taking pictures of other boats with interesting colour schemes. Many of the normal shops and restaurants where shut or had seriously limited spaces.
However, we again really enjoyed our time on Chloe, a few highlights were looking around Worcester, there is a lot there to explore in the future, and Droitwich where we stayed at the Vines Park Moorings for a couple of days as our Daughter needed a visit to the Doctors.
Droitwich while smaller than Worcester had all we needed including an excellent Coffee and muffin shop, and a fantastic pet shop where Obi our Sprollie (Spaniel Collie Cross) helped himself to a chew (We did pay for it and a few others, I am sure we will be back there again).
We originally wanted to look at a 57ft NB that was the same spec as one we had hired the year before, but we also looked at a 2007 62ft Lautrec 4 example and while not a lot of extra length, all the extra space was in the living area. Also this configuration did not come with a fixed table, but instead was equipped with a table and four chairs. At £47,500 this was near our budget and was pretty much what we wanted.
After a chat in the car park after our viewing we decided to put a £5000 refundable deposit on the 62ft NB that was called “Chloe”.
While the boat would be hired out for the 2020 season, it could be ours in 2021.
As part of the deal, they would fix anything that needed fixing, repaint to our colour scheme and make any basic alteration we needed. We also got to book her for a week in the summer so we could make sure we were happy.
Before we visited Black Prince we had done our research and talked to a few other X-Black Prince owners via Facebook. They all sang the praises of the team at Black Prince I could also find a few other X-Black Prince boats that were being sold at either higher or about the same price as we where paying.