Picking up Floydtilla

We were all very excited as we set off from Somerset to go and pick up Floydtilla from the Black Prince base in Stoke Prior. We aimed to get there for around 11:30 am so the rush of the hire customers getting underway would mostly be over.

Inspection and payment

When we arrived at Stoke Prior we could see Floydtilla in her new bright paint work, and we parked up in the yard. We had had the roof painted yellow and in the bright sun it will probably need sunglasses while we get used to it.  Hopefully this will keep the roof cooler, as the normal Black Prince dark blue can become a little hot to the touch.

They were all ready for us so we had a tour around and an in depth explanation of what we needed to know as an owner not a hire customer.

Black Prince Owners manual
Black Prince Owners manual

We got presented with what will become the Bible for Floydtilla which was a folder with all the manuals for the Engine, Gearbox, Heater etc, as well as 37 pages of general information and diagrams of all the systems. This was a gold mine of information and covered all the questions I had in my notes and I am sure many more to come.

In one of the cupboards they had also included two spare engine belts an air filter, fuel filter and oil filter, it is the little extras that make life simple.

Next came the fun with the bank: We had transferred all the money into our current account ready to make payment and informed the bank what was going to happen. They said that we would probably have to call to make such a large transfer as it could trigger the anti fraud limits. Once we were happy, Sonia tried to call the bank. The message on the automated response  let us know that “they have a high level of traffic at the moment” we did start to wonder when they didn’t! After 40 minutes hanging on we got to talk to a person and then a few minutes later we owned a boat.

Off to Droitwich Spa Marina

The Black Prince team had prepared everything, the diesel tank was full, all the beds made up, the boat had all it’s equipment just as we had used it in the summer.

I checked the engine hours (11,588) and then we asked them to help us turn her around and we set off down the Worcester and Birmingham canal towards Droitwich Spa Marina. What a great feeling, it was all finally ours.

We had a lot to learn as we found out a few hours later once we arrived at the marina. We had never moored in a marina before, and while we tried to find our allocated space the weather rained, hailed and blew us about.

Joining the queue at the Hanbury top lock

In a simple mistake we had been given the wrong berth number and when we found it, it was already in use, so we headed in to the next available berth. This took us many attempts and finally after a few four letter words we managed to get the bow in and finally tied up for the night. The office was now closed so we would sort out the correct berth in the morning.

Selecting our first marina

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

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

Diglis Waterside and Marina
Diglis Waterside and 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.

Our Selection

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.

A week on Chloe 2020

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.

Left to Droitwich Spa
Left to Droitwich Spa or straight on to Worcester

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).