THE BOAT WHISPERER
Canal Boat|August 2020
THE BOAT WHISPERER
Eddie and Chris Barford have enjoyed decades on the waterways
Eddie and Chris

When you buy or sell a boat if you’re lucky the transaction comes with an added bonus, a good friend.

Fifteen years ago I drove my car onto the drive of mechanic Jim for its annual service. Jim only has to look at an engine and it runs smoother, it’s a great talent.

While he buried his head under the bonnet of the family Fiesta, he uttered the life-changing words: “You like boats don’t you, Eddie”.

I did and I do, my first boat was a MicroPlus cabin cruiser – bought complete with trailer for £200 from a Lancashire publican. All I had to do was bail out twelve inches of rainwater and get the outboard going. We moored it at Venetian Marina on the Middlewich branch and had loads of fun with her.

Fast forward 25 years and lots of hire boat holidays and I were sipping a coffee and looking at a photograph of a very pretty Rosie and Jim 40ft narrowboat by the name of Liverbird. Jim had fitted her out himself I in 1987. The Liverpool Boats shell had a plaque proclaiming it was the fifth shell they had built.

The BMC 1.8 driven cruiser stern in red, green and a coaching strip of cream, fitted out in pine with a Refleks stove in the corner. What a boat! Jim was moving on and reckoned he would like to fit out a wide beam, so this little beauty was for sale. The deal is done (thanks for the help dad) and off we sailed.

Jim might have thought Liverbird was off his hands, but little did he know he had sold her with a five-year warranty.

Jim, the gearbox seems to be rattling.

Give her more than 500 revs, you gearbox killer,.

Jim, the heater won’t light.

Clear the oil feed tube, numpty.

Our first proper trip was a doozy, a trip to Preston for the annual Riversway Festival, where Liverbird would be taking on the Rivers Douglas and Ribble, a lovely cruise down the Rufford Branch of the Leeds&Liverpool which turns into a meandering river for the final mile into Tarleton.

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August 2020