Not so green as I’m cabbage looking.

Most of the posts on this blog so far are from my first few years on board; I’ve learnt a lot since then and these people are some of those who’ve helped along the way. These are personal recommendations based on good service that I have received. Some of them I have not met in person, most of them I have. I hope they give you the same quality of service as they gave me.

My reasons for including them may not yet be apparent but they will be, I promise.


Bates Boatyard

HP23 4PS

Phone: 01296 632017 Mobile: 07718 096557

To be found at the northern end of Tring Summit, the Bulbourne dry dock is almost completely enclosed allowing work to continue no matter what the weather/time of day. It consists of a solid brick building erected over an enlarged lock chamber which was modified for the purpose. Don’t let its enclosed nature worry you though, there’s a lot of light inside with the halogens on.

Jem Bates and his “boys” focus on wooden boat restoration and new builds, however they do a good line in fixing things that have gone horribly wrong, and will move heaven and earth to stop someone’s boat sinking (as they did for us). Jem’s team cover all the bases: welding, carpentry and joinery, engine servicing and repairs, painting, blacking and general boat maintenance. I’ve also seen caulking in action, and various other things happening in the dock and surrounding area, while we were waiting for our parts.

If you happen to break down anywhere near Tring, Jem is the man to call.

Hands on Marine

Phone: 0790 888 5034
Email: [email protected]


Steve at work

Run by Steve Hand, they describe themselves as “big enough to cope and small enough to care”, certainly they had small company ethos when they came out to Survey nbSteven (aka “New Boat”) for us. They’ve got 20 years of experience apparently, and I’d have to say it shows. They operate nationwide, we met them at Chirk Marina where Steven was berthed when we bought her. We were looking for a survey at very short notice and came up trumps with this helpful pair. We were present throughout the survey and both Steve and his colleague were remarkably tolerant of us taking photographs and asking interminable questions.

IMG 3670We opted for a “hull only” survey as we’d done a pretty thorough job of identifying all the potential problems inside the boat ourselves but judging by the work Steve and his colleague did on the outside of the boat I would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone requiring a survey, Boat Safety Scheme Examination or Recreational Craft Directive Consultancy Work.

Seagull Outboards

Specialising in British Seagull Outboards (not common on narrowboats) this might seem like an odd recommendation, however they have a large chandlery with a dedicated narrowboat section. Their company ethos is that customer service comes beyond profit, so while they won’t turn down a sale they are prepared to talk you through the options and assist where required. If they can sell you a part to fix it rather than a whole new thing, they will do precisely that. They also have the best customer service hours I’ve ever seen for a chandlery so give them a go.

Oh, and they’re extremely supportive of this blog.

Semington Dry Dock

No rain on our parade

Lock House,
545 Canal Bridge,
Semington, BA14 6JT
Phone: 01380 870654

This is a family run boatyard comprising of two wet/dry docks and a slipway with comprehensive DIY facilities, as well as an engineer/welder, cabinet maker and all-round useful bloke on hand should you need them (these are three or occasionally more separate people). The two docks will each take boats of up to 70 foot, one of them will accommodate full width boats (the such facility at the western end of the Kennet and Avon Canal), the other is a standard narrow dock. The slipway is used for floating and retrieving trailerable boats as well as, as a bay for boats of up to 40 foot that do not require cover for the work being done on them and is provided with access to power etc. They have hard standing for a number of trailerable boats and can arrange for specialist repair work to be done. They have recently had additional workshop space built as part of an ongoing plan to establish a centre of excellence for GPRS boat repairs.

Piglets semington dry dockIan and Liz bought the dock and lock house in December 2010 and have been re-building the business from scratch. The original dock, which has been converted from a boathouse built in the 1980’s, is set deep in their garden with horses on one side (securely fenced off) while the other has a pig enclosure, a chicken run containing a variety of hens, there is also a small orchard and the most recent addition, some domestic ducks (eggs and fruit are available for sale from the lock house).

They operate the dock all year round and are extremely flexible with their bookings, but get in early if you want a summer booking, as it fills up fast (please excuse that pun). Their website is still under construction however they now have interactive online booking as well as a contact form on the site, and of course it’s still possible to book by phoning them on the number above.

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