No ordinary ex-hireboat this; she was apparently one of two narrowboats attached to HMS Warrior and operated secret missions from Cowley Peachey on the Grand Union during the early 1980s.
HMS Warrior turns out to be an alias for Northwood Headquarters, almost on the doorstep of Rickmansworth, and of course the secret missions turned out to be a perk of those based there, who could take a break from playing with ships and turn their hand to narrowboating on their days off. More of which later, as I have uncovered the instruction manuals handed to crews on their busmans’ holidays warning the professional mariners of “the difficult handling characteristics of a single screw, 50 ft long narrow craft which has little draft” Section 0307, subsection (c.).
Yesterday the engine started for demo purposes – today it fired up instantly and as Zulu left her berth for the first time in months, if not years she left her smoky trail through next door’s potting shed. Why did the neighbours smile and wave? Do they know something I am as yet unaware of?
Our first few hundred yards showed she hasn’t forgotton how to be a boat – nice steady Lister SR3 note, stops in a straight line, even goes backwards in a straightish line. These old boats are great! Down Batchworth Lock we went – carefully trying not to bump her thin bits too hard – planning a good dump at the bins (green rope fragments mainly) we were foiled by BWB having “regrettably had to close the refuse point” for reasons unknown, and so on we went to Tesco Rickmansworth boldly completing our first mile without any known incidents.
And thats where we are right now – not on the Tesco moorings as this is now night and overnight mooring is banned there, but opposite where BWB signage informs us that mooring is restricted to 14 days per calendar year. That’ll do for now!