On the way from Middlewich to the M6 I was about to drive past a car boot sale when I suddenly realised it was actually a Boat Jumble. Swiftly changing plans I parked up and braved the £3 entrance charge – and I have to say it was worth every penny.
Not really catering for narrowboats as such, but boats in general, the range of stuff on display was amazing. Far too many stalls to even pick one out to mention but every single one had something of some interest – I could have spent a fortune with prices so much below chandlery rates. The last time I found anything like this was back in the good old days of windows 3.0 computing when the early computer fairs were an Aladdins cave of genuine stuff at knock down prices, rather than now being stall after stall selling the same second rate unbranded cloned electronics.
I resisted temptation to pick up sheets of rubber hex matting at 16 pounds per square metre – about 1/3 of the chandlery rate, or a huge range of dented tins of paint for 1/4 their shelf price. The list goes on and on – I made do with an almost new Dometic 3 way boat fridge for… well lets say a very, very good price indeed. As well as exceptional prices, it was actually the range of specialist products which was the real star of the show. If only the IWA could do a deal with this group of exhibitors to share the annual IWA National Rally then this really would create a boating event second to none. When I criticised the Autherley Junction rally last year, this is exactly what I would have made the event so much more than a boater’s get-together.
It was a complete revelation to discover that these weekly Boat Jumbles, organised by Practical Boat Owner magazine, follow a nationwide circuit and will almost certainly be coming to a place near you soon. Check out the 2009 schedule here and if you go along with an open mind you will amost certainly be returning with a bargain.