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'ISIS' was built in 2002 by the now defunct 'Liverpool Boat Company' who specialised in mass production of boats of various styles. She is a 'Hanbury' class boat and number 22 off the production line having a steel hull and superstructure and whilst it could be said that this is boring 'cos there's loads of them out there, I draw comfort from the thought that after 21 of them had been built, with a bit of luck and a strong wind they'd managed to iron out all the problems and design flaws by the time they laid the keel of number 22! Well it works for me.

 

Weighing in at 18 tonnes, 'ISIS' is 57' in length, beam 6'10" and draws 2'6". This length and width is seen by many to be the optimum size as there isn't a navigable waterway in the country she can't cruise. Boats any longer than this are limited to the number of locks they can enter and wide beam craft even more so.

I am, for the most part, on my own and so it is quite large enough for me to live on. A couple, so long as they really liked each other, could be comfortable enough but I wouldn't fancy raising a family here although quite a few do in similar sized boats.

Like I said, Hanbury class boats were mass produced and it follows that the interior fit-out is standard. Spray foam insulated cabins with wood cladding with a mixture of wood and MDF fittings in both light oak and mahogany and can berth four people in comfort - more if you don't mind sleeping on the floor!

Standard equipment includes full diesel fired central heating, a multi-fuel stove, galley facilities such as a four ring gas hob, grill and oven, 12 volt fridge / freezer and a single drainer sink with hot and cold mixer taps together with plenty of storage space. A seperate shower room with a pump-out toilet, hand basin and naturally a shower. It's called a 'shower room' after all. Beyond the galley is a raised dining area with seating for four people and forward of that is the lounge. Double doors from the lounge lead out into the forepeak (that's the pointy end) but more commonly known as the cratch. This is protected from the elements by a removable cover which in turn gives access to a 180 gallon water tank mounted across the transom and the gas bottle locker. Get the picture?

The one deviation from the standard fit-out is an automatic washing machine fitted snuggly under the cross-over companion way.

Domestic hot water is provided either by the central heating unit or from the engine which by the way is a four cylinder Isuzu-Marine 40hp diesel coupled to a PRM150 hydraulic gearbox which in turn is coupled to a 17" propeller. Maximum speed 6 mph but limited by regulation to 4mph on canals and 1400 rpm can achieve this with ease.

Well done for getting this far! You'll be pleased to hear that's the boring bit out of the way!

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Before anyone says anything, I did draw this straight so I have to blame my scanner. It was absolutely nothing to do with me officer. Anyway it gives an idea.

Let the fun begin!

I had veiwed a number of boats before 'ISIS' and for one reason or another none of them took my fancy. Some were in serious need of a re-paint, some needed a complete internal refit and most were just plain over priced.

'ISIS' was different. As soon as I walked on board I knew I had to have her, I just had this good feeling about her. Yes she needed work before she would get her safety certificate and the paintwork on the superstructure wasn't 100% but I knew I could be happy with her. The only hurdle to jump was the asking price - originally up over £40,000 and my top limit was £38,000. With the work needing to be done, insuring and licencing her to take into consideration I took a gamble and submitted an offer I could afford more in hope than expectation that it would be accepted. No one was more surprised than me when I got the 'thumbs up' from the broker.

I took ownership on July 27th 2010.

I stayed around at Alvechurch for a week or so but I was taking up prime mooring space and I was politely asked to find somewhere else and I settled on Sherbourne Wharf in Birmingham.

August 3rd at 12.15pm I cast off and headed up the Worcester Birmingham Canal to my new 'home'. On paper it was an easy run. Around 5 hours, no locks and just one tunnel at Wast Hill which is 2726 yards long.

I was so nervous! Sure I'd been out with my brother's boats but there had always been someone else with me but now I was 'master before God' and no bloody crew! Yep. I was single-manning for the first time in my life and with a boat that I wasn't used to. A steep learning curve for sure!

Actually the journey was uneventful and I made Sherbourne by 5.15pm and was on my new mooring by 6 and already I hated it!

Gone were the green fields of Worcestershire, replaced by highrise tower blocks, perpetual noise and filthy water which, if you were unfortunate enough to fall in to, would have meant a stomach pump such is the level of contamination.

If you're interested in industrial heritage then the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations) are fascinating and if you like continuously disentangling Tesco carrier bags

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