In October 2015, Alan and Pauline Cornford bought a 1994 Peter Nicholls inspection launch and brought it down from Shropshire to their home in Braunston.
They had previously owned a shorter 1998 version and jumped at the chance when this 50 footer came on the market Here is how they got on: Captain’s Log. Taking her home; As she was over 20 years old, we had a pre-purchase survey. “The Hull is in excellent condition. With regular maintenance in the future, it should give years of good service in the future” was the verdict.So we bought her and a week later set off from her mooring at Sawley to take her home to Braunston Marina.She had lain unused for some time so we hoped for a shakedown cruise before we left. But we had to get straight off as our preferred route, the Trent and Mersey Canal, was about to close for regular maintenance. A quick check showed that the domestic batteries needed replacing and the diesel heater had given up, after 20 years. We replaced the batteries and then set off.The trip took seven leisurely 5 hour days. The boat exceeded all our expectations. Bearing in mind that we already have a later Peter Nicholls 33 footer, we were surprised that at 52 foot she was even easier to handle when steering from the bow (there is a stern position too).
Nowadays I like my Wife Pauline to do the steering, as she has the usual hip and knee problems that catch up with some of us. I do the rope and lock work now. Pauline found her great to steer and control. I used to sail regularly but came inland some years ago due to muscle problems. So the new boat will do us fine.
The 33 footer was a great boat but at 4 berths the interior was a little cramped so we used her for long weekends and short trips., The new 55ft boat we intend to cruise around the country for much longer periods from our house in Braunston, as and when we feel like it.
The weather was great on the trip. Though the last 2 days, we had heavy rain at times. That was no problem as the helmsman is undercover. We even have three toughened glass windows at the bow compete with wiper which gives good visibility in the rain.
Pauline and I found her easy to steer and Pauline soon got going into a lockdown to a T. Boat pivot halfway along the length (in simple terms). Steering from the front, you have to allow for the stern swinging out. But you have mirrors to keep an eye out and you soon get used to it. In fact, her extra length makes her easier than our 33 footer that the new boat is replacing. I drove HGVs in my youth, but Pauline found her easy to handle too
We were not surprised by the many favourable comments we received on our cruise down, especially when it was raining. We have had several narrowboats and sea boats over the years and I went for the Peter Nicholls Inspection Launch originally because I was sick of standing out in the cold and wet while steering.
We got her back to Braunston with no problems. Peter and Roger gave us some advice on arrival. We cleared the shower drain which had got blocked and checked the submersible pump, a leak between the toilet bowl and the tank was soon sorted with a new gasket.
I like to do a bit myself, so I have ordered some ply and hardwood moulding from Peter and I will do some customisation. Including remaking the steps down into the cockpit for easier access. Our later 33 footer had better steps which I will copy.
Days Afloat have come to fit a new Webasto heater. The paintwork is good with just a couple of rust spots on the roof where lock keys have been carelessly laid down over the years. We will have her repainted in a maroon rather than the green by Dave Bishop at Braunston. Pauline is choosing a new upholstery and curtain fabric and we are looking forward to the future with her.
She is moored at Braunston Marina so if you want to see her then please contact Peter on 01788 891823 firstname.lastname@example.org and he will pass the message on. Our 33 footer has been sold through Braunston Marina and can be seen on a separate blog. Peter has a 45-foot x 12 for sale unused, that is also at the Braunston yard.
Alan Cornford. Braunston November 2015