Today I walked my dog, Freddie, up the canal bank. Our nearest canal is the 127 mile long Leeds/Liverpool and although it no longer carries commercial traffic it’s still busy with leisure craft. When I got back home I returned to the canal on my mountain bike. About 25 years ago I rode 100 miles along the canal bank but today I just rode to the White Bear marina at Adlington, which only took around 40 minutes. I spent a lot of time passing walkers in a brief window between showers.
Plenty of the hundred or so boats had smoke coming out of the chimneys so were obviously occupied. I know some vessels are lived on whilst others are for weekend pleasure. So why the fascination with the canal? Well, I have started a new project which relates to the canal but is not totally unconnected to mountain biking. I’ve built all sorts of things over the years, including 5 self designed, self built sportscars. I once built a recumbent bicycle which was fast on the flat but hard work up hills. Now I’ve decided to build a boat, (it must be my age!) I’ve fancied the idea for years and have been studying and planning for a good few months so now I’ve committed and bought some materials to build with. Because of the rules of canal use it would be expensive and difficult use an engine so the boat will be human powered. As a cyclist I’d prefer to use my legs rather than row so I’ve designed a system to propel the boat forwards by pedaling. Due to the instability of boats in general I’ll be seated in a recumbent position to keep my weight low down.
My wife, Ali, has asked why I don’t buy a kayak but for me the thrill is as much about the design and building as it is about use. I’ve cut and shaped the hull so far and will post some pictures when I’m a bit further on with it.