• Katie | Cotton Lily

Off-grid Narrowboat - The Search

Scrolling through the vast number of narrowboats available for sale, an idea popped into my head. “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could sell my handmade Cotton Lily products from my boat. A floating shop”. Now I’ve been asked a number of times before if I would like to have my own high street shop one day and my answer has always been no due to the time it would take me away from designing and making and the pressure of overheads in renting a physical selling space. But this idea of making in the week and selling from my home on a weekend just felt exciting and something that would give me the best of both worlds. I went away again and did my research and low and behold, narrowboat shops are a thing. Woo hoo! I couldn’t wait to tell my Somerset Beau the good news.


That evening we wrote a list of what our ideal narrowboat would have. 55ft or longer in length, a cruiser stern to give us some outside space, solar panels or the capacity to add them, room for all the fur babies, and a duck hatch that I could sell from. The serious search commenced and on our first gander on AppolloDuck we found a winner. A 65ft cruiser stern called “Ment 2 B”. What a name! she ticked almost all the boxes and all the signs were there. We phoned to arrange a viewing for the weekend. We were so excited. The excitement, unfortunately, came short-lived as we soon learnt the narrowboat market has gone through the roof with the pandemic causing a keen interest in staycations and alternative ways of living that people can actually afford. Someone had been able to view her before we could get there and she was sold. We were a little disheartened but we kept telling ourselves “if it’s Ment 2 B, it’s meant to be”. The search continued.


Despite not being able to see the boat we wanted to we still went out that weekend and viewed many others and made a day of it. (Come see what we got up to here). There were so many boats that looked great on paper but the photos didn’t reflect what condition they were in. The disappointment came flooding in and my Somerset Beau could see it in my face. He comforted me and took me on to another marina. Here we found some really lovely boats. The layouts were right but the prices weren’t but it gave me hope again to carry on looking. She must be out there somewhere.


A couple of weeks later, the list of boats we wanted to view was growing and there she was, Ment 2 B, was back up for sale. We rang up to book in to view her but yet again she had been sold before we could get there. I did say boats are selling fast right now. We put her out of our minds and concentrated on the others we liked. We may have liked the others but they just weren’t giving us that rush to get out and go see them and then one Friday afternoon of continuous searching online and narrowboat YouTubers on repeat in the background, I found Ment 2 B, yet again, back up for sale! What was going on? There must be something wrong with her for this to keep happening? Had she failed a survey? We wanted the chance to view her this time and nothing was going to stop us. My Somerset Beau phoned the broker to find out all the info as to why she kept reappearing. Turned out she had never got to survey stage and it was the same person who kept putting offers in but unfortunately didn’t really have the funds available to go through with the purchase. We were squeezed into the first viewing on Saturday morning. We were so excited but didn’t want to get our hopes up. “If it’s Ment 2 B, it’s meant to be”. We drove up to Staffordshire and as soon as we stepped foot on the boat we both went into poker face mode. I didn’t want my face to show what I was really feeling and at the same time, I couldn't tell what my Somerset Beau was thinking either. The broker went outside to turn the engine on for us whilst we carried on looking around. Alone we looked at each other. We didn’t need to take our masks off to see the smiles underneath. We loved her. The decor wasn’t to our taste but that’s easily changed and a project we could enjoy together. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous too as this is all new to us but she just felt right. She felt like she could be home, our floating home together to enjoy the off-grid lifestyle we’ve both always craved.


The broker had another viewing to do at the same marina so he kindly left us to go away and think about it and said he would call us later to discuss our thoughts. We went and sat in the car nervously talking over the pros and cons. Were we really about to do this?! We saw the broker return to his car and we waved him over. I timidly put an offer in but had to wait to hear back. We drove to the nearest lock to watch some cruisers in motion, thinking that could very soon be us. The phone rang. I answered it holding my breath and holding my Somerset Beaus hand as I waited for the response. Ment 2 B WAS meant to be! She was ours, subject to survey, but she was ours.


We now have a long nervous wait until our survey takes place but for now, we can dream about our future life, living off-grid on the British waterways.


To be continued…..






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