We were on a cruise, somewhere down the south Oxford canal around the summer of 2011, moored up and went to the pub for dinner. We didn't have any beer or wine on the boat - so we asked the landlord of the pub for a take-away bottle of wine. OUCH! Over £20.00 for a cheap Merlot, we didn't need it that much and as the nearest shop was a few miles away, we settled for a cup of coffee back on our boat.
The thought occurred to me again sometime in 2012 when we saw a boat that had, what looked like beer taps on the front of it. We asked the gentleman on board:
"Is it a beer boat?"
"No, I just like real ale and I like to collect the beer tap badges."
So, during various cruises in 2012, we surveyed other boaters about the possibility of a beer boat that would also sell wine and cider. The answers were a resounding - Yes! When? Where?
I started to research the possibility of running a beer boat and from this point the complications started. Correct and multiple licensing issues being the main obstacle - these were to take another 2 years to organise and obtain. I knew the legislation well enough to know that although complicated - it was possible. So, we decided to have the boat built.
The Crick Boat Show, one of the major inland boating events of the year, came and went in 2013. We hadn't decided who was going to build our boat, but we had looked at various styles at the show that would cover a multitude of needs: liveaboard whilst working; modern communication ability; security systems on the boat; unique storage and somewhere for our back up security system to sleep. (Our trusty Jack Russell - Molly) Also to think about were, which vintage engine to have, colour of boat, the layout, length and all the usual things you explore when planning a boat.
Then came the Crick Boat Show 2014 and by this point we really needed to find a boat builder - as we wanted to start the business in 2015. I was planning to give up my full time job to concentrate on building the business so wanted to get started as soon as possible so I could calculate when to hand in my notice.
I spoke to Steve Hudson from SM Hudson boatbuilders at the show, had a look at his workmanship on the 3 boats being displayed. We had looked at lots of other boats too, but I were struck with Steve's attitude and attention to detail and finish quality - for these reasons we chose him as our boat builder. He suggested we come to the annual open day at his yard on July 26th.
Forward to June 2014, Steve phoned to say he had a slot for building, due to a cancellation. We arrived at Glascote basin on the 19th June with a shopping list of questions and requirements. By the end of that day, and a tour of the other boats in progress, we had signed for a 67ft traditional boat with tug deck to his highest specification and a Lister JP3 engine which I hadn't planned. (It was supposed to be the JD3 tractor engine I saw at the Crick show).
The open day came - July 26th at Glascote basin. The Beer Boat shell was laying in the full length of the steel shed, what an absolutely fantastic sight, I was in awe, the smell of bare metal hit me. I knew now that this was going to be real.