Saturday 9 December 2023


We arrived back in time for some August events: Sandra Kibble’s funeral on 4th August, Joyce’s 90th birthday on 12th August. She had asked us to sing, so we entertained the guests with a few golden oldies such as “Summer Holiday.”

Our church’s final service in the canal basin was on 6th August and we then had three weeks with no service. We used the time to have a barbecue in Wendover Woods, a picnic in Aston Clinton Park, and a churches together event in Aylesbury. For the first service in the new venue, Aylesbury Vale Primary Academy, we were asked to lead the worship. It was a good feeling, although we were on a bit of a learning curve with the PA systems, security etc.

This last year had been a bit of a struggle for Hazel, finding it difficult to jump down from the bows to the towpath, and having to stand for long periods when we negotiated long lock flights like Hatton, Wolverhampton and Atherstone. We called in James from Rugby Boats to give us a valuation on Gabriel. He came on 12th September, and gave us a valuation beyond what we were expecting. He also said that we didn’t need to wait until the spring, as boats were selling fast right now.

So, we decided to proceed with the sale. We spent a week emptying cupboards and filling our small apartment with things. It is surprising how much stuff you can hide on a boat.  We spent a week in the Aylesbury Canal Society wet dock so that we could tidy up a bit of paintwork, and do some cleaning. The facilities are excellent, and we didn’t have to worry about the weather.

Gabriel came out of the wet dock on 9th October, just in time for Jon, a boat mover, to take the boat from Aylesbury to Rugby Boats in Weedon Bec. We employed him, because the following day, Hazel had her second foot operation, and was out of action for several weeks.

The journey to Rugby Boats was 49 miles and 39 locks, and should have taken 24 hours, according to CanalPlan. John left after a late lunch on Monday 9th October, and was at the boatyard by Wednesday evening. That’s not bad for a solo boater. The boat was advertised on their website on the same Saturday 14th, and there was an offer on Monday 16th. After a survey, the sale was completed during the first week of November, and we went to meet the new owners and hand over the boat on Sunday November 5th.

Sadly, and particularly after the effort we had taken to get her looking lovely, the boatyard had had a bonfire and fireworks display on the Saturday night, and the boat was downwind. The roof and gunwales were covered in ash of various colours. The boatyard said they would clean the boat. So, Gabriel now belongs to Craig and Kristine. We hope they will be very happy with their purchase, and we wish them safe cruising.

Our church has also decided to sell Beacon, the trip boat we have used to offer soup in winter, and boat trips in Summer.

Some statistics to end with:  This year Gabriel used 383 locks, travelled 474 miles, and went through 29 lift or swing bridges.

In our 25 years of boating, with three different boats, we have negotiated 11,580 locks, and travelled 18,138 miles.

We have no plans to buy another boat, but we may hire sometimes, in places we haven’t yet been, such as Scotland or Ireland.

Thanks for reading.

Final photos below:

Into the wet dock

Immune from weather issues

Handing over to Jon the boat mover

Gabriel on her way up the Aylesbury Arm

Beacon on the same journey a few days later

New owners Craig and Kristina

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