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Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.


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Debdale Wharf Marina

We are a family run business that has been operating at Debdale Wharf Since 1974. The narrowboat marina is set in 25 acres of quiet, secluded, rural countryside 25 minutes cruising from Foxton Locks, on the Leicester section of the Grand Union Canal with 14 miles of lock free cruising. The marina has grown over the years to its present size, and can now accommodate approx 150 berths on secure, straight, linear style staging made of galvanised steel. In addition to the water berths, we also have a large hardstanding area with electricity and water points nearby.

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We offer marina moorings, in a linear style, for any size Narrow Boat, as well as all the usual immediate services of Electricity to all moorers i.e. Water points, Calor, Coal, Diesel, Pumpout facilities; we also have experienced engineers and joiners that can see to any servicing or maintenance issues. This can be anything from yearly engine services to full fit outs, as well as everything in between. We also specialise in electric propulsion.

We are very proud of our Blacking facilities. Our static gantry has the ability to lift and safely secure a boat to above head height in order for bases to be blacked. Boats are then lowered onto sleepers for the sides to be accessed comfortably. It is fallacy to say that boats’ bases are kept clean by scraping the bottom of the cut, pitting is a huge potential problem that can be kept in check with regular blacking thus lengthening the life of the base plate considerably. We can take the hard work away from owners and black boats during the week to suit their cruising schedules or alternatively DIY weekends can be booked. Grit blasting is available also.

Another recent addition is our hard standing area. This extensive area can offer electricity to those who need it to carry out work ashore. For those who are intending to carry out longer term fit out ashore, we can offer the hire of a container that would be alongside the boat and can act as a workshop. Hire of many useful tools is also available. We use a 40 tonne travel hoist that transports the boats safely to their hard standing spot. Some of our customers use our hard standing for winter storage, which enables them to carry out winter maintenance at their convenience. They then go back into the water for their summer cruising.

And it doesn’t stop there! We are currently in the process of constructing a new building that will enable boats to come undercover for blacking, painting and/or maintenance work. We hope to have this facility up and running for next year.

Debdale Wharf Marina

Debdale Wharf Marina

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Debdale Wharf Marina Review

Kylie the narrowboat mover at Debdale Wharf

Kylie the narrowboat mover at Debdale Wharf

I visited Debdale Wharf marina a month ago now. I should have written this review while it was still fresh in my mind. I thought I had time. I visited owner Nick Goode seven days before I was due to go on holiday for a fortnight. Unfortunately I had a problem with my visa which I only managed to resolve at the eleventh hour (actually, 24 hours before the flight) I wasn’t able to add this information to the site. I’ll do my best though.

I arranged to visit the marina after two very positive comments (below) by site subscribers. I asked Alan who made the initial comment to talk to Nicky to see if she was interested in spending an hour or so with me to show me the site. Nicky was interested and she was incredibly helpful from the moment I arrived.

The marina is located about 10 miles south east of Leicester on the Leicester section of the Grand Union canal roughly half an hour’s cruise from Foxton Locks. There are several ways to reach the marina by road but the most direct route, and the one I took, is via the busy A6 running from Leicester to Market Harborough.

As soon as you turn off the A6, you are on a single track gated road. I liked this. Getting in and out of the car to open and close three of four gates before reaching the marina can be viewed as a bit of a pain. However, I always think of gated roads as very rural, peaceful and quiet. The road helped to separate me mentally from the busy A6 so by the time I reached the marina I was in a very good frame of mind.

Nicky Goode enhanced that feeling. She gives the impression of a very kind, caring and accommodating marina owner. After a chat and a leisurely cup of coffee she gave me a guided tour of the site.

I have to say, if you are looking for a mooring based purely on aesthetics, Debdale Wharf probably isn’t for you. There are acres and acres of hardstanding adjacent to the marina. There are dozens of boats stored on the original hardstanding and a huge open space that has been developed to accommodate more boats. The storage is popular with boat owners who cruise infrequently and who want a cheaper option than in-the-water moornings. The hardstanding is also available for boat owners who want to work on their boats while it is out of the water.

There’s space at Debdale Wharf for up to 150 boats but the moorings are very close together. You need to do a bit of shoehorning to squeeze your boat in and probably need a little co-operation from your neighbour.

Linear moorings are close together

Linear moorings are close together

That’s the negatives out of the way. On a positive note, and my feelings where overwhelmingly positive about the marina, the facilities here are second to none. There’s a full time professional and highly respected painter on site, expert marine engineers and a highly skilled carpenter. Without exception, every member of staff I met here was extremely friendly. This is a very important consideration if you expect to spend extended periods on your mooring. Miserable marina staff can be a real pain in the neck.

If you like doing your own alterations and maintenance, the site has all the facilities you could ask for. You can work on you boat out of the water on the hardstanding or in the water in an area away from other moorings so you can hammer and saw away to your heart’s content. And once you’ve finished with your repairs and maintenance, you can black your own boat too.

Inside the working boat

Inside the working boat

Of course if you want to leave all the hard work to the professionals, they’ll be more than glad to help. Debdale Wharf don’t fit out many boats but they had one under cover that they’ve been working on for the last twelve months. It’s an old working boat on the outside and a super luxurious floating home with superb quality woodwork on the inside. True craftsmanship.

I said that the moorings are close together. They are. But the residential moorings, although still very close together, have a very tranquil feel about them. The marina landscaping was done by Mike Goode’s father forty years ago. The landscaping has matured now and has been further enhanced by nature loving moorers. There are bird feeders, and consequently birds, everywhere. Even though the marina isn’t the prettiest on the world, it may well be the friendliest. So if you like the sound of a really friendly marina with more facilities than you can shake a stick at, you need to pay Nicky and Mike Goode a visit. Be warned though, moorings are secured by invitation only. If Nicky doesn’t think you’ll get on with the rest of the moorers, you don’t stand a chance!

The tranquil residential corner of the marina

The tranquil residential corner of the marina

 

 

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Summary
Paul Smith
 

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia wandered Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 35' Dutch motor cruiser. However, the pull of England's muddy ditches proved too much for them. Now they're back where they belong, constantly stuck in mud in a beautiful traditional narrowboat.

Comments
  • Pengalanty Wednesday,25 January, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Allan’s and Antoinette’s recent personal experiences

    During the last few months I have been “stuck” near Foxton locks, due to lack of water and repairs to lock gates

    Our narrowboats “Snowdrop” and “Pengalanty” have been moored opposite Debdale Wharf Marina during this time

    Antoinette and I have been using their services, for not only obtaining diesel fuel and smokeless fuel, but some of the regular maintenance work and some repairs. I took the opportunity to have my hull pressure washed and re-blacked, as I had exposed the steel due to some “Ice-Breaking” earlier in the year

    The attitude to the work and the friendliness of the staff at the marina is outstanding. It was/is a pleasure to deal with them. The cost of out and in again with their 32-tonne crane (Handles the largest workboat on the system) costs £165 for the service

    They insisted that the pressure washing was done by them, as it is the most powerful machine on “the cut”. This appears to be true – it was so powerful, it took ALL the previous coatings right off, back to the steelwork, leaving it really clean and ready for re-blacking. As the equipment is so flexible, the boat was then craned to high level (Base plate at about 6’0” from the concrete) and I had the bottom also pressure washed and this too was blacked with an extra hard bitumen based product. The finished result was excellent

    Because they were so reasonable, they did ALL the work as it was not worth going down the DIY route. The whole wash and re-blacking (Including the base plate was around £800 for my 58’0” narrowboat

    They have excellent engineering facilities, a very good covered workshop, full time mechanical engineer, an electrician (Workshop Manager), and a good carpenter/joiner with full sized woodworking machinery in the workshop

    From my personal experience from their fitting of a new multi-fuel stove, small welding repair and replacing a power take-off flexible coupling (Including some specific machining), plus the removal of an extra-large (9kw) Webaso C/Heating boiler, fitting a full service kit, then reinstalling and checking (In Snowdrop)

    With regard to the Webasco unit in Snowdrop, it had had some DIY work done, (So it seems), because the wiring loom was all tangled up and the wiring did not conform to Webasco original equipment. This was also put right. Everything was discussed and agreed before the work was carried out

    We are both more than happy with the standard of all the work on Snowdrop and the re-blacking of Pengalanty’s hull

    I would cruise a long way out of my way, returning to “Debdale Wharf Marina”, if I had major work to be carried out. I have full confidence in their capabilities, using exactly the right equipment for the work with a high regard to safety at work, (Both for the employee and the customer – most unusual)

    FUTURE PLANS FOR DEBDALE MARINA
    They have submitted plans for a new workshop for grit-blasting, and painting (Including DIY facilities), together with new wash-rooms, showers and laundry to service the large mooring base. They have no objection to “Liveaboards” in their Marina. It has full electricity and water points to the moorings

    Within the last month, they have completed more dry storage for boats, doubling their capacity. This is where DIYers can repaint and refurbish boats. The area is extremely tidy and clean. To facilitate the movement of narrowboats (All nicely in lines/rows) they have a modified Container crane, enabling them to pick up any boat up to 40-tonnes and carry it safely, above all the other boats in any one line

    I have never seen this in any other boat yard!

    – Like I have already said the right tool for the job in hand, even ones costing many thousands of pounds!

    If you are contemplating doing your own work, or having any work done for you, you can do no better, than to visit Mike or Nicky to discuss your requirements

    I recommend this boatyard without reservation, they ARE GOOD!

    – By the way – I am not connected in any way with the boatyard

    Antoinette and I are just very satisfied customers
    (Written by Allan Cazaly, Owner of Pengalanty – January 2012)

     
  • pantramp Monday,30 January, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I fully agree with the above comments.

    I had my narrowboat “faugh-a-ballagh” shell built at the marina by Andicraft fabs and then spent the next 6 months fittting her out on the marina hardstanding including all the paintwork. My partner did all the sign writing and decals which im very proud of her.

    The hardstanding was very easy to access and gave enough room to bring my car alongside the boat, with the added bonus of electricity available.

    She now sits in the marina with secure staging, electricity and a water point near by.
    Mike and vicky are very friendly people and will help in any way they can, the marina gave a good impression on our 1st visit hence us choosing to have the shell built there.

    All the other boaters are friendly and easy to get on with.

    All in all you cant go wrong if you choose to moor here or use the services available.

    A happy customer

    D.Baird

     
  • Nicky Goode Thursday,15 March, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you Paul for that write up. I agree we are not a “Bright & Shiny” maria but tastes are wide and various and I hope we offer a good service and wide variety of facilities.

    The Breaking News is that Mike has secured planning permission to build a marina at North Kilworth! We are going to call it North Kilworth Marina and will be a bright and shiny spacious modern marina. When its up and running you must come and visit it – but give us a year!

    Really good to meet you. Next time you are in the area come and have a cup of tea!

    Regards
    Nicky Goode

     
    • admin Thursday,15 March, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Hi Nicky… Great news about the new marina. I look forward to paying you a visit once it’s completed. I’m looking forward to the tea already!

       
  • hilofoz Tuesday,25 September, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I want to say a big thank you to Nicky, Mike and all the crew who are looking after NB Willow during winter in the UK and thank them for all the hard work they have done on the boat. Taking it on to hard standing was a very exciting experience for us, and also watching the amazing Gail, who pressure washed and blacked sides and base of the hull. A big thank you also to Wal, Gordon and Steve who worked on our boat during our time there on the DIY section, in the covered dock and in the slipway. Looking forward to seeing them next year and missing our boat but having fun in the sun in Sydney, Australia.

     
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