A Chance Meeting
19 April 2011
I like unexpected surprises, but I suppose that by definition, all surprises are unexpected.
I once went to a gig (but in the days when it was probably advertised as a concert) to hear a band called Nothing By Chance in Digbeth's Irish Centre.
I remember the event because I went without and real expectations and suddenly the Gilly Derbey entered from the back singing in a haunting voice which sent shivers down my spine. I have long since lost my recording of the event but surprises like that don't come round every day.
Belle, Doug and James - I think I had just asked Doug to stand up ;-)
I mentioned a few days ago that we were surprised by the way the guys from MGM Boatbuilders ran round to set Thurmaston lock in our favour. Well, the fact was that they wern't employees at all but were Doug and James, visiting the boat yard to check on the progress of their new narrowboat Chance.
Doug stood on the edge edge of the lock and looked down commenting "so, you must be Belle".
Its strange when you meet someone whose blog you have been following. You feel you know them but of course you only get to see the limited aspect they chose to write about. What I hadn't permeated my grey matter was that Chance was being built on the Soar.
We were invited to go and inspect the progress being made on Chance and what lovely hosts Doug and James proved to be. James proudly showed me all the engineering bits (he is an engineer by trade) whilst Doug had Belle in extacy with the quality of the internal fit out.
Chance's oh so perfect Josher bows
Chance is indeed shaping up to be a most impressive craft, with subtle but beautiful steelwork mated with some of the very best carpentry I have seen. I wouldn't say that I was jealous, but instead I can honestly say that I had deep joy for the lads and the floating object of beauty they are creating.
Belle gets excited in the galley
The attention to detail in the steelwork was impressive. The bows are Josher but executed in the subtlest way with just the right hint of a reverse curve - all a far cry form the over pinched look so many boat builders seem to favour.
Then there is the stern - innovative without being radical. They have gone for a cruiser stern because they value sociability over all (an argument I have come to appreciate on Wand'ring Bark) and to maximise the space the stern is fuller than a semi circle, but less than a square with the corners rounded off. Maybe you should think of this an a floating J.Lo - a craft with a slightly more than ample rear end, but a derriere which is no less attractive for its abundance.
That J.Lo stern
Then there is the interior. The woodwork is simply sumptious, all beautifully crafted and adorned with a stunning array of technology. Belle went into raptures over the mini led lights, the white leather settee and the curved granite work surfaces.
At the time of our visit it was all a work in progress and the guys at MGM were working hell for leather, as Chance is scheduled to be on display at Crick at the end of May. At least this means Doug and James can be certain that they will get a boat built to the highest showboat standard and delivered on time too.
If you want to see more of this boat you will either need to go to Crick or if, like me, you are busy participating in the BCN marathon, you can always catch the review in Canal Boat which they hope Adam will undertake later in the year.
MGM - you may have a show winner on your hands here. If we ever strike it rich I think it is very likely that we will be knocking on your door and give you a Chance to build Wand'ring Bark 2.
Doug and James - Thanks for the tour. We look forward to seeing the three of you (including Chance) somewhere on the cut.