Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Ones That Got Away - Number 1 ("Rufford")

(Posted by Alan)

In about July 2013 our quest to find a suitable converted ex working boat really began in earnest.  We had been looking "in background" for quite a while before then, and although various boats had been being actively marketed, from what we had managed to learn about each, none of them had attracted us sufficiently to actually prompt a viewing.  In at least one case, the boat had lingered on the market for an unhealthily long while, and the feedback from those who had seen it was not promising.  In another case the current arrangements in a fairly well known boat sounded very unsuited to out needs, and to many things seemed to need changing, (including the engine), to give a boat that would be close to what we thought we might like.

Rufford - an attractive conversion
However in July 2013, we were prompted to go and see "Rufford" - a "Large Northwich" "Town Class" boat built for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company by W J Yarwood and Sons, the same builder as "Sickle", so definitely the right pedigree.

Riveted steel back cabin is a faithful replica, not an original.
It was an "estate sale", and although in sound condition, it was in need of considerable TLC, but it seemed with a lot of potential.  Those brokering the boat genuinely believed that because of little interest shown in it to date  that those handling the estate would accept what they advised was a realistic offer, and we got involved on that basis.

Air cooled Lister that had apparently spent nearly all its life in a packing crate!
On the whole we liked what we saw, but realised much work would be required - the front half of the living space was largely serviceable, but the rear half, including bathroom and toilet and a large "storage" area impractical, and in need of a complete rebuild.

However, as negotiations were proceeding in line with the brokers advice, another buyer saw the boat, and quickly had a higher offer accepted, so we realised that for us it was not to be.

The better half of the interior
There I might leave it, if I did not know the fuller story, but as it is a fair statement of the perils of entering into such negotiations, I think it not unreasonable to report what happened after we failed to secure the boat.  In fact those selling it having accepted the higher offer, then decided they were not going to sell to that buyer either.  Eventually they inflated the price by a further £8,000, traded in  the current licence of the boat for a refund, (itself worth hundreds of pounds), and tried to charge the new buyer extra for items left on the boat, (like some very tired arm chairs), even though the understanding was they were included in the sale.  I stress this was all of the vendors doing - those acting as brokers were clearly embarrassed by the twist this all took.  I felt genuinely sorry for the new owner, who did eventually secure it - he must have wanted it very badly, but from everything I know, the sellers acted in a very poor way, having welched on the deal they originally agreed.  On principle, I would have told them to get lost!

This wasn't to be our last disappointment, but shows that if you are unlucky enough to find the wrong seller, there is not a lot you can do about it.

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