Dawn Run was a good servant to my Canal Ministry travels and an excellent place to learn to narrowboat (is that a thing?)
But having been a good start, there were necessary changes to be made once the first lock down eased enough for our marriage ceremony to take place. I don't know if you've ever designed a boat to live on, but I found it really tricky, and the estimating and measuring and remeasuring seemed endless and so demanding because you really need to have the windows in the right place if the inside of the boat is to work properly!
And so we went for a refit.
Redesigning a boat seems simple. Minor tweak here, same colour on the outside, job done. Not so. We were redesigning for an expected 10 years in harness, following retirement, and during a pandemic.
Do I want to be swinging bags of coal on board well into my 70s? What about dropping gas cylinders down the gas locker and following it down holding a spanner to make the connection, and in the snow? So the Morso Squirrel went to a new home and the (failing) gas cooker was retired in favour of a Heritage 'Aga' - complete with central heating. But how to get it into the existing kitchen, with its marble worktops? Easy, just cut open the front of the boat, swing it through the salon, over the units, job done!
But maybe the cooker was too heavy to get over the worktops, maybe they'd break if moved off the units (certainly did!)? Perhaps it's best to have it assembled inside the boat! How long is that piece of string? Because another lock down meant the workforce wouldn't come from Cornwall anyway…
And how do you do hospitality when no-one can visit your home but the towpath is awash with people wanting a chat? The answer is change the external layout and create indoor/outdoor space.
So we extended the well deck roof (complete with roof hatches), fitted a large window at the front and curtain walls which are almost upright – meaning that you don't have to lean forward or have your body outside if you step on for tea! At the rear, we had a metal valance around the curved back and a metal seat box on either side of the cruiser stern. This created what's now termed a semi-cruiser, because the entry points are midway rather than at the back or at the rear bulkhead.
We had no backs put onto the seat boxes so that we can sit facing outwards to the towpath, or an adjacent boat, or inwards around a table. Stable doors were fitted so that edible items could be passed out from the boat. Whoops, the top sections must be removed if more than one person is on each seat! And the heritage cooker has a glazed hatch through each side of the kitchen, just in case.
It took ages, and an amount of prayer, before we settled on the name Micah 6:8. Saying that God requires us to 'Act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God' seemed perfect. For those of no faith, it is encouragement. For those with alternative faiths it's open, and for those of Abrahamic faith it's a reassurance. Little did we know that it also leads to people hailing you from the distance (frequently Anglicans, which pleases and encourages us!) or that they would be so happy to recognise a familiar scripture. It is almost reminiscent of the stately procession/cruise following our wedding; people were so pleased and animated by a piece of normality within a time of such uncertainty.
So, if you see us do smile, wave, shout encouragement or, hopefully, stop us and ask for a sit down .
In His Name
NB Dawn Run
Canal Ministries - sharing God's Love on the Inland Waterways.