On a visit to Lowtown, where the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal leaves the Main Line, I photographed several wooden boats in various states of repair. Because there are quite a few of them, I have given them a page to themselves. My main page about wooden boats on Irish inland waterways is here and some newer photos (2010–2012) here; you may also be interested in my page about traditional boats and replicas.
I should say that I am not certain that all of these boats have wooden hulls: in some cases it was difficult to be sure. And most of the boats did not have names that I could see; I would welcome assistance with identifying any of those shown here or with adding to the amount of information shown. Please leave a Comment at the bottom of the page if you can help.
Update 1 November 2010
Thanks to Harry Arnold (see Comment below) for identifying two boats as Dolphin Cruisers.
Update 22 September 2009
Lowtown is one of the places where dreams go to die. And just occasionally, a dream is born and a boat comes back to life.
Under Waterways Ireland’s eccentric charging system, an annual permit, costing €126, covers a boat for a full year of bank mooring and lock passages on the Grand Canal. The bye-laws provide that the boat must not be moored in the same place for more than five days, but that rule has been ignored by both boaters and authorities. So, instead of paying a large amount of money for a marina berth on the Shannon or at sea, you can pay €126 and keep your boat on the canal. The only problem is that, as there are no marinas, except for a short stretch at Lowtown run by Lowtown Marine, there is no security.
However, the presence of other boats, and especially of live-aboard boaters, does create some degree of security, and accordingly boats congregate at a few locations. One of them is Shannon Harbour, where the canal provides cheap moorings beside the Shannon; the other main areas are all near Dublin: Hazelhatch and Sallins, which are served by rail to Dublin, and Lowtown, near Robertstown, where Lowtown Marine’s cameras cover the, er, waterfront.
The canal does reduce the cost to consumers of entering the boating market, and the availability of cheap — often old, occasionally wooden — boats does the same. But the costs of maintaining a boat are not necessarily as low as its purchase price: indeed, for an older boat, they can easily exceed the price, especially if major repairs are needed. And in some cases, owners appear to abandon their boats, leaving them to sink.
Sunken wooden boats at Lowtown
When I wur a lad, there seemed to be several hundred books by Michael Verney about how to convert a boat into a cruiser, starting with the acquisition of a ship’s lifeboat. And when we started boating, about thirty years ago, there were still several converted lifeboats around on the Shannon. There are rather fewer of them nowadays, but there are still some on the canal at Lowtown, although they may not have started as lifeboats. The building up of the sides is what makes me think that the boats in this section are conversions.
This next boat has a name plate, but I wasn’t able to read it. Can anyone help?
I’m not sure whether the next boat is wooden, but some of the planes suggest that it is.
This next one may interest uk.rec.sheds more than uk.rec.waterways. It is unpowered but the owners do have a boat with an engine. I gather that, when it was young, this boat had a caravan mounted on the hull, which must have looked a bit silly, unlike the present arrangement.
There are several boats in the boatyard, being worked on.
This might be a GRP hull with a wooden transom, but I’m not sure.
The next one might have a plywood hull.
The next boat has a sliding canopy. Here are two photos.
The evidence of work in progress is all around.
Here are three views of an elegant old lady, Marguerite (H/T Mark Maguire: see Comments below).
This cruiser was being worked on in the shed. Sean O’Reilly (see Comments below) identifies it as Seatrout.
Here is another cruiser, this one with an open wheelhouse.
I couldn’t see much of this blue boat.
The next four photos show an ex-Joy Line (Ted Barrett) hire cruiser, one of those he brought in from the Norfolk Broads and perhaps a sister ship to Hein Goodewind and Delight on the main page. I am told that this boat appeared in a film called Widow’s Peak.
There is a photo of Trindle on the main page. Since it was taken, Trindle has undergone a transformation, from small boat to Artwork.
I am told that Trindle no longer floats: that she rests on the bottom of the canal and that a metal frame prevents her from falling over. Some of the metal bits can just be seen through the grass in this next photo.
There is a wheelhouse, although the wheel is on the rear deck.
And there’s a bowsprit.
It is unusual in its degree of ornamentation.
There are solar panels.
Some of the portholes are actually mirrors.
The next phase of development will be upward. The frame is in position.
Per ardua ad astra.