Sunday, 17 January 2010

Boat spotting

I think that for someone lacking a y-chromosome, I have quite a male brain. This manifests itself not only in a greater ability to process rusty rivets than fluffy kittens, but also an insatiable need to categorise, catalogue and collect. I understand train spotters.

When we were kids, my sister used to go in for those sticker albums - she had one based on the Disney film The Rescuers. I was quite fascinated by this, although of course being three and a half years older I was above such childish things. I had never got into those things where you have to buy stuff, mainly because of a terror I had - dreadful in one so young - of being ripped off (which I lay entirely at the door of Richard Stilgoe), and also because just being able to go out and buy the things - even though you also had to swap them of course - seemed somehow like cheating. So I just carried on cataloguing my mug collection and setting up a prototype ID database for my dolls and teddies.

The concept however has never left me and I have now found an outlet. For years now I have been watching old boats and now I consciously register when I see one I've not seen before. It won't be long before I have to start making special trips to track down those boats that I know to exist but which have so far eluded me. I have become a boat spotter.

To keep the task manageable and within the limits of my fiercest obsession, I shall in the first instance limit myself to spotting large Grand Union motor boats. If we take this to mean the 'Town Class' of large Woolwiches and Northwiches, a quite cope-able with 86 were built, most if not all of which are still in existence in some form.

So, I have set up a separate blog on which to catalogue my spottings and stick my stickers. I have created a post for each boat, and I will stick in a picture of each as I collect it. The unbreakable rule is that it must have been seen and photographed by me. I already have quite a collection, of course, scattered around in various envelopes and hard drives and CDs - it will be interesting to discover, as I trawl methodically through them (!) just how many I've already spotted. When I spot a new one or post a new batch I'll post about it here too.

So far I've trawled through all the photos on this computer - that is those taken since April last year. So there is already something there to look at. Then I shall work my way through the CDs of photos from 2007 and 2008, then the prints from earlier that will need scanning...


  1. excellent - and what I've long held the internet to be ideal for; a kind of online data store anyone can add too (which is presumably, the plan, via comments?)

  2. Hi Sarah, I think your idea of "Town Class Motor" spotting will appeal to quite a few of us anoraks. We have had fun owning 2 Town Class Motors for the last few years, neither of which has had a name painted on them, so we have driven all the other spotters mad, with so many people shouting "Which one is it?", or "it that .......?" . We have recently had Shirley painted & sign written so we have made her a bit easier for you to spot.

    Cheers, Brian

  3. Oooh, Shirley - that's one I've never (knowingly) seen. Where would be a good place to look? And what's the other one?

  4. Aha! It's Alton - of course! I was just looking at your blog earlier today. And I know where to look now too - but it'll be a while before I get there.