I first became introduced to the Merlot via an e-mail I received, which had been sent to all NCBA members. A lady called Maeve wanted to loan her boat to a community boat project. Intrigued I sent an e-mail to the address in the message, expressing an interest. It transpired that Maeve used to live on the canal in her boat and it was a wonderful life. She had now moved to America and was unable to use it. She didn’t want to sell it in case her 1 yr old son wanted to use it when he grew up.
A trip to Hayling Island revealed Merlot a 45’ narrow. It had been taken out of the water, was totally out of place, crammed between sea going craft and perched precariously on top of empty oil drums. Enquires of a ‘neighbour’ revealed it had been there for 9 years, the engine was full of water and you could not get inside for debris of gas bottles, paint tins etc.
No time for a survey I took a risk and told her that we would look after it for her. Arrangements were made and it was brought by low loader to Dewsbury to get it ready for her new role. She was lowered into the water at Dewsbury Basin in order to go across the cut to use the slipway. Would she sink? She certainly would not start! – No problem – on the slip way the work started.
On entering the cabin it was like stepping into a time capsule. Everything was as Maeve had left it all that time ago. Clothes had been ruined by damp but it was obvious that she had been involved in the creative industry in some way.
Brought back to life by a team of enthusiastic volunteers she was ready to move onto Shipley Wharf where her ‘rehabilitation’ continued.
|Image courtesy of Yvonne Roberts, Artist in Residence|