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David Muston
Middlewich, Cheshire (Trent & Mersey)
Viking 26, narrow beam, centre cockpit, 'Marinia'

Marinia is 1989 vintage boat and very original. Overall she is quite tidy but is now showing her age in terms of the internal finishes which are beginning to fade and exhibit signs of the inevitable water damage (both condensation and window leakage - so useful info has been noted on the site for replacement wall carpet and silicone frame sealing techniques).
Externally the hood is looking decidedly tired and will need replacing soon but she has all-original gel coat and the topsides polish up nicely although there are a few knocks around the periphery and some surface crazing due to
stressing of the deck hardware. Below the gunnels she is bit more battle-scared from being trailer campaigned over much of the system by the last owner, so some more serious filling and faring will be required but she
really needs to be out of the water to do a decent job. As the previous owner was fond of saying - "canal boating is a contact sport"! - however, I feel that much of the contact damage done was due to the 2-lever control
being connected back to front (that is push forward for reverse and pull back to go faster) plus the missing the tilt pin off the engine bracket so the outboard would kick up in reverse at anything much over a tick over and
refuse to stop the boat. This, added to the woefully poor steering (oversteering?) qualities of the Viking hull with a standard outboard leg, meant I learnt the hard (very hard) way on the first trip to the Andertonlift.

In fairness I knew I would be changing to a single lever control as I don't much like the two-lever variety even when properly set up, but the need for a Ruddersafe/Course Keeper became equally urgent. I then went down the
internet trail of the cheap job-lot of Ruddersafes on offer by a South coast dealer who didn't realise the value of his stock. At £5 a pop it was not surprising that "some blokes from Viking bought the whole lot"! - in fact he was very lucky not to have had his arm snatched off. So Ebay it had to be, with a six weeks wait for a second hand unit from a Florida boat dealer to come by standard post which cost almost as much as the winning bid!

Once fitted (with a new prop and prop shaft), the Ruddersafe and the single lever control have transformed the handling even without additional bow ballast. It is also very reassuring to be able to select reverse first time then use some real power to stop the boat in an emergency without having to look down at peeling dymo tape to see which lever to move which way!.

Future plans
Over the next year, I intend to savour the delights of the Northern reaches for which Middlewich is well placed base before bringing her back South to the GUC at Milton Keynes where I live. The 250 mile round trip by car seems
madness but staying overnight or for a few days makes it well worthwhile.
Middlewich has excellent facilities - 2 x chandleries, 3 x boat yards, a discount DIY, a 'professional' quality tool shop and a cut foam upholsterers all within 200 yards! This makes it a fairly realistic base to carry out planned improvements to the boat which will be posted to the forum as they develop. Current work is mainly security based plus fitting a pneumatic accumulator to stop the water pump hunting. I am also carrying out a detailed dimensional survey for drawing up computer plans/sections forfurther projects.

The pictures show the boat soon after taking it over. The inside shot shows the very original interior (although the woodwork had been re-varnished).
The stern view shows the Ruddersafe fitted together with the new prop and propshaft. The Ruddersafe is the No. 2 (medium) size model and it still needs the ends of the threaded studding taken back a bit to avoid catching weed.

David Muston