03 June 2008

Whitefield wolf

There’s been quite a lot of chatter in the forums and on the blogs about Fernwood’s Crick boat, Whitefield. If you’ve seen it, you can understand why. I have to applaud the esprit and éclat of a couple who want to have a Med cruiser wolf in narrowboat’s sheep’s clothing but I personally can’t quite reconcile the two when I think of a freezing cold, wet Wednesday in Stoke-on-Trent. But chacun a son gout as they say, it’s just that most people’s gout, so it would seem, is not quite that of Whitefield’s owners. If someone could bung me a quarter of a million quid, I think I’d be beating a path to the door of Mr Kemp or Mr Fuller for a 70ft lovely.

The thing that I can’t get my head around – aside from the five televisions (the point being?) – is the joystick control. This shows little respect for the tiller, consigning it to the dustbin as a mere steering mechanism. But my tiller is my connection to the boat. It tells me all I need to know about how the old girl’s running and the state of the cut she’s on – have I got crud on my prop, am I thrashing in shallow water, can I speed up, should I slow down, has my engine fallen out of the boat. With my tiller, I know how far a full extension right or left will take her and I know how much paddling I’ll need to do to get her into the marina entrance. It’s all about feel - taking it away would be like cutting my right arm off. I’m worried that Whitefield might be a classic example of form over function but I’d like to see her in the flesh and meet her owners before I pronounce final judgement, that’s only fair. Rather a prosaic name for such an outré boat, though...

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