We are Paul and Kay Sumpner. We have two young Border Terriers – Bill and Ted – and our dream is to live on a narrowboat and cruise the waterways of England and Wales. And perhaps further afield – who knows? Between us we have over 90 years of canal-boating experience and we like nothing better than spending time cruising the waterways with friends and family. We have one married son, George.
Our shared hobby is amateur dramatics and we both act, direct, sing and even dance! Paul loves to play Walking Football and has found a team in Droitwich to play with and Kay also likes to sing the close harmony that is Barbershop.
Back at the end of 2017, we decided that if we were ever going to “live the dream” it was time to start thinking about it. We carried out an exercise where we looked at countless boat builders and decided whether we liked the boats that they built. We compiled a mahoosive spreadsheet and ranked them in order of preference. A fairly young company really caught our eye. We liked the look and feel of the boats they built. They had started out building hire boats in 2015 and gradually started building boats for private owners. That company was none other than Ortomarine
And then in December 2017, we noticed that one of their boats (Eau Rouge) which had only been completed in September 2017, was up for sale. Very sadly the new owners had to sell through illness. We made a plan to meet them at the boat, near Rugby, for the third weekend in January 2018.
We loved Eau Rouge (although it was not the boat for us). We also felt very comfortable with Rob & Caroline and just like that, knew we had found the people who would make our dream a reality. It was very exciting, and before we knew it, we had paid a deposit for a build slot for our boat to be completed in March 2019. We went home and immediately started going through all our possessions with a view to getting the house on the market and buying a flat – just to keep a toe-hold in the property market and as an investment and free storage for our downsized goods and chattels.
The house had not sold by October 2018 as we had hoped, and we had to level with Rob and Caroline. It looked very doubtful that we would sell as soon as we had hoped and – eventually – it became evident that we would have to forfeit our March 2019 build slot. We were pretty devastated.
The house sale and flat purchase finally happened in November 2019 – a very long 18 months. And – as we were going through the whole legal rigamarole – we kept Ortomarine appraised of our situation. However, in the period since we had first met them, their fame had grown and they found themselves with a full to bursting order book. Good news for them, not so good for us. The upshot was that they could not offer us a build slot until the middle of 2020 – for completion in August. It was later than we had hoped, but it would have to do.
We decided to kill some time by spending a couple of months in Spain in our caravan and set off in January. We had a fantastic time but had to be home for a friend’s wedding in April and our son’s wedding in early May. We arrived back after a mad dash home, with Spain and France locking down all around us. We arrived back just before lockdown started here. COVID 19 had struck. Companies were putting their staff into furlough and closing down operations. Disaster! This had a big impact on our completion date, and we are now looking at completion in November. It sometimes feels that we shall never actually get to the finishing line, but hope springs eternal! And things are finally starting to happen.