A birthday nightmare at Calcutt Boats

A birthday nightmare at Calcutt Boats

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Not really what I was expecting when I agreed to book my boat in for blacking.

During my stay:

  • Booking was recorded as just hull blacking: On the phone I asked for a blacking, service and mooring. I confirmed this by email, to which there was no reply. When I arrived, I was told there were no moorings available, despite the fact I’d organised to have the carpets cleaned which meant moving all the furniture around and some of it off the boat. It was claimed they ‘hadn’t received the email’. I had asked for the service on the phone and confirmed it all by email. They claimed they didn’t receive that.
  • Washing up was stolen from communal area: Not a big thing you might think. When the boat was on the crane and I wasn’t allowed to do any washing or release of grey water from the sides of the boat, I did a bit of washing up in the communal area. Within the space of 2 hours, I had the only 2 mugs I own stolen plus 3 sharp veg. knives and some spoons. I don’t have any more mugs. Now I will have to go out and buy some more.
Damaged wheel hub
Damaged wheel hub
  • Car vandalised in the carpark. Parked my car under the tree in the carpark overnight. The next morning I arrived to drive off the following morning, and noticed the wheel had been damaged.
    As the car was parked directly next to a piece of derelict machinery on the side that was damaged. No vehicles were able to come alongside and I have difficulty looking at the way that damage comes from the inner wheel to the outer wheel, how such damage could be caused.
  • Negligent engine service by boatyard. The boat was returned to me after the engineer had said it was ‘good-to-go’. This was after he had had problems completing the service on it. He left the engine half done after starting work at 4.30pm. Not turning up the following day like he had promised when he did a turn up, he did about 1/2 an hours work on it and said the boat was fine and ready to take away. It wasn’t. Bonnie made it 300 yards before it broke down.

What a birthday treat from Calcutt Boats! I was in some trepidation about spending my birthday up on stilts on the boat. Now I know it was a bad idea.

Letter of complaint

I had to write a letter of complaint to the owner, Roger.

Broken down after a service at Calcutt
Broken down after a service at Calcutt – Here’s a picture of where my boat had broken down at the top lock.

To be fair. Work on Bonnie was given priority over some of the other jobs that needed to be done by the boatyard.

It took roughly 1.5 days to sort it out completely.

The truth is, it should never have come out of the boatyard in the first place.

Here’s a copy of the letter of complaint.

I felt I needed to do this.

Setting things out very clearly that I wasn’t happy with the work that was done.

It’s simply not enough to do it any other way. When you take a car, boat or any other vehicle away as finished and it doesn’t make it 300 yards, some serious questions need to be asked.


The letter did give the owner a shock, and after threatening to throw me off top-lock and make me find some engineers to sort it out myself, we agreed that it might be better if we organised a meeting in the office were we could sit down and discuss what the problems were.

After some discussions which I recorded on my phone, which are not very exciting and not worthy of publishing, we agreed that I should leave the boat in their hands and they should continue the work to it’s conclusion and then give me a reduction according to what they deemed was appropriate.

Service and blacking and marina

Engine service, blacking and use of the Marina for two nights came to £655.08 on the 13/07.

The additional repairs after I had been given the boat back with a clean bill of health came to £590.83 on the 15/07.

Not what you’d expect.

These things are sent to try us

And try us they do. What I thought we be a routine visit to the boatyard on my birthday cost me roughly double what it should, a vandalised car and some missing cutlery!

I feel like a victim.

I’ve moved on to a very quite Flecknoe.


What once was a bustling metropolis of boaty holiday makers has now fallen silent, only one or two liveaboards and the rest overnight stays that leave in the morning.

In previous times, it’s not been possible to get a space on the stretch below.

Canal in Flecknoe
Empty canal in Flecknoe

Not the case now.

Still. It’s no skin off my nose.

Why the lack of boats on the network?

Whilst I was having my boat done at Calcutt Boats, I noticed that not all of their boats were out. Maybe not just one or two spare, maybe 3-4+ were in the hire area.

In the weeks prior to coming up here, I noticed that there were less boats and both Aynho and Pig Place, so I’m not convinced it’s just this area.

The price of diesel has sky-rocketed, that and the other cost of living increases may have contributed to a limitation of boaters on how much they’re willing to move their boats.

The hire boaters and weekend holiday makers which used to pack the bank from Wigrams Turn right up to Flecknoe are now gone.

It’s no skin off my nose. The parking is better and the mobile signal has improved! Why complain? There may be a few less pissheads around, but I can cope with that!

Here’s come pictures to brighten up your day.

2 thoughts on “A birthday nightmare at Calcutt Boats

  1. What a shame it was such a nightmare. Thank goodness Bonnie is fit and you have come out the other side. I suspect you are correct about the cost of living hick causing a reluctance to move boats about. Enjoy the tranquility. X

  2. Only just read it – I had wondered why I didn’t see anything after ‘pigs’ post then realised I needed to click on the blog-name

    What a hell of an experience! I am amazed that the owner’s first reaction was so heavy handedly rejecting, given that you would seem to have had grounds for a formal complaint, but glad you were able to sit down and talk through to an agreeable conclusion.

    Your negotiating skills probably got a bit of a boost .

    Sad in a way that the waterways have become less used but as you say, it’s no hardship to you. Hope you’ve been able to mug up

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