Is This the One?
2 October – 14 October 2010
So I went back to ApolloDuck and other sources to specifically look at replicas. I soon discovered that many of them were constructed in the UK, and that the same few brand names kept coming up as recommended options. The one that seemed to get most “thumbs up” were the Piper barges (www.piperboats.com), designed and built by Simon Piper, whose father was a noted builder of narrow boats in the UK. With such a background, I felt more comfortable.
But the price of a new Piper barge was just a bit more than I could contemplate (by now I had obviously convinced myself that we could afford a barge, but there were still some limits). In looking through ApolloDuck, I saw a barge that I had previously looked at, but dismissed.
“Kimasut” was a 55ft Piper barge, built in 2006 and now for sale by its original owner. I wasn’t sure if he was the equivalent of the “little ole lady from Pasadena”, but the ad seemed to hold some promise.
The reason I had not considered Kimasut further at the time, was that it was when I was looking at older barges that I first saw it, and the main photo on ApolloDuck was not from a very flattering angle. The bow, and especially the cabin “box”, just appeared to be too big (a bit like taking a photo with a wide-angle lense from behind a lady with a fullsome figure). It seemed to have none of the style of the older Tjalks I was then considering.
Further exploration of the ApolloDuck ad, and some more flattering photos, showed that it did possess a degree of dutch barge style, especially the upswept stern.
I emailed the owner and got more details, and was warming to the idea of a new, trouble-free barge for the first few years. We would have enough to learn about actually getting the barge to go and stop where we wanted, in the right directions and at the right speeds, without having to worry about whether it would actually continue to go and stop without major repairs.
But still I wondered whether it would actually be all as trouble-free as I imagined. The thing that convinced me more than anything was a lengthy Boat Test review I saw of Lagom, the sister ship of Kimasut and the personal barge of Simon Piper. This was a very detailed and complimentary description of the Piper barge, and answered most of the questions I have been asking myself.
With this renewed confidence in the Piper design and construction, I then read the first-hand stories from many Piper barge owners on the replica barge website (www.barging.co.uk). In each case the story was the same; very satisfied with the finished product and impressed with the attention to quality by the Piper crew.
We also found many Piper barge owners through the Piper Boat Owners Club website (www.piperowners.co.uk/barges). While many Piper owners are Piper Narrowboat owners, there is a growing band of Piper Barge owners as well.