Monday, February 06, 2006

Daisy Ashford - AKA Andromeda

As promised, here are a few collated bits and pieces we’ve found out about the boat.

Andromeda was once called Daisy Ashford and was renamed, by Tony and Jenny Conway (the previous owners), as all their boats had been called Andromeda and they wanted to keep up the tradition.

She was built in 1974, by Rugby boat builders, for Desmond and Katie Fforde, as a hotel boat (hence the 8mm hull) to work as part of a pair with a Ricky butty called Litchfield. Back then she had a wooden cabin top, a large dining room, galley and crew quarters, a long open well deck (with, as a later addition, an A frame cover) and they took up to 8 passenger around the ‘Avon Ring’ and north in the dry weather.

Katie wrote the first of her a best selling books based on her life aboard Daisy Ashford, called ‘Life Skills(which has, I like to think, her on the cover) and, though a book called Precious Cargo, Jema managed to track her down on the net and say hi. It’s crazy to think that, indirectly, our Andromeda has been the inspiration of literature.

Desmond and Katie came to visit us this afternoon, before we begin the process of putting Andromeda on the market and to tell us more about her history. This was the first time they had seen her for 27 years and it was great to find out that the engine was original (a stalwart Lister HR2) and why things are as they are. They were lovely folks and it was great for us to share memories and to find out more about her. Desmond was also a boat safety inspector and it was brilliant for him to cast an eye over the current survey with the knowledge of the man who had her built in the first place.

A lot has changed. Daisy Ashford was bought by ‘Schools Abroad’ for educational cruises between Warwick and Stratford and was rebuilt (and the steel top added) by Tim Higton after a fire in 1982. She then lived on the Grand Union until she fell into the hands of Jenny and Tony Conway (who fitted her out as a comfortable live-aboard and raised 2 children aboard her) and then, finally, ourselves. Worthy of a ‘Daisy Ashford Owners Club’ almost.

Since we’ve had her we’ve done a bit of work too. We converted the single cabin into a web-ready study, rewired all the electrics, fitted new appliances (be gone, evil gas fridge), repainted her, had the engine serviced a few times, revapped the Borg-Warner gearbox, generally decorated and we've had her out and pitched her on a regular basis.

Andromeda is now a ‘classic boat’, but to them it seemed like it was just like yesterday (Jema was 3 when Daisy Ashford was built). Katie spoke fondly of the galley and can still remember where everything was. I’ll swear Desmond may have just got the beginnings of a light tear in his eye when he saw the engine (which, for the first time ever, refused to start cos the battery was so low, typical).

I’m quite sure we’ll see them again, as Katie was curious about corsetry and jewellery and she and Jem seemed to get on famously.

Damn nice way to spend a day off work, and it was a good excuse to have a tidy up.

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