Caulking Sweden

One Boat's Story: NarrowBoat, Summer 2023

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy explores the history and maintenance of a wooden narrowboat built in 1921

Given its ongoing cycle of replacement, it is perhaps pertinent to ask whether the boat we see today is the same Sweden that was built in 1921, or is it a replica? My personal approach is that if you take an old hull, put it on the bank and simply use it as a template to build a new version, the end result will be a replica. However, if the essence of the hull remains visible while the successive sections are subjected to long overdue repair, then it remains the same boat, even if it means that the craft that emerges at the end of the process is virtually new. Somehow, as if by the magic, the DNA of the old hull will have been conveyed into the timbers of the new. Maybe this is my heart ruling my head but, if we don’t think along these lines, we will be left with no wooden boats at all.Specialist work At the time of my visit, Adam and his friend Dave were busy caulking the seams: Dave under the boat recaulking the gaps between the bottom planks and Adam flaming pitch into the s…

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