It’s a race against time for Steve

Steven Molyneux on his barge 'Flipper'
Steven Molyneux on his barge 'Flipper'

A LONDON canal boating enthusiast trying to sail from the North West to the capital city is finally on his way – two years after his project was originally left high and dry.

Steve Molyneux, 34, tried to make his way from Adlington to London after purchasing his boat Flipper in November 2010, but became stranded in Wigan for three weeks due to emergency canal repairs.

He was forced to abandon the boat and find alternative transport home, and since then his plan to bring Flipper south has been beset by serious engine repairs and other difficulties.

However, Flipper is now finally in ship-shape condition and Steve, who runs an arts collective in Deptford and health food project Horse Powered, set off from Liverpool last week heading for Manchester, Birmingham and the Grand Union Canal.

Steve passed through Wigan on his way to his final destination in Limehouse Basin, but admits he is involved in a battle against the clock to avoid being marooned for a second time.

Steve said: “It’s taken a lot longer than I thought it would and we’ve had all manner of difficulties.

“After I was forced to leave the boat it got broken into, and then we have been replacing and repairing the engine.

“Now we’ve finally got a handle on it but it’s a race against time before everything closes down for the winter.

“I’ve approached this trip with a sense of trepidation. I know things can always go wrong, so I’ve been constantly checking things.

“The boat still needs some work doing, but it feels good to be out and about.

“I’ve got to detour to Colwyn Bay to pick up a piano, and I’m enjoying seeing some of the beautiful scenery and meeting people on the way back to London.”

Steve says he is extremely grateful to all the Wiganers who have helped him throughout his lengthy project, and confirms he has extremely fond memories of the town and the North West as a whole.

He said: “The amount of help we have received has been absolutely incredible. That’s what we will remember most about Wigan, the friendliness of the people, and I will be very sad to leave.
“You go to somewhere like Kirkless Hall and people are sitting outside drinking pints and there’s people with their horses and dogs, it’s just an idyllic spot.

“There’s a real sense of solidarity and kinship here.”

Despite all the difficulties, Steve’s project has become more ambitious, as he is now also bringing south a raft called Kontiki designed by one of the collective’s artists, which is currently moored in Burscough and will head to the capital on a different route suitable for wide-beam vessels.

He is also providing regular video footage of his trip, which you can view by clicking here