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Winners of our first custom boat competition have written this sweet letter about their story of winning. It’s a must-read for anyone buying a ticket from us – these prizes are life-changing! ✨


It feels like everyone that lives on a boat has an obscure and unique story that led them to the water. For Lou and myself, boat life was only supposed to be a temporary thing. Some friends of friends were selling their barge and asked if we’d like to rent it until they had a buyer. For us it felt like a respite from the damp, cramped, extortionately expensive carousel of London flat hunting. But quickly it became a lifestyle we couldn’t bear the idea of losing.

Every viewing brought with it a sense of dread and anxiety. Not only because this prospective buyer could be the person to take our home from us and throw us back into a futile hunt for a 2-grand-a-month coffin room in an unreachable part of London. And not just because it would take us off the water and away from a lifestyle that we loved. But also because we’d accidentally become the owners of a couple of cats, Betty and Claude. And if you think finding a flat in London is impossible, try finding one that will accept cats.

But one day Lou said she’d found a surefire solution. A way to keep our cats and our lives on London waters. A competition to win a houseboat from this company called Marwood Makes.

Lou arm-wrestled me into buying some tickets with her and, honestly, I almost instantly forgot about it. But she remembered.

I wasn’t even supposed to be in on the night of the draw. If it wasn’t for the fact that the pub I was supposed to be at was heaving, causing my mate and I to shrug our shoulders and head home, I would’ve missed it.

But I was home, holding my phone with our ticket numbers open, hardly paying any attention as Lou pulled up the live stream.

In my defense, you just don’t expect to win something like this. Even if you have hope. Even if you have Lou’s unflinching optimism. Your body just isn’t prepared. And when the numbers on the phone in front of me were read out by Jason, my first thought wasn’t that we’d won. It was that I’d simply read them wrong.

But I read them again. And again. And whatever expression appeared on my face had Lou certain I was messing with her. But I turned the phone to her and she read them too, and we heard Jason say “Louisa,” then heard Jason try to say, but somewhat butcher, Lou’s complex Greek surname. And that was when we started screaming. Jumping. Shrieking. Running around the room. Complete disbelief.

Ecstatic we rang Lou’s Mum. “What do you mean you’ve won a boat?” Ecstatic, we rang my Mum. “I don’t think you have darling, that sounds like a scam.” We rang our friends. “You’ve won the lottery.”

And for the next few days, we barely slept. People would ask “How was your weekend” and we had no idea how to answer. The sentence we heard over and over – “that’s completely life-changing.” A sentence that never stopped hitting like a tonne of bricks. Even as we got used to telling people and chatting about the details, the sheer life-changing scale of this prize would always rise in our stomachs and have us speechless and giddy again.

The months since have been wild. I feel like everyone we know has told everyone they know. We’re about to head off to Japan on a trip we’ve been fantasizing about since we met but could never afford it before. And last weekend we got the train up to Liverpool to see the boat itself. I think we made the boat builder, Ian’s, day. Normally people turn up to see the boats with notes about this or that. All we did was grin and say thank you over and over.

Winning the boat and working with Molly and Jason to make it ours has been life-changing. At the end of any rough day, that adventure is in the back of our minds. The fact that in a few months, we’ll be picking up the keys to a place that’s truly OURS and setting sail on the canals back to London. We plan to take our time with that journey and appreciate the details. And not just because the top speed is less than 10mph. But because we don’t want to lose sight of quite how life-changing this is, and quite how lucky we were to have won.

Louise and Mike

You could WIN a custom boat worth £180,000

A unique opportunity to live an exciting lifestyle, mortgage-free in a custom-designed Marwood Makes boat worth £180,000. Widebeam or Narrowboat – The choice is yours!

Marwood Makes

Helping you turn your boat & campervan dreams into reality! With years of expertise of boating & vanlife, we're your trusted source for living life on wheels & water. Let's navigate the waves together! ✨