Thursday, 1 December 2016

End November Visit

We drove up for another visit on Tuesday. We left home just after 8 and met up with Andrew at Stem to Stern in Stafford for 2 o'clock. We managed a good break at Michaelwood and there were no traffic delays at all.

We quickly set about walking through the boat from the stern to see how it has progressed - we are due to make another stage payment so were keen to check that it matched!

The front cabin contains two single berths with plenty of storage under the beds as well as wall mounted cupboards and shelves.

Moving forward we next come to the bathroom. As can be seen, this is a walk-through layout which makes it much more roomy, albeit at the price of not being able to go from one end of the boat to the other when it is in use! Not too much is fitted here yet although the wash basin stand and shower wall are in place, together with shelves in the space behind the shower wall.

The main bedroom comes next - we are convinced that this is a better layout and should also mean that the room will be warmer in the colder parts of the year as it is next to the main cabin.

Again, there will be plenty of storage. What we decided this time is that two of the four sections will be divided and the rear parts accessible from the top of the bed. These will be able to take longer term items such as the spare duvet and sleeping bags for visitors.

The main cabin does not yet have much in it except that the base if the dinette is in place and we could get a much better feel of how the space, together with the galley, is going to work out. One of the issues under debate is where to fit the tv. We think that we now are in agreement but it does not have to finalised until a later visit. The general position is fixed since the first fix electrics are all in place (as also is the plumbing) In one corner (opposite where the stove will be) is a storage unit.

At the rear comes the galley. This is always a matter of compromise and debate as we would all like to fit in more than is really possible! In this boat we will have both a washing machine and a microwave that were not in Take Five and there will also be a small freezer under the dinette.

One of the matters to be decided was the worktop surface. We have opted for a smart hard surface rather than simpler laminate. The draining board will be formed in the surface itself.

In between the galley and the rear doors is, on one side, the electrical cupboard where all the controls will be located and on the other side is a 'wet' locker - that is a place to store outdoor clothing. As yet there is little in here.

We also had to think about flooring although Phil only lays this once the boat is in the water in case there is a need to access the under-floor space to adjust the ballast.However, it seems that we are likely to go for a Karndean surface which will be more robust when things are dropped on it than we found with the laminate. Andrew is keen to consider a 'loose lay' version so that individual pieces can be swapped around in the event of something really damaging it. On perhaps the next visit we may well have a chat with the flooring supplier.

We are very impressed with the attention to detail, both in terms of the layout and overall positioning of items but also in the actual fit out. For example, this picture shows the space below the electrical cupboard where the extended swim intrudes into the cabin. Some fitters might well have taken the view that this is too 'out of sight' to do much about but you can see that it has been fully trimmed.

We saw for the first time the style of roof lining. Overall, we are pleased with the lighter upper lining - not something that we had expected to have until we began the detailed discussions with Phil, although it does seem to be a growing fashion.

Also, in talking through a number of aspects of the electrical and other systems, whenever there is ambiguity in the the specification, what we are getting is very much on the positive side. For example, although the spec calls for a bilge pump, we are actually having one in the engine bay and one that will keep the main cabin under floor dry in the event that water floods into it. (This did happen once with our previous boat and we had to cut an access hole ourselves and use a portable pump to remove the water)

Outside, Tyler Wilson have yet to come and make the modifications to the steps - you can see what will happen in the wooden mock up. Hopefully this will be in place shortly as Phil hopes to begin preparing the external surfaces ready to build up layers paint in the near term.

One thing that we also discussed is cabin services battery power. We do not want to be a short as we found ourselves in the past although we are aware that adding more batteries in parallel is not as simple as it might seem. More info needed before we decide but the most likely outcome is to leave space to add extra (the spec includes four slightly larger ones than we had before) and we may also opt for even higher capacity if they can be fitted in.

Something that we had not realised hitherto - especially as we do not often look at narrowboat hulls out of the water - is the way in which the base plate and the dies are joined. To protect this vital weld, a small amount of the base plate extends outwards as in this photo.

Overall we remain confident and delighted and our anticipation continues to build along with the boat itself. Discussing completion, we expect that 'March' (as in the contract) may be closer to Easter than the original thought of the first of the month! However, this is not a problem - just so long as we do get on board for the Easter break!

Now we have to transfer the next stage payment! Ouch!

We adjourned with Andrew to the same Costa coffee shop as last time to mull over what we had seen. One of the unresolved issues concerns a waste bin location. We took a brief look in some of the stores nearby for ideas.

Whilst Andrew set off to return home we went to our overnight stop in Keele village. This gave us an opportunity the following  morning to take a reminiscence tour of the university campus as we have been back perhaps just once since leaving their almost 50 years ago! It was pleasing to see how well the Chapel (which is where we were married) has lasted.

Finally, we called at Swanley Bridge Marina to collect the last of our belongings that we did not have room to take with us when we handed Take Five over to its new owners.

The return journey was rather longer than expected because the M5 was closed around Junction 10 and we had to make a detour, which itself had problems with roadworks. At least we managed to get back before it was really dark. It was a bit of a relief to arrive as Mike had had to drive all the afternoon with the sun shining low in our direction of travel! Wuch is the delight of winter journeys.


  1. Hello there, we had similar 'bin' discussions, originally we were looking at free standing ones, but decided against them due to the impact on movement through the boat, so we settled on an over the door type, this is the one we have by simple human, it doesn't impact on the space in the cupboard where we have it hung, and is quite sizable for the two of us. We have room in one of our side lockers with a large plastic box/bin to transfer out to and separate for recycling. Happy bin hunting!

  2. Have you considered full traction batteries in 2 volt cells. not easy to retro fit due to size and shape, but on a new build may be possible.

  3. Thanks for both helpful suggestions which we are following up. Both issues are, however, less than straightforward!