Monday, 20 August 2012

Ringing the changes.

We spent around six months visiting boatyards and talking to boat owners before purchasing Rosie. There was nothing significantly different in what we did when compared to others who were looking for their first buy. We thought we knew what we wanted and that it was just a matter of looking long and hard enough. After viewing many boats, we certainly began to know what we did not want.

Our ideas changed a bit as we looked at many different types and lengths of boats. We even sat down and designed our preferred layout. What we did learn was there are many different boats out there. Each will suit someone and often reflect what someone in the past saw as the perfect boat for them.

If I was starting out again I would want the same layout as Rosie, but with a number of little but significant changes and adaptation for our specific needs. 

We intended our boat to be suitable for two people with an area that could be converted from time to time to accommodate another two for short periods. We never anticipated more than four ever staying on the boat at any time.

We expected that we would be spending a lot of time on the boat and so Rosie had to be a boat that you could live aboard for long periods in some reasonable comfort.

Rosie it a semi-traditional boat. 

A semi-trad is essentially a traditional boat with a bigger cockpit. Up to four people can be comfortable in the cockpit. Any more becomes a tight squeeze. If you want to be able to move with more than four in the same area you will need a boat with a Cruiser Stern. On a traditional stern you are limited to two people when on the move.

Rosie has what is known as a reverse layout.

From the tiller going forward, the first area is the (lounge) saloon, then it is the (kitchen) galley, then it is the (bathroom) heads and then it is the (bedroom) berth. We knew that we would spend a lot of time in the lounge and kitchen and less time in the bathroom and bedroom. 

From the front coming back:


Our choice of layout also meant that we would not need a large bow (cratch) area because we would not have a need to sit out at the front. If the weather was going to be good enough to sit out, then we could sit out on the tow-path. We needed enough space to accommodate various materials such as spare ropes, fenders and similar items. The small bow cratch would be good enough for our needs.


We had tried different bedroom layouts and we had a preference for a fixed cross bed. There was no real reason for a cross bed other than our personal preference. We anticipated that our clean clothes would be stored in this area. So storage was a significant factor. It is hard to imagine what space you will need. We have also found that it is easy to overstock on clothes.


We wanted a shower, however we also got a bath. The bath was not on our list of wants and we have never used it. We have thought about removing it but we have never come up with what we would replace the bath with. We wanted a proper toilet and not one of those plastic potty types. So we have a porcelain type. Flushes at the touch of a button. No carrying of "anything" through the boat. We do a toilet pump out at six week intervals. We wanted a pedestal sink and some storage for "bathroom" materials. (We have thought about removing the bath and putting the washing machine here.)


The choice of kitchen was easy. It must have cooker, sink, drainer, workspace, fridge, washer, microwave, and as much storage as practicably possible. To be honest you will never have enough storage space in the kitchen.


Rosie had a settee that converted into a bed. We took this out and replaced the settee with two recliner armchairs. It worked out as a much more practical arrangement.

Pram Cover:

Though we chose a Semi-trad we had intended to purchase a Pram Cover for the back. This would provide some additional protected space. Plus it would provide a small drying area for changing wet clothes and boots without needing to go inside the boat.

Heating and Cooking:

We had given some thought to cooking and heating systems. Obviously the engine would be running on diesel. We decided that we would prefer LPG gas for cooking as it provides instant and controllable heat. We have a multi fuel log burner stove at home and a multi-fuel stove was one of our preferences for the boat.

Rosie had a stove and an Aldi gas central heating system. What we discovered was the central heating system was an expensive to run heating system. The multi fuel stove however provides a good heating system that warms all the boat and is very cheap to run. Especially when canal side wood is used to top up the fire. (We have thought about adding a back boiler to the fire.)

Electrical Power:

Rosie has a 12v 500ah leisure battery bank fitted. This is charged by a 70amp alternator on the Beta engine. There is a second 30amp alternator which charges the starter battery. Rosie is fitted with a 1500 watt Victron power inverter. 

However we have tried as far as possible to convert everything to 12 volts. The television is a flat screen 12 volt model. The refrigerator is a 12/230 volt version. The next change we made was to convert the lighting system over to LED. Then next upgrade was to fit solar panels. The panels provide sufficient power on a good day that we don't need to run the engine to recharge the battery bank.

Future Upgrades

Replace the 70amp alternator with a 100amp version. Keep the 70amp as a backup. Replace the Beta alternator controller with a Sterling 130 amp A-to-B Digital Charger controller. 

Diesel Generator (full sinewave) in the engine room rated at around 5kw. Or a travelpack upgrade on the engine. (To run the washing machine without a need for a mains connection.)


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