Friday, 10 March 2017

Mary - An Introduction to Life Onboard

This is a guide to my canal boat Mary, should you wish to book a stay on board.  This blog post describes what to expect, and with a few photos will become a virtual tour of the vessel.

It's a work in progress, as time and photos permit - so please check again later for updates, and details on how to contact me and book a stay onboard.

Something About Mary.

Mary is a 40 foot,  steel fabricated "stern cruiser" narrow boat built in approximately 1980.

She is powered by a BMC 1500cc diesel engine mounted in a separate engine compartment in the stern, accessed through removable panels in the rear decking.

Internally, Mary is partitioned into 3 separate "rooms", accessed through the main galley area.  In addition there is a covered seating area at the bow, and a covered area at the stern.

  1. Combined kitchen galley and living room/diner which converts to a double bunk.
  2. Small bathroom with sink, shower and portable camping style toilet.
  3. Rear cabin with seating area which also converts into a double bunk.
In at the Sharp End
Mary has doors at both the bow and the stern, so climbing on board can be done at whichever end is most convenient.
The seating area at the bow is covered with a tonneau cover with zip up side flaps, and roll up windows. This provides weather protection in all but the worst of weather, and should be kept zipped if there is a chance of rain.

This bow makes a useful alfresco dining area in warm weather, and is bright, warm and spacious, with the tonneau cover "windows" rolled up. Even in early March, the dark tonneau cover provides a warm sheltered area - and on sunny days, food should not be stored here - as it will quickly go off in the heat.

All of the seating areas have deep locker space underneath, for storage of infrequently used items. The Calor gas bottle is located in a locker in the bow area.

The Galley Kitchen and Living Area

The galley kitchen area has recently been renovated using standard kitchen units on the port side and a single stainless steel sink set into solid beech hardwood worktop.  It is  naturally well lit  from 2 windows on each side, and provides ample room for food preparation and storage, worktop appliances and washing up.

On the starboard side there is a compact wooden dresser unit, with three storage cupboards and three drawers. The water heater which runs on LPG is located above this dresser on the front bulkhead.

When moored at Mayroyd, Mary is connected to a conventional 230V ac mains electricity supply. This allows convenient use of standard domestic appliances via standard 3 pin sockets.

There is also a 12V battery power supply for the fridge, the cold water pump, the automatic bilge pump, the bath pump-out and some 12V dc lights.  The batteries are charged automatically whenever Mary is hooked up to "shore power". On the rear wall of the back bedroom is the 12V switch panel which controls these 12V devices. It is essential that the automatic bilge pump is kept on permanently, and for this reason the switch has been taped over with red tape!

The WoodStove - Mary's Warm Heart

In the centre of the galley area is a French style multifuel stove that provides all the warmth at the heat of the narrowboat.  Burning either coal, wood or modern sawdust briquette fuels, it provides either a rapid warm up on wood, or a slow release of warmth by loading up with "ecocoal" and turning the air inlet down low.

The black fluepipe of the stove gets extremely hot at times, so do not place clothes closer that 12" away - or they will scorch.

Suitable fuels can be bought locally at the Co-op, other supermarkets, most garage forecourts or from Bronte Boats in the canal marina area.

The Live-Work-Sleep Area

Beyond the stove is the galley seating area with a good sized sofa bed and a table for dining or working from. This area is also well lit, but cozy and ideal for catching up with emails or other work tasks. There is good 4G signal at the moorings, so keeping up with the rest of the world is perfectly possible if you care to set up a mobile hotspot.

Above the worktable is a wall mounted cabinet featuring a wine rack, a drawer and a couple of cupboards for storage of crockery and other everyday items. All crocks, glasses and cuttlery were bought at Tesco, so if you damage any item, please replace with similar - or at least send me a text to let me know that a replacement is needed.

This cabinet also houses a small and dated music system with radio, CD and tape deck. A "tape adaptor" with a 3.5mm jack plug allows you to plug into a Smartphone or MP3 player and play your music out through the amp and speakers.

The galley seating area folds out into a double bed approximately 6'2" x  4'. As mentioned earlier it has storage lockers underneath, and room for two suitcases or similar that can be conveniently accessed from a hinged front panel, without having to lift up the sofa cushions.

Above the headboard end of the bunk, there is a wall mounted cupboard that contains wine glasses, mugs and tumblers, plus a collection of paperback books for your literary entertainment.

The Smallest Room on the boat...

Following through from the galley living area is a compact bathroom with a cute and equally compact bath with shower attachment. To empty the bath you go to the switch panel at the rear of the boat and press the switch marked "Shower Pump". This will start the drainage pump - but please remember to turn it off once the bath is empty.

There is a small basin and a counter top for stowing essential items, with a large mirror above. There is also a small vanity cupboard above the loo.  The loo, and how to deal with it will be covered in a later section........

The Stern Cabin

Moving past the bathroom towards the stern of the boat is the rear cabin.  This has recently been renovated to provide a far more conveniet sofa bed arrangement, and the option of an additional working table, which folds out from the wall.

This cabin area is also well lit and spacious, and provides a little privacy from the main galley living area. The compact double (4' wide) bed runs length-ways along the boat, with your feet under a storage shelf, which in turn is below the bathroom counter-top. Sounds a complicated space stealing arrangement - but it allows people up to 6'2" to sleep comfortably in what is a cabin only 5' long!

As usual, underneath the sofa bed are deep storage lockers. Here you will find extra bedding, duvets and blankets in plastic storage containers. Please return these items to the storage container at the end of your stay.

Above the headboard end of the bed is a small pine cabinet containing the 230V consumer unit and breakers and the permanently on 12V automatic battery charger which keeps the batteries fully charged when connected to shore power. For normal operation all three mains breakers should be in the up position.  Next to the electrics cupboard is the 12V dc switch panel - more details in a later section.

On the other wall of the rear cabin is a wide 2 door cupboard, for storage of smaller items, books and so forth. 

The Back door and Deck Access Steps

The rear door to the outside stern deck leads on from the rear cabin. It is a split "stable" door arrangement - which allows it to be left upper half open for added through ventilation in summer. A short flight of 4 steps takes you up onto the rear deck above the engine compartment.

The Party Deck

Living in a narrow boat leads you to innovative uses of all available space, and Mary has recently been renovated to improve the internal layout and user friendliness. Frequently areas are multi-purpose, and every nook and cranny is creatively used for stowage of life possessions. The rear deck and roof area are no exceptions and can be used for relaxing or lounging - bearing in mind that you are very close to the canal so take care when moving around outside - as surfaces my be wet or covered in dew - and be slippy -  , and nobody wants an impromptu swim.....  

The stern deck is covered with a weatherproof "Pramhood" style cover, which provides protection from showers, but also provides a convenient undercover storage area for walking boots, muddy wellies or mountain bikes - things that you might need access to but not necessarily indoors. The pramhood also has side flaps and windows that may be rolled up in fine weather.  In addition to shower protection the pram hood provides shade when cruising in sunny weather or a place to sit out, dine or party on hot summer nights.....

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