|nb Bobcat; inside & out|
The heat aboard was hot water (you can see the white flat panel radiators on the lower walls), supplied by the engine. When the engine was not running, a very compact propane fired hot water heater and circulating pump took care of business. I was very intrigued by this heater:
It was located in the head, smack next to the shower and was only six or seven inches wide, by about five feet tall. I do not know how deep it ran into the wall. It was manufactured by a Swedish company called Alde, although this appears to have been an earlier model. In operation it was absolutely silent.
The SceneryJust a few pictures showing what it is like on the canals...
|Jane, the lock master|
Lessons LearnedHere are the lessons learned by this open-water sailor when transitioning to canal boating:
- Yup, it really is like that. This is civilized, low key boating. Nobody is in a rush, you don't travel fast (less than 4 kt, and at "tick over" when passing moored boats - see below). And indeed, you don't get going early or travel late. In fact, most boats do not have running lites, and unofficial hours on the canal are 08:00 - 20:00. We travelled only from village to village, stopping for the pubs of course.
And like boaters everywhere, everyone was friendly - from the boats passing in the opposite direction to those we met in the pubs - like Andy and Liz of nb Snowgoose, who we met in The White Swan at Brewood and who later invited us aboard their boat when they moored up in front of us at Gnosall:
Liz and Andy, nb Snowgoose
- The rudders on narrowboats are unbalanced. You really need to lean into the tiller to turn the boat.
- As you might expect, the canals are shoal at the edges.
- Steering is strange near the edges - it is as if the edge is trying suck you in
- Probably the biggest unexpected thing, and what could likely be the cause of many of the others noted here, is that the boat is large with respect to the canal. This means that it is not operating in free water like every other boat I have ever been on. Instead, because the boat occupies a significant portion of the cross section of the canal, it is pushing water ahead of it as it moves. This water then flows back along the sides of the boat, making it look like you are operating in a current.
- The passages under the bridges are almost unbelievably narrow, leaving only a few inches on either side of the boat. The plug flow that I described above is magnified greatly when passing under a bridge, slowing the boat dramatically, and making steering almost completely ineffective until you get clear of the bridge.
- As you pass moored boats, they are all pushed around by the plug of water you are pushing ahead of yourself... and then sucked back the other way after you pass. This is why it is necessary to slow down to idle when passing moored boats.
- The canals are shallow (narrowboats rarely draw much more than 24"). And they are silted up. As boats go by, the prop wash stirs up the silt, but since there is virtually no flow in the canal, this just settles back out, to be stirred up again by the next boat.
What would we change? Not much. More time would be nice. And a few more locks would be OK too.
And a few more pubs, of course.