Monthly Archives: Aug 2015

Meeting 1 Sheffield 6th August

Today we have headed from Marple on the train to Jonathan Wilson’s boatyard in Sheffield.
This was to be a meeting with Ken and Julia Warriner who are acting as consultants on the boat builds. Ken and Julia founded Fernwood Boats and built 90 bespoke boats until they sold the business a few years ago.

Julia was very welcoming, introduced us to Tracy who deals with all the paper work. They confirmed that they had received our deposit. We’ll get a receipt once the hulls identification number is set, this will appear on all paperwork throughout the build and importantly on the hull. Ken was quite busy in the yard, but was around for questions should they arise, as was Jonathan.

Today’s first meeting was to run through the general layout of the boat and style of hull. Regarding the hull we had already discounted various types of boat. A 58 ft semi trad is what we are after. On Sunday we had seen two Josher bows and 2 Trad bows. The Josher has more curves to it, giving the bow a rather lovely shape that we like, it also is meant to handle better in the water. However it costs more than the Trad. Julia had to check how much space would be needed for the engine we want, which would dictate the semi trad stern length. Also the Josher bow takes up that bit more space than the Trad bow, 2 foot more! This is to keep the lines and curves true. Jonathan came through to explain from a craftmans point of view and suggested we could add 6 inches to the length of Oleanna to help.

We have managed the two shortest locks on the network in NB Lillyanne, she is 59 ft 6 in with her fenders lifted, doing the Salter Hebble locks last year was a squeeze and the top two we had to do backwards with half an inch spare! We don’t want to avoid these locks, so an extra 2ft is not an option, but we can manage an extra 6 inches.

Then we started running through the basic layout of the boat with Julia. Before buying Lillyanne we had always liked the idea of reverse layout, but had only spent two nights on a hire boat with galley at the back. Now after a year living with reverse layout on Lillyanne we wouldn’t have it any other way. We like being sociable out on the back, making a cuppa whilst cruising is easier with no chance of spillage on bedding, but the main reason is you can keep an eye on your cruising sausage rolls in the oven better!

We worked our way from stern to bow gradually, getting distracted by windows or side hatches occasionally. A few weeks ago I had started to revamp the layout of our original ideas for Oleanna from a few years ago. I had intended to get them out again, but then I had my accident involving my little finger, rope and a big river lock. Currently I am having to do virtually everything with my lefthand. Technical drawings and wronghandedness do not go together. But at least we had a starting point and list of what we’d like/need.

Going bespoke we can (if we can afford it) add a better oven, hopefully a double oven, A dishwasher, fridge and small freezer. Food storage works well for us in draws, rather than cupboards. Fernwood had a good solution to access corner cupboards for storing occasionally used things which doesn’t involve carousels (so much wasted space!). L shaped dinette with storage for a drawing board for my work behind it. We discussed different types of table to have here and that we would require it to make into a bed for guests.

The saloon would have a sofa bed, multi fuel stove, and storage for books. Bathroom a walk through with quadrant shower, composting toilet, and sink. Bedroom, 5ft cross bed, obvious storage for cloths and a few taller bits. We also want to put the washing machine here. you take your dirty clothes off here and store them clean here, so why not have your washer here too.

When we moved on board just over a year ago we brought my cat Houdini. Sadly she isn’t with us now, but the time is coming close to having another furry friend, so certain things need considering for them too.

12 volt white goods for boats are expensive compared to 240 volt. Ken is keen for us to consider buying from the high street saving money, this would mean having to leave the inverter on 24/7 for the fridge and freezer, which Mick is not so keen on. He has been given an inverter to research before we make or minds up.

In the end we added up what space I had allocated for each area, we were 18 inches too long, which is the amount Jonathan has taken for the Josher bow. So we have a long list of things to think about, look at, research. Julia will also do the same and start on some CAD drawings of layout. Decisions you make in one area have knock on effects to other areas. but we are starting with what we’d like, we know that not everything is possible to shoehorn into the space we will have if we want to be in there too! But there may be solutions we can’t think off.

The Sheffield Handshake 2nd August 2015

Taken from NB Lillyanne‘s blog.
The last few days we have done lots of thinking and discussing of our boat builder for NB Oleanna. The reason for keeping the hire car was so that we could go to Sheffield for the Tyler Wilson open weekend to have a second look round the workshops there and chat things through with Jonathan before we finally made our minds up.
Although Congleton is only 45 miles away it still took us an hour and a half to get there. The roads across the Peak District are beautiful but wiggly both horizontally as well as vertically. As on our last visit we went past the right road into Victoria Boatyard, but this time realised our mistake straight away. Once corrected we found the proper entrance into the yard instead of the tradesman’s.


View down the boatyard. More boats in the canal, behind us and around the corner
The yard had been given a bit of a spruce up since our last visit, tubs of flowers lined the way from the office (a lady said they’d arrived this last week!) and all the workshops were tidied. We spotted Jonathan and had a brief chat, then had a look round the narrowboat that was being fitted out on our previous visit. Still not quite completed but only a few days short. We also looked round a Dutch Barge that was nearing completion. In the main fabrication shed two Josher Semi Trads were on show, one a semi tug, the other just a large bath tub so far.

Sheffield Keel wheel

Giant bath tub
After looking back around the Sheffield Keel they’d displayed at Crick, 60ft by 12ft, we managed to get to chat to Jonathan. He said all the right things, confirming the payment details with us that Ken and Julia had mentioned two days ago. A look between Mick and myself with a nod to confirm our decision, “We’d like to go ahead then please Jonathan”.  A shake of hands all round, although mine may not stand as it was with my left hand! This might mean that Mick has to pay for it all!

Semi Tug

Josher Bow partially made
We waited for Ken to become free then had another look around the boats and discussed various options we had with the hull. Jonathan’s son was on hand, his enthusiasm was such that it sounded like he’d make a start straight away. Our first meeting is already arranged for this coming week back in Sheffield. Our build will happen next year, with NB Oleanna hitting the water, so to speak, late spring/early summer if all goes well. This time around everything already feels better.
We will be doing a separate blog on the build, we’ll post a link to it shortly.

Maybe we should keep the car for two more days!
Our trip back was quicker as there were fewer cyclists on the road. We’d passed signs on our journey this morning to an Ice Cream Farm. But sadly Ken had kept us talking too long in Sheffield and we arrived ten minutes too late!

How we got here

For several years Mick and I have been wanting our own narrowboat. We started hiring boats together in the autumn of 2006 when we explored part of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Hiring more and more boats we bought into a share boat NB Winding Down on which we enjoyed our four weeks a year greatly. The natural progression from here was to have our own narrowboat, so we planned on having one built to our own specification. Having been patient for several years we decided to look for a secondhand boat of the right layout to keep us going until we had our own bespoke boat built, a bit of a try before you build. We were very lucky in finding NB Lillyanne in March 2014, the right sort of layout, low engine hours. She needed a couple of alterations so we could have people to stay, but other than that and being 2 foot longer than we originally wanted, she fitted the bill very well.
In July 2014 we moved on board fulltime, renting out our home in Scarborough for a year (initially), Mick dropped out from being a telephone engineer and myself (Pip) reducing the amount of work I took on as a Theatre Designer. Sadly things with our boat build didn’t go according to plan, so in May 2015 we visited the Crick Boat Show to shortlist possible boat builders. Since then we have visited four companies, asked for quotes based on our now altered spec. A year afloat has been good for us and has changed our minds on various things. With our shortlist down to two builders we paid them both a second visit last week.
That is a quick roundup of how we started this journey. This blog is intended as a diary of NB Oleanna’s build for us to be able to look back on in years to come. Please feel free to follow us on our journey. Posts will be as and when things happen. Our other blog NB Lillyanne will continue about our travels aboard our yellow boat.