What's Through the Round Window?
I love looking in other peoples boats (when invited, of course) so I thought I'd let you have a (virtual) peek into ours. Apart from the pure pleasure of looking at a beautifully fitted out interior or a clever idea, it can really help when looking for a new boat, fitting out a new build or refitting an existing boat. We have shown a few people around both Mervyn and our previous boat Alternative Therapy and I have also been invited in by boaters to look at their pride and joy (we are usually a pretty friendly lot in this matter!). It is hard to know exactly what will work before ever living aboard and what works for you can only really develop with experience. Our first boat wasn't intended as a liveaboard initially so we chose purely on the interior being to our taste aesthetically. Once we began to liveaboard full time we learned quickly the features that would go or stay when we bought our next one. Sometimes things previously dismissed can become a feature you wouldn't swap for the world once you live with it and something insisted upon becomes less unimportant. Compromise is always needed.
So below are a few photos showing the layout of Mervyn and some of the onboard equipment that make it really practical for us. Although not designed by us but by the previous and first owner, it comes pretty close to being our perfect layout and style.
The large stainless steel water tank is fitted behind the bed under the shelf at the back.
The bow locker after here is accessed from the deck and is a good size for storing mooring pins, water hoses and other assorted paraphernalia.
The steps down from the front hatch slide to one side for easier access to the bed and a half height single wardrobe is tucked away on the left under the deck.
Looking forward you get a sense of the space and flow. There is so much cupboard space and because the units don't reach the floor the sense of space is greater. There is a pigeon box above the kitchen to let in additional light and can be opened in the summer to let heat out.
The long granite worktop runs the full length incorporating the double sink, with water filter mixer tap (filter housed in cupboard beneath), essential for staying healthy.
Talking of bathrooms, this was probably the biggest compromise for me and one I am now grateful for. I never really liked the idea of having to pass the toilet when walking the length of the boat. Some 'walkthrough' bathrooms have the door on opposite sides to create two 'corners' and maximise space but this means a detour through the bathroom to get to the other end of the boat. Mervyn's has the doors on the same side, creating a corridor like effect when both doors are open. Instead of a shower cubicle, the clever design has made the best of the space and created a wet room by means of a custom stainless steel tray set into the floor. The upside of this being the shower head is at the highest point (Mr F currently comes in just under 6'2" and the whole boat has great headroom). Being a wet room means that you need to give the whole room a bit of a wipe down after showering but this means you get a nice clean bathroom after each use. Result.
The beating heart of the boat. When the Gardner 2LW thumps into life you really feel like you are on a narrowboat. The thud, thud under your feet as you stand on the back counter can have me waxing lyrical for hours. I'll try not to go on, but seriously, this photo just doesn't do it justice. After buying our first boat which was a cruiser stern with a buzzy Isuzu and getting the narrowboat bug, we made a decision early on that our next boat would have a vintage engine. It fitted perfectly with our love of old VW's and our newly discovered interest in the history of the canals, boats and the people living and working on them to have something authentic. The engine room is also home to the inverter and batteries (under the floor) plus a myriad of gauges including the battery monitors of which we have two. There is a hook up located in here although we don't currently use it along with all the fuses for the 12v lights and 240v sockets. The essential tool kit and selection of chimneys/exhaust stacks also live in here.
Looking back from the engine room the back cabin, fitted out in the style of the traditional working boats and decorated with roses and castles. The step also doubles as a coal bunker. The stove is a 'Jotul' which we believe to have been out of a farmhouse in France.
The cupboards below house the bed, folding down to join the seat making a 'cross' bed. This is our spare bed and although it has been made wider than usual so it is 4' wide it has limited length being across the boat. This was a consideration when looking at boats where it was the main bed as due to Mr F's height it isn't practical for us but is really handy for visitors. The cupboards above the bed are a good size and afford additional clothing storage. Below the bed is a cocooned 'silent' generator enabling us to be self sufficient power-wise, as running the engine to charge the batteries isn't an option on this boat!
The seating area makes for a nice place to sit when travelling or on a nice evening with the back doors open looking out onto the water. There is good storage under the seats too. A bulls eye glass dome set into the roof lets a great deal of light into here even though there is only one small porthole.
The doors are also beautifully decorated and look great when open.
OK, I know, they aren't round. but having a nice big hatch at the front and two
side hatches with glass window inserts makes the boat much brighter.
It also means you can see the gorgeous views afforded by living on the water.