Friday, 25 November 2005

Designing my boat

Designing a narrow boat is not an easy task. What do I know about designing boats, not a lot. There are so many options. I looked at a good many layouts before I felt happy about putting my ideas down on 'paper'. I now settled down to come up with the boat that I want. I was quite happy to do a drawing of the outside of the boat, but this has it's drawbacks. Until the inside dimensions are sorted you don't really know where the windows are going to be.

How long should it be? How do I intend to use it? Though I have no authority in this subject I think that the boat will be different for a live aboard than a holiday boat, but if I want to do the whole system the length is limited by lock dimensions, there are places you can visit on the web that give lock dimensions. I had to settle on 58 ft. It was either that or no proper office/spare bedroom. As it is I took 6 ins off the shower to make the office bigger.

Do I want a well deck at the front? What type of stern do I want? Enclosed cabin? I will not dwell on that other than to say I want a well deck and a traditional stern. Once you have these questions answered the builder will probably have a stock design. My long standing idea of a narrow boat is the 'Rosie and Jim' (did I say that) standard boat with cratch cover over the well deck.

Though the out side has to look right, I think the internal layout is more important for me. After all I will be living on this boat full time.

Accommodation (beds) room size galley size etc. Who is going to spend a lot of time on board? My calculations were easy as I am to be a single hander with occasional visitors. One double bedroom and a foldaway single bed in the office would suffice.

With a 4 ft well deck and a 3.5 ft bow my boat is 8.5 ft from the bow to the front bulkhead. With a 3.5 ft stern this means I have 46 ft of interior with which to play.

I started off with someone else's measurements.
Living room 12 ft
Galley 8 ft
Bedroom 9 ft
Shower room 6 ft
Bedroom 9 ft
Office space 6 ft
Back cabin 7 ft all this adds up to 57 ft Doh! This was for a 70 footer.

I took 1 ft off the living room and 1 ft off the galley, to make it all fit which I thought was sufficient. However I then shortened the shower room by 6 inches and added that to the office so I could get a 6 ft 6 in foldaway bed in there with comfort. And of course I left out one of the bedrooms.

What order to put the rooms in makes a big difference. My choice was as per the list above. But everyone is different, that layout suits me at this time. Looking at other boats will give you ideas. Some people have the galley at the front, some at the back. Some have no well deck and put the bed at the front in the middle. Others have crosswise bed that has to be folded away each day. I think I made the right choice for me.

The length of each room depends on where the walkways/doorways are. If it's just a 'corridor' down side of the boat a lot of decision-making is done for you, but who would want to live on a boat like a train. However on my boat the front doors are central. Walking through the living room I cross over to the right to enter the galley. A 'dog leg' through the galley to the centrally positioned doors which take you to the bedroom. The walk way through is across to the right leading to the shower room. To exit the shower room it's a diagonal through way across the boat to the office. Then a pair of doors, central to the back cabin. This set up does mean that you have to lock both doors in the shower room when answering a call of nature, but, as I will be on my own most of the time I don't think it's a problem. My main thought was that I didn't want to live in a 'corridor'.

I used a program called Visiotech 5 to design my boat. Although only a 2d drawing package it depends on your computer skills and how fast you can learn the package as to what effects you can get. I drew each room floor plan on a separate sheet. Once completed, I also drew each wall and each bulkhead (both sides) again on a separate sheet. I have a lot of time on my hands so I have ended up with about 35 (edit:40) very detailed drawings, including any separate details that need to be highlighted, fixtures and fittings, (I am still not finished yet the back cabin is giving me a bit of a headache). Then using a facility that allows you to save each drawing as an Icon and then retrieve it later, I put all the drawings together, end-to-end, and side-by-side to give me one big drawing that looks like a boat that has been opened down the centre and laid out flat. You could of course do all this with a pencil and paper, but I feel that the more detail you can get in the more likely the builder will build the boat you want.

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