Well there you go, a year under our belts as boaters and what have we learnt? Did we make the right decisions, has it all been a terrible mistake? Well I think you know from the blog that we are as happy as pigs in the proverbial. We adore the nomadic lifestyle and it truly feels as if we are on holiday every day.
We had a very good start in that we were lucky to chose the right boat builder in Stuart Harper of Barn Owl Narrowboats. The build went smoothly and Caxton was delivered on time and to price. As for what we specified for Caxton, some things are absolutely spot on and others, in hindsight, we would do differently.
So what works well for us and what doesn't?
Caxton is a Reeves 63' semi-trad with a reverse layout. From the stern: galley, pullman dinette, saloon, bathroom and then cabin with a 5' cross bed. The well deck is 4'.
The galley is larger than most boats with a Belling fan oven, a full size dishwasher and plenty of work surface/cupboards. Forget the fan in an oven, it uses power and things still only really cook on the top shelf anyway. The dishwasher works beautifully however and uses less water than the usual frequent washing up.
The dinette is a pullman style but takes up only 5' of boat length, on our insistence. We do prefer to eat our meals at a table but a dinette was going to compromise the space in our saloon so we opted for 5' as opposed to the usual 6' - it works but with two large dogs sprawled about in the saloon and two large dog beds to trip over, space in the saloon is still a bit tight. Without the dogs the proportions would be fine but we are going to do some modifications in the new year to this key area. No, Fletcher and Floyd are not being abandoned...
The stove (wood/coal) is located in the saloon which puts it in the centre of the boat and is really very efficient at keeping the whole boat warm, so tick in the box for that decision.
The central heating is a Hurricane unit and that is excellent.
The bathroom is a cross boat arrangement and that is spacious and convenient to use. We have since seen a boat with a cross bathroom that also included a separate loo cubicle that didn't feel as if you were being squeezed under the gunwales and we think that we would go down that route if there was ever to be a Caxton Mk2. The vacuum flush cassette system aboard Caxton did cause us a few issues in the early days but a minor correction to the installation has righted that and we definitely chose this system again!
Our five wide cross bed in our cabin is just soooo comfortable! However, once a cross bed is 'put up' the space kind of becomes redundant and redundant space on a narrowboat is wasted space. So on reflection maybe a cabin bed has its merits...
Finally, the 4' well deck. 4' is just too tight. We manage of course but we should have specified more out door space/storage. Again this is in part because of the dogs. I feel a remedy coming on for this though....a stretch perhaps?