A club open to anyone who owns a Piper-built boat
KATHE II - THE BIRTH OF A PIPER BARGE – PART 3
Fist published in Pipeline - Winter 2008
The remainder of the fit-out since Part 2 went almost as planned and to see the interior taking shape has been a really interesting 4 months of regular visits to Biddulph. I did however discover an extremely bad layout error on my part regarding the position of the en-suite in the guest cabin – unfortunately this was after the bulkheads and roof linings were already in place. After some hasty discussions with Simon he agreed that he would modify the layout for which I am extremely grateful as this involved extra time and materials. I was absolutely horrified when I saw in place the en-suite layout I had originally drawn as this was exactly the situation I had intended to prevent with our detailed drawings – best laid plans etc……! However, despite the initial setback, the guest (grandson) cabin has finally turned out to be a real gem in terms of appearance, storage space and comfort. The revised en-suite layout (although more compact) is easy to use and it contains a useful amount of storage space for towels and toiletries in a full width cupboard below the wash basin.
The main bedroom provides a level of comfort and accommodation (albeit on a slightly reduced scale) that I feel most people could live with. We have the benefit of built-in cupboards, shelves and wardrobes that fully integrate and we are easily able to contain all our clothes without having to cram and stuff things into small corners.
The shower room contains a full sized tiled shower with sliding glass doors, wash basin, macerator toilet and an extractor to remove condensation and nasty niffs. The large cupboard below the wash basin is again the full width of this room and is used for the storage of towels, loo rolls, cleaning sundries as well as the usual washing, showering and shaving toiletries.
The corridor cupboards provide a vast amount of additional storage volume and we intend using the top surface as a very long (15’) bookshelf.
The arrangement of the saloon was deliberately kept simple to maximise the available space. To allow for friends to sleep over we have purchased a 3-seater sofa that will make up into a king sized bed (avoids the need to sleep as ‘spoons’ - great fun when you are young…!!!) in an effort to ensure everyone a good night’s sleep. Built-in corner cupboards and an ‘entertainment centre’ complete the fixed furnishings. The saloon also contains a stainless Refleks oil burning stove and this should (in theory) heat all the boat (but with the exception of the wheelhouse) and should be economical given the level of insulation.
The wheelhouse arrangement was refined by Simon to produce a really good layout with a ‘wow’ factor when people first visit. This area, that we intend using as our main dining area, will be upholstered in leather for maximum durability and the raised floor area under the table is covered in ceramic floor tiles rather than carpet as these tiles should be easier to clean from spilled food and drink (we have six very young grandsons). Altogether the wheelhouse gives the impression of a small conservatory but with more interesting items for young grandchildren such as a steering wheel, levers that move and lots of switches and dials – the keys will definitely be hidden when they visit.
We tried to visit Piper Boats on average every two weeks in order view the progress and to deliver materials and equipment – including the proverbial kitchen (sorry…galley) sink – and it was very gratifying to see the rate of progress plus the excellent quality of the work and all the effort that was being put into our new ‘home’. One of the most satisfying areas to see progressing was the galley for which we had supplied all the ‘white goods’ and this now provides ‘all the comforts of home’ and should make preparing and cooking food an easy task. I realise that to some ‘purists’ the level of equipment that we have included may amount to heresy as far as ‘traditional’ boating is concerned: however, I work on the philosophy that whilst a new build boat may have some vague similarities to the earlier working boats it should (to a greater or lesser extent) reflect the contemporary technologies that are available at the time of building – unless it is intended to be a true replica. Originally boats did not have the benefits of electric lighting, electric pumps, flushing toilets or refrigeration but how many of us would wish to live aboard a boat (any boat) that did not provide a fundamental level of hygiene and convenience that allows us to enjoy staying on board rather than be faced with the daily grind of having to source fresh water, food and to dispose of waste.
I would surmise that had convenience equipment, facilities and the necessary space been available (and affordable) for the early boating families then they too would have been willing to accept the benefits and comforts that these bring and hardship in retirement will do nothing to enhance our experiences of living afloat. The addition of pictures and other personal items will eventually transform the boat into a home but we intend to avoid ‘clutter’ and too many loose items as these tend to involve additional cleaning work and that is not the object of our lifestyle change.
For safety reasons we have fitted a combination of wireless smoke & CO alarms that will all alarm locally and to a remote sounder which is kept in the bedroom at night. As the soundproofed engine room is fairly distant from our bedroom, we will be fitting an optical smoke sensor/alarm that will also alarm to the bedroom. This sounder will awaken the dead (it will probably also induce a heart attack if it goes off in the middle of the night) but as the engine room contains the oil fired boiler, batteries (an enormous amount of stored energy), diesel generator and main engine we decided to play safe and monitor this space as well as the usual occupied areas.
The layout of the engine room with the large Beta-Iveco engine was a challenge for Simon and Andy but the final result is excellent with enough room to carry out all the routine maintenance tasks leaving a surprising amount of storage space for tools and spare parts. The upside of the larger engine selection is that not only do we have a more spacious engine room but we have a larger wheelhouse that should serve us very well as the main dining area.
Unfortunately due to the time of the year we will not be able to take advantage of sitting out on the open back deck but we hope to remedy this omission as soon as possible next year.
Although one or two compromises and minor adjustments have had to be made (in order to make our intended layout fit the available space) the final result is essentially as originally drawn (apart from the en-suite issue) and it is very satisfying for us to now be able to look forward to living in something that we have jointly created from almost a blank sheet. The photos attached to this article indicate the fit-out progress up to mid-November.
I had hoped in this article to be able to write about our initial experiences in cruising the boat back to our mooring at Barrow-upon-Soar but unfortunately at the time of writing (mid-November) we are not yet in the water but late November/early December has been earmarked for the launch at Redhill Marina (the site for the 2009 IWA National Festival) on the River Soar. The size and weight of the boat has caused us problems in finding a suitable site from which the boat could be lowered into the water as a 200 tonne capacity mobile crane will be needed to provide the lift and reach capability. Other marinas were concerned about the amount of open space required and ground loads that the crane and boat transport would impose.
Kath & I hope that the PBOC members and friends that came to our open day at Piper Boats on 4th October enjoyed their visit as much as we enjoyed meeting everyone. Our grateful thanks go to Simon and his team for their co-operation, for the provision of tables and seating plus their ‘exhibition bar’ and to Dot for collecting the food from the caterers.
In the next and final article I will describe the launch and our journey back to Barrow on the River Soar and the canal sections of the river.
By Peter Fairhurst