Narrowboat Jess

Not sure how jt happened, but currently a two boat family (green on right up for sale soon).

The Aged P has been living on Triss for the past 10 years, and whilst she is still a lovely boat, she is not quite up the 365-cruising/live-aboard lifestyle he needs her to be now he’s retired. So enter the younger, longer model – Jess. A few months back I had a grand plan to do a video tour (or at least a photo tour) documenting the state of Jess when we first got her, so we are better able to chart her progress. But I didn’t take the photos and then I just plain forgot. I did write a tour though, so just engage your imagination!

I also drew up a little plan to help. But it’s pretty crappy.

The outside. Please forgive the dusty state of her. There is construction work going on next to the marina, and the dust gets EVERYWHERE.

Entering from the back, you come into the engine room. Mind your head! Oh, never mind. Spend much time around narrow boats and you get inured to the minor concussion you sustain on a regular basis.

The engine room is where the magic happens. More practically, it is where the engine and batteries live, but as these are what power everything, it is pretty magic. Black, oily, messy, gunky, SMELLY magic, but still magic.

This here on the wall right in front of you, this is the Webasto. It provides hot water to the radiators and taps. Without such a unit in place, you are reliant on immersion heaters and/or the moderately hot water that can be drawn when the engine is running. The Webasto means reliable hot water, when you want it, for as long as you want it. Well, until you run out of water in the tank or fuel.

In theory. We have spent all weekend trying to get the damn thing installed properly. One cracked filter unit, one diesel leak, a hole in the hull (intentional!), several yards of bendy copper pipe, much swearing, four days, three men, and a large amount of praying later, is 90% installed. Just the timer unit to sort out now… If only someone knew what the extra black wire is for.

Through the engine room, you take a step down and are into the back of the boat proper, and the bedroom. That’s a full size double bed and there is lots of built in storage. She may be only 6 feet wide, but one thing Jess doesn’t lack are lots of cubby holes! Note the adorable porthole windows. These look adorable and are frosted, so people can’t see in, but they don’t shed much light, meaning the back of the boat tends towards the “cozily lit”, also known as dim.

Past the bedroom, to one side of the gangway, is the bathroom. Small, but adequately formed. Full sized shower, sink, and toilet. This room here? This is why I could never live on a boat permanently. Lack of water pressure aside, the toilet is just… Well, frankly, it is one step up from a camping toilet. You can get models that are more robust, but those have their downside as well. Everything goes into a tank in the bilges and this tank needs to then be sucked clean… Nasty.

Next, we have the kitchen and saloon area. The kitchen, like everything else, is compact but fully functioning. Gas hob and cooker. Fridge. Freezer. There was a microwave, but that got given to a neighbour. It might, or might not, be replaced. Microwaves, like toasters, and electic kettles, draw a lot of voltage and when cruising the canals away from a regular mains supply, they put a massive drain on your battery bank and inverter. You could always run a gennie (generator) to provide the extra OOMPH, but they are noisy and awkward. To some purists they also smack a little bit of cheating. You learn to do things a little bit more slowly and in a more ‘traditional’ manner when you live on a boat. We’ve even been known to resort to a toasting fork.

Then the saloon. This is VERY much a blank canvas at the moment. But it will soon be filled with shelves and books and a table and chairs. Cozy. The solid fuel stove will provide most of the heat, when the chimney is hooked up, but there is also a mammoth radiator. Yay for radiators! Oops for this one, however! It is rather on the heavy side and, at the moment, is dragging the starboard side of the boat down. We need to get some more ballast to balance things out, and also to bring the prow down. Jess is quite light at the bows, and is also tall for a narrowboat. This makes her spacious inside (for a given value of “spacious”), but slightly awkward under low bridges.

And at the front, the cratch area. With the gas locker just behind the upright, and the water tank underneath.

That’s Jess. I hope you enjoyed the tour. I’ll possibly do an updated tour when she is all finished – at least as finished as boats ever are! – but I wanted to document her at her worst.