Canal Boat - - The Boat Test -

Jim Birch has built up a rep­u­ta­tion for fit­ting-out boats with re­claimed tim­ber and this boat is no ex­cep­tion, with wood from both a pub and a church.

The char­ac­ter ex­ud­ing from this old tim­ber is ex­cep­tional. The other thing you no­tice im­me­di­ately is the range of dif­fer­ent woods and colours on show; the fash­ion for uni­for­mity is firmly re­jected, show­ing that you can achieve har­mony with­out hav­ing ev­ery­thing the same.

Re­claimed tim­ber of­ten ar­rives in a bit of a state and takes a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time to re­store. It’s pres­sure washed be­fore be­ing lightly sanded and then ei­ther waxed or var­nished, de­pend­ing on where it will be used.

The boat it­self has a stan­dard lay­out, with the sa­loon at the bow un­der the glass. The gal­ley is open plan to the sa­loon, then a cor­ri­dor takes you past a shower and a sep­a­rate loo. Next comes the en­gine room, fol­lowed by a back cabin. deck is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the cloths that cover the ‘hold’ win­dows, and partly be­cause this re­ally is like an­other room.

There are sub­stan­tial lock­ers each side of the deck, made from the wooden floor of a pub in Rugby. You get the im­pres­sion the wood could tell more than a few tales. The wa­ter tank is un­der this part of the deck, which ex­plains why there’s a step up. Be­tween the lock­ers a door pro­vides ac­cess to what would nor­mally be the gas locker; this is a gas-free boat though, and the locker is where the wash­ing ma­chine is hidden.

There’s a choice of ta­bles to go be­tween the lock­ers, mak­ing this a great al fresco eat­ing area. And the whole thing con­verts into a guest bed, pro­vid­ing the boat’s ex­tra berths.

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