Sunday 28 August 2011

Pick of the week - Moonshine

Today I've trawled the boats for sale to choose a pick of the week - it's been a while since I posted one.  This boat jumped out at me as ticking pretty much all our boxes.  It wasn't until I started to type this blog entry and looked for the boat name to put in the heading that I realized Barry (see Sandra's blog entry : ) may have chosen the same boat as me!  

So back to nb Moonshine - listed with ABNB Narrowboat Brokerage.
Pros : the layout is fantastic - we'd love to be able to have a separate little room for an office/visitor so this is our ideal layout.
Cons : the insulation is thinsulate and we'd prefer spray foam, our first choice would be a pump out loo.
We would put a desk area in the empty cabin, plus perhaps a fold out bed.  It would be fantastic to have another space like this so we can have somewhere to go away from each other.  I'd love to have a work area so I wouldn't have to pack everything up all the time.

Length: 57ft 1in  
Builder: Colecraft Engineering  
Fitter-out: Harveys of Tamworth  
Year registered: 2008  
Style: Semi-trad  
Safety Certificate: RCD 2008, BSS not needed
Engine: Beta B-38 diesel  
Plating: 10/6/5/4  
Last blacked: 2011
Fit-out materials: Light oak panels with hardwood trim 
Insulation: Thinsulate
Headroom: 6ft 5in  
Berths: 2+4  
Berth sizes: 6ft 3in x 4ft 1in permanent double
Mains Power: Landline, Victron Multiplus 1600W inverter/charger, 3.5kVA Dometic engine driven alternator
Cabin heating: s/fuel c/heating > rads  
Water Heating: C/heating + engine + 230V immersion heater > calorifier  
Water tank: 120 gallons built-in tank
Cooker: Stoves 500DIT drop-in gas cooker  
Fridge: Shoreline 12V 4cu ft  
Washer/dryer: Zanussi Jetstream 1600 washer  
WC: Thetford swivel seat cassette wc  
Shower: in tiled cubicle with doors
Other: Empty cabin aft could be fitted out as a Pullman dinette, office or a second bedroom
Location: ABNB, Crick Wharf
Price: £60,000

Friday 26 August 2011

Only my mum!

Some people have mothers who are working women, some people have mothers who stay home and wear pink fluffy slippers and bake biscuits..... but me.... I have a mother who has made a career out of being accident prone!

Some of her more memorable moments.....
She stamped on a pizza box and impaled her foot on the little plastic prong that holds the lid of the box off the pizza.
She slipped on the back stairs at our old house and broke both bones in one ankle so her foot was just hanging loose (surgery and metal pins).
She stabbed her foot with a pitchfork while gardening.
She stabbed a large kitchen knife through the bottom of her thumb while trying to open a coconut.
She used the stairs where Mick was working on the new back deck at her old house (after Mick told everyone not to use those stairs) and walked into a sheet of corrugated iron, giving herself a huge gash across the head (emergency department for stitches).
She walked barefoot across the building site while Mick built the house we had before and stood on a galvanized nail - straight through her foot.

There's more... lots more... countless visits to the emergency department at the local hospital where I grew up.... broken toes, cuts to be stitched, back injuries, needle stick injuries and chemical splashes at work, numerous heavy objects dropped on her foot.

Having moved from Melbourne to Bendigo a couple of months ago, Mick and I joked about how long it would take her to make a visit to the emergency department at the Bendigo Hospital.  This week was it!  Her partner called me Wednesday afternoon saying Mum was in the hospital.  She'd swallowed a flat fish bone and it was stuck in her throat well beyond reach.  The whole thing dragged on but the end result was nearly 36 hours of terrible pain and Mum in surgery last night having the fish bone removed.  It was a pretty nasty situation and she now has a very sore throat, a raspy voice and a fish bone in a little plastic container with a lid.

Love you Mum!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Reno - Colour scheme


We've never really been neutral colour scheme people.  Our little house in Melbourne was painted a lovely soft yellow inside.  We loved it. 

The house where we live now is rather more bold on colour.  We chose these colours from a heritage paint chart.  This is our spare room.  The red trim is typical of the era.

So then to "the house up the road".  We know we'll be renting it out.  Plus...  it would be nice to have a neutral background so pretty much any furniture or accessories would go with it.  We've chose a Haymes colour for the walls called Heritage and for the trim Wild Rice.  It will certainly be a change for us!

Friday 19 August 2011

Reno - Heating and cooling

We've bought a wood heater with a glass door for the living room up the road.  It's the same as the one we have in our lounge room here at home - a Heat Charm.  We've been very happy with the one we have now and it efficiently heats most of the house.  It's only that the back room of the house (kitchen and sitting room) are a few steps lower than the rest so the heat won't travel down the stairs.  We have a wood fired Rayburn in the kitchen so this room is always cosy warm anyway.  The new house is all one level so it won't be an issue.

As we'll be renting the "house up the road" out while we're in England we're going to put in a split system heater/air-conditioner.  They are a popular choice in Australia now.  We're quite happy relying on firewood for our heating (Mick is occasionally asked to cut down a tree for someone and he gets the firewood so we don't always have to buy it) but for a tenant we think it would be better to have electric heating available.  Plus, this option will give us air-conditioning to get through the next Summer or two.

When we return from England, and if we decide to stay in that house, we'll install ducted evaporative cooling like we have now.  We much prefer the evaporative cooling to refrigerated air-conditioning.  It's nicer to be able to have a couple of windows or doors open and have fresh air moving through the house in Summer.  With refrigerated air-conditioning you have to close the house up to keep the cool air in.  The running costs of evaporative cooling are much lower too.  You are basically only paying for the running of a large fan (blowing air over a tray of water).  During a normal hot Summer we can have the evaporative cooling going from first thing in the morning until after we've gone to bed, or even all night in an extreme heatwave. 

There is little difference in our electricity bill between Summer and Winter.  In Winter we occasionally use a portable electric heater as a backup - for example if we've been out and the wood fire has gone out and the house is cold we'll put the electric heater on for an hour while the fire is getting established.  In Summer we often have the evaporative cooling going every single day for weeks at a time.  The cost is minimal.  So we're happy with how things work for us now and will eventually have a similar setup at the new house.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Solar power on a narrowboat

Having discussed solar power for our hot water at home, we got talking about solar panels on the roof of a narrowboat.

We've seen a few with a framed panel but I really like the idea of the flexible panels that are stuck down to the roof of the boat.  They are much less obtrusive and less likely to get broken, but they do appear have a shorter life span.  There is another compromise with the flexible panels and that is being unable to angle them to the sun.

This website includes prices for flexible panels :

I also came across this company that uses solar energy to deal with damp issues.  The cost for one of these dehumidifier units on a narrowboat is around £350.  They are a great idea for boats being left over Winter.

Dehumidifier unit solar panel

For further information I've found about all types of solar energy on narrowboats :

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Reno - Flat pack cabinets

At "the house up the road" we have a walk in pantry and a walk in robe - for the first time!  Neither of them had anything worth salvaging inside except a hanging rail in the robe.  At first we talked about Mick making fitted cabinets for the pantry but when we looked at the price of flat pack cabinets we decided that would be the way to go.  We'll do the same in the wardrobe as there is no linen cupboard in the house.

Off we went to Bunnings last week and bought up what seemed like an enormous pile of flat boxes.  It's not a fun job putting that stuff together and I know Mick has very little patience for those things.  I think it will be my job.  Fun!!

Sunday 14 August 2011

Narrowboat models!

We don't even have our own narrowboat yet but when we do, and we have to come home to Australia.... I want one of these!

Saturday 13 August 2011


We don't have time for much else at the moment than work and renovating.  I keep thinking that if we were to sell our house tomorrow, we'd likely have 60 days to get the inside of that house habitable (which it isn't right now) finish packing and storing the things that we won't be taking up there and then packing up the remainder to move.  Rather daunting.  Plus, I'm of to the US the first week of October so that might make the timing a little difficult too.

So with this in mind I won't have time to investigate items on our narrowboat list, instead I'm focusing on the items on our renovating list!  A slight diversion for Narrowboat Dreaming....

Friday 12 August 2011

Reno - Solar hot water vs. electric

We always intended that our next house would have a solar hot water system.  It's seems crazy not to when the sun shines so much of the time where we live.

Now that we're in the throes of this renovation we've had to slightly re-think that plan.  We know we'll be renting this house out.  We don't have natural gas here so the hot water back up would have been instantaneous gas fueled by a gas bottle.  We've decided we're not comfortable with having a gas bottle in a house that will be tenanted.  Maybe we're worrying about nothing but we both had this same thought separately.  The decision was easy - an off-peak electric hot water service. 

Home alone

For the first time in many years I'm home alone.  Mick has a night at home on his own every week when I'm down in Melbourne for work but it must be about 7 years since I've slept alone in the house.

I've quite enjoyed the last couple of days - there's been no trail of stuff left all over the house.  Jackets over the kitchen chairs, work pants hanging on the foot of the bed, toothbrushes beside the bathroom basin, wallet and mobile phone tossed on the kitchen table and most of all sawdust and dirt traipsed through the back door.  But, I have missed him and I've had to do things I only occasionally do like putting out the rubbish, feeding Coco and bringing in firewood.  He'll be home tomorrow and everything will be back to normal.

Mick's mum had a heart scare a couple of weeks ago so he's gone to New Zealand to see her again.  It was only 8 or so weeks ago that we were there but we aren't going to have all that much more time that this is a possibility so we thought he should make the most of it.  There'll be no booking last minute flights for a 3 day visit when we're in the UK and she's 85 years old now.  We're very lucky to have a childhood friend of Mick's who lives not too far from Auckland airport and he kindly lent him a car so he could drive down to Taupo to his mum's.  Thanks Clive and Marie!

Thursday 11 August 2011

Bread on a narrowboat

In a prior blog entry we've mentioned the possibility of using a breadmaker on a narrowboat.  Mick likes his bread!  I talked about this with Diane when she came up for lunch a couple of weeks ago.  They way she gets around the fresh bread problem is buying part baked bread or rolls.  They don't need to be stored in the fridge and can even be cooked in a microwave.  At £1.49 for the small loaf below it's reasonably economical too.  We did notice that bread was much cheaper in the UK than it is here at home.  We're paying up to $4 a loaf but last October in the UK we bought a really nice loaf of bread for around £1 - better than half the price.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Not in the Olympic year?

We know we won't have Coco, our labrador, all that much longer.  She's an old girl.  She's definitely slowing down and her heart isn't as it used to be.  We've discussed possible timings for when we'd consider heading off on our adventure.  The earliest we could consider (depending of course on Coco) would be September 2012.  We need the next year to get all our affairs in order, and to sell and renovate houses.

We've pretty much dismissed that timing because of the London Olympics.  We figure there'll be many travellers to the UK around that time and the airfares might be higher.  I wonder if once the excitement is over and the increased number of travellers have all gone home, if there'll be a good number of narrowboats coming onto the market for sale?  Maybe October could be a good month to buy a narrowboat! 

Any opinions?

Sunday 7 August 2011

Getting ahead of ourselves with enthusiasm!

Not a single day goes by that we don't say to each other "we'll have our own narrowboat one day".  We talk about it before we get out of bed on a Sunday morning, we talk about it over breakfast, we talk about it while cooking dinner, and we talk about it in the car on the way to anywhere.  Like today.

We went to Bendigo today to pick up our flat pack cupboards for the walk in pantry at the house up the road.  On the way the talk turned to our narrowboat plan and how it's progressed.  It started as a year away... but maybe two if we like it... or if we can find a little work to pay our expenses we could even stay longer... and then?  Well, we could keep the boat in a marina for 6 months of the year and go over each year.  We could come back to Oz to work and save up to pay our way for the time in the UK. 

I do recall encountering someone on my travels - it may have been a comment on this blog - who lived in Australia and just went over each year to use their boat.

Hmm. Maybe we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves!

Wednesday 3 August 2011

It feels like Spring has arrived!

One sign of approaching Spring is something that has happened for the first time this year - we've had kookaburras nesting in the gum trees at the back of our property.  For the last couple of weeks we've heard them several times a day.  It's such a lovely Aussie sound.

Yesterday was a very mild day and I sat at work with the front door, and the door onto the office balcony, wide open.  It was unseasonal for what is effectively mid Winter.  Today was even warmer, reaching 22 degrees!!  The weather forecast says it will cool back down in a couple of days time.

My mum and her partner came up today for me to do their tax returns and we took lunch up to the "new" house to sit in the sun.  Great day!

Somewhere for a visitor to sleep

Our first preference for dining on our narrowboat would be a raised pullman dinette (preferably with a nice big window or side hatch).  It would allow space on the half of the table against the wall to leave my laptop - I'll have to make sure I can easily access it to write my blog entries!   We also like dinettes so there would be somewhere for a visitor to sleep.

We've seen quite a few boats that we really like that have either a small table and chairs or a breakfast bar.  Our last pick of the week had a half dinette with seating on just one side of the table.  We don't mind this but it would likely mean the dinette couldn't be converted into guest bedding.

I've been thinking about alternatives and found this :
Small enough to put in a corner and use as a coffee table, foot stool or extra seating.

What solutions have other boaters come up with?  Air mattresses?