Friday, November 11, 2011

Compromises and cautions

The first thing you have to get used to when living on a boat is... well, it may seem terribly obvious, but... it's not a house!  It puts restrictions upon those who live in it, and it means they have to accept a number of compromises, and exercise certain cautions, which are totally unnecessary on land.
The first restriction noticed by most is that of storage space.  Now, we're fortunate in this, for Kantara has considerably more cupboards, shelves, lockers and cabinets than most of the boats we've ever seen - and we've been on lots! After ten weeks on board, we still have cupboards and drawers which are virtually empty.  No real compromises needed here for us - yet!
The second, and one which does affect us, is water, hot and cold.  Cold water is stored in a 180 gallon tank under the foredeck.  There is a 12 gallon hot water tank under the bed.  The water may be heated by the running engine, in a gas boiler, by an oil stove, or by immersion heater.  The latter needs 240v, so it can only be used from a shoreline (a cable plugged into a 13 amp socket next to the boat while she is moored in the marina). On the cut, it would have to be powered by the alternator on the engine - one fitted especially for running heavy load domestic appliances.  Water filling points are provided by British Waterways at sensible intervals around the entire inland waterways system, but boaters need to remember to keep their eyes on the tank level, and to stop at appropriate moments to fill up.  The job takes less than half an hour every five days or so for the two of us... a smallish compromise.
Thirdly, electricity.  I've said a lot about batteries, so I'll say little here, except that these are our only source of electricity while we are cruising, unless we have our engine running.  So, lights have to be switched off when not in use... and so on.  Not too big a deal so far, but being out on the cut full-time may prove different.
Finally, the toilet!  Kantara, like probably the majority of canal boats, has a cassette toilet which needs to be emptied every two or three days when it's just the two of us here.  Emptying points are usually to be found near the water taps, but timing your need to empty the cassette with your arrival at a sanitation point is very unlikely, so a spare cassette is needed.  So the toilet, too, has to be monitored and acted upon as appropriate.
There is also the matter of diesel, both for the engine and for the domestic stove, but since these have 55 and 21 gallon tanks respectively, it would be extremely careless to run either of these dry!

Of course, these compromises are all acceptable in return for the pleasure of being on the canals, of living in a boat, and we have found already that they have become part of our lives, and we don't think too much about them any more.  It's not everyone's idea of a good life... but it is ours!

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