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The travels of narrow boat Racundra

Reunited with Racundra

Its now March. We completed the purchase of Racundra back in December. We have had all the work done, carried out some routine maintenance, and purchased equipment but until today we hadn’t set foot on her since last November!

TelevisionHowever, the time is getting near. We have a two week holiday on a private island in the British Virgin Islands to get past (what a lot we have to put up with!) and then we can get started on our narrow boat adventure. So on our way down from the north of Scotland to Gatwick, via Cambridge and the New Forest, we have taken the seats out of the car and loaded her up to the gunwales. The biggest item was the memory foam mattress: 190 x 120 x 20 cm, which with the aid of “BIG” Steve we managed to roll-up and cling film, but we also had a lot of the kitchen crockery, cutlery and utensils, glasses, chopping boards,pots, pans, mixing bowls, slow cooker, double quilt, bedding and towels, a box of bottled ales, and a box of red wine. We also had a selection of my tools, and a television.

On our way to the marina, early on the morning of the 4th, the weather was cold and damp, but as we drove into the village the sun came out. With some trepidation we located the boat and opened the hatch. Were we going to be disappointed? Would she be as we remembered? Were we about to realise that we had made a huge mistake on the back of a one week holiday?

It was all great, even if Charlie was less than enthusiastic! I started trekking back and forth to the car, bringing all the stuff aboard, while Glyn set to and started stowing everything away. We didn’t seem to have any power but I wasn’t too worried as I was hoping to get Alec, the engineer who had worked on the boat, to spare us a few minutes to run through everything. At 9 am when the marina office opened we went to say hello. The staff at the marina have been very helpful. Alec was very busy – they’ve sold quite a few boats recently which means lots of work for the engineering team – but he did suggest that the battery isolators would be turned off, and Lee came out to see what he could do to help. In no time we had the engine running and the power on, but failed to get the Webasto heating going. There was some documentation with the boat but not the correct manual for our unit.

Webasto Heating Control

Webasto Control UnitI have since located the control unit on the internet. It is a TM823 7 day timer. Operating instructions: Webasto TM823 Programmer.

Meanwhile, Glyn’s feet got cold. However, with the sun rising in the sky the day was turning out to be a cracker, and although the boat was cold when we arrived it soon warmed up. A duvet which had been stored under the dinette felt rather damp but Glyn spread it out under the cratch cover and it dried out rapidly.

Having only been on the boat for a couple of hours before, there were a whole load of questions that had come up that we hadn’t been able to answer – even though we tried to take pictures of everything. The good news was:

  • There was a permanent TV/Radio aerial
  • There was a pole and a plank
  • We did have two lock handles
  • We did have the CRT Services key, and an anti-vandal key for secured locks
  • There were two 13 kg gas cylinders with plenty of gas
  • We have a radio / CD player that works well

I got the television unpacked and it fitted perfectly on the forward corner unit. The new inverter worked fine and the aerial too. Living in the Highlands we had been unable to test the Digital TV receiver in the telly but no problems there and we now have all the Freeview channels.

Glyn's birthday giftsThe gas cooker was tested out and we had eggs on toast for breakfast, and we toasted up yesterday’s leftover sandwiches for lunch. I have missed not having a gas grill for years! As we sat over lunch we fell to considering the problem of the bed settee that we wanted for the saloon.

Our dinette makes into a double bed – basically the same size as our fixed bed. But we need a comfortable piece of furniture for the saloon and preferably one that makes into a third bed. However, there are inevitably compromises to be made. Narrow boats are quite complicated for fitting furniture in because they are, well, narrow! But not consistently so. At floor level we have boxed in areas along each side in which the services are routed – about 10 cm deep and 8 cm high – which reduce the available width. Above these the sides of the boat slope slightly outwards to the gunwales which are at about 1 m. This means that at floor level the width is 163 cm, then steps out to 183 cm then gradually increases to around 190 cm. Unfortunately, this isn’t the complete story. We already have a fitted magazine rack, a bookcase and a radiator that impinge on this space. The magazine rack we can move but not the bookcase or the radiator. A standard bed is 190 cm long and 183 cm is about 6 ft. As for width, between the dinette and the bookcase we have a maximum usable space of 158 cm.

So we want a bed / settee with a maximum width of 158 cm that makes into a bed that is no longer than 183 cm but no more than 163 cm at floor level. Should be easy enough! Not. Oh, and the radiator extends slightly into this area so it might have to fit round that. We had seen an advertisement in Waterways World from a company called Covercraft Upholstery who claim to make furniture specially for narrow boats. We decided to put them to the test.




  1. Glad you made it down safely and found Racundra in good shape. Slightly baffled by the photo – looks like Glyn has a power lead plugged into her jacket and is playing with a children’s tea-set? But probably just my lousy eyesight ……

    • Didn’t have my camera so the pictures were taken on Glyn’s old iPhone – or perhaps it’s just your eyesight! She actually has some rather nice canal themed trinkets for her birthday.

  2. thank you i have found the instructions for our newly acquired narrowboat which has this same timer onboard.

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