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In praise of Pram Hoods and Cruiser Sterns

005I have been aflost now for about 14 months and I love the cruiser stern with it’s pram hood and thought it time to put a post on my blog in praise of said Pram Hood. I’ve been very lax of late, thanks for any concern but no it’s not a bowel problem  it’s just finding the time. I take my hat off to Paul, especially, and some of you other bloggers who post more regularly, but the time it comsumes is alarming so Paul very well done to keep the newsletter going every week and the quality of the writing and content.

My pram hood is wonderful. In the winter I have somewhere to get into while I sort my keys, somewhere to put wet and soggy things while I get sorted. My phone signal is appalling inside the boat so it’s somewhere to stand with only one coat and pair of gloves needed to make a december phone call and of course it’s somewhere to put things you might need that you don’t want in side and to store your coal.

In the summer it makes for a lovely conservatory where you can sit with a nice glass of Talisker single malt and listen to the 007rain or provide a little respite from the hot burning sun. It makes a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by when moored up after a long days cruising. I’m not sure that actually makes sense when you think about it so I won’t think about it. I think?

I would however have to AGREE with Paul about being careful when cruising. I’m fortunate that the design of the pramhood is such that the side doors are full length and don’t leave a bit at the bottom to climb over. It also only takes 5 minutes to drop it down and at most 10 minutes to put it back up again and I never travel with it up even if it rains. I don’t think it would go under the bridges here anyway but visibiliy and overall feel of whats happening around you is greatly impaired with it up and getting at the centre ropes easily is a must, as Paul and others have said, 006especially when single handed. There are 2 large side pieces which when removed leave just the top and the frame. This is good in summer as it keeps some of the rain off but allows air to flow and acts as a sunblind should we have a few hot days too. The top unclips from the windscreen, I have a wooden windscreen which is quite rare I think as I haven’t seen another one so far, and then it and the tubular frame just drop nicely down to the taff rail where it is held in place by 2 arms which hold it off the tiller so it moves freely.

Before I got my own boat and was trying to understand what I might want a friend of mine took me out on his trad stern to wind round and take it to be blacked and the only way to travel with him and talk was to stand on the gunnells up the side of the boat. This gave me the only hard 010opinion I made of what I wanted. No trad stern, so unsociable and a lot have the door at the side so you have to duck down, bend and twist to get in and out. I’m getting older and not so bendy now days.

I’m quite happy with my own company but when having friends on board there is lots of room for 2 people and not bad with 4 people. Brian who I bought the boat off did a bit of customising on the stern and put a seat across the taff rails so you can sit in comfort to steer and he also made a short tiller which is great, especially when sat down as it doesn’t throw you over the side when manouvering. It also means there’s more room for other people. There is plenty of places to put and store anything you might want while travelling solo. I would recommend that you think about what you might need while travelling and especially what you might need in a hurry, mooring pins and armco fastenings and hammer to hand is useful.

The cruiser stern also gives another little benefit, or it does on mine though I’m not sure about all cruiser sterns, I have what I 013like to call my cellar. The engine sits very nicely in the middle with plenty of room all round. I have a small generator on one side with the anchor next to it. There is just my ash bucket really on the other side of the engine. Then there is the shelf made by the swim which has a bag of coal, a bag of sticks, a folding trolley, various paint tins, some weights to ballance the boat, a bucket to mop up with, some spare bits of pipe, a couple of lengths of chain and a few other bits. The battery bank sits on the other swim shelf. It really is amazing how much storage space is down there with out any of it going anywhere near the engine or exhaust.

My boat is only 50ft long and it has no well deck or cratch area as there is a dinette built right into the bow. The only thing at the front is the gas locker. The cruiser stern is about 6ft long and I love it. It makes accessing the engine and engine compartment very easy indeed. The social aspect is for me a big part too but I enjoy it even when on my own. The pram hood makes it a useable space in the winter, no matter what the weather, to store many things including  the coal and a few logs amongst the other jumble.

Oh and a cautionary tale regarding trad sterns. My friend who I mentioned bought his boat new and had it done how HE wanted. Trad stern with a nice little cratch space in the bow but he liked to be on the move 5 or 6 hours a day when they went out, it was a leisure boat rather than a liveaboard, but his good lady got a bit fed up of being inside and on her own and reading while they were cruising and then became a bit disinterested in the boating and was “encouraging” him to more work  on the house and garden etc. Reading somewhat between the lines and in these cases you’ll never know the full story but it seems to me he may have shot himself in the foot with his trad stern has he has just about sold his boat now and isn’t looking for another one yet as far as I know.

So make sure you’re both happy with whatever layout of boat you choose bacause as with so many of the options regarding boat structure and fit out there are just about as many opinions as there are options so it’s about finding what’s right for you. I side with the cruiser or semi trad stern myself and here’s a nice little quote by some clever sod to finish with.

Every thing you hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything you see is a perspective not a truth.

Stay safe and enjoy the sun and the boating too.


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Our Nige

55 years old. I work in registered care as a care assistant and have my house up for sale and when sold will be buying a narrowboat of some kind to live on. Been a bit of a dream of mine for many years. Don't know for certain if I'll like it but I'm really looking forward to it and think that I will. I have been looking at boats and reading and talking to people over the last 6 to 9 monts and sometimes I feel like I might know what layout I want. I will be on a restricted budget of about 25 to 35k and will be looking for advice and tips to help me make a fair start on the water.