Foam and mushrooms

Another week, and more progress! The boat has been spray-foamed and boarded internally. The ‘mushroom’ air vents have been inserted into the roof, along with the two wifi dome aerials which are located either side of the second mushroom back from the front. These deliver 6dBi of wifi signal and will select either the broadband in a marina or the 3G/4G signal when out and about.  And here is the boarding being loaded. This is just the backing chipboard. The American ash panels will be fitted later when everything else is ready.

 Spray foaming is the only part of the job that MGM subcontract. Here is the spray foamer’s van:
  This is the interior after everything was coated in foam:
   The spray foamer then had to shave off all the unwanted foam:

  The foam, of course, is our insulation. The most common question we get asked about living on a narrowboat is: isn’t it cold in winter? Well, once the central heating and the solid fuel stove are running, it gets too hot in winter! That is largely due to the spray foam insulation, which means that the boat retains heat really well. Many is the snowy night when we have had to open windows and side hatch to keep the boat at an even temperature. It’s really lovely to be so warm and yet so close to nature.

One week on…


This is an interior shot of Froth with ballast and floor boards in place. Ballast keeps the boat at the right level in the water. Heavy bricks are used. More adjustments will be made to ballast later on in the fit out process. You’ll notice a lot of dangling wires in the picture too. Mark has been hard at work on ‘first fix’ electrics for locating sockets and lighting.

The week has been taken up with a succession of important decisions. First we had to decide about colours for the exterior paint job  – to our surprise the painting will be done before the windows are put in. The result of this was a rapid discussion between me at home in Leicester and Andy in the departure lounge at Heathrow awaiting a flight to Lisbon.

The next important thing was to get all the roof top systems in place so that Mark can install the cabling before he sprays the interior with insulating foam. This involves 2 Wifi aerials, a TV satellite system and solar panels. The resulting mayhem required lots of phone calls and some rather sexist conversations with men who thought they should be talking to Andy and not his wife! For some reason, the satellite man thinks it is hilarious to refer to ‘dangly ends’ all the time. 

We also made several decisions about the interior layout. It is amazing how, whatever amount of planning you do, the reality is always different. So, we shaved a foot off the kitchen to make a bigger living room, and moved the washing machine from the back room to the kitchen. The last move created more space for Andy’s music workstation.

Anyway, here is Froth at rest:


Froth in the water!

What a day!!! Froth on the Daydream is now in the water at the MGM Boatyard in Thurmaston Leicester. To get there she had to be transported from Nick Thorpe’s steelyard in Hixon, Staffordshire. The boat weighs 13 tons of solid steel. What follows is a picture story of the day, with videos and stills taken by ourselves and family members. From Friday June 12th 2015 our boating life has really begun.

So, at Nick Thorpe’s steelyard, the three elements were assembled: boat, crane, lorry.

The first task was to get the boat out of the shed. This was done using metal rollers and pushing from behind with a forklift (which broke down at one point!). Here she comes:

Next, sleeves were wrapped around the boat so that the crane could lift it onto the lorry. Here is the complete set-up:

Then (OMG!) the boat had to be lifted up, twisted around above the building height, and dropped onto the lorry.

Rosie watched it all keenly, having previously made friends with every single man in the place!


So, here is a collection of still pictures of this stage of the operation. A view of the inside of the boat:


Froth leaves the steelyard shed:


That lift and twist moment:


The crane, complete with wind monitors on the top:


Nick Thorpe’s monogrammed rudder. He does this on all his boats:


The next stage was the two hour drive to MGM Boats. We set off later, having spent some time congratulating Nick Thorpe and his team. They had worked fantastically hard, staying up until midnight the previous night to get it all done for us. They have also built us a beautiful boat. Apparently it is the most detailed job they have ever done.

So…on to the MGM boatyard, where Martin, Mark, Rachel and the rest of the crew were waiting for us:

Here she is arriving. The tiny little lane you can see at 0.05″, with Martin standing in the entrance, is the way down to the boatyard. Yes – we were wondering how they were going to get the boat and the crane down there too!

This gives you an idea of what happened when they tried!


After much hacking back of overgrown trees (apparently this was a job which needed to be done anyway) and very skilful driving, they got through.

Now Froth could be loaded onto the crane again:


She had to be lifted over a fence to be deposited in the water the other side. Also, the boat that was moored there had to move out of the way:





And here it is: the moment Froth on the Daydream hits the water for the first time:


And floating by herself:

Rosie wonders what all the fuss is about!


So, finally we were able to step on board. Louise was first:


Then Cap’n Andy:


The final task was to tow and punt the boat round the spit of land, out onto the main canal and back into the boatyard on the other side ready for the fit-out.




We made it! The end to an utterly memorable and exhilarating day. It’s going to be a few months now before Froth moves again. By then she will be completely fitted out, newly painted and ready to take up her mooring place in Market Harborough. For now, we are just going to dream of boats all night!

Great progress

We visited Nick Thorpe’s steelyard today to find great progress with the construction of Froth. The side panels and roof are on! The boat now looks like a boat, and the main remaining tasks are cutting the windows and doors and other detailed features. Here are several photographs and videos to illustrate the fabulous work they have been doing.

First: a pan shot along the side of the boat as it looks today. 

The sides were laid out on the floor, then lifted into position with a forklift before being welded together.

[Click pictures for larger images]




two sides


Frames were put in place all the way down the hull ready for the roof.


Here is the roof, laid out on the floor…


…and in position, being measured to ensure consistent dimensions all the length of the boat.


Here are a couple of shots of the finished article. Notice how the sides lean inwards, allowing you to walk down the outside gunwale without being pushed into the water by the boat.



And finally, here some videos shot during our visit this morning. First, a walk along the boat, noting the markings which show where the rooms will be.

And here is a shot of the bows.

We were also very keen to have a curly upright bar either side of the cratch area, so that we have something to hold onto when getting on and off the boat. Also, it looks stylish! Nick drew this in chalk on the side of the boat.

We have agreed June 12th as ‘craning in’ day, when Froth will be driven on a low loader the 60 miles or so to the MGM boatyard, then lowered into the water for the first time. Expect lots more videos and a major update then!

Taking Shape.

Too much work meant that we couldn’t make it over to the boat yard today. However Wendy (Nick’s wife I think) emailed some photos over to us.

A & L Base 2





steel 3


She’d still sink, but Froth is definitely starting to look like a narrow boat!


Wendy has just sent more photos. This is how Froth looks at the close of business on Friday 15th May:


Amazing progress for just over a weeks work 🙂

Steel yourselves…

Today we walked the length of our new boat for the first time:
black and whitesteel
This 67ft sheet of steel will soon become the floor of our new home. Admittedly it wont float very well at the moment, but after years of planning and dreaming our 3rd boat will soon be a reality. To say we are a bit excited doesn’t quite cover how we feel right now!
A&L(a)    IMG_3803 steelshed

Today we went to Hixon in Staffordshire to Nick Thorpe’s boat builders. Nick and his team of 3 craftsmen build 12 hulls a year and will be doing all of the steel work for us.
It is quite common to have the steel work done in Poland or China, imported as a kit and then just welded together in the UK. And whilst this is a cheaper option, we feel proud to be supporting this small British company.
nicksign nick

They are just finishing off this boat, our base plate is laid out beside her, all ready for them to start the work tomorrow:
boatshed3 IMG_3802

Here are some of the templates that will be used to mark out the steel sheets:
To get to this point in our build we have had to make several irreversible decisions regarding the internal layout because Nick has to know where to put the windows! Here are the final plans:


We are having a rectangular windows in the living area and 15″ portholes in the bedrooms and bathroom. There will be a hatch on either side of the boat. This is a bit unusual, most boats only have a single hatch. But we want to be able to have one side open to the water no matter which way we are facing. There is nothing better than having a swan pop his head through to see if there is any breakfast! I also have another motive. Eventually I’d like to become a ‘towpath trader’ and sell my craft work to passersby. As turning places for a 67ft boat are limited, I’ll need a hatch on both sides so I can open my shop.

Our work permitting, we hope to pop back to see how Nick is progressing at the end of next week. It is hard to believe that ‘Froth’ will be ready for stage 2 of the build in 3/4 weeks time!

Written by Louise – I take full responsibility for the spelling and grammar issues 🙂

Union Wharf, Market Harborough.

Written by Andy – Edited by Louise!

We’ve been giving a lot of thought as to where our new boat will be moored and we’ve considered lots of options. Our favourite was a new marina being build at North Kilworth, but there was a strong possibility that it wouldn’t be ready in time for us. However last week Andy spotted that The River and Canals trust had put a mooring up for auction at Union Wharf, Market Harborough.
We really like Market Harborough having lived there for a couple of months whilst our boat Faustroll was being painted. Union Wharf is ideally situated, with the town on the doorstep and a mainline railway station with in easy reach, which is good for Andy travelling to work at the university.
The auction is for a 3 year lease and we’ve put in a bid for the mooring. Here are the details. The auction finishes tomorrow and we’ve got our fingers crossed

The Market Harborough Arm connects to the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union canal and offers some lovely rural cruising to the outskirts of Leicester, or all the fun of Foxton locks if we fancy a hard day’s work! In 1950, the basin at Market Harborough was the location for the very first National Festival and Rally of Boats, organised by the Inland Waterways Association. This was the event that kick-started the modern revival of the canals.

We went to visit our (likely) future mooring. This is a view of Union Wharf looking across to the reception/hire boat area:

Union Wharf view to reception.The next view is looking across to the Waterfront restaurant. We anticipate some good meals therein!

viewtorestaurantHere is a view along the line of moorings. The orange buoy marks Mooring No. 9, our future location:

mooringsAnd here is a view along the pontoon at Mooring No. 9:

mooring9 Finally, we’d like to introduce latest addition to the crew – Rosie is a 9 week old Cavachon. Andy has her in a carry bag because her vaccinations aren’t complete for another 3 weeks, so she’s not allowed contact with any other dogs. She attracted a lot of attention as we walked around!Andy and Rosie

Of course when I added ‘edited by Louise’ it should really say “Mucked about with by Louise”. All grammar and spelling mistakes are obviously mine!