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Text and images on this site © Bruce Napier 2003 - 2009

Techie stuff about Sanity


Sanity is a 60 foot trad sterned liveaboard narrowboat fitted out by Braidbar Boats on a Tim Tyler shell. The shell is built from marine grade steel in what is conventionally referred to as 10:6:4 construction: that is, the base plate is 10 mm thick, the hull sides 6 mm and the cabin sides and roof 4 mm. The hull is insulated with spray foam and lined out with ash veneered ply (hull sides and roof) and TGV American ash (cabin sides). The floor is Douglas fir planking and the joinery is in solid oak. There is a plan of her layout here. Externally, the hull is protected by Comastic blacking, and the rest of the paintwork and signwriting was done by Andy Russell using Mason's paints.

Engine and drive

The Beta Marine 43 is a marinised version of the 1850 cc 4 cylinder Kubota light industrial engine. It develops 43 bhp at 2800 rpm, and delivers 97 ft lb to the output shaft at 1400 rpm.

The drive is transmitted to the prop shaft through a Newage PRM 150 oil operated gearbox, which provides forward and reverse and a 2:1 decrease in speed. The prop is by Crowther, and measures 19" diameter x 11" pitch.

Power Supply

The engine is fitted with an Electrolux TravelPower AC generator, belt driven off the crankshaft pulley, and providing 3.5 kVA at 230 volts. Its output goes to a Victron Phoenix Multi inverter/charger, and is used to recharge the batteries via a three stage charging regime. When the engine is not running, the Victron supplies up to 1.6 kVA to the 230 volt circuit. This is enough to run the fridge freezer and various small mains items, but not the Zanussi washer/dryer housed in the engine room, which can therefore only be used when the engine is running. This is one area where it pays to be cautious in the choice of kit. Not all sophisticated washing machines (the kind with software controls) are happy with the output from the TravelPower, although it doesn't seem to give anything else a problem, so we were careful to choose a model which uses the older style rotary control.


The cross bathroom contains a wash hand basin, a large shower and a Lee San Sanicompact macerator toilet, emptying to a large pump out tank positioned centrally under the bed (no, you can't smell it!). Also under the bed is the calorifier which supplies hot water to the bathroom and galley. The water is heated via one of two coils in the calorifier, one linked to the engine cooling circuit, and the other to the Eberspacher diesel heater described in the Saloon section below.

Study bedroom

Rather than the usual double berth dinette, we have chosen to use the space for an office and single berth. (When more than one guest is staying, we give them a power-inflatable bed in the saloon.) The office desk supports the Macintosh iBook laptop with additional 17" flat screen, Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and a mobile phone attached to a Boater's Phone Company external aerial. Internet access is achieved by using the phone as a mobile modem via a Bluetooth connection, or by WiFi when a hotspot is within range. The GPRS internet access is about as fast as a home dial up connection and is perfectly adequate for email. For web browsing we speed things up with an OnSpeed subscription, and although that doesn't reach broadband speeds, it's still usable. This website was created, and is maintained, onboard.

The office also features a Hewlett Packard psc 1210 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier.


Cooking is one of Bruce's hobbies, so we had an extra long galley installed, with a four units long Welsh dresser down one side, and built in gas hob and oven, sink and fridge freezer down the other.


The saloon features a long run of bookshelves down the starboard side, ending in a corner cupboard by the front doors. The cupboard conceals the Blaupunkt Woodstock DAB radio CD player, which also accepts line input from the iPod, so we can play our music collection through it. We've chosen not to have a TV on board, though the wiring for a TV aerial is present in case we ever change our minds. In the meantime, we can watch DVDs via the iBook and its low response time flat screen, either in the study bedroom or by taking the kit into the saloon and putting it on the corner cupboard. This means that one of us can be watching a DVD in the study while the other reads or listens to the radio (or, in Sheila's case, does Kakuro or Super Sudoku puzzles) in the saloon.

On the port side of the front doors is the Morso Squirrel stove which is the main source of cabin heating in the winter. It's supplemented by an Eberspacher forced draft diesel heater, hidden away in the back of the engine room and feeding radiators in the bedroom, bathroom and saloon, as well as providing domestic hot water.

Furniture consists of two Captains chairs and footstools from Wilsons of Kinver, and a folding table from Ikea.