The Kit I've Used

These are a few of the items I've found really useful. With the exception of the 1p mobile link, I make no money from any of the products recommended here and accept no responsibility if they don't work as well for you as they do for me.

Water filtration

I've always known that the lack of unlimited water was going to be one of the things I would miss most. I was therefore delighted to find a system at The Crick Show in 2021 that gives me just that. It takes canal water and passes it through a series of filters and a U/V lamp to produce clean water. It isn't certified as drinking water so I've got two water tanks. The "Canal" tank is about 240 litres and the "Drinking" water tank is around 40 litres. The drinking water tank gets filled from CRT taps and the other one from the canal. There is another filter on the drinking water tap in the galley and a ZeroWater jug to further filter it to make it ultra safe. It's the work of a genius and the team are all very helpful and friendly. The system gives me the freedom of water "on tap" with no water rates!

Some Tips: Check the amount of water being added on your guage. When this starts reducing, (usually after 6 weeks or so in my case), change the first three filters. If the pump ever starts pulsating, change the three filters (it is a sign that the pump is struggling). To prolong the life of the filters, fill the tanks in the early morning, before the first boat has passed and churned up any sediment. Don't fill below locks where there is lots of water churn.

Toilet

It is said that every conversation with another boater eventually leads to a discussion about toilets. It certainly seems to be true in my experience.

The main choices are:
Pump-out - I didn't want this because I prefered to store clothes under my bed rather than sewage. They are also rather unpleasant to empty.
Cassette - also unpleasant to empty
Incineration - heavy on energy use and I don't have gas on the boat (they do a diesel version as well)
Compost (or more accurately, Separator) - Slightly less attractive now that the CRT have taken away disposal facilities but still the best option for me. I chose the Compoost Deluxe model as the design and quality appeared far better than other manufacturers' models I saw. Lorraine and Nigel, who run Compoost, have also been extremely helpful and friendly.

I did find a very interesting technology being developed by Cranfield University (see below) but it is nowhere near ready for use yet and they wouldn't even let me try a prototype.

Broadband

I chose the Teltonika router because it is designed to work over 4g from the ground up. Many routers have the option for a sim but as an afterthought. The RUT950 (approx £150) has a dual sim capability enabling me to have sims from Vodafone and Three. If one network goes down the router can automatically flip to the other one. I have now upgraded to the RUTX12 (£300) which has two modems allowing for load sharing between the two sim cards. It does cost twice as much as the RUT950 though. I use an external aerial - Poynting Cross Polarised 4G Omni LTE Antenna 4G-XPOL-A0001 (XPOL-1) for the RUT950- less than £60. Replaced with the Poynting XPOL-1-5G 4x4 aerial for the new router (about £135).. (I tried other aerials at four times the price but the Poynting outperformed them all).

  • Dual Sim
  • Load balancing
  • Small footprint
  • GPS and Bluetooth (yet to be explored)

Phone

I did lots of research before buying my phone. I use a Blackview BV9800 which is brilliant value at under £250 (the 9800 Pro is up to £100 more and the only benefit is a thermal camera). The battery lasts a whole day with the GPS and screen on most of the time. It has masses of storage and can take either an SD card or a second sim (not both). The only negative is that the camera is not as good as some, despite its 48mp spec. I use EEE as my main sim and then as a backup I have a sim from another supplier (I'm currently trying O2)

I also use a Plantronics Voyager 5200 earpiece which leaves my hands free to operate locks and steer whilst chatting to friends.

  • Dual Sim
  • 6Gb/128Gb
  • 6.3 inch screen
  • 6.58ah battery
  • Waterproof
  • Accurate GPS

Entertainment

Each area in the boat has speakers which are controlled by an RTI remote. This sytem functions but hasn't lived up to expectations and I probably wouldn't choose the same system again. It was difficult to set up and the specialist installer (not the boat builder) made a bit of a hash with it! Any changes to the programming have to be made by dealer visit at a day rate charge.

I wanted a cinematic experience without having a large screen TV dominating the lounge area. Smithwood created an amazing fold away cinema for me. See it operate on YouTube! The Somfy blinds are also remote controlled and fit within the window frames allowing blackout conditions even during a sunny day. They are battery operated and recharge via a small USB charger (so, no wiring required). There is another video showing them in operation.

It isn't always possible to get good enough Broadband to stream when living on a boat. I use some software called Audials 2022 which allows me to stream movies and other TV programmes onto my hard disk when the signal is good, so that I can watch them when in a poor signal area.

Apps

These are some of the apps I find really useful:

Propulsion

elektra is a "Serial Hybrid" which means that the motor is the only propulsion method. The generator is there only to charge the batteries. A "Parallel Hybrid" has an engine and a motor in-line. Either can drive the boat forwards.

I also had bow and stern thrusters fitted (both supplied by Vetus). This means that, as long as it isn't too windy, I can turn the boat on its axis. I know some of the purists feel that takes all the skill away but I like an easy life. You can even lock and hold the boat against the bank whilst opening a lock gate.

Energy

elektra has 12 solar panels giving a maximum theoretical input of 1500 watts in high summer.

  • AGT 12000-48V PVMV-N Generator (900cc, 3 cylinder Kubota engine)
  • MPL 6DS silencing with added acoustic material in the engine bay
  • 12 x 125W Miasole stick on solar panels
  • Mastervolt Lithium Ion batteries (800ah)
  • 2x Mastervolt 3500w inverter/chargers (with very noisy fans) - we've had to add cooling fans to the cupboard and sound deadening material.

Heating

The boat is lovely and warm even when temperatures outside are below zero. It has a diesel powered boiler with underfloor heating. The manufacturers claim on their Web site that it is silent - no it isn't. It makes about the same amount of noise as a typical home boiler when it fires up, which means I can hear it at the front of the boat in the bedroom even with earplugs in (I have got sensitive hearing). Unfortunately it was not possible to have electric underfloor heating as it would take too much battery power and there is not enough floor area to provide the required heat.

  • Kabola HR400 combi boiler
  • 14Kw
  • Heating and hot water (Combi)
  • Pink piping!
  • 268 litre diesel tank (shared between generator and heating)

Windows

One of the really distinctive features of the boat is the beautiful windows from Caldwells. They took months to arrive but, despite several delays, they were worth waiting for. The dark, privacy glass allows me to see out whilst keeping my privacy. Note, they don't work if the lights in the boat are on. The frames are bonded (glued) to the hull. There is an excellent video made by Foxes Afloat about the manufacture and fitting of Caldwells windows to their boat, Silver Fox. My windows are double glazed and have a thermal break which helps reduce condensation.

Data Collection

I love data, so the boat is equiped with sensors to monitor water useage, electricity production and use. I'm still waiting for Fischer Panda to work out how to provide the data from their system nearly a year after moving on-board.

Each electrical appliance has a Sonoff device in-line to measure the power used. It also allows for remote switching via Wi-fi and I can schedule switching. For example, the electric blanket comes on at 10pm and turns off at 2am - More info

Journeys are tracked using GPS. I'm not sure which program I will settle on yet. I'm trying Waternav, Navvygator and Waterway Routes which uses Memory Map. At the moment my preferred option is Waterway Routes.

CCTV

The boat is equiped with high definition CCTV cameras on the bow and the stern. There is even a link on the Web site to the bow camera which is available as a WebCam on YouTube

Walking

I used to use Brasher boots and had a pair that lasted over ten years. Then, in 2019, I bought a new pair (now branded Berghaus) which started leaking after 6 months so I sent them back expecting a replacement pair under the "Product Lifetime Guarantee". I also bought a spare pair thinking they would also be covered by the warranty. Alas, the Product Lifetime Guarantee is not worth the paper it is written on. The second pair of boots started to fall apart after only three months! In my opinion, Berghaus boots are now cheaply made using inferior materials. Best avoided.

I now use Altberg boots, hand made in Yorkshire. I've had a pair for six months now and they still look new.

I bought a pair of Extremities gloves but doubted that they would really be waterproof (they are so soft and comfortable). I was wrong, the water just runs off them and they work with my phone as well as being warm!

Other Stuff

I love the soft close drawers. I know they are old hat now but this is the first new kitchen I've ever had in my life. All the cupboards now have automatic lights that come on when the door is opened. A minor but very pleasing thing (to me anyway). We've used two types. The more expensive ones work well, even if it isn't pitch black, the cheaper ones work well in the dark but not quite so well in the light.

The lights are controlled by Lutron which has worked very well. They can be controlled from my phone (anywhere in the world) but it is also possible to add light switches without having to wire them in as they work wirelessly.

I wanted a simple way to enter and leave by the bow doors without compromising security, so I fitted a Borg keypad lock (BL2605 ECP) which works really well