A Bit of Bartimaeus Magic
I am just one of a growing number of Australians who have fallen in love with the thought of cruising England’s canal network. However the issues around buying a second hand narrowboat were overwhelming, so I made a decision to buy a new narrowboat. The challenge then became one of design and the more I research I did the more my ideas about my narrowboat design crystalized. I didn’t want a traditional boat, I wanted a modern boat – reverse layout, semi-trad and NO gas – induction cooktop, good fridge, plenty of batteries.

I spoke to a couple of builders. The first one said that they could do it, but they hadn’t done one quite like that before. The second builder told me that with my spec I need to get a hybrid boat, but that they didn’t build hybrids. And that is when I found Ortomarine and their latest hybrid boat Watt Knot, which they had built for another Aussie couple and which got quite a write-up in the press. I was impressed.

I particularly liked Watt Knot’s general layout and colour scheme which reflected the colour of the Aussie bush. So I made contact with Caroline and very quickly I realised that she knew her interior design, which was very fortunate for me as that is most definitely not one of my strong points.

Ortomarine put one condition on my build – and that was that if I wanted my boat quickly then I would need to base my design on Watt Knot, as Ortomarine had ordered an identical shell from Tyler Wilson Boats in Sheffield. A different hull design would have meant a longer design stage. I did want my boat quickly so I did accept that condition. It did turn out to be a great decision because of a couple of the design features of that shell which weren’t fully understood by me but which are really assets. For example the weed hatch is in its own compartment and not in the engine bay, so there is no possibility of the boat sinking because of a poorly sealed weed hatch.

So I paid my deposit and over time worked with Caroline and Rob on the interior layout, which you can see in the photos on the Ortomarine website. I also let Caroline suggest the interior and exterior colour schemes, and again she made some excellent suggestions which I was happy to accept. She also found an excellent bench top for the galley.

Here is a list of what I like about my narrowboat – in no particular order:

  • Removable double glazed windows
  • No gas
  • Huge storage locker in bow
  • Bow thruster
  • Hybrid drive
  • Massive battery bank
  • Lots of 230V power outlets
  • Plenty of USB outlets throughout the boat
  • Fridge and separate chest freezer
  • Split dinette
  • Digital TV system
  • Semi-trad design with room for 3 at the stern
  • Sign writing
  • Plenty of storage space for 3 adults
  • Kitchen bench tops
  • Washing Machine
  • Advanced electronic monitoring and control
  • Pram hood and cratch cover
  • Solar power
  • Floor tiles
  • Radiator space heating – no need for a fireplace, so no coal or wood
  • Interior design generally
  • Weed hatch design

You may ask what my biggest gripe about the build was? This is easy to answer – they were 2 weeks late in finishing the boat!

So to wrap this up, Ortomarine built a great boat for me, and I have every confidence that they would build a great boat for you.

Chris Ruwoldt

October 2019

My boat is named after the principle character in The Bartimaeus Trilogy by English author Jonathan Stroud.

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