The design

Whip'ma Whop'ma is largely based on our previous narrowboat Earl - a 57' by 6' 10" reverse layout modern cruiser stern boat - which was built and bought by us in 2016.  We decided that on retirement when we can spend much more time afloat and being based on the wider waterways of the northern canals, we would buy a wider boat.

We decided on 9' after seeing a Collingwood Pioneer shell at the Crick Boat Show and realising how much extra space and convenience the extra 2' internal width gave, whilst making it no more difficult to steer and manoeuvre in the more constrained portions of canals than a narrowboat.  We have specified tiller steering to maintain simplicity and ease of control.

After our experiences of navigating the Huddersfield Broad and Calder & Hebble which take a maximum length of 57' 6" we decided to trade off a little bit of the extra room by shortening the design to 55'. Yes, I know people have claimed to do those locks in 60' boats, but from my experience it becomes a real pain having to angle the boat across the locks, reverse up against the cill with fountains from leaking gates swamping the back deck whilst the bow gets hauled across from behind one lock gate to get out. Giving up those couple of feet should make things much easier (as well as the addition of a solid dodger around the back deck).

Plan of boat

The additional internal room allows the following main features (compared to a narrowboat)::

The other main decision for the design was how to power the vessel for extended cruising whilst trying to reduce fossil fuel emissions as much as practically possible. We have decided to go with a parallel hybrid solution from Hybrid Marine Ltd. This solution is now pretty much tried and tested, and specifying a Beta 60 with 10kW electric motor will allow us to play to both their strengths. Silent cruising and manoeuvring on canals with plenty of grunt to tackle the tidal Trent and Ouse when required. We have specified 1.75kW of solar panels which should provide all our power requirements on non- or short cruising days during the summer. I think if our intended cruising area was the midland narrow canals we would go for a serial hybrid solution with only a small enclosed diesel generator, but those solutions currently being offered are relatively new.