Fernwood Craft 62ft



The design brief given to Fernwood Craft’s Ken Warriner was about as brief as they come. “We want a boat that has the feel of those grand ocean liners of the 1920s,” said owners-to-be, Jan and Graham Finch. A brief brief, then, but a tough one: re-create the art deco extravagance of a 30,000-ton ocean liner in a 62ft by 6ft 10in narrowboat. It could have been a recipe for a disaster of, well, titanic proportions but it’s clear from just a glance at the picture that it has been a triumph. Huff ‘n’ Puff is a visual feast and rightly wowed the crowds at the Crick Show but we wanted to do more in this test than simply savour the skills of its designers and builders. We wanted to see how a boat so individual and so carefully crafted could stand up to the rigours of life as a live-aboard.DESIGN AND LAYOUTHuff ‘n’ Puff was designed to be a self-contained live-aboard for two people. That meant maximising both comfort and practicality without losing the vital sense of style.The 62ft Jonathan Wilson/Tim Tyler hull also has a compact front cockpit to maximise interior space and an all-porthole design, chosen for its combination of aesthetics, security and insulation. Two side hatches and the half-glazed front doors provide additional natural lighting and the interior of the boat certainly doesn’t feel gloomy.Inside, the 14ft front lounge leads directly into the galley and then to the bedroom. The Finches wanted a layout that allowed them to stay in easy touch if one happened to be resting or unwell. There is no dinette area on the boat: “they have our bed and we sleep on a blow-up in the lounge” is the Finch’s way instead of dealing with overnight guests. The space saved has enabled a handsome bathroom and a small utility area to be created at the rear.LOUNGE

Fernwood set about creating the art deco look of Huff ‘n’ Puff by using light and dark woods – contrasting the paler tones of ash and American oak with the darker, red of sapele mahogany – and then paying quite staggering attention to period detail.The detailing and craftsmanship is obvious as soon as you step into the boat. The cockpit has an elegantly styled fold-up table and oak bench seats as the locker lids. Huff ‘n’ Puff is a gasless boat so these lockers are for general outdoors stowage.Stable-door style split doors, to keep the Finch’s dog safe, give access to the lounge and that space-defying view down the boat. A hallmark Fernwood feature is the use of a ‘dropped’ flat ceiling which squares off the interior proportions with the aim of creating a more spacey feel (as well as proving a void for cabling to the downlights and surround-sound speakers).The lounge itself has been left as open plan as possible with just two black leather armchairs and a carefully crafted, art deco style round table. There’s ample storage space – drawers under the entrance steps, glass fronted cupboards either side and display shelves either side of the doors, followed by more cupboards and shelves as you move down the lounge. The joinery is intricate and excellent, everywhere you look there’s another piece of detail.The gleaming Lock Gate stove is a central feature of the lounge. It is diesel powered – dusty solid fuel would be anathema to a showpiece boat like this – and has a cooker plate top. It also, reports Graham, chucked out enough heat in winter to keep the lounge more than wam enough.To back it up there is a central heating radiator, though oddly in this inch-perfect boat, it’s a standard Stelrad type rather than a high-style item.Chrome edged portholes with no curtains (there are porthole buttons instead) maintain the clean look and let natural light reflect to its maximum off the light ash veneered walls.


GALLEYThe diagonally broken route from lounge to galley is another Fernwood design cue. To the left, coming from the lounge, a unit houses cupboards, drawers and electric oven with a two plate hob (“plenty for us, especially with the Lock Gate stove top in reserve,” says Jan.Opposite is a butler’s sink in a peninsula-style unit. Both units are finished in cream with crystal-look handles and sapele worktops. A side hatch is directly behind the sink and fills the kitchen with light. There’s a removeable infill window.A fridge lives under the left of the sink whilst to the right hand is a dishwasher. Yes, we know, this is a boat but it’s a live-aboard and the Finches want their home comforts!To deal with the difficult deep space created under the angled corner of the peninsula Fernwood devised a cupboard door with in-built shelving which opens to reveal further shelves that can be slid out.Final touch in the galley are the splendid pair of leaded glass art deco cupboard doors – again specially made by Fernwood.BEDROOMThe solid oak, curved top door that leads through from the galley to the bedroom would provide an impressive entrance into any manorial bedroom – and, in its way, it does here as the art deco exuberance of Huff ‘n’ Puff continues unabated.It’s relatively unusual to position the bedroom directly after the galley. More typically the bathroom is next – plumbing becomes simpler and the toilet tends to be in demand during an evening’s socialising!But for Jan, who has had some health problems, and Graham, and probably for other couples on live-aboards, the layout makes a lot of sense as the core of the boat becomes one coherent living area.The bedroom reverts to the traditional curved roof style and is oak lined with delicate inlay work around all the doors and drawers. More art deco touches are seen in the sun ray design of the bed headboard and the quarter circle dressing table just inside the door.The bed itself sits lengthways and is raised quite high from floor level to provide good underbed storage. In fact there are no less than twelve drawers – six are immediately accessible from the side of the bed but each is linked to a hidden drawer behind which it also pulls forward when opened. In this way winter (or summer) clothes can be stored out of the way but still accessed if need be.There is good clothes stowage throughout the room, with an ample wardrobe, over-bed cupboards and a small set of drawers.BATHROOMYou ain’t seen nothing until you step into the bathroom of Huff ‘n’ Puff. It’s a tour de force, about as far removed from traditional ideas of narrowboat toilet facilities as it is possible to be.It is very much a reflection of Jan’s personal taste: she wanted a roll-top bath and the room took shape from there. Surfaced in gloss black and carbon-fibre look steel blue composite panels, and with marble effect flooring, it looks to be straight out of a luxury hotel (or that ocean liner).To be scrupulously honest, the bath is a compact rather than full length roll-top but who’s measuring. Once again, it’s the detailing that makes the room: the retangular, chamfered edge basin, the period-style taps, the chrome basin stand – even the right sort of toothbrush holder! Only the inevitably modern electric toilet jars.Once again, the boat’s principal role as a live-aboard has enabled the Finches to make decisions that might not work for others. They have chosen a full-width walk-through bathroom, opting for the benefits of exta space against the obvious restrictions on usage.The choice of a bath rather than a shower can’t really be justified logically when water supplies are limited. Even Jan admits to generally using the shower attachment when they are away from easy reach of a refuelling tap!UTILITY AREAEvery last inch of this boat has been made to work and beyond the bathroom a small but practical utility room has been squeezed in. A washer-drier sits transversely above the generator unit, and beyond it is a sink with small freezer underneath. If there’s any limitation in Huff ‘n’ Puff’s layout it’s here. The floor of the utility area is raised to accommodate the waste tank below it and as a result access to and from the stern is quite cramped.LIVING WITH THE BOATSo, a year on, what is the Finches verdict on their boat? The answer comes as a resounding positive. It has proved a complete success and, thanks to Graham’s meticulous maintenance, still looks as though it has just moored up for the start of the Crick Show.Reliability has been one hundred per cent, too, and Jan as the ship’s engineer has no problems managing the sophisticated electrical systems. So, with the benefit of hindsight, is there anything they would change? “A weatherproof socket in the front cockpit would have been handy when you want to work outside the boat,” is the only thing Graham can think of.CONCLUSIONIt is impossible not to be impressed by the quality of workmanship and fastidious attention to detail on Huff ‘n’ Puff. It is a masterpiece. And even after a year of being lived on, it looks as good as new. It’s easy to imagine that without the Finch’s determination to hold the art deco theme and to keep everything spotlessly clean that it could have all too easily have become cluttered and messy in this time.The more traditionally minded may not altogether approve of such a high-style approach to narrowboat design but Huff ‘n’ Puff. was a one-off for owners with a clear vision of what they wanted and Fernwood Craft certainly have created the nearest thing to an ocean liner for the canals.Length: 62ft 0in (18.9m)Beam: 6ft 10in (2.08m)Draught: 2ft 4in (0.7m)Weight: 17 tonnesFuel capacity: 60gal (270l)Water capacity: 140gal (630l)Holding tank: 50gal (225l)Engine: Beta Greenline 43Steelwork: 10:6:5:4Electrical: 24v DC, 240v AC via inverter & 7kw Onan generator

Fernwood Craft


Nr Grantham01476 860440

Price: £110,000 inc VATwww.fernwoodcraft.co.uk

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