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system 4-50

Cratch - What Is Important

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and what is not when deciding on a new cratch installation? I have never had a cratch. When I had my sailaway built, my builder asked if I was going to have a cratch and I replied. "never, they are such ugly things". He shrugged and said "you will!". Well, after just one cruise with visitors, he turns out to be right. I need just such an ugly thing. With no experience of them, none of my hire boats had one, I have no idea what is important. What are the factors that affect the choice of the height of the top board for example. Some people seem to be flush with the cabin roof, and others seem to be a foot higher. How wide should that top board be? What other factors should be considered? Its a lot of cash to get wrong. Some comments from narrowboat users who have had one installed would be very welcome.

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4 minutes ago, system 4-50 said:

and what is not when deciding on a new cratch installation? I have never had a cratch. When I had my sailaway built, my builder asked if I was going to have a cratch and I replied. "never, they are such ugly things". He shrugged and said "you will!". Well, after just one cruise with visitors, he turns out to be right. I need just such an ugly thing. With no experience of them, none of my hire boats had one, I have no idea what is important. What are the factors that affect the choice of the height of the top board for example. Some people seem to be flush with the cabin roof, and others seem to be a foot higher. How wide should that top board be? What other factors should be considered? Its a lot of cash to get wrong. Some comments from narrowboat users who have had one installed would be very welcome.

I hate them I never wanted one but there was one on the Hudson I bought. It reinforced my sentiments that they are absolutely awful.If you need more space buy a bigger boat if your boat is already full length then buy a widebeam :D I don't have one on this boat, what a joy. DONT do it.

  • Greenie 1

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I kinda like the look of some of them, including the one that was installed on my purchase, but then I can't really call myself a purist. Couldn't really tell you what's important and not though, soz.

 

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It is a good idea to have one with two zips on each side, so you only need to roll up a section, rather than the complete side of the cratch.

Having transparent windows in the sides, means it is lighter inside the cratch  (obviously) but also means it is harder for scrotes to hide away unseen whilst breaking and entering through your front doors.

Edited by cuthound
To unmangle the effects of autocorrect.

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It's worth planning the cratch and top board to allow for quick and easy dismantling, both for enjoying nice weather and for clearance on some of the lower bridges, etc. Also important to angle the cratch very slightly forwards, which will ensure less water runs down it and looks better. The top board is generally about 10-11 inches wide. You may wish to add a headlamp mount on both the cratch board and the front bulkhead, to allow you to boat without the cratch assembly in place. 

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Not all boats can manage without a cratch cover. Our boat and many other Reeves hulls have a deep cratch. The water tank is in the bow. To drain away any water which gets into the cratch area there is a drain tube each side of the boat which drains water into the bilge at the stern. No cratch cover, lots of water draining into the bilge when it rains. Picture taken before we had the boat repainted.

boat cushions 007.jpg

Edited by Ray T

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I think they are great, protects you from the elements, so can still sit in the front during a storm. It's great to experience the weather, but be protected from it. Big open see through panels, with zips. At the front of it you might want an aerial holder.Whatever holds the canopy to the boat, usually studs can be banged off with bad aiming at locks.Ask how that can be repaired and ask for spare attachments whatever they may be. Get the top board as flush to your cabin top as possible. Lots of different frilly designs about, have an idea what you want and also look at what they have on offer. A lot of places are busy and you could wait a long time for an appointment. It's just a boat conservatory really and makes use of that space, keeping it dry to sit out in. Get some nice bespoke cushions around the sides, a little table for coffee /tea / beer, fantastic.I wouldn't have a boat without one.

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As suggested by RayT, some boats require a Deck board and covered cratch to prevent rain water gathering in the front well. The well deck on Helvetia was about 2" below the waterline, and any rain water gathering there drained into a sump which had to be pumped out. This is Ok if you can visit the boat regularly during rainy weather,but a bit of a problem if you live a hundred miles away, so one of the first decisions I made was to make and instal one, Unlike many people with a covered cratch,we did not let it get filled up with junk, as it was still primarily the area where we sat in during warm evenings (with the sides rolled up!).

I believe that some boats look better with a deck board than others, depending upon the bow shape. I always thought ours looked ok, especially as we had quite a high bow and a long fore deck - Judge for yourselves :-

Tamhorn Farm Bridge  01 (d).JPG

Edited by David Schweizer

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19 minutes ago, F DRAYKE said:

Think about how you get to your gas locker if it’s in the bow.

Easy, you build the deck board with removeable hinged wings. Here are mine being decorated by ron Hough :-

Ron 05.jpg

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One thing that has crossed my mind is that when designing the cover, Is the section at the bottom of the sides-this is vulnerable to damage entering locks and accidental contact with other craft. With that in mind i'd be inclined to make the bottom strip easy to replace, i've seen several brand new ones damaged in this way within days of being fitted. 

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14 hours ago, mrsmelly said:

I hate them I never wanted one but there was one on the Hudson I bought. It reinforced my sentiments that they are absolutely awful.If you need more space buy a bigger boat if your boat is already full length then buy a widebeam :D I don't have one on this boat, what a joy. DONT do it.

You dont like much do you....

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56 minutes ago, BWM said:

One thing that has crossed my mind is that when designing the cover, Is the section at the bottom of the sides-this is vulnerable to damage entering locks and accidental contact with other craft. With that in mind i'd be inclined to make the bottom strip easy to replace, i've seen several brand new ones damaged in this way within days of being fitted. 

If the boat has well designed guard irons this shouldn't happen.

Another vulnerable area is where the cratch cover overlaps the hand rails. The cratch can be damaged where contact is made with low bridges and tunnels. In this case the repairer simply stitches a patch over the damaged area.

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1 minute ago, cuthound said:

If the boat has well designed guard irons this shouldn't happen.

Another vulnerable area is where the cratch cover overlaps the hand rails. The cratch can be damaged where contact is made with low bridges and tunnels. In this case the repairer simply stitches a patch over the damaged area.

With varying bridge profiles and bows of different shapes/ heights, the guard rails don't always work to prevent damage to this area. Agreed on the vulnerability of the handrail area, but a patch on this area is less intrusive. 

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2 hours ago, BWM said:

One thing that has crossed my mind is that when designing the cover, Is the section at the bottom of the sides-this is vulnerable to damage entering locks and accidental contact with other craft. With that in mind i'd be inclined to make the bottom strip easy to replace, i've seen several brand new ones damaged in this way within days of being fitted. 

The cratch cover on Helvetia hung over the sides , but because of the boats profile it did not catch lock sides or other boats. However, in some tunnels the rear side could come into contact with the tunnel wall, and after damaging it once, I always made sure that the rear section on the starboard side was tucked inside the front well sides before entering a tunnel - problem solved.

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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3 hours ago, cuthound said:

If the boat has well designed guard irons this shouldn't happen.

Another vulnerable area is where the cratch cover overlaps the hand rails. The cratch can be damaged where contact is made with low bridges and tunnels. In this case the repairer simply stitches a patch over the damaged area.

We have thick leather patches there for just such an eventuality, given our quite high air draft. Pity we hadn't thought of it before one trip through Gusty Hill Tunnel with a lot of water in the canal and not enough in the fresh water tank! :D

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4 hours ago, Dave Payne said:

You dont like much do you....

Oh yes I do. I like Beer and good food and I luv boats but I HATE cyclists, pram hoods. cratches, kids in pubs, modern music, rap, Diesel engine cars, helicopters, teatotalers, religion, the eu, lager, white wine, so you see I don't hate everything :)

  • Greenie 1

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35 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Oh yes I do. I like Beer and good food and I luv boats but I HATE cyclists, pram hoods. cratches, kids in pubs, modern music, rap, Diesel engine cars, helicopters, teatotalers, religion, the eu, lager, white wine, so you see I don't hate everything :)

Fishermen?

Edited by Dave Payne

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1 hour ago, mrsmelly said:

his loves & hates.  Here are mine.

  • Beer (& red wine)
  • good food
  • boats (except wooden ones)
  • cyclists 
  • pram hoods 
  • cratches
  • kids in pubs,
  • modern music
  • rap
  • Diesel engine cars 
  • helicopters
  • teatotalers
  • religion
  • the eu (in its current form)
  • lager
  • white wine
  • dogs
  • onions

 

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You need to be able to roll up the sides for when you venture onto rivers with big locks requiring ropes forward and aft. As mentioned if the centre of the A frame at the front can open or pivot it helps with access to the gas locker and the mooring T post. Mine does not have side windows and I wish it did as it is dark. Also it is good for drying clothes etc inside without adding to the condensation in the boat, as they heat up fast in the sun. When you have your cratch cover within a few weeks/months you will not be able to get in there due to all the extra junk you can put there coal, logs, anchors, bikes etc.

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8 minutes ago, Detling said:

You need to be able to roll up the sides for when you venture onto rivers with big locks requiring ropes forward and aft. As mentioned if the centre of the A frame at the front can open or pivot it helps with access to the gas locker and the mooring T post. Mine does not have side windows and I wish it did as it is dark. Also it is good for drying clothes etc inside without adding to the condensation in the boat, as they heat up fast in the sun. When you have your cratch cover within a few weeks/months you will not be able to get in there due to all the extra junk you can put there coal, logs, anchors, bikes etc.

Not everyone will. In 19 years nothing was stored under cratch cover apart from cushions and a box containing mooring equipment.

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On 2 November 2017 at 21:20, Timx said:

I think they are great, protects you from the elements, so can still sit in the front during a storm. It's great to experience the weather, but be protected from it. Big open see through panels, with zips. At the front of it you might want an aerial holder.Whatever holds the canopy to the boat, usually studs can be banged off with bad aiming at locks.Ask how that can be repaired and ask for spare attachments whatever they may be. Get the top board as flush to your cabin top as possible. Lots of different frilly designs about, have an idea what you want and also look at what they have on offer. A lot of places are busy and you could wait a long time for an appointment. It's just a boat conservatory really and makes use of that space, keeping it dry to sit out in. Get some nice bespoke cushions around the sides, a little table for coffee /tea / beer, fantastic.I wouldn't have a boat without one.

Why? That would give me very little headroom in the cratch. Is that unimportant compared with say the helmsman's view? Or are there other reasons?

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10 hours ago, system 4-50 said:

Why? That would give me very little headroom in the cratch. Is that unimportant compared with say the helmsman's view? Or are there other reasons?

Only in that you don't want to effect your air draught , height for going through tunnels. 

 

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10 hours ago, system 4-50 said:

Why? That would give me very little headroom in the cratch. Is that unimportant compared with say the helmsman's view? Or are there other reasons?

My boat has comparatively high air draught and my cratch board is raised about 8 inches (my foredeck is self draining, so above the waterline).  The only time I've had to drop the cratch board had been the very low M5 culvert on the Droitwich.  I'm not saying it would never need dropping anywhere else at all, but it's rare. It has no noticeable effect on the steerer's view.

Edited by Sea Dog
Edited to add - it goes through Gosty Hill Tunnel!

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I would never be without mine. When we bought the boat I was determined not to let it become a store room and 5 years on and it's still clear of 'junk'.

It's my conservatory where I can sit and relax, watching the wildlife - on several occasions a kingfisher has perched on my headlight totally oblivious to the fact that I was sitting only a foot away. You can see so much more around you than when sat inside the boat below the windows. It's my sanctuary, where I can sit and read, go on my computer or listen to music (using headphones of course), and escape from the wife's inane TV soaps and other drivel.

It has zipped side windows so I can roll them up on nice days, and in winter the heat from the stove filters through the slightly ajar door enough to keep it warm and cosy.

Definitely go for it, but as to which is best a vinyl or cloth one I'm not even going to go there !!!

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