‘Bluegum’ is a Replica Dutch Style Barge built by Piper Boats of Stoke on Trent in 2012.
She is 55 feet (16.8m) long, 12.5 (3.8m) feet wide, powered by a 90hp Beta Marine diesel engine and fully equipped as a comfortable liveaboard. We have cruised the rivers and canals of France for the last five years living on board from Spring to Autumn.
The spacious deck is accessed through double doors at the rear of the wheelhouse. A custom made canopy was fitted to the deck in 2016 which has zipped on sides that can roll up or fully enclose the deck if required. The canopy sits about a foot higher than the wheelhouse roof but can be easily lowered on the sliding poles to facilitate low bridges – needed occasionally on the canal du Midi.
The wheelhouse has a wooden upper structure which can be completely removed – not required in continental Europe but would be on some canals in the UK. The windscreen can be lowered on gas struts for an open air feeling when cruising. The seating can also be converted into an occasional double bed.
Down steps from the wheelhouse is the spacious saloon and galley. The galley is fitted with a 24v fridge freezer, microwave, washer dryer, slimline dishwasher and we replaced the ‘caravan’ style oven with a full size Hotpoint cooker with a double oven in 2017. The saloon has a sofa with a matching footstool and storage box and is fitted with a 32″ LED TV and a Freesat Satellite receiver / recorder. There is also a gravity fed Sig Marine diesel heater which is useful to take the edge off those cool evenings in spring and autumn.
The second bedroom has seating which quickly converts into a double bed for visitors. It doubles up as an office with pace for a computer and printer behind a roller door.
The bathroom has a full sized shower, basin and cabinets and is fitted with a Jabsco electric flush toilet. It also has underfloor heating – a real luxury on cool mornings.
The main bedroom has a (UK) king sized bed and is fitted with wardrobes, cupboards and storage space. It is also fitted with an aircon unit.
The engine is a 90hp Beta Marine which is keel cooled. Ample power for all the canals and rivers of France including the Rhone. There are 6 x 200ah AGM batteries providing electricity for the 24v domestic system through a Mastervolt 2500 combined charger / inverter when shore power is not available. There is also a Whisperpower 6.5 kv Generator. A Harworth diesel fired Boiler provides heating for water and the central heating system.