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Canal Boats & Narrowboats

BEDS & MATTRESSES ON
CANAL BOATS & NARROWBOATS


There is a wide variety of bed types to chose from on your canal boat / narrowboat. The option you choose will be dependent on the size of your canal boat.

Beds in canal boats, by necessity, come in a variety of types.

Wide beam craft have no real issues in this area, the only restriction being the 10 to 13 foot width!

Narrow beam craft suffer with lack of space and therefore builders have to devise some creative solutions.

It’s important to know that you are not restricted to standard mattress sizes. Specialist compaines will customise small additions to full custom sizes so the only restriction is your imagination. Your builder will advise you of what he is capable of but we thought we’d give you some ideas to ponder.

The “standard” beds are either lengthways or cross double.

Both are common installations, the lengthways bed usually using a standard 4’ wide mattress generally available from most bed suppliers. The benefit is that a base is easy to DIY construct and that the mattress is off the shelf. Beds can be left made up and linen is widely available. You are sleeping aligned with the bow up attitude of the boat and when correctly ballasted the mattress will remain level. The disadvantage is principally the width restriction; on a narrowboat to allow a gangway past the bed, the maximum width is 4 foot which is 6 inches less than a standard double bed which can take a bit of getting used to! Also one occupant will be against the cabin side and this can mean a clamber over the other occupant when getting in and out of bed!

Cross doubles utilise the bed running across the boat. Usually the bottom of the bed is cleverly hinged to fold away during the day. The mattress is in two, or sometimes three sections which are also cleverly stowed on the best designs. This means a full standard width bed of 4’6” can be achieved and even 5’ and 6’ mattresses can be utilised if cabin space permits.

The disadvantages are that the bed has to be stowed every day for access. It the boat is leaning to port or starboard, this can mean a heads down tails up nights sleep which is uncomfortable. You might guess that correct ballast will keep the boat level but experience shows that on some mooring around the system it is impossible to keep the boat level. A customised mattress has to be produced which can be expensive when it comes to the regular bed replacement. There are no issues with hogging the bed though!

If you are fortunate to have space for a second bedroom, which may be a child's bedroom requiring a single bed; a raised cabin bed can allow for vital storage space underneath or it is normally possible to squeeze bunk beds in as an alternative option.  

Other bed solutions include beds that fold up against bulkheads or side wall panelling which are:
  • Beds that are sofas during the day
  • Beds that are chairs during the day
  • Beds that are dinettes during the day
  • Beds that slide out from under tug decks


Cross Bed in Action
 


Cross Bed in Action
 


Cross Bed Fully Extended
 


Dinnette Bed
 


Lengthways Bed
 


Single Bed with Storage
 


Pull-Out Sofa Bed
 


Under Tug Deck Bed
 
Condensation is an issue for many boat owners and mattresses are an area that can suffer immensely if correct ventilation isn't in place. The area between your mattress and solid bed base is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mould. When there is no air-flow, a build up of condensation can happen leading to musty smells and a deterioration of your mattress. 

Unfortunately it is a fact of life that you perspire when you sleep, up to 2lb of moisture can be lost during the night! The perspiration leaves the body as humidity and will condense on the first cool surface that it finds; in the bedroom, this is usually the bed base or cabin sides. With no ventilation under the mattress the condensation will be trapped leaving it very damp over time. 

Ventilation is vital to reduce the risk and impact of condensation. Ensuring the bed base has ventilation holes is one option; you could also consider slats between the mattress and solid bed base to increase air flow. The issue with using slats is that there will still be approximately 50% of your mattress with no air flow.

There are several underlay products on the market designed specifically to go under your mattress to reduce condensation; these tend to be made up of thousands of micro springs that allow air to circulate thus reducing condensation build up. 

Alternatively some boaters swear by cat litter tied in an old pair of tights under the bed to trap moisture! 

Mould on mattress despite ventilation in bed base

Under-mattress underlay with micro-springs to increase ventilation
 
Under-lay easy to cut to fit to size required
 
Ventilation holes and under-lay in the fight against condensation!
 
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