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.