|Narrowboat & Widebeam Builders
Narrowboat & Widebeam Builders 2017-10-11T09:55:56+00:00


Located on the border of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire The Fit Out Pontoon’s team of experienced boat builders and fitters transform fantastic designs from concepts into realities. All our narrowboat and widebeam fit outs begin with our industry leading design consultations where we’ll take your ideas, develop and refine them and translate these into manufacture drawings for our teams of builders and fitters to work from.

Buying a canal boat is a substantial investment, one we feel our clients should direct. Our aim is to design and build dream boats individual to client styles, tastes and requirements. We love creating truly unique spaces and because of this we don’t have rules or restrictions, we’re open to anything! If you’re in the market for a bespoke canal boat you might well of just found the perfect builder.

Wide beam, Widebeam Builders - Whitewashed Cabin Sides

Our Narrowboat & Widebeam Boat Building:

  • An open minded, flexible & tailored approach to boat building
  • Purchase a truely personlised boat to your taste, style and requirements
  • Working with us, bespoke means bespoke, not just a change of layout
  • Recieve our industry leading 1-2-1 design consultation service
  • Full range of visualisation capabilities from line drawing to 3D modelling
  • Suppliers of shells, sailways & fully fitted narrowboats & widebeams
  • Our team of builders and fitters are time served craftsmen
  • Work with a company which prides itself on honesty and integrity
  • British Marine Federation members adhering to a strict code of practice




CALL 07553 960 177


We met Mark a couple of years ago at Crick Boat Show, when he was immediately helpful and gave honest advice (to a couple of amateurs!) about our plans to build a boat – and he struck us then as someone we’d like to work with. We’re now two months into a new adventure living on a bespoke widebeam barge as continual cruisers on the canals of London. Our boat has a very unusual (and for us, very stylish!) interior that was turned down by builders all over the country; but Mark stuck with us throughout, creating the plans for our design, finding us partners who’d work with us, project managing the whole process and ultimately using his own team of talented craftsmen to complete the complicated carpentry of the interior.

The general world of canal boat building is not customer facing nor is it a welcoming place for the non-initiated, believe me – but Mark is a new breed of boat builder who understands that world, but also gets your passion and gets modern customer service – he’s communicative and responsive, a creative and a problem solver, online and IT savvy and, crucially, he can explain all the complicated stuff to idiots like us! We love our boat and would not have moved beyond the dreaming stage without him


Rather than generally describe our design and build process it’s probably more interesting if we show you an example of a boat commission from start to finish. We have the perfect example which we feel really demonstrates our approach, flexibility and determination to achieve a desired solution. Below we’ll take you through the buying, design and build process of a 57ft x 12ft contemporary liveaboard.

This particular boat was the brain child of a London couple who really weren’t motivated by the financial burden associated with a London morgage. Thinking outside of the box their journey quickly lead them to consider life aboard as continual cruisers.

The Fit Out Pontoon caught up with them in the very early stages of the buying process whilst initially researching at the Crick Boat Show. They sat with a notepad in hand as we talked through the logistics of living aboard and the considerations which continually cruising brings. After the show we offered our support and when the time came to place the order we were only too delighted to take up the opportunity to manage the build from start to finish.

The Design Consultation

Before we met with the clients we encouraged them to collect as much inspirational material as possible and develop a list of questions not just about design, anything boat related. The design consultation began runnning through this material and answering in as much detail required all their questions. Once we’d gained a detailed picture of the clients tastes, styles and requirements we created a potential brief and specification including a list of extras such as bow thrusters, double glazed windows, travel power, solar panels, pramhoods to name just a few which could potentially offer justifiable benefits and talked through the associated costs.

The design brief was totally suited to us, a bespoke boat away from tradition and one which had put other widebeam builders off quoting. The clients vision was to clad the interior walls with white washed reclaimed timber creating a contemporary rustic feel. Another interesting requirement was a corridor under gunwale book shelf continuing through to the bedroom door creating a secret door!

Armed with a comprehensive list of requirements and a detailed specification the second half of the consultation was focused around the computer producing some basic drawings to prove and disprove ideas we’d discussed with a view to developing a foundation for the design process to evolve from.

The Design Process

The design process was thoroughly enjoyable, it’s amazing what you can achieve with today’s technology. Through Skype calls we were able to sharing our computer monitor live with the clients, a great tool for instantly implementing client feedback, a very efficient process which gave us the opportunity demonstrate our illustration skills!

Below you will see the full set of technical drawing we created which became the perfect foundation for managing the entire project:

Narrowboat Wide beam Builders - Widebeam Design - Manufacturing Drawings
Narrowboat Wide beam Builders - Widebeam Design - Detailed Engineered Drawings
Narrowboat Wide beam Builders - Widebeam Design Technical Drawings
Narrowboat Wide beam Builders - Widebeam Design - Electrical & Plumbing Schematics


Cladding Preparation

Sourcing and preparing the cladding for the cabin sides and bulkheads was one of the most important parts of the build process. Working to the customers brief and stepping in to the unknown is all part of the challenge.

After hours of searching the internet we managed to find a stock of pitch pine reclaimed flooring with plenty of character. The planks had all been partially skimmed and were supplied staight edged so the first task was to machine a tongue and groove joint in each plank… Not a small task when you’re dealing with 2000kgs of timber!

Once we’d machined the joints we started experimenting with different types of paint and ratios of paint to water to see what effects we could create. The painting process took a little longer than expected as we quickly found we had to judge each plank individually and as required, apply thinner coats of paint until we’d reached the desired effect.

Narrowboat & Wide beam Whitewashed Reclaimed Timber
Narrowboat & Widebeam White Washing Techniques Methods Tests
Narrowboat & Widebeam White Washing Techniques Methods Tests
White washing widebeam narrowboat walls / cabin sides

The Cladding Process

From the very beginning of this project the big unknown was the cladding of the cabin sides / bulkheads. We didn’t know how long it was going to take or how difficult bending the 22mm planks to match the bow and swim curves would prove. Fortunately our team of fitters made the job look easy, they’d been planning it for sometime, so they’d identified the problems and had several solutions for each.

When it came to the main cabin sides the planks were installed one row at a time bow to stern which ensured they all laid straight and minimised wastage. Following the bow curve was challenging, a series of vertical saw cuts were placed on the rear faces to help persuade them to flex, then the tongues were carefully seated into the grooves. If you look the photos you’ll see around the windows frames the plank thickness we were working with!

Narrowboat & Widebeam White Washed Reclaimed Timber
Installing Widebeam Whitewashed T&G Cabin Sides & Bulkheads
Widebeam Whitewashed T&G Cabin Sides & Bulkheads
Widebeam Whitewashed Pitch Pine T&G Cabin Sides & Bulkheads

Did you know we offer a complete range of industry leading Narrowboat & Widebeam Design & Build Services...

Canal Boat Design
Canal Boat Building