BOOK REVIEW

Stem to Stern Stem to Stern: The Modern Narrowboat Explained
by Emrhys Barrell
Romsey Publishing, 2000, 8.95
ISBN 1 903380 01 4

Stem to Stern comprises some fourteen articles taken from Canal Boat & Inland Waterways magazine and 'is the complete guide for anyone considering buying or building a narrowboat,' or so the blurb on the back cover says. A challenge to a reviewer, if ever there was one!

From bow to stern, from roof to hull, the author covers off just about every imaginable aspect of what is entailed in the make-up of a narrowboat used for leisure activities. To be honest the book doesn't really describe how to do anything yourself; rather it deals with the nitty gritty of the hardware and concepts of narrowboat layout and safety. In these latter respects there are excellent hints on and ideas on where to place things for convenience and practicality, backed up with copious illustrations from the original articles. Just occasionally there's a bit of humour - obviously related to the canalling mind - which jollies things along too.

Throughout the book the pro's and con's of various components are weighed up.... the best type of rope to use, for example, and practicalities of window and ventilator types. And you wouldn't believe the number of loo types which can be used in a narrowboat! Occasionally costs are given for items and potential work, though one can imagine these will be obsolete within a year or so. However, the figures should allow you to weigh up cost differentials between various components and tasks. Statutory safety requirements are frequently visited in the pages, and well as tips provided for practical safety features around the boat.

If you have been on a narrowboat holiday or trip and have been toying with buying a boat of your own then Stem to Stern is a must. It will give you the basic knowledge to ask the right questions of those selling boats, and to judge whether the internal layout is practical for the purpose to which your boat will be used.

If there is one criticism of the book it is that it relies too heavily on the original magazine articles and could perhaps have gone into more detail in certain areas. For example, more diagrams and illustrations of solutions to the maximisation of interior space - which is at a minimum in a narrowboat. While Stem to Stern is certainly not a DIY instruction manual for would-be boatbuilders it will provide aspirants with the basic and fundamental knowledge they need to make those important decisions.

Bottom line...
If you are considering buying a boat Stem to Stern is a MUST. At 9 the information contained within its pages will help you make those important buying decisions.

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