Boating with Heritage

Narrow boats and Wide-beams


Living off grid has long been a desire for many in the U.K, with hundreds of miles of canals and river-ways originally used for transporting goods. Narrow boats and Wide-beams have been a popular way of getting away from the bustle of towns and cities.

Being able to live in such an environment has become an enviable way of life for so many around the country. Waking up to a quiet and peaceful waterway teaming with wildlife and the attraction of a relatively inexpensive way of living, it’s easy to see why so many enjoy this lifestyle.

With a whole industry revolved around boating for holidays or permanent moorings, it’s clear this is an ever growing industry with a long standing tradition.

Challenges of boating

One of the challenges of this way of life has always been heating and cooking on boats. With the preferred methods being small wood-burning & Multi-fuel stoves for room heat, small boilers for some hot water or radiators, and LPG gas for cooking facilities. There is a lot to think about especially when its comes to acquiring different fuels and transporting them onto a boat.

A safety consideration which has long been a weakness with boating is LPG. Due to boats essentially being bucket shaped, this can be a dangerous environment when twinned with gas. When released to atmosphere, LPG sinks, and without a way for it to escape there is no easy way for the danger to be removed. With so many safety aspects to be considered involving LPG, it makes you wonder whether this fuel is worth the risk, especially when other options are available.

Available options

Heritage Range Cookers have been installed on boats for the last 20 years, one of the main reasons being the ability to remove the danger of LPG being stored on a boat. Along with this, the capability to have a single appliance controlling Cooking, Heating, and Hot water, it gives many boaters the same luxuries of living in a house, without the inconveniences of LPG storage.

With a short flue run, Heritage cookers work in the same way as a conventional house installation due to force fed style of pressure jet burners, meaning that as long as you have a well designed flue, issues like downdraft or poor flue pull are a thing of the past. Even when you have to go under low bridges, flue’s can be designed to be removed and re-attached with relative ease.

It seemed like an answer to all our questions…

One boating couple who installed a Heritage Range cooker onto their boat are Andrew & Wendy. They have given us a great incite into their decision making when looking at the option of Cooking & Heating on their wide beam boat. And how the Heritage has fitted in with their lifestyle.

What was it that made you move from a house to a house-boat? 

We were a pretty typical family of four. Myself, my wife Wendy and two grown children. Much of our life had revolved around Cambridge, from ballroom dancing to our religious activities. To move to Cambridge seemed the obvious thing but the cost of housing was prohibitive. There was no way we could afford it so the idea was shelved. Our two children left home and married at the end of 2008. Suddenly we were “empty nesters” and hatched the plan to sell the house and live on a widebeam barge moored on the River Cam in Cambridge. I had spent 20 yrs doing up the house and it was perfect in every way. As well as being an electrical and mechanical engineer I relished the challenge of fitting out a boat to live on board.

What options did you consider when looking at Cooking, Heating, and HW?

Firstly, I would say I never envisaged I could get Cooking, Heating AND Hot water from the same appliance. The boat was delivered as a shell and I’ve fitted everything myself. This means, as we were living on board from day one, in a tent!

So, the water system went in quickly which included a 75litre stainless steel, twin coil calorifier. One coil is connected to the engine which heats it when running. The other coil was connected to a Mikuni diesel night heater a few months later but initially we used the 1KW immersion heater when stationary. The Mikuni eventually was running underfloor heating in the Bathroom and galley and a radiator in the forward cabin. We cooked on a camping stove running off of LPG from day one until 2015 when we bought the Heritage.

When we fitted the kitchen I left a 600mm wide gap for a good quality LPG cooker when it came to the top of the triage list. The Mikuni boiler proved to unreliable, noisy and expensive to keep running, so a rethink was necessary. We have a multifuel stove in the saloon which is open plane with the galley and this was something we enjoyed using and wanted to keep. Electric was out of the question as a liveaboard boat by necessity has to limit its large electrical loads. I needed a new, robust, reliable diesel fired boiler to run heating and hot water but LPG was begrudgingly still on the cards for cooking.

Was the safety side of LPG something that concerned you?

I say begrudgingly LPG because I wasn’t happy with the issues relating to storage of and use of the product. A boat has to have a Boat Safety Certificate renewed every 4 yrs and the biggest part of that process is gas safety! Every year you read about boats catching fire due to LPG leaks. I had seen Heritage Uno models on upmarket narrowboat fit outs at boat shows but didn’t look any further thinking they wouldn’t have a model suitable or affordable for my vessel.

So you chose a Heritage Compact boiler model, why this particular one?

The compact over the Uno perhaps gave more control and larger cooking capacity, you had the room available. We spoke to Heritage, perused their website and visited the showroom in Liskeard. When we considered one appliance could deal with cooking, heating and hot water the idea became eminently affordable. As our boat is a VAT free vessel heating SW helped us reclaim the vat paid on the cooker making it even better value. We chose the Compact Duette. This model has two pressure jet burners which gives us control over heating and cooking as separate functions. Also having two hotplates makes stovetop cooking easier too. We simply had to modify the kitchen units to allow an extra 240mm to fit the compact rather than a 600mm LPG cooker.

How much planning went into getting the cooker installed into your boat?

Being an engineer I research, plan and figure all things out well in advance. The cooker is positioned against the stern bulkhead, so is near the fuel tank and adjacent the cupboard containing the electrical input and controls. The deckhead (roof) is 5mm steel with insulation and internal board finish. There are 50mmx50mm square tube structural bearers every 400mm so the flue had to be dog legged to avoid one of these. Boats by their very nature have to be well ventilated and this is a key element of the BSC. The Heritage is interesting as it draws its air from outside via flexible hoses with external louvered vents, so doesn’t need more open ventilation into the cabin. Heritage delivered the cooker, broke it down into its constituent parts, moved it into position and rebuilt it ready for me to install and make the flue, electrical and water connections.

What does the Heritage control?

Underfloor, radiators, cylinder. Galley and bathroom tiled floors, one radiator in the forward cabin and a 75litre calorifier for hot water.

Would you recommend looking at a Range Cooker in general?

Our boat is 70×12 feet and weighs more than 35 tonnes without the cooker. We obviously had the room and weight carrying capacity available. As it does so much for us in one appliance it really is the answer to our needs.

How has your experience been with Heritage cookers?

Our experience with Heritage is what I would expect when buying a premium heating cooking product. We visited the showroom in Liskeard. They have loads of cookers on show and were helpful and knowledgeable in assisting us to make our choice. Servicing is available and excellent for keeping the cooker running reliably and efficiently.

We chose british racing green with a black top. It looks beautiful and never fails to impress visitors. However, the real joy is cooking and keeping warm reliably. Basically we love it!

Looking at this picture, you would be forgiven for not immediately realising it was on a boat. For a full size kitchen to have a range cooker in you would assume it was land based. As with all wide beam boats you have more options when it comes to size, however Narrow boats have also accepted the small form size of the Compact depending on layout of the boat. If the size of the compact is to much then the Uno with a single hotplate, oven and burner will happily supply 3-4 average radiators as well as hot water with a back-boiler.

If you have any questions about installing a Heritage range on your boat, feel free to give us a call to discuss your options on 01579 345680.