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Ceiling height and skylights

I am just starting to learn about narrowboats and I have found one I might really like, but the roof is quite a bit too low for me (it needs at least 3 more inches). It should have room to still fit under bridges, since there's a permanent little hatch thing in the middle with 2 tiny portholes on each side sticking out of the roof that is at least 7 or 8 inches high. This might be impossible, but how difficult/costly do you think it might be to raise a ceiling? While I'm at it, could I put skylights in, or is there some reason skylights don't work with narrowboats? I hope these aren't really stupid questions! Thanks.

Asked by: Shannon Thiessen  | 9.12pm, Wednesday 13 March

WW says:

Assuming that the boat has a steel hull and a steel superstructure, it would be very difficult and expensive to raise the whole roof by three inches because the hull and superstructure act like a tube and gain strength from this. Any attempt at a drastic alteration like this could weaken it. Also, it would probably be very difficult to achieve while maintaining a pleasing external appearance.
Although narrowboats are generally built to similar overall dimensions in height and width, some are taller than others and you would do better to look for another boat that suits your needs from the outset. The device with portholes that you describe sounds like the ventilator over a heavy, traditional engine - known as a 'Pigeon box'. Boats with this type of engine tend to sit deeper in the water which allows them to have taller ceilings without affecting their ability to pass under bridges. Alternatively, some boats have a more curved roof than others and this results in a higher ceiling - at least in the middle.
It is certainly possible to add skylights to a boat. Some are flat and have a hinge along one side so they can be raised for ventilation. These are known as 'Houdini' hatches. It is sometimes possible to add a larger, wooden, glazed version of the engine ventilator, although you must ensure that this does not make the boat too tall for bridges. These are known as 'Dog boxes'.

Graham Booth  | 11.15PM, Wednesday 13 March

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