Severn Swan

Living On Board

Externally Severn Swan has some beautiful varnished brightwork which took us a while to renovate a few years ago but is not as onerous as it would at first appear.  We have laid down many coats of varnish on everything and now find that a light sand and re-coat once every couple of years is sufficient to keep it looking good.  For nearly all of the exterior wood we use a 2-pack “clear paint”, rather than conventional varnish (after having experimented with many different brands).  It is easy to apply, is touch dry in less than 30 minutes and hard within a few hours.  It is also very durable. We have found this to be far easier than oil-based varnish which can take hours to dry and usually manages to gather up dust and fluff in the process and/or someone puts their hands in it.


We have used multiple coats of an oil-based exterior varnish for our interior woodwork and have not had to touch this up at all over a period of several years. The parquet flooring is varnished with the most durable water-based product that we could find. That too has lasted well, is not slippery underfoot and has protected the wood.


Being built from ferro, there in not much noise transfer through the hull compared with GRP, aluminium or steel boats.  Because of her overall size she is more gentle at anchor when a chop develops or that annoying motor boat goes past. With her spotlessly clean engine room and dry bilges, she does not smell “musty” as many older boats do and, having been insulated she is not damp inside.  As she is spacious too, it really is like living in a house, or perhaps the biggest Winnebago you could imagine.


We use the cockpit with some or all of its covers (see section “Pilot House and Cockpit”) as a conservatory. With just a little sun it is warm even on cooler days and is an excellent spot to have lunch or a sundowner. We have entertained relatively frequently on board as we have a large saloon table and spare bunks for sleepovers.



Although circumstances have prevented us from undertaking any long sea passages recently, we have been living on board and wandering around the West Country and the Isles of Scilly where we usually find quiet anchorages. Over time we have fine-tuned the systems on board which allow us to live comfortably and independently.  We have a vast amount of storage for tinned, bottled and dried goods and having a good-sized fridge and a freezer along with bread-making ability and a water-maker means that we can live independently of marinas and supermarkets for a considerable time. This independence has allowed us to stay in some wonderful out of the way places where we’ve been able to commune with nature in peace and quiet!


We use a dongle for on-board wi-fi, which has proven itself to be very reliable and has given us a good signal almost everywhere we’ve been in the UK. Having a 240V electricity supply, either from the inverter or generator, allows us to use all  the normal domestic gizmos (laptops, TV, food blenders, the bread-maker, hairdryer, electric toothbrush, washing machine and power tools for example) and we have a diesel generator, wind generator and solar panels to keep pace with our power usage when at anchor.

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