Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How to live on Andromeda

When we decided to sell her, Jema wrote the following. As we're off to meet the new owners today, I'm including it here kinda for posterity and as random advice for anyone out there thinking of buying themselves a live-aboard. I hope it's some use to someone.

How to live on Andromeda!

(for the cooker and the Paloma)

The two gas bottles are located under the hatch at the very front of the boat. Turn the empty bottle off (it has arrows with open and close on the tap) and then the full bottle on. They last about 8 weeks of normal use of cooker and Paloma. The Paloma is in great working condition, which was commented on during our recent boat safety inspection.

Signs the gas is running out are if the cooker won’t light and the pilot light in the Paloma water heater has gone out. Sometimes there is a light odour before it starts to go.

To re light the Paloma turn the dial to the off position, push the knob in and turn to ignite, holding down for a few seconds, then turn knob to between the triple and double flame symbols. Adjust for heat.


The water tank is located via a small brass cover on the port side, just under the lip of the canvas awning. It is filled via a hose pipe etc. It is a large tank, thanks to her days as a hotel boat, so a tank full will usually do a week of showers and washing up and three loads of washing.

The water tank overflows. There is a possibility of the bilge flooding once it exceeds the overflow on the starboard bow, so don’t leave the hose filling it up for more than half an hour.

Signs the water is running out, include splutters from the taps or if the water goes cold while you’re showering (when there isn’t enough water pressure to keep the Paloma lit).

All water is heated by the Paloma and passes through a pump which pushes it round the pipes in the boat.

By turning the Paloma off on the stopcock underneath, and by turning the stop cock on in the wardrobe in the back cabin, you can heat the tank behind the fire (when it’s lit). The main pump is located under the bench in the outer front of the boat just to the right of the door, but the switch to turn the pump off is above the fire just under the porthole (it looks like a light switch) and would be handy in an emergency.


There is 12 volt power which runs the lights and fridge and 240 volt mains which is for the sockets, T.V. washing machine etc. The 240 comes from any mains connection, direct to the engine room socket. The 12 volts come from the batteries (also in the engine room) which we have, at times, recharged constantly by the mains supply (notice the twin battery demand-chargers). One is a travel battery, one is the fridge, and the others are the general household supply. The can be used/charged independently or together by using the large red 3 position switch. The fridge can be switched of independently and everything is ladled. We check the batteries monthly and top them up with distilled water when necessary.

A good guideline is not to have more than 6 lights on at any one time, or when the water pump cuts in you will blow the 12 volt fuse. If the fuse for the lights goes you can re set it by flicking the switch back to it’s place in the box in the study (to the right of the door) unscrew the little cover below the corkboard.


The shower is pumped out via a hand pump inside the box part of the shower, just lift up the sloping side. It moves backwards and forwards. Just using the hot tap is the best way to get a good temperature, let it run for a minute then adjust temperature at the Paloma, if necessary, and you’re sorted fro every time you want a shower.

Occasionally the shower pump will lose suction, this can be sorted by one person to place a hand over the outside hole while the other pumps till the suction starts again.


The toilet is pumped out via the handle above it which moves backwards and forwards. The screw-in point for the waste hose is located on the exterior of the hull, corresponding to the location of the pipe/pump in the bathroom. Around 60 pumps will totally empty the tank completely. There are 2 hoses, just in case one gets dropped in the water.

To start the engine, place the 2 brass rockers over to the left, switch the starter on (a light will come on under it, on the panel), press the starter button and, when she’s ready to catch, switch the 2 rockers over. She’ll then kick in.

When stopping the engine there’s a choke at the edge of the wooden deck. Pull up the choke and flick the 2 brass rockers over. She’ll come to a stop.

She is a large narrow boat, and was built in 1973. While the engine (to our knowledge) is in excellent order, please be gentle with her. We have always cruised in her, and unless you are on a river against a strong flow there is no reason to run her at full revs.

She likes her oil checking regularly, and the gear box fluid. Have a look at the dipstick when you come back from a weekend cruise (and keep and eye on the stern gland).


We kept a dehumidifier running in the bedroom, mainly for the benefit of storage under the bed. Best way to keep things in storage is in plastic boxes (not cardboard) but it’s well ventilated under there, any condensation problems were solved long ago.

The stove runs on solid fuel, we mainly used smokeless fuel which burned at not too hot a temperature.

Ultissima Olim Ultissima Galactica


NonNobisSolum said...

I saw you on the Grand Union in Kings Langley

What does In Ultissima Olim in Ultissima Galactica mean ?

Nik Hewitt said...

Hi NonNobisSolum :-)

Well, Andromeda would have been in the hands of her new owner the lovely Christine when you saw her, who's looking after her and loves her like we did.

As for the latin, it's a rough translation of "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." :-)