(frontier: noun – The extreme limit of understanding or achievement in a particular area (Oxford English Dictionary))

There were two reactions from friends when they heard we were moving onto Kantara. One was “Wow! How exciting!”, and the other, “Why??”

Though the Whyers didn’t fail to see at least some of our reasons, their main concern was how small the boat is. How could we not feel cramped in that? If we have to be on the water, then we could have a 70-foot boat up to 12 feet wide. Why settle for 59 feet by 6 feet 10 inches? Insanity, surely!

But actually, we find the reduced space liberating. We love the simplicity of it, and the minimalism that it imposes. No longer do we have “stuff” all over the place (I have to admit the Distill family is not a tidy one). On Kantara, we allow ourselves about a dozen reading books at a time, a few essential reference books, and a limited selection of CDs and DVDs which we swap around when we visit our house or a local charity shop. Kantara boasts an above average amount of storage space, but still we need to be fussy about what we store, and we simply don’t have – and don’t feel we need to have – nearly as many clothes as we did in the house. This in itself makes life less complicated!

It makes us smile when people ask such questions as, “Do you have a toilet in there?”, or “how do you manage with cooking?” Yes, we have a toilet, and a shower. We have central heating, a kitchen sink, a full-size fridge and cooker, a washing machine, TV, and even a food-processor. Everything we need.

As to the external size – Kantara is first and foremost a boat, not a cottage. The dimensions are limited by the desire to be able to travel the canal system. While a few canals have locks that are 72 feet by 14, many are smaller. Kantara’s size simply means that the vast majority of the system is accessible to us. Just a few locks are shorter than her 59 feet, and some of those she will fit in diagonally alone, as they are wide enough for two narrowboats together. But we haven’t tried that trick yet.

But the space issue is bigger than this, and there are, of course, other answers to that “Why?” question.

Time is another matter, too, but more of that another day.

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