Moored on the bank of the River Forres on Loch Ness, with calm weather and well sheltered, almost any boat tent would have done the job. Which was lucky as the tent took a bit of battering on previous nights with gale force gusts buffeting the boat and bending the fibreglass poles causing them to split.
Look carefully on the left hand side you'll see a blue rope that I've used to cross-brace the pole. Out of sight the poles are wrapped with gaffer tape.
I've written before about making this tent and how it performed. After a second season of using the tent I've been thinking about a different design.
First, I should admit that I suspect many, if not all of the problems, could be resolved by using better quality materials – I didn't have much confidence in my ability to turn out a competent tent, so I had used cheap fabric and poles by way of experiment. The fabric is uncoated nylon: this stretches when wet contributing to the bagginess of the tent. The poles were at the very edge of their limit for bending, and perhaps with more diligent searching I could have found more flexible poles. I have some spare poles and I can probably get another season out of the tent before I have to make any major decisions or spend any money.
But, in the way that it goes, I've been mulling over possibilities for a new boat tent for a while. And when I read that Anders is planning to build a tent for his Walkabout, I thought he might find it useful if I shared my thoughts.
My concerns about my current tent:
- The tent is only supported by the poles, and these are bendy. This means that when it's buffeted by the wind the poles can be deformed, weakened and split. (One night it was so windy I got dressed so I would be ready when the tent blew off the boat!)
- The ridge can't be held taut, so it doesn't shed water well and the tent sags in the middle. I've cured this to some extent by adding a ridge pole. Designer John Welsford suggested adding two poles to form an X between the two existing poles; I didn't get round to this – the ridge pole was a quick fix. I'm sure this would help, but it does mean more poles to carry and put together.
- Most conventional tunnel tents and many dome tents have guy ropes to resist wind from the side – this isn't possible with a boat. Angling the poles so the slope of the tent is more streamlined might help, this would also reduce the stress on the poles – it would however reduce interior space making sitting on the side benches difficult.
This Navigator moored 50 yards downstream has a much more substantial tent. I'm not sure whether the frame is wood or aluminium, but there's much less space in the Walkabout to stow bulky poles.