Shine was our first electric narrowboat, and in many ways an experiment. Because she was a speculative boat there was free reign on her design. No customers, but it couldn’t be a fantasy boat and had to appeal to a wide market.

With the building of the Mothership Houseboat we knew that a solar electric narrowboat was a possibility, but there were still many unknowns. We wanted an elegant solution that didn’t detract from the lines of a traditional narrowboat. In short, the technology needed to be elegant, understated and, bearing in mind we were funding it ourselves, affordable.

Narrowboats can be claustrophobic. This was overcome with a modern take on internal layout and the materials chosen. Reclaimed timber was used below the gunwales and for all bulkheads and doors. Above the gunwales a coach roof effect was created. Many people getting on to Shine ask if she is wider than normal narrowboats. With this comment it would appear that we have met our objectives.

The Arts and Crafts movement and the works of William Morris have had a major influence on Mothership’s design philosophy. The constant reference to nature and the hand made, near perfect philosophy that makes the Arts and Crafts movement so acceptable to us as humans.

Being on a narrowboat in the heart of the British Countryside motoring along silently, listening to nature on a boat that doesn’t fight that nature is a joy.


  • 15kW water-cooled electric motor
  • 5kW back-up generator
  • 57’ 6” Semi Trad reversed layout
  • 28.6kWh lead carbon battery
  • 3.6kW isolation transformer
  • Steel 10,6,5,4
  • 1.8kW integrated solar array
  • 8kW inverter
  • 2 pack paint system

Layout Description

Descending the steps on Shine from the aft deck, on your right there is an electrical cupboard and on the left the utilities cupboard and cloakroom. At the bottom of the steps you’re in the galley which includes a breakfast bar. Port side kitchen cabinets are full depth but the cabinets on the starboard side have had their depth reduced significantly giving the feeling of space.

From the galley it’s possible to see all the way through the boat and out of the forward doors. This design feature, whilst compromising to some extent the bathroom, throws light down through the centre of the boat and invites you forwards into the saloon.

The saloon features two chaise longues that have been specially made by Mothership to be multifunctional. Use them as a chaise longue, with the backs folded down as a bed and with a dining table neatly inserted into post holders in the floor this area becomes a dining area for six people.

The saloon also features a wood burning stove made from reclaimed materials and a tv which started life in the 1950’s at the Bush manufacturing facility.

The bathroom, in our opinion, is a Tardis measuring only 4’ in length, it holds a sink, a pump out toilet and a 2’ by 3’ shower. Again the choice of material and clever use of hidden space makes this a very comfortable bathroom to use.

If you’re on your own, a 4’ double bed is a luxury. With company it can be a torture chamber. Let’s face it we’re all better after a good night’s sleep. Shine features a drawbridge bed that stows electrically. In the down position it’s King Size 5’. It also gives easy access to the well deck should you need to go forwards without walking on the gunwale.

Side Elevation

Day Plan

Roof Plan

Sleeping plan

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