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Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.

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2013 02 10 Newsletter – Login Problems Resolved

Living on a Narrowboat News 10th February 2013

It’s the middle of February. Can you believe it? The snowdrops are out, the daffodils are poking their heads through the recently frozen ground and there’s just a hint of warmth in the sun (when it’s out).

I always feel that the winter’s on its way out when I can find my boat without the aid of a torch when I finish work. I’ve reached that stage of the year now and it’s a great psychological boost. Before long, I’ll be sitting on the front deck for an hour or two after a hard day’s work. Not that I’m complaining about my work.

I spent all day yesterday moving part of our hire fleet from the wharf, down through two locks and into the marina. The Trust are doing some long overdue maintenance work on Calcutt middle and bottom locks from 11th February to 1st March.

Calcutt bottom lock is leaking so badly that more, often than not, mud flats are showing in the pound between the middle and the bottom lock. It’s not a problem for boats navigating the locks because the central channel is still quite deep, but it’s not very pleasant for boats using our temporary moorings there. So I spent my working day yesterday boating in the winter sunshine and shooting the breeze with fellow boaters at the locks. It’s not a bad way to earn a living!

Future Newsletters

I’ve been told by someone who knows what he’s talking about that I haven’t been doing anyone any favours by sending you pretty newsletters complete with photographs and fancy formatting. He told me that many of the intended rescipients wouldn’t actually receive it because of server restrictions and bandwidth filters. I’ve taken his advice and put the newsletter on the site with just a simple link to it from here.

Log in issues fixed

For the last couple of months, I’ve been waffling on about transferring subscriber details from one part of the site to another, why I was doing it, and the confusion that it has cause to some of you when you tried to log in. You’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve done it now. I’ve also found out why some users weren’t automatically logged into the forum when they logged into the site. It’s a quick fix but you need to let me know if you’re one of them. Please read this post to ensure that you don’t have any further problems. Please note that your login details are at the bottom of this newsletter.

Calculating your narrowboat maintenance cost is now even easier

The enhanced version of the narrowboat budgeting software, Narrowbudget Gold, includes workbook with all of my narrowboat expenditure for 2012. It’s a great way for you to find out the costs you’re likely to face if you’re new to boating. However, different liveaboard lifestyles mean different expenditure. I live and work at a marina. I don’t do much cruising at all and I’m very lucky to have both mains power and a water supply close to the boat. Also, because James isn’t totally self-sufficient with regard to electricity generation,and because I don’t have an on board central heating system, I have to rely on mains powered electrical heaters to supplement the solid fuel stove, which means that my electricity bills are quite high. In order to supply a more balanced view of narrowboat maintenance costs, I had added another workbook to Narrowbudget Gold.

At the beginning of July last year, I published the case study of James and Debbie Ward on their cruiser stern narrowboat Lois Jane. At the beginning of 2102 James and Debbie decided to take a well earned gap year after two decades of hectic work. They won’t be going back to that lifestyle. They’re going to carry on cruising the network for as long as they can.

James has kindly added a workbook to Narrowbudget Gold with details of all of his expenditure for last year. Many of his costs are quite similar to my own, but some of them are very different. By comparing these two data sets, you’ll get a very good idea of what your own narrowboat is likely to maintain. You can find out more about Narrowbudget here. (Please note that if you’ve already bought one of my guides, you should have received an email offering you a substantial discount).

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

Now that the forum login problems have been resolved, forum posts and visits have seen a dramatic increase. There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.


Useful Information
Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.