2013 04 07 Newsletter – Narrowboat Security

Living on a Narrowboat News 7th April 2013

I “celebrated” my 53rd birthday last Tuesday. How did I celebrate? A relaxing day on the boat? A fancy meal out? A fancy meal in? No. I worked during the day and then returned to the boat at the end of the day to discover that my online identity had been stolen.

I still don’t know how it happened, other than my laptop was hacked into, keystrokes logged, passwords recorded, all of the important web sites I’m registered with accessed, and passwords changed so I couldn’t get into them.

I had my main bank account contact details changed to an address and phone number in Bristol and an iPad ordered through my mobile phone account. My bank account has subsequently been frozen, soon to be shut down, so I now need to open a new account and go through the painful process of setting up a complete new list of payees. Because the new account won’t be live for another seven days, I am unable to pay bills, receive payments, or withdraw cash.

The account I use to receive payments for sales from the site was suspended. They still allowed money into the account, but I’m still not allowed to take any out. The bank was particularly concerned when they discovered that the hacker had stolen a copy of my passport from my hard drive to upload to their site to prove that they were me. When I phoned, they were in the process of restoring the account to fuull functionality which would have allowed the hacker to transfer some or all of the money out of the account.

I spent a fruitless hour reporting the crime to the police. They showed very little interest, even when I told them that I had the bogus address and mobile phone number that had been added to my bank account. They told me that they receive many hundreds of phone calls from people like me and that, unless they can spot a recurring trend in the reported hacking attempts, I’m unlikely to hear from them. The guy I spoke to even told me that assuming my identity isn’t actually a crime. They have to wait until the person assuming the identity attempts to defraud a company or individual before they can act.

One or two techies I’ve spoken to have heard that devices are being interfered with prior to them being purchased which may explain why the laptop’s pre installed anti virus software, Norton, didn’t pick this up.

I’ve now restored my new laptop to its factory settings to remove the offending code. All I need to do now is spend a couple of days reinstalling the software that took me a couple of days to install last week.

And then I have to wait for the best part of a week before I have a bank account again, and then set up all standing orders and direct debits, change my bank details with everyone I deal with online.

I used to be an angry young man. I’m much calmer these days, especially after moving onto James. However, I would love to spend just five minutes alone with the hacker so that I could explain, very clearly, just how displeased I am with him.

Narrowboat Security

On the subject of crime, my ex wife emailed me yesterday to let me know that her house, my old home, has been burgled for the second time in three months. The thieves escaped with the usual electronics; laptops, mobile phones, a X Box and a Play Station. They were in and out of the house in minutes and caused a considerable amount of physical and a huge amount of emotional damage.

Boats can be burgled too. I’m delighted to say that James hasn’t been burgled. In fact, to my knowledge, none of the boats here at Calcutt have been burgled. The marinas here are too risky for thieves. The main entrance is via a half mile private drive with closed electric gates outside of trading hours. The marinas are difficult for thieves to access from the canal too. We’re on the canal “offside”, the opposite side from the towpath, so anyone wanting to come onto the site from the canal either needs to do so by boat, or by walking over the lock gates.

If you’re going to take on a permanent mooring, from a security point of view, choose one which is on the canal offside. Thieves want easy access and exit. They tend to steer clear of moorings that they can’t sneak up on. There’s one marina in particular nearby where a quiet country lane runs close to the towpath. The thieves can park their vehicle next to towpath and quickly walk to the open gate to the marina next to the canal completely bypassing the marina’s electric gates. I don’t know how many of their boats are broken into, but I know they are.

Of course, the reason you’ve purchased a narrowboat is so that you can use it to cruise some or all of the network. You will be spending  as much time as possible away from your home mooring so you need to be aware of security measures when you’re on the move.

Apply the same common sense that you would to the security of either your home or your car. If you’re away from your care, make sure it’s locked and that the locks on your doors and hatches are secure. Consider fitting a steel locking bar to the bulkhead either side of your front and rear doors and fit a decent security padlock.

Consider storing items from your roof inside your boat including poles. planks and boat hooks. Always remove your tiller bar when you are away from your boat. Shiny brass is irresistible to towpath toerags. Consider carrying a spare tiller bar on the boat. If you don’t think the additional expense is worthwhile, try steering your boat for a while without one. Remember, your tiller bar can be dropped in the water as well as stolen.

Keep your valuables out of site. Close your curtains and hide laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

Consider fitting a timer to a LED lamp inside your boat to give the impression there’s someone on the boat.

Here’s a thread from the forum with some very useful security information for you. Please read it. I know from bitter personal experience what it’s like to be burgled. Prevention is always better than cure. Make sure you take action before it’s too late.

Canalside Dining

Sally and I enjoy the occasional meal out, but we’re often very disappointed. We leave the restaurant feeling that we could have prepared better food for a hell of a lot less if we stayed on the boat. Friday night was an exception.

We took Charlie and Daisy for a walk along the Grand Union at Braunston on Friday afternoon. We stopped for a brief comfort break at the Admiral Nelson on the Braunston flight between locks three and four. We used the loo, bought drinks and crisps and browsed their menu as we sat on a bench outside with the dogs. We liked what we saw both on the menu and in the restaurant area of the bar so booked a table for the evening. It’s a good job we booked.

We returned to the pub just after six wearing a little less mud to find it heaving with both diners and Braunston boatyard workers. One poor girl was running between bar and tables to keep everyone happy and we had to wait longer than we would have liked before we were served. We had to wait a while before our food order was taken and then served but, oh boy, was it worth the wait.

The pub’s steak of choice is Scottish Black Gold 28 matured and unbelievably tasty. The ribeye was served with balsamic roasted vine tomatoes, fondant shallots, Moreton Pinckney portabella mushroom, chunky chips served in an individual dinky deep fat fryer and balsamic dressed watercress. It was so good neither Sally nor I spoke throughout the meal. At £20 a steak it wasn’t cheap but we’ll definitely eat there again.

NB Doublefracture Case Study

Mick and Marlene are committed to their life afloat. They burned their bridges and sold their house to fund the purchase of their liveaboard narrowboat Doublefracture. Weird name, lovely boat! Here’s their story.

I apologise for the shortage of new information this week. I don’t have a great deal of time to spare at the best of times but having to find an extra twenty hours to deal with my identity theft last week has left me just a   little stressed. I’m going to relieve the stress in a minute by spending the day working on my lovely boat. It’s (finally) a beautiful spring day. I’m going to spend the next eight hours washing painting and polishing. I have two bottles of the best boat wax on the market. James if going to get a very serious buffing.

I know that Easter week is a holiday week for many people. If you were one of them, and didn’t have access to your email, you may have missed last week’s newsletter. Here it is.

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

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.

  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • 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

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
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.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.




Useful Information

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Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia wandered Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 35' Dutch motor cruiser. However, the pull of England's muddy ditches proved too much for them. Now they're back where they belong, constantly stuck in mud in a beautiful traditional narrowboat.