2013 08 18 Newsletter – Narrowboat Insurance

Living on a Narrowboat News 18th August 2013

In the last week I’ve spent my time either tearing my hair out or considering putting the fire on.

The thermometer has dropped particularly low over the past week but it’s been cool enough to be not quite comfortable on the boat early mornings and evenings. The problem I have is that my main source of heating, indeed my only source, is my solid fuel stove. The stove takes an hour to heat the boat up, by which time I don’t need it for long if at all.

I have two 500w greenhouse heaters which are great for taking the chill out of an autumnal evening but the inverter and my battery bank don’t like them at all. I’m trying very hard at the moment to live “off grid”( i.e. produce all my electrical power on board rather than plugging in the shore line). The only really effective solution is to have a central heating system fitted.

I have a very ineffective system at the moment which is very expensive to run. I have a gas fire in the rear cabin and a gas fired space heater in the centre of the boat. When I first moved on to the boat I used the gas heating but the cost was prohibitive. I was using a 13kg propane cylinder about every four or five days at a cost of £27 each.

In an ideal world I would have a diesel central heating system fitted in addition to the solid fuel stove, but the cost is a bridge too far at the moment. Calcutt’s own Hurricane heating system would cost about £3,500 fitted and maybe the cost of a full set of radiators and their fitting if my current radiators aren’t up to the job.

I don’t think I’m going to have central heating fitted any time soon. When and if we’re ready to cruise the network full time and leave the convenience of the marina, we’ll have to think about the issue again. In the meantime my little greenhouse heaters plugged in to the shore supply – charged at the extortionate rate of 20p per unit – will have to do.

I’ve been tearing my hair out because of my ongoing battle with technology.

This site uses the world’s most popular web site content management system, WordPress. In fact, as of March 2012, there were 72.4 million web sites using WordPress around the globe. In recent months WordPress sites have been subject to an increasing number of “brute force” attacks where a network of thousands of infected computers collectively try to guess access passwords for individual WordPress sites. Once access is achieved, the attackers create a “back door” to the site so that they can gain access regardless of passwords. The infected site is then added to the attacker’s network of computers.

In order to prevent authorised access to the web sites they maintain, hosting companies have done all that they can to increase security. One such security measure is to initiate an IP address white list rule whereby access to a site is only allowed by computers which have had their IP address manually added to the safe list.

My host initiated this rule for livingonanarrowboat.co.uk last week. They didn’t tell me. I couldn’t log in to the site. Nor could many site users. You may have been one of them.

This white list rule is OK if the site owner is the the only person or one of very few people who log in to the site. However with this site with users logging in on a daily basis to both the forum and the narrowboat budgeting software (there are currently over 7,000 registered users) adding each user’s IP address to the white list clearly won’t work.

If you couldn’t log in to the site last week, please accept my apologies. My host has now removed the rule so we’re back to normal. I’m looking at a number of alternative methods of restricting unauthorised access, but they shouldn’t affect you.

I’ve also been tearing out what little hair I have left because of my internet connection.

I use Three to connect to the internet. I’ve used their service for the last three years here at the marina and when I’ve been out cruising. I’ve been very pleased with their service generally but recently they “improved” their service. They upgraded from 3G to 3.9G which meant that I should have enjoyed much faster download speeds. Unfortunately I’ve enjoyed quite the reverse.

Over the last two weeks there have been days when for hours at a time I’ve had no internet connection at all and then, when I finally managed to get on line, there was virtually no signal worth talking about. It’s been very frustrating when I need to spend virtually all my free time on the internet working on the site.

Fortunately I now have another string to my bow. Calcutt Boats have finally upgraded their WiFi access. For years it’s only been available fairly close to the office. I understand the problems they’ve had. The grounds here are more extensive than many inland marinas offering WiFi access to their moorers. My mooring is over a quarter of a mile as the crow flies from the office.

The company has now overcome the problem by adding a repeater on a high mast on the peninsula next to James. If Three isn’t working I can now connect to Calcutt’s WiFi at a very acceptable 4.0 mb/s completely free of charge. I’m a very happy bunny.

Canal & River Trust Guide Approval

I have another reason to be happy this week… apart from living with a loving and considerate partner in the boat of my dreams on a tranquil mooring in an idyllic setting

The Canal & River Trust are now recommending this site, its guides and the budgeting software in the boating section of their own web site. I’ve been talking to them about a mutually beneficial relationship for the last six month and, oh boy, have there been a lot of hoops to jump through. They are very, very thorough.

The end result is that they officially approve of my guides Living On A Narrowboat: The REAL Cost Of A Life Afloat and Living On A Narrowboat: 21 Liveaboard Case Studies and my package Narrowbudget Gold (Best value). I’ve also agreed to share the revenue with them from any sales made as a result of referrals from their site. So, if you want an excellent source of information about narrowboats and the cost of buying and maintaining them and you want to make a worthwhile contribution to the organisation which looks after our beautiful waterways, you know what to do!

Narrowboat Insurance

Regular site visitor and forum poster Monzie has gone and done it. She’s bought herself a narrowboat to live on… and it’s a long way away from her home in South Africa. With a little help from her English friends, she’s found the perfect boat, secured a mooring here at Calcutt to use before she heads off on her travels and now she’s ploughing through all the other logistical issues of getting her boat ready to live on.

One of her tasks is to find the right insurance cover for her boat. She’s researched the subject well and has asked for quotes from the major narrowboat insurers. She’s very kindly added the results of her enquiries to a post on the forum. There’s some very useful information here if you’re in the market for insurance for your boat.

New Liveaboard Case Study – NB Badger SettNicky at the helm of Badger Sett Isn't she too young to retire?

Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57? “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network. They’re ridiculously young to retire, and I’m very, very jealous. Here’s their case study.

Free Guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

I introduced the new guide to you in last week’s newsletter. It’s a free download and it’s packed with useful articles. There’s an in depth look at both narrowboat electrical and heating systems, the best fuel to use in your solid fuel stove, solar power, what to look for if you’re considering buying a narrowboat to live on, what to look for if you’re considering a marina mooring, the ins and outs of narrowboat toilets, the pros and cons of living a life afloat, how to continuously cruise the canal network and much, much more, The guide also includes a full index of all the newsletters I’ve written over the last two years and another index of the most useful forum posts.

Last week I told you that, because the I hadn’t found the time to properly format the guide and give it the polished look you would expect from an eBook with a price attached to it, the guide was available to download free of charge. Well, I finally managed to find the time to spruce it up. The guide is now looking pretty enough to offer it for sale, but I’m not going to just yet.

For the next couple of days I’m going to leave it as a free download. This is the spruced up version and I’ve added more content to it. The guide now contains just over 65,000 words, or about the same as an average paperback, so there’s plenty of bed-time reading for you. The guide will only be available for the next 48 hours before I repackage it slightly and offer it for sale. If you want to take advantage of an opportunity to download a huge amount of narrowboat information completely free of charge, you need to click on the link below PDQ!

Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat ArticlesClick here to download the guide. You’ll need to add your email address to the form in order to receive the download link. If you use the email address this newsletter is sent to, you will only receive an email from me telling you how to download the guide. If you use a different email address, you’ll also receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. If you click on the link in the confirmation email, you’ll be added to the newsletter list again and you’ll receive two copies of the newsletter every Sunday. Much as I want you to receive my regular newsletters, I don’t think there’s any point in you getting it twice so, if you’re already a subscriber, please ignore the confirmation email.

Downsizing From A House To A Narrowboat

Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the logistics of moving your life from a relatively spacious house to a floating cigar tube. No matter how tidy and organised you are you simply can’t fit a lifetime of accumulated household possessions on a boat. The temptation, rather than selling everything you’ve worked so hard for to buy, and selling it at a fraction of the purchase cost, is to put everything into storage.

That’s exactly what Sally and I did when Sally moved her life on board narrowboat James just over thirteen months ago. Sally had been living pretty much full time on the boat for at least six months before that, but she hadn’t burned her bridges. She still had her house to go back to when she felt like a change or when she wanted a break from either me or my boat.

After six months afloat she acknowledged that she loved the boat, as did her two spaniels Charlie and Daisy, she agreed that she could tolerate me full time so she decided to put tenants into her house, move all of her possessions out of the property and move in with me full time.

Although James is, for a narrowboat, perfect for living aboard with more cupboards and drawers than you can shake a stick at, there’s no room for most of the contents of the smallest of houses. Sally didn’t want to sell or give away her household items. I can understand that. We hired a 20′ long x 10′ wide “half” container for £70PCM in the village of Napton two miles away from the marina.

I wrote the post before we’d made the decision to put everything into storage. I didn’t know whether it was a good idea at the time. I didn’t know whether we’d actually use the storage unit or whether the furniture, tools and equipment would just gather dust as we threw £840 a year down the drain.

Last week I updated the post. If you’re considering downsizing and you have a removal van full of stuff you don’t know what to do with, you’ll find this post interesting reading.

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over three years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far. I’ve managed to reach the end of 2012. I’ll add the rest next week.

11th January 2011 – 1st Newsletter

Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

8th January 2012

The first four narrowboat case studies published

I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study

Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study

Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study

Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.

22nd January 2012

Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.

4th March 2012

Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat

eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)

Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat

A review of Debdale Wharf marina

18th March 2012

The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments

Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.

 1st April 2012

As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.

15th April 2012

Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips

Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all

Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats

29th April 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports

13th May 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and

Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly

27th  May 2012

How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.

Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke

10th June 2012

Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson

18th September 2012

I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.

VAT on narrowboat sales

30th September 2012

The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners

14th October 2012

Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs

Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home

17th October 2012

I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date

28th October 2012

An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways

Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

2nd December 2012

Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat

Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer

Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

24th December

Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis

I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.

8th January 2013

Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.

Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27′ GRP cruiser to a 50′ narrowboat

20th February 2013

The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.

3rd March 2013

Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test

Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.

Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.

Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013

11th March 2013

James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring

17th March 2013

Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start

Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution

Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013

Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.

24th March 2013

Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.

Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.

Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.

31st March 2013

Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.

Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.

7th April 2013

Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article

Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.

14th April 2013

The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.

21st April 2013

The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?

Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop

RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivelent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

28th April 2013

Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.

5th May 2013

Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold

Meet one of your legless canal side companions

The canal network’s largest floating hotel

12th May 2013

An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network

An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings

19th May 2013

My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.

Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.

Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.

26th May 2013

Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.

Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story

2nd June 2013

An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list

9th June 2013

I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.

16th June 2013

The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt

Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours

Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.

23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?

Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.

Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.

30th June 2013

Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.

Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.

7th July 2013

Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.

14th July 2013

Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.

21st July 2013

Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.

28th July 2013

The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.

4th August 2013

The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?

11th August 2013

A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring

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.

  • Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
  • Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
  • Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
  • Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
  • Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
  • The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
  • 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
  • “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
  • Post & Postal Addresses For Continuous Cruisers – You need an address in order to receive post and open bank accounts, register for doctors and hospitals etc. How do continuous cruisers with no fixed abode manage it.
  • Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
  • It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
  • Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
  • VAT On New Narrowboats – Can you knock 20% off the cost of your new narrowboat?
  • Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
  • Narrowboat Burglary – Two boats burgled at the same location. Where is it and what can you do to minimise the risk of theft from your own boat wherever you are?
  • Insuring Your Car When You Live On A Boat – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
  • Remedies For Sooty Stove Glass – For me, one of the great pleasures of living on a narrowboat is a winter evening in front of a flickering fire. Here’s how you can keep your stove glass clear so you can see the fire in all its glory
  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • 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.

Muttley - Sunday,18 August, 2013


Hi Paul,
Check out solar glass heat tubes, I have many of them and I get unbelievable heat from them and maybe you guys can adapt them to heat your boats. The tubes heat pipe can get around 260 Deg C+ and can heat a tank of water then send hot water through radiators. Only works during sunlight hours but will keep the the boat worm for you home return. Here is a Google link http://www.google.com.au/#bav=…..heat+tubes You could even use a solar panel to power the pump when the sun shines, just a thought,

pearley - Monday,19 August, 2013

I think there would be too many problems with using them on a boat, not least with making sure they always faced the sun and piping the water into a steel boat.

In most modern boats the water is heated by both the central heating and engine cooling water via a twin circuit calorifier. Adding solar to this would mean a third circuit or a system of changeover valves or at certain times we would be heating the solar panel rather than the other way around.

However, I have seen a solar water heater on a boat in the form of a panel hung from the handrails facing the sun with filler and tap to drain the heated water off when required.

Too much messing about for me though.





Muttley - Monday,19 August, 2013

Hi Pete,
I can see your point but here is how I would do it and some facts.
Install 8 – 10 tubes and run through dedicated radiator or boats radiator.
Tubes can pick up sun light from any angle unlike power producing solar cells, so can be placed on the roof in any location.
Tubes work on radiation from the sun, so even cloudy days will produce heat.
Install cheap low power 12v or 24v pump to recirculate hot water.
Cheap to buy from EBay.
If not running through all radiators, then a single unit should keep uncle frost away.
Only problem is that the tubes has to be on an angle, so can only be used if stationary or no low tunnels or bridges if installed on roof.



Alan - Tuesday,20 August, 2013

Hi Paul,

Congratulations on getting CART approval.  I could not find anything on their site, though.  Where about is it?

Very kind of you to allow the new book download free of charge, thank you.





Paul Smith - Tuesday,20 August, 2013

Go to the Boating section of the Trust web site, and scroll down the page. It’s just below “Get your license online”


Alan - Tuesday,20 August, 2013

Paul Smith said
Go to the Boating section of the Trust web site, and scroll down the page. It’s just below “Get your license online”

That is far too obvious – I was looking in obscure sections – well done and thoroughly deserved for all your work.



Comments are closed