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2013 10 06 Newsletter – Water, Water Everywhere… And Not A Drop To Drink

Living on a Narrowboat News 6th October 2013

Last week I told you that I had taken one of our hire boats to Braunston and moored it there ready to tow a broken down boat back to Calcutt. I set off for Braunston on Sunday as soon as I finished the newsletter. It wasn’t the best of days for towing a flat bottomed boat six miles along a narrow, winding canal with plenty of traffic on it. There was a stiff easterly breeze blowing which made traveling slowly and keeping in a straight line quite a challenge.

Going too slowly with a strong wind blowing was a recipe for disaster as we were blown towards the moored boats so, as usual when it’s a bit breezy, I cruised past moored craft slightly faster than I would have liked to. It’s always a fine balance on days like this between upsetting owners of moored boats by passing them too quickly, and upsetting them even more by passing them too slowly in the wind and being blown into them.

I didn’t hit any moored boats but I did “jackknife” the two boats on two occasions. I’m sure to an experienced working boatman towing an unpowered butty, negotiating ninety degree bends without the butty pushing the boat in front in a direction it doesn’t want to go is no problem at all but, on two occasions it was beyond me.

There was no harm done though. I managed to stop both boats before we hit anything and then just had to spend five minutes poling the lead boat until it was pointing in the right direction again.

Apart from these two brief mishaps the journey was uneventful and very pleasant. We took about half an hour longer than the journey normally takes, including the time it took to untie the two boats, breast them up through Calcutt Top Lock, then reverse the harnessed pair onto our wharf. I was back on my boat by 3.30pm enjoying a cup of coffee and congratulating myself on a job almost well done.

Liveaboard Case Study – Miss George

It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around and all kinds of people with their varying likes and dislikes to make the inland waterways such an interesting place. One person’s ideal mooring is another person’s idea of hell. After testing the lifestyle by taking a narrowboat holiday in the depths of winter, Jaks and Andy have now lived on their own narrowboat for four years on a rustic farm mooring on the cut with no facilities. Here’s their case study. Read on to find out why their perfect mooring would be my personal nightmare.

Managing Your Water Supply In The Winter

The idea of a tranquil online mooring attached to a farm on the quiet and peaceful Ashby canal really appeals to me. However, what really doesn’t appeal to me is having to work but not having any facilities on the mooring. Jaks and Andy don’t have either water or electricity where they moor. The electricity isn’t so much of a problem. They just have to be very organised with their charging regime. Their water management is more difficult.

There are two major hurdles to overcome if you need to work full time and have a mooring with no access to water. Firstly, you need to monitor your water usage and plan when to top it up. Topping up involves moving your boat from your mooring to the nearest water point, waiting for half an hour or more while the water tank fills, then returning to your mooring. Of course you will need to be able to turn your boat around both at or close to your mooring and at or close to the water point. Turning your boat will often involve cruising past both mooring and water point to the nearest winding hole (turning point).

Jaks and Andy are on the Ashby canal so they don’t have any locks to contend with. Locks are another significant consumer of time if they are between your mooring and the nearest water supply.

In total, topping up your water at a nearby water point could take you several hours of your very valuable free time at the end of a hard day’s work – a job which can be even more painful if the weather is less than perfect.

Imagine coming home from work after a long and hard day at work. It’s good to be back on your warm and cosy boat. You slip off your shoes, glance out of your window, watch the mallards fussing about in the shallows and the bull rushes dancing in the breeze, and you start to unwind. The first thing you reach for is the kettle to make your self a glad-to-be-back cup of coffee. Cough… splutter… spit….

You’ve run out of water. You can’t have a coffee, a shower to wash the day’s dirt off and you can’t wash your dishes. It’s a Monday. Both you and your other half have another four days to work before a well earned weekend break. You’ve no choice. You have to take your boat to the water point and your whole evening has been ruined.

Your other half doesn’t get back from work for another hour so you call her to let her know that you’ve run out of water… again. She’s not going to be happy. She’s always a bit irritable when she’s tired, and she’s always tired when she gets back from an eight hour shift at the factory. And she always has a shower the minute she gets back.

You pull out your mobile to tell her the bad news. More bad news. You don’t have a signal. You’re on a mooring in the middle of nowhere and you always struggle to get a signal for your phone. Today is no different. You have a difficult decision to make. It’s 6pm. Julie isn’t due back until 7pm. You can wait until she gets back to the boat before you set off, ensuring that she doesn’t arrive at where the boat should be moored but isn’t. You won’t incur her immediate wrath, but you will delay her much needed shower and your much needed coffee by an hour. The alternative is to leave a note on your car, hope she sees it and doesn’t mind sitting in her car until you return, and set off for the water point immediately.

You decide on the latter. One hastily scribbled note later, two untied ropes, and you’re on your way…

You would be on your way if you could get off your mooring. There hasn’t been much rain recently so the water level is about six inches lower than normal. There isn’t much water on your mooring at the best of times. Now your boat is resting on the mud. You jump off your boat onto the bank leaving the boat in gear and rock furiously from side to side to help unstick it.

After fifteen minutes of frustrating and exhausting work, your boat reluctantly slides backwards into the deeper water in the middle of the canal. You’re off! But, of course, you’re off in the wrong direction. You have to cruise for a mile to the nearest winding hole before you can turn and head back up the canal to the water point.

At the winding hole you try to turn your boat, but there’s a stiff breeze coming from behind you so the bow just won’t come round. A simple three point turn becomes an exercise in frustration as you slide the full length of the winding hole at an angle of forty five degrees. In the end, you force your bow into the bank to anchor the boat so you can swing it round.

After half an hour’s cruising you arrive back at your mooring but thankfully now heading towards the water point. Another fifteen minutes and the water point’s in sight. Damn! There’s another boat on it. The owner has only just arrived and hasn’t even started to fill up yet.

Your shoulders slump as you nose your boat into position behind him. Julie will be arriving back at the mooring any minute now. You still can’t get a  signal on your phone so you have to hope that she will find your note. Even if she finds it, you know you’re not going to be back at your mooring for at least another hour. Julie will have to sit in her car and wait. The sky’s an ominous grey and fat drops of cold rain are splattering against your upturned and rather unhappy face. Tonight is not going to be a shining example of matrimonial bliss. Julie will be very unhappy.

Twenty minutes later, the boat in front has moved off, you’ve moved forward and you can finally start to fill your water tank.

After another twenty minutes your tank is full so you’re ready to head back to your mooring. Off you go, again in the wrong direction. You have to cruise another half mile to the next winding hole before you can turn your boat again.

It’s now half past seven. Julie is very punctual. You know she will have been waiting for you now for thirty minutes. You also know that she’s not the most patient person in the world and you know she’s going to remind you, very vocally and at great length, just how often she’s told you how unhappy she is mooring so far away from a water point.

Just to compound your misery, the rain is now bouncing off your roof and running in rivers down your neck. You arrive back at your mooring cold, wet and miserable but, by the look of Julie’s face, dimly seen through a misted up car windscreen where’s she’s now been parked and has been waiting for quite some time, you’re not as miserable as you will be in about ten minutes time… IF you can get your boat back on the mud flat which passes for a mooring.

Of course, I’ve painted a particularly miserable picture, the worst case scenario and one which probably wouldn’t apply to you. But it might, and it might actually be more difficult than the picture I’ve painted.

Forty Litre AquarollPeggy Melmouth, narrowboat blogger and ex liveaboard, wrote about the difficulty she faced trying to keep her water topped up during a particularly hard winter. Nearly every year the canals freeze solid at least for a day or two. During my first winter on board the canals were frozen under four or five inches of ice from the last week in November until the first week in January. Nighttime temperatures dropped to a decidedly chilly minus eighteen. On two consecutive days we had highs of minus six.

Nothing moved on the canals for a month and a half.

Peggy had an online mooring without any facilities. That winter she couldn’t move her boat to the water point for six weeks. It’s possible to plough your way through an inch or more of ice but you can do serious damage to your boat (one coal boat that year nearly sunk ploughing through ice to reach customers) and if you push your way through even a thin layer of ice you can kiss goodbye to the hull’s protective paint around the waterline.

Peggy couldn’t take her boat to the water, so she had to bring water to the boat.  She used an Aquaroll. An Aquaroll is a rolling water carrier designed for caravanners to easily transport a 40l drum of water from a water point on a caravan site back to the caravan. It’s a great idea. one litre of water weighs 1kg so a 40l drum, excluding the weigh of the drum, weighs 40kg or 88lb (just over six stone). Rolling is much, much easier than carrying. However, there’s a big difference between rolling the drum a hundred metres or so along the well kept ground of a camp site and taking the drum for a walk a mile or more along an overgrown towpath. That’s what Peggy had to do.

After walking  over a mile to the water point with her Aquaroll in tow, Peggy had a rather unpleasant surprise. The tap at the water point was frozen solid. If your boat is near a frozen water point it’s an easy enough task to unfreeze it with a kettle full of boiling water. Peggy didn’t have her boat with her though. It was frozen into the ice. She had no way of thawing the tap so had to return to her boat with her empty Aquaroll.

Not that forty litres of water would have lasted very long.

I have a small water tank on James but my small water tank is still 350 litres – nearly nine times the size of Peggy’s rolling water supply. With normal use, our 350 litre tank lasts us four or five days at the most or between seventy and ninety litres a day. Forty litres doesn’t last long at all. An average five minute shower uses sixty litres. Our washing up bowl holds eleven litres.

At a push we could make 40 litres last a day without resorting to ridiculous measures like going without showers for a couple of days at a time or compromising on the water we use to wash dishes or clothes. We could do it, but we wouldn’t want to. Where we moor we don’t have to but three years ago during my first winter on board I heard many tales of boats without water and the lengths the liveaboard owners had to go to just to survive.

They didn’t (couldn’t) shower on their boat so they had to resort to using public facilities or relying on the hospitality of friends or relatives. They transported ridiculously heavy but completely inadequate supplies of water along the towpath. They used shop bought bottled water when they couldn’t get any from water points.

That winter was exceptionally cold. The coldest on record in fact. Most winters aren’t nearly as cold. Most of the time the canals are free of ice. And even in the worse conditions there are many, many places you can moor where a constant supply of running water isn’t a problem. Most boaters didn’t have a problem that winter or any other winter. But they, more by design than by accident, where in the right place when the Arctic weather struck.

As I said earlier a rural mooring without at least a water supply, no matter how tranquil and idyllic, just wouldn’t suit me at all. I know how much the regular ordeal of simply topping up my water tank would bother me. It would cause me far too much stress and inconvenience. Maybe you’re much more laid back than I am so the prospect of a twice weekly jaunt to the nearest water point in all weathers, and maybe even in the dark during the short winter days, would fill you with joy.

I enjoy living on a narrowboat because it’s a more basic way of life living closer to nature. I don’t mind basic, but I don’t want it to be too painful.

 More Tales From The American Among Us

I’ve just added another article written by our roving American friend. Richard writes eloquently about his encounter with an Englishman in a lock whose command of the English language wasn’t quite so well developed. If you’ve ever taken your boat through a lock where a fellow boater was less than helpful, you’ll be able to relate to this story.

Richard doesn’t just write about the canals he cruises on. He also writes about the people he meets on his travels. I think his articles are fascinating. I hope you do too. You’ll find links to his stories, including his latest episode “Me Missus”, at the bottom of his case study here.

Suggestions Please!

I’ve been writing regular newsletters for a couple of years now. During the first year they were every two weeks or so. To be honest, the frequency was a bit hit and miss. My New Year’s resolution, and one that I’m delighted to say that I’ve kept, was to send out a newsletter every Sunday, rain or shine. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

Can you let me know what you would like to read in the future? Are there any areas of narrowboat life you don’t think I’ve covered enough or areas which I’ve missed completely? Please let me know what you want to read about. Thanks for your help.

New Kindle Narrowboat Guide

In the last few newsletters I’ve mentioned my new guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. It’s a free download as a PDF here. It’s also no available on Amazon as a Kindle download. I’ve tried to make it available free of charge but I can’t work out how to do it so it’s been published at the lowest price setting of £1.99. The Kindle edition is here.

 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 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

18th August 2013

CART Guide Approval – The waterways’  governing body is now promoting the information packages available from this site. Yippee!

Narrowboat Insurance – A summary of insurance quotes from the major narrowboat insurers

Liveaboard Case Study – 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

Downsizing from a 3 bed semi to a narrowboat – What do you do with a lifetime’s accumulated possessions?

25th August 2013

Effective fly killers for boats

The downside to living on a narrowboat

Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.

1st September 2013

Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube

All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller

8th September

A disaster – I inadvertantly deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!

15th September

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

22nd September

A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees

Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site

29th September

The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free

Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.

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.

  • GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
  • Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
  • Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
  • Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
  • Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
  • A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
  • Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
  • 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
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.