2013 10 20 Newsletter – Dealing With Condensation On Boats

Living on a Narrowboat News 20th October 2013

I’m in Nottingham this morning. I have a hangover. I can’t understand why. I had two small cans of Foster’s last night. That’s all. I don’t ever enjoy a hangover but I can at least accept one when there’s good reason. I’m drinking less and less these days. I suppose my reluctance to swallow large quantities of mood altering liquid has something to do with the fact that, thanks to my lifestyle, I’m more than happy with my state of mind most of the time.

Maybe it’s not a hangover. Maybe I’m just suffering because neither Sally nor I slept very well last night.

There was no gentle quacking from nearby mallards or screeches from chaotic coots, no swish as the wind brushed the bowing bull rushes against the boat, no quiet squeak from the rubber fenders caught between the boat’s hull and the wooden jetty. And no soothing rocking enticing us closer to our dreams.

Nothing. Just a regular sized bed – a very large bed by boating standards – in a room isolated from the much loved sounds of nature by very effective double glazing. Double glazing with windows we couldn’t open because they were locked and our hosts had gone to bed.

The unpleasant heat didn’t help achieve a restful night either. Sally and I are used to sleeping in the coldest part of the boat. We’re quite happy, and very comfortable, with a temperature of twelve or thirteen degrees. The radiator in our room last night was on all night. We couldn’t turn it off.

Much as I love the company of Sally’s daughter Maricar and her partner Ollie, I’ll be glad to get back to our beloved boat tonight. Occasionally, and very briefly, I think that this boating lark is too much like hard work. But on the rare nights when we are away from James I can’t wait to get back to tranquillity.

My head’s clearing a bit now – I think it was just lack of much needed fresh air in the bedroom – so on with the important stuff.

I’ve been receiving an increasing number of emails with suggestions for newsletter content. They’re all very welcome. I’ll gladly consider all the suggestions you want to throw at me so if there’s something about narrowboat life you want to know, and you think it worthy of a mention in the newsletter, please let me know.

A rather appropriate suggestion for this time of the year was for some pointers on dealing with the problem faced by all boat owners, condensation. It was a great suggestion. Here you are…

Dealing With Condensation On Boats

I had more than my share of condensation issues when I first moved on to James. The boat had been moored in the marina since 1997 when it was bought from the original owner by my boss, Roger Preen. He used it very little. In 2006 he moved James from Calcutt’s Locks marina to the boat’s new berth in the brand new Meadows marina.

The new location offered a better view on a more spacious mooring. The mooring also offered full exposure to the prevailing south westerly and the rain it carried over the four years before I moved on board. The wind and the rain scoured the port side until the paint hung off the boat in ribbons showing the Masonite underneath. Maronite is a fibreboard and because it’s fibreboard it doesn’t react very well to exposure to the elements. The sheet joins had started to swell and curl allowing water through the joints in the roof and on the port side which bore the full brunt of the prevailing wind.

In anything heavier than a light shower I had to empty the kitchen cupboards of pots and pans to place under the drips through the ceiling. There was water damage to the Parana pine cladding in both the dining and bedroom areas. The curtains were mouldy as were the bench seat covers and the mattress.

Rain found other ways into the boat too.

There’s a hinged steel hatch in my small trad stern deck to allow access to weed hatch. There’s a drain to catch any rain which finds its way through the hatch edges. The drain was blocked so years of rain falling onto the back deck had overflowed the drain channel into the engine bay. The water had then passed through a hole in the bulkhead between the engine room and bedroom soaking the underside of the wooden flooring in the bedroom.

When I moved on board the boat was very damp indeed.

I bought a Dehumidifier DD122FW-Mk4. For the first month on board I had it on every minute of every day. It soaked up gallons and gallons of water. Unfortunately I didn’t realise then that I was wasting my time. The dehumidifier was fighting a losing battle trying to deal with the constant inflow of water from the engine room. I didn’t realise at the time how much the dehumidifier cost to run either.

I’ve cured the leak in the engine room now so I’ll be very interested to see how much moisture the dehumidifier collects this winter. We haven’t used it yet, but we will before the month is out. We try to use it sparingly because it isn’t cheap to run. At 500w it’s too much of a drain on the batteries, so we power it via the shore line. Electricity at Calcutt is charged at £0.20 per kwh so the dehumidifier costs 10p per hour to run. The month I had it on full time in 2010 my electricity bill for the dehumidifier alone was £72.

Now we tend to have it on for just a couple of hours a day in the winter. I was going to tell you that we haven’t started using it yet this year but while I was writing the newsletter Sally brought the dehumidifier back from our storage unit.  I had it running for ten hours yesterday in our bedroom with all the doors and the windows closed so that only moisture from the room itself was removed. The dehumidifier removed a very impressive and slightly worrying 1.9 litres.

The cost of extracting nearly half a gallon of unwanted water was £1.00 and was money very well spent. The duvet, mattress and pillow cases are now noticeably lighter and drier. The room feels warmer and more cosy. The damp has crept up on us over the summer months. I’ll need to run it now at least a week until the spring.

The dehumidifier didn’t totally cure the damp problems in the bedroom. We had an ongoing problem with our mattress (and no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve reached a certain age). The underside was constantly damp. Actually it was more wet than damp. I had read that drilling holes in the bed base to allow air to circulate would cure the problem. Our bed base already had holes in it so we had to look for another solution.

We found the cure in an online nautical mattress store. ShipShape Bedding sell a very effective and rather expensive anti condensation layer you cut to shape and lay between your mattress and the bed base. The company claim that the results are astonishing. They’re right. It works. Our mattress is far, far dryer now than it’s ever been.

The first step in curing the damp of course had to be making sure that the boat was watertight. I did that by sending James away to have the Masonite cabin over plated with steel. When the boat returned two weeks later I had my first in-at-the-deep-end experience of narrowboat painting. The aesthetic result was passable but my main goal of ensuring that James was completely protected from the weather was achieved.

Once we knew that no more rain was going to further damage the interior, we bought a new mattress, had all the seats recovered and Sally spent a week hunched over her sewing machine to knock up eleven pairs of curtains.

We now have a dry and mostly warm boat. I say mostly warm because the only heat source is the stove which is on the starboard side about three feet from the front of a forty seven feet long cabin with doors across the boat to section off the bathroom (and to also ensure that virtually no heat reaches the back end of the boat).

There’s a radiator in the bedroom fed by the stove’s back boiler but as the radiator is gravity fed, and as the pipe that runs between the stove and the radiator forty feet away, the water is lukewarm at best. Consequently the bedroom is really the only part of the boat which now needs a blast with the dehumidifier every now and then.

A final aid to minimise moisture build up is ensuring that we have roof and door vents open at all times, even in the depths of winter, and the windows open when and where practical.

Just to finish off, here’s a comment on the subject by Waterway’s World technical editor Mark Langley I’ve copied from their web site.

 “Good levels of ventilation is the key! If you are living aboard, then plenty of high and low level vents are very important. If the moisture has nowhere to go, it will condense out, causing mould, woodwork distortion, etc.

Another important point is keeping the air warm, preferably with a source of dry heat (like solid fuel stoves, or radiators). Gas cookers produce large amounts of moisture, as does washing, showering, or even just breathing! You need to be achieving total air changes of greater than 4 times the internal volume, per hour.

Solar vents can be useful, but better on unattended craft.

Anhydrous calcium chloride crystals will only absorb around 1 litre of water per 500g crystals. Considering that the 230V mains dehumidifier (which consumes 200W from the land line) can easily, in winter, extract 5 litres of moisture per 24hours, the crystal ones are next to useless on boats!

If you live aboard in winter, seriously consider a mains dehumidifier. If you don’t stay aboard, leave a couple of windows open and ensure that your ventilation is up to scratch!

As for double glazing on boats, it works. The other alternative is to ensure good sealing (varnish, etc) of the wood, and regularly wash and dry your curtains! The latter is a good long-term solution!”

Two Organisations For Liveaboard Boaters

This is another suggestion sent in to me. The Association of Continuous Cruisers is less than a month old but they already claim to have secured cheaper winter moorings for continuous cruisers. I emailed John Sloan asking for more information. He’s kindly sent me their press release. I also asked him how many members they currently have and how many they hope to attract in the fullness of time. I haven’t received an answer from him. At just £10 for a year’s membership it’s certainly worth looking into.

I’ve reproduced the press release below along with John’s email address if you want more information.

The Association of Continuous Cruisers is a newly-formed independent organisation, officially launching on the 27th September 2013. As well as providing support and advice to its members, the Association intends to advocate for the interests of all its members.

Britain’s 5,000 continuous cruisers enjoy a lifestyle that is distinctive due to both the benefits and restrictions that accompany boating without a designated home mooring, which is protected and regulated by Section 17 of the British Waterways Act 1995. The Association of Continuous Cruisers feels that many of the issues that continuous cruisers face (such as access to medical treatment, and the provision of winter moorings) are unique to continuous cruisers, and the Association intends to provide advocacy and support to its members in tackling these and other day-to-day issues.

One of the core tenets of the Association of Continuous Cruisers’ mission is to represent the interests of its members and ensure that the Canal & River Trust hear their voices, by building a positive working relationship with the Trust in perpetuity.

A number of continuous cruisers successfully negotiated with the Canal & River Trust earlier in 2013 to change the allocation process and pricing structure for online winter moorings, resulting in lower-priced winter moorings being available to all continuous cruisers for the winter of 2013/2014.

Lesley Jordan, founder member of the Association of Continuous Cruisers said: “Continuous cruisers make up a small but significant demographic of boaters. Up until now, there has been no formal organisation with the sole purpose of advocating for continuous cruisers, a situation that has weakened the voice and negotiating power of individual continuous cruisers when dealing with the Canal & River Trust and other organisations.”

One of the main aims of the Association of Continuous Cruisers is to raise awareness of the positive role that continuous cruisers play within the wider waterways community, and challenge negative perceptions about the reality of the role of the continuous cruiser.

Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “Continuous cruisers make an important contribution to the life and vibrancy of our waterways and so the creation of the Association of Continuous Cruisers is a positive step forward which we very much welcome. We hope the new Association will help improve communications and mutual understanding between continuous cruisers, the Trust and other boating groups. The more we all work together the more we can improve the waterways we all care for.”

Regular meetings for Association of Continuous Cruisers members will be held across the waterways system, with members and potential members encouraged to keep in touch online, and by spreading the word to other boaters that they meet on their travels. Roving traders such as coal boats and other cruising businesses that cover large parts of the network will also be used to spread the word and keep the Association’s members up to date.

The official launch of the newly-formed Association of Continuous Cruisers on the 27th September 2013 will coincide with the Birmingham Floating Market event on the same date, which is organised by continuous cruisers to highlight the contribution that roving traders make to the canal system.

Anyone wishing further information should contact John Sloan on 07759207846 or send him an email

New Google Search

This site has been created using the web’s most popular content management software, WordPress. It’s the web’s most popular management software because it’s not only very good at what it does but it’s also free to use. WordPress excels in many, many areas but it lets the side down a bit when it comes to its default site search facility. Quite frankly, it’s rubbish.

I’ve always been frustrated with the very poor results it returns but I’ve been too busy to do anything about it… until last week.

I’ve taken the bull by the horns and installed Google Custom Search Engine (CSE). Google CSE makes a huge difference to finding information on what is now quite a large site. With over 500 posts and pages on the main part of the site and 3,500 posts on the forum, you could spend hours trawling through the various categories and indexes.

All that has changed now. The Google site search engine does its job very well indeed. I spent half an hour playing around with it yesterday and found stuff I had forgotten I’d written.

The new search engine is in the same place as the old one at the top of the right hand column on the main part of the site. You can’t see it when you’re on the forum, But if you click on the “Home” link just below the forum search box you’ll be taken to the site’s home page where you’ll see the search box at the top on the right. Use the search facility on the home page from now on rather than the search box on the forum page. The forum search only searches though the forum posts but the Google search box searches the main part of the site and the forum.

Enjoy your searching!

Speeding On The (Virtual) Waterways

One of the many pleasures of traveling the UK’s canal and river network is the ability to take life as slowly as you like. Dawdling is encouraged rather than criticised. Taking it easy is the name of the game and it’s a game we all want to play. We all want to take it easy… until we switch to the virtual waterways network online. Then we want everything in front of us as quickly as possible. Browser dawdling is not tolerated.

I launched this site on 19th February 2010. As I’ve mentioned, the site has been developed using the WordPress content management system. It’s a wonderful tool which allows users with no web design experience (me) to put together functional and aesthetically pleasing sites. And because WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, thousands of skilled developers have written blocks of code which plug in to WordPress to enhance its functionality. These blocks of code (they’re called plugins) are free to download and install on a WordPress website and they can enhance a site in a bewildering number of ways.

They can also cause a site considerable problems.

Over the last three and a half years I’ve read about and installed many plugins which have taken my fancy. The forum itself is a very sophisticated plugin. The software which controls users access to paid products is another. The site has been enhanced in many different ways.

Each plugin usually, but not always, works well in isolation, but sometimes conflicts with other plugins on the site. Even if there are no conflicts on the site, the more plugins you have, the more resources they use and the slower the site runs. I had far too many plugins and, as a direct result, the site was starting to run more and more slowly.

I slow site is no good for you when you’re browsing, and it’s no good for me when I’m clicking from page to page and post to post when I’m adding content. With that in mind, I’ve had an early and very thorough spring clean. I’ve deactivated 75% of the plugins on the site. The site is now loading three times faster than it was when you received the last newsletter so browsing for both you and I should be far easier from now on.

To be honest, I don’t know what some of the plugins actually did. I’ve had a quick look around the site. Everything which should be working appears to be doing its job properly but I would appreciate a second opinion if you have the time. Please let me know if you notice anything either missing or not working. Just send me a quick email to let me know. Thank you.

An Even More Comprehensive Source Of Information Than Livingonanarrowboat.co.uk

If only it didnt rustI know it’s hard to believe. After all, this site now has over 4,000 posts and pages so I think it’s fair to say that it offers you a comprehensive resource when you want to find information about narrowboats and life afloat. But I have to say, there’s another larger and more detailed resource available to you.

Waterway’s World is the UK’s most popular inland waterways magazine. You probably know that. But I bet you didn’t know that if you subscribe to the magazine you get unlimited and free access to articles from every issue over the last ten years? I think my subscription cost me £37 for 12 issues, plus a free Waterways World annual and the third edition of The Narrowboat Builder’s Book.

Once subscribed you get unlimited access to every edition since 2004. It’s an incredible resource. For example, if I wanted to know more about rust on narrowboats (I did) I could do a quick search on the WW site and find a very detailed report written by Graham Booth in February 2005 (left). I would be able to discover everything I wanted to know about steel and how it corrodes and, more importantly, how to prevent it from doing so. I would also find an equally detailed five page article from 2010 about dealing with rust and painting your beloved boat.

If you are already a Waterway’s World reader it’s an absolute no brainer to elect to take out an annual subscription, save money on each issue’s cover price, have each publication delivered to your door before it appears in the shops, get a couple of narrowboat books for free and get access to every article written in the magazine over the last decade.

You’ll see offers for annual subscription in every edition of Waterway’s World. Make sure you take up their very generous offer next month.

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 (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

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

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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.