2013 12 01 Newsletter – Narrowboat Secondary Double Glazing

There’s not much been happening on the water over the last week. Our wharf is practically full. All of our twelve hire boats are moored up for the winter. About half of them will make the short journey down through two locks and into our marina for blacking before they start to go out again in April. The four 60′ narrowboats we look after for the Royal Navy are next to our hire boats. The winter hire fleet maintenance programme is under way. Some of the boats will be painted, some will have tired flooring, doors and upholstery replaced and most will be re-varnished.

The winter maintenance programme has begun on the grounds too. Projects which Patrick and I don’t have time for in the growing season will be tackled.  The wash house roof needs repairing, a new protective sleeper needs to be fitted in the marina entrance, the marina entrance pilings need painting, all of the site’s fencing needs painting, a 200m trench needs to be dug by hand for the armoured cable for our moorings above Calcutt Top lock, more containers need to be added to our new moorer storage in the recently refurbished area of the old tip andthe lock cottage garden adjacent to the canal has to be refurbished. In addition to all of this, I have a fair amount of planting to do.

On Wednesday I took delivery of 270 shrubs and trees; field maple, viburnum, hazel, spindle, hawthorn – fifty of each – and twenty holly along with protectors and stakes to guard against rabbits and deer.

I began planting them yesterday after I spent a couple of hours cutting down the protectors and stakes from 4′ to 3′. They’re all going into the main six acre wood close to where I’m moored. I have to give careful consideration to the size of the trees and shrubs when full grown. The field maple will take up far more space than any of the shrubs and the holly will need very little space. They will all need light for at least part of the day.

The area which I’ve given most thought to is the north east corner which just happens to be close to James. It’s our garden and, naturally, I want it to look particularly pretty in years to come.

When I haven’t been working outside this week, I’ve been working – or planning to work – on James.

A Condensation Solution – Secondary Double Glazing For Your Boat

In the 20th October newsletter I wrote about dealing with condensation on your boat. Like most narrowboat owners, I’m constantly battling against the detrimental effects of excessive moisture inside the boat.

The worst area on James is at the back of the boat in our bedroom, particularly between the mattress and the side of the boat and between the mattress and pillow and the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom. The engine room is unheated so there’s usually quite a difference in the temperatures in the engine room and our bedroom, especially when we’re in bed and our bodies are generating additional heat. The condensation problem at the side of the mattress is of course in addition to condensation on the windows. We can significantly reduce the condensation in the bedroom by leaving the window open when we sleep. The downside is that in colder weather the bedroom is particularly cool.

As a brief aside, Sally had a bright idea earlier in the week. “If the temperature difference between the engine room and the bedroom is causing condensation to form on the mattress and on the pillows next to our heads why don’t we just sleep with our heads at the other end of the bed until we can do something about the damp?”

What a good idea, I thought. We’ve now had two nights of sleeping the wrong way round. It would have been a good idea apart from the fact that the reading lights and the very handy shelving are now next to our feet so we now can’t read in bed and that now, because Sally wants to maintain her positing on the port side of the bed I now have to sleep on her left rather than on her right. It’s a little thing, but in the last twenty years of sleeping with a significant other, I’ve always slept on the right hand side of the bed. I feel slightly disoriented and out of place.

I suppose we’ll have to take the bull by the horns and sort out the specific condensation problem in the bedroom. Ultimately we’ll resolve this by installing diesel central heating and adding a radiator in the engine room. The short term solution is to add insulation to the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom. We’ll be doing that later today. Now, back to the main subject…

If we close the windows to conserve the heat, the moisture laden air is retained within the boat. The air will then condense at the first opportunity on the nearest window throughout the boat and, in the bedroom, on the side of the boat next to the mattress in addition to the windows.

On James the condensation is often reduced by the draughts coming into the boat rather than by the fact that the windows are open. James’ port side is fully exposed to the prevailing south westerly. There are five large windows along the port side and another five on the starboard side. in total there’s just over five square metres of single glazing to allow the heat to escape.

A solution to the heat loss caused by the draughts from the windows would possibly be to replace the windows. I say possibly because I don’t know whether my thirty six year old windows with top hoppers are any worse than a more modern window with top hoppers. I could always replace the windows with double glazed units but double glazed units on narrowboats have had a great deal of bad press. Popular opinion suggests that the constant vibration and flexing from a moving boat with the engine running causes the seals to break down sooner or later, and it’s normally sooner than later. Less and less companies are providing double glazed units for narrowboats because of the claims they receive under warranty for broken seals.

A more effective solution than replacing the existing windows with either single or double glazed units is to add secondary double glazing to the existing windows. I have discussed secondary double glazing with both boat owners and fitters. They all agree that it offers a significant reduction in both heat loss and condensation. I’ve also been in touch with boat owner Roger Gunkel. He fitted secondary double glazing to his boat four years ago. I asked him if he is still happy with them. Here’s his reply…

“It must be a few years since I posted the secondary double glazing ideas and I have to say that it has been excellent. We are still using the same original sheets and there are no signs of yellowing or ageing. I replaced a couple of the self adhesive magnetic strips on the wooden frames, although the strips on the acrylic have all stayed firmly in place. We have long grown used to the huge difference in comfort levels through the cold months and the absence of condensation on the windows. There is the occasional light misting on the outer glass, due to a very slow ingress of moisture around the window seals, but it just takes a few seconds to lift off the acrylic and dry the misting. It’s only once every few weeks that we bother to do it as it is only slight. We could probably put some silica gel crystals in the gap to absorb any moisture, but it hardly seems worth it. It all seems a far cry from the constantly dripping and soaked single glazed days.

The biggest improvement of course has been the evening out of the warmth throughout the boat. Because there are no massive cold window areas for the heat to escape through, there are also no areas for the cold air to drop down over your shoulders and ankles, so no continuous draughts that we always had before the DG. Previously, in the really cold weather, it only really felt warm near the stove, with areas nearer the windows always feeling much colder. Now, there is a gradual reduction in the heat as you move further from the lounge area, but it is an even reduction, and always feels comfortable.

Our boat is a 57ft widebeam, but we only use the one stove in the lounge area for heating, with no radiators or other heat source. We like the front lounge area to be about 72-3 degrees F and as we like a cooler bedroom at the stern end, that stays at about 62 F with no other heat. We stopped using our oil fired central heating several years ago when we fitted the stove and haven’t used it since. One further benefit that we have had is a reduction in our heating costs as we are no longer chucking the heat out of the windows.

Finally, we have also found Summer benefits to keeping the DG in place through the Summer. On those days when the sun streams through the windows heating up the inside of the boat, even with the blinds down, we have found that the DG traps the hot air between the glazing sheets, and keeps the boat a little cooler. With the blinds up in the cooler months on sunny days, the DG also retains the heat from the sun in the boat during the day, so less fuel needed.

Hope some of that helps, and also helps to keep you warm over the next few months.”

That email was the final confirmation I needed before investing in secondary double glazing for James.

A popular supplier of polycarbonate sheets for secondary double glazing is Access Plastics Ltd in Ashbourne about fifteen miles north of Dublin. They trade on the web as 365plastics.com.

Fitting secondary double glazing is simple, even for someone like myself with DIY dyslexia. Access Plastics will cut the sheets down to the size you need. I have ten windows. Six of them are 94cm x 56cm and four are 92cm x 53cm. You select a sheet size from the three available on the site. Access Plastics will cut the size you need from it. The smallest sheet available is 122cm x 122cm. I can accommodate two of my windows from each of these sheets.

The company also sells magnetic tape kits for fixing the sheets to the window frame. The kit comes in two parts; the first part is adhesive on one side and steel on the other, the second is adhesive on one side and magnetic strip on the reverse.

After the window frame has been thoroughly cleaned with a degreaser, the adhesive/magnetic strip is stuck around the edge of the sheet. The adhesive/steel strip is then fitted on top of the magnetic strip and held in place by magnetic attraction. The polycarbonate sheet is then pressed against the window’s internal frame.

That’s all there is to it. All I need to do to ensure that there’s no moisture buildup between the new sheet and the glass is to place a small silica gel sachet between the two, and block up the window drains to prevent moisture from entering the space between the glass and the polycarbonate.

I ordered the ten sheets and three tape kits yesterday. The kits come in two colours; white and brown. I’ve had to order three packs. They come in 15m lengths and, unfortunately, the total length I need is 31m. At least now I have some spare tape to fall back on in case of mistakes.

The order including all of the cut to order sheets, the tape kits and delivery from Ireland to the marina has cost me £354. If it works, it will be a small price to pay for enhanced heat retention, condensation free windows and less of an infuriating roar from my neighbours’ noisy diesel heaters.

Living On A Narrowboat Podcasts

I’ve started to add audio versions of my weekly newsletters and site articles to YouTube. I have to emphasise that they are audio files rather than videos because (A) I don’t have a video camera and even if I did (B) I don’t like videoing myself.

I decided to add content to YouTube after halfheartedly trawling through the site’s thousands of narrowboat themed videos, and after receiving some very negative comments on a video I uploaded in September 2012.

Most of the videos I’ve watched about narrowboats are quite disappointing. Many fail to address the topic they indicate in the title or fail to address the subject thoroughly enough. Some actually make claims about life afloat which are absolutely rubbish.

My own video has received over 17,000 views in the last fourteen months and quite a few comments. Unfortunately, very few of the comments are positive.

I try to remain objective when people tell me they don’t like something I’ve published. I’ve reviewed the comments made on the video, and I have to agree with many of them. I don’t don’t agree with the racist comments on there of course but I treat those with the contempt they so richly deserve. I agree with the comments that my video is nothing but an advert to try and sell one of my books and that it offers no real information about living afloat.

The comments are correct. The video’s not good enough and doesn’t reflect the fact that I’ve spent literally thousands of hours creating a site full of free and useful content. I can’t give back the time wasted by 17,000+ viewers but I will try to make amends by adding the same useful content to YouTube as I have on this site.

This is an experiment, and it’s in its very early stages. A potential issue is that the files I’ve uploaded aren’t videos as such, they’re audio files. I don’t have a video camera yet but I do have a very good professional microphone though and a half decent voice for audio. I’m considering investing in a camcorder. I don’t want to do half a job. If I’m going to make a professional job of the videos, I need a good camcorder. I’ve done some research and found one which is up to the task. Whether I buy it is up to you.

I would like some feedback from you if you don’t mind. To date (Tuesday 26th November) I’ve added just two videos in the new format. The subject of one is narrowboat central heating and the other is collecting mail when you live afloat. Please follow the links to the videos on YouTube and tell me what you think. There’s a very short single question survey here. The survey will take you less than a minute to complete and I really would like your feedback.

UPDATE: I’ve added a third video. It’s the downside of living on a narrowboat.

Living on a narrowboat with a disability

I received an email recently with a suggestion for a newsletter article. The sender informed me that he’s considered taking a holiday on a narrowboat and even living aboard one but he didn’t know whether it was possible given that he has mobility problems so needs to use crutches most of the time.

I know that there are quite a few trip boats which have been modified to allow easier access for those with mobility issues but I haven’t come across any disabled boat owners.

The trip boats have been modified so that wheelchair users can roll on and off the boat via a ramp attached to the side of the boat. There is also sometimes a lift to transport both wheelchair and user from the deck to the boat’s cabin. These boats are for day hire only.

Anything is possible given enough time and money but the problem with a narrowboat is that it is narrow. The doorways are narrow, as are the passageways through the boat, particularly through the galley, bathroom and bedroom areas. Even for a fully mobile adult moving from one end of a boat to the other is a tight squeeze. At five feet ten and twelve and a half stone I’m quite small but I still have to walk with a crab-like gait when I’m in the boat.

There’s another issue which needs considering if you have a disability, you need to think about how you will operate the boat. Most narrowboats are steered by a person who stands on the back deck. Sometimes seats are fitted on cruiser stern narrowboats but they are designed more as bottom rests than seats so aren’t suitable for crew with mobility issues.

Other issues such as heating and cooking need thinking about too. Solid fuel stoves need a supply of either coal or wood. The fuel needs to be manhandled on to the boat. Cooking is usually gas. The gas cylinders need to be lifted in and out of quite awkward gas lockers. Of course you could always overcome these problems by relying solely on diesel powered central heating and converting your boat to use electricity for cooking rather than gas.

If you have mobility issues and are intent on living afloat, I would suggest that a wide beam is more practical than a narrowboat. Even then, the issues I’ve very briefly covered need careful consideration. I don’t know any seriously disabled narrowboat owners and, in the last four years of working at Calcutt Boats, I’ve only encountered two or three guests on either hire or private boats. They’ve managed to take short breaks but only with a full able bodied crew to assist them.

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.

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.

24th November 2013

Winter fuel allowance – Do you qualify for one if you live on a boat?

Case Study – NB Progress. Kim Wainwright recorded her journey on the forum from nervous anticipation to current liveaboard boat owner. Here’s her story.

17th November 2013

Narrowboat central heating – I don’t have any. All that is about to change. Here’s the system I’m going to install and why I’ve chosen it.

10th November 2013

Narrowboat running costs – I compare my own running costs to those of a prominent YouTube video blogger and detail my exact costs for October 2013

3rd November 2013

Popular narrowboat terminology – Hundreds or words or phrases used to describe parts of boats and the waterways they cruise through.

27th October 2013

The wind chill factor – How strong the wind is blowing and which direction it’s coming from can determine how difficult it is to heat your boat. Here’s what you need to know.

Case study – Another couple from down under living the dream on the inland waterways.

20th October 2013Condensation. It’s a common problem on boats. Here are a few suggestions how to keep your boat’s interior dry.

A new organisation for liveaboard boaters

13th October 2013

On demand water heater problems – Discover a common fault with these water heaters and what you can do to resolve the problem.

Know your firewood – Not all timber burns well. Find out which is best and which to avoid.

6th October 2013

Managing your boat’s water supply. You can use your water supply as and when you need it when you live in a house with all mod cons. You can pretty much do the same when you’re on a marina mooring with a water supply just a hose length away. It’s a different kettle of fish when you’re on an online mooring.

Liveaboard case study – A prime example of mooring without a water supply on tap.

29th September 2013

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.

22nd September 2013

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

15th September 2013

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

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 inadvertently 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!

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.

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?

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

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?

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.

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.

14th July 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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 equivalent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

14th April 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

11th March 2013

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

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

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.

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

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.

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

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

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

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

17th October 2012

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

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

30th September 2012

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

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

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

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

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

10th June 2012

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

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

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

29th April 2012

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

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

 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

1th 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

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.

  • Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
  • CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
  • Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
  • 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.
CRT (Canal & River Trust) maintain the waterways. Here’s their site.
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.
Find out more about narrowboat central heating costs here.

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.