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Yearly Archives: 2013
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2013 12 29 Newsletter – Managing Christmas Afloat

My working year is over. Over as far as Calcutt Boats is concerned anyway. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be spending quite a few more hours working on this site before I see the annual fireworks over Big Ben.

I had an exciting few days before we closed for business on Monday afternoon. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but it’s been a tad windy over the last few days.

We have three paint/repair tents at Calcutt Boats; two at the end of Locks marina close to the engineering and carpentry workshops and another straddling  the old single lock next to the new (80 year old) Calcutt Middle lock at the end of our wharf. We use it for refurbishing our hire fleet boats when the fleet is out of commission during the winter months.

Last Wednesday night the heavy duty canvas blew off the steel frame. The canvas has been there for years. It’s never moved an inch in all the years it’s been there but on Thursday morning when we turned up for work the tubular metal frame was bare.

Replacing the canvas and securing it took five of us all day. Just pulling the canvas back over the frame took an enormous amount of effort. The job would have been much easier if the collective bulk of the office staff had been available but they were all busy with essential pre Christmas tasks (mainly eating mince pies and checking Facebook accounts).

We finished securing the canvas cover at dusk on Thursday. On Friday I was off work and everyone else on the project returned to more pressing duties.

On Monday, our last day, the weather was awful. I went to work in the morning expecting to spend my last day felling the final few oak in the woods. The gale force wind and torrential rain put paid to that idea, as did a rather more pressing mission. The wharf paint tent was in danger of taking off again.

Although the canvas skirt had been tied down as well as possible, they weren’t tied down well enough to cope with 45-50mph wind.

One of the wharf staff, Rob, and I spent a couple of hours in the morning threading scaffolding poles into the sewn sleeve at the bottom of the canvas skirt and then roping them securely to the frame. It was an exciting morning with the wind trying to rip the canvas out of our hands while the horizontal rain soaked us to the skin.

I hope for a quieter afternoon somewhere more sheltered than the open wharf but I was out of luck. All of our hire fleet plus the four narrowboats we look after for the Royal Navy were on the moored on the wharf. Unfortunately for us they were moored too far away from the power points we needed to use to connect them to shore power.

Getting them plugged into the mains was essential before we finished for the Christmas break. All of the boats have cruiser sterns which means that rain can get into the engine bay after running off the deck boards. Surplus water is removed from the engine bay by the automatic bilge pumps. The bilge pumps will only work of course if there’s power to them. If there’s a lot of rain over the Christmas period, and plenty is forecast, if the batteries fail so will the bilge pumps so we could end up with boats with a dangerous amount of water in the engine bay.

We had a very good example of this a couple of years ago. The boat in question belonged to a moorer in Locks marina. One of our fitters noticed that the back end was sitting very low in the water as he passed in another boat. He lifted what was left of the deck board over the engine bay to find that the water level had risen over the bearers and half way up the engine. They batteries were ruined. The boat nearly sank.

We managed to pole the boat over to the slipway (the engine wouldn’t start) with water lapping at the top of the gunnels and the boat rocking in an alarming fashion. We managed to pull it of the marina before it became a plaything of the fishes but the remedial work cost the owner a pretty penny.

So we had to pull a dozen boats along the wharf closer to the power points in driving rain and a howling gale. Of course, as luck would have it, we had to pull the boats sideways on into the gale. Do you realise how much resistance the side of even a small narrowboat offers?

Moving the boats took us the rest of the afternoon and, naturally, as we tied the last rope on the last boat, the rain stopped and the wind dropped.

The wind dropping was just a temporary reprieve. It resumed with a vengeance later on in the evening and increased in force after Sally and I went to bed. We are used to a bit of a stiff breeze at Calcutt but this really took the biscuit. I swear that I was in danger of being thrown out of bed a couple of times, and not just by Sally for snoring.

The storm reached its peak just after midnight. The boat rocked, the rain lashed against the windows, the wind howled, and Sally howled too as she was treated to an unexpected still-in-the-bed shower.

The wind was so strong and the rain so heavy that, for a couple of very interesting minutes, sheets of water were forced upwards until they found the cracks around the closed hopper window in the bedroom before spraying Sally with icy rainwater.

Sally temporarily moved her bed to the front of the boat next to the stove and close to a window which didn’t leak. She left me laying in the wet patch. Why always me?

We’ve had a few pretty windy days since then but the saving grace is that they have been relatively mild. There’s not much chance of snow this Christmas!

The Practicality (And Desirability) Of Hosting Christmas Afloat

“What’s Christmas like on  a narrowboat?”, I’ve been asked a few times recently. “Do you sit down with a group of friends or family for a celebration meal? How do you manage in such a small space?”

I’m afraid the simple answer is that we don’t do Christmas on board James. It’s too much like hard work and, to be honest, neither Sally nor I are big fans of Christmas overindulgance.

Once upon a time I used to really look forward to a much needed week and a half off over Christmas. I had staff to manage, customers to keep happy and difficult to find payments to find for my bank and for Revenue and Customs. My business became increasingly stressful to manage and Christmas was a time when the world slowed down.

If I took a break from work at any other time of the year I was constantly worrying about what was happening in and around the business all the time I was away. During the Christmas break nothing happened at all. Everyone else was on holiday too. I could relax.

These days I have no responsibility at work at all. The worst that can happen when I’m away for a week or two is that I’ll come back to slightly longer grass. There’s no stress when I’m away from work at any time of the year so the Christmas break isn’t as important to me as it once was.

Christmas is more for children than it is for us olduns. It’s a time for far to high expectations to be dashed and for parents to plunge deeper into debt. I watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone over Christmas. The scene where spoiled Dudley Dursley exploded in a fit of rage when he was told that he only had thirty six presents compared with the previous year’s thirty seven reminded me of previous Christmas days with my own children. They weren’t spoiled children but but, like so many modern day children, they expected an extraordinary value and number of gifts to keep up with their peers.

Finding the space for presents and a tree to put them round, plus the space to sleep a number of over excited and expectant children is very difficult on a narrowboat.

Once the presents have been opened on Christmas day, the main focus is on Christmas dinner. Christmas dinner is better shared with a large group of people rather than just a select few. That’s where the problems begin on a narrowboat. There simply isn’t the space.

James is optimised for the comfort of two people, four at a push, and four is a push. Christmas is a time drinking to excess – or at least drinking over the safe drink drive limit – and consequently multi day stays. We have a fixed double on James for Sally and I and then the option of using two of the three bunks we usually use for storage for people to sleep in. The third bunk space is used as my office desk so we can’t use that.

Even if we had somewhere for our guests to sleep, creating the usual over-the-top Christmas day feast would be very difficult.

I used to do most of the cooking at Christmas. We usually went to my mother-in-law’s house for the festivities. Even though the house was a modest three bed semi, there was a huge amount of space compared to what we have on the boat. I would usually lock myself in the kitchen at about 10am with a huge selection of raw ingredients (and a bottle of good red wine) and emerge five or six hours later with enough food to feed an army.

Our kitchen on James is very modest. There’s a work surface shoe horned into the space between the hob and the draining board which, at 500mm square, is just large enough to take a chopping board. There’s another work surface of equal size opposite the hob above the fridge. The cooker isn’t quite full sized so there’s no chance of fitting even a modest turkey in it and there’s certainly no space to put anything else in the oven with the bird.

We have a standard waist high fridge with a tiny freezer compartment at the top. On the rare occasions when we overflow the fridge at any other time of the year we use the engine room, the coolest area on the boat, to store perishables. The fridge is just large enough to store food for the two of us for three or four days so there’s no chance of accommodating enough food for a festive mob.

Even though there is more storage space on James than there is on most narrowboats, there isn’t enough room to store the mass of utensils, cutlery and crockery needed to both cook and present even the most modest Christmas dinner. And even if I found room to store the vast array of serving dishes, plates and glasses, I certainly wouldn’t have the space to display them when full of food.

And then there’s the toilet.

We have a  Porta Potti Elegance cassette toilet. It works fine for us but it takes a bit of getting used to if you’re used to a normal household toilet where you can flush away your unmentionables with an unlimited amount of water delivered to the toilet bowl with enough force to wash even the most stubborn stains away.

There’s a routine to adhere to if you don’t want to leave a disgusting, difficult to clean mess in the toilet bowl. You have to introduce a little water into the bottom of the dry toilet bowl, lay a couple of pieces of toilet paper, crossed like a target, in the water, sit and strain and then, as quickly as possible, open the flap to drop the whole unsightly mess into the 21l waste tank beneath.

The process takes a bit of getting used to so isn’t ideal for those with a delicate disposition. It’s an interesting few minutes when we have new, none boating guests on board as either Sally or I take them into the bathroom to explain how to operate the toilet depending on the bodily function required. Their initial look of puzzlement turns to one of dismay as the instruction reaches its grand finalé.

Given the amount of eating and drinking done during the festivities, an effective and hassle free toilet is a must. Of course, many boaters have the far more convenient dump through toilets but even these aren’t ideal. The water used for the toilet’s flush is usually – not always – taken from the boat’s main water tank. The water tank holds a finite supply, unlike the mains fed household toilets, so the flush is limited to a moderate trickle at best. Blockages caused by the use of copious amounts of toilet paper aren’t uncommon.

Even with these difficulties to overcome, I’m sure there are boaters who host successful Christmas celebrations on board, but I’m not one of them. To tell you the truth, I’m appalled these days at the amount of money which is spent hosting a typical Christmas day. For example, take the last few days Sally and I spent with Sally’s daughter Maricar and her partner Ollie.

Maricar and Ollie aren’t wealthy but they have good jobs and spend, to me, a phenomenal amount on the finer things in life. We started the meal drinking Moet & Chandon champagne served with Hibiscus flowers then followed that with two or three bottles of lesser vintage but still prohibitively expensive Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The meal was followed by a ridiculous amount of alcohol. I’ve always enjoyed letting what’s left of my hair down with a drink or two but as I’ve matured I’ve started to resent the financial cost of a good night out (or in) and the cost to my health the following day.

To get the party going we downed double shots of Jack Daniels with honey, Wild Turkey and Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur. Then we progressed to cocktails. We had a quick mojito followed by a couple of slow Old Fashioneds.

I think I enjoyed the evening but I’m not really sure what went on. All I know for certain is that the following day was very painful, and not just because of the rare and very unsettling hangover I experienced.

Once we had all at least partially recovered from the “pleasure” of the previous evening we decided, I think because we hadn’t spent enough money the previous day, to go to the cinema.

Have you been recently?

Four of us went. The tickets alone cost us £37. I had barely recovered from the shock when we were forced to pay another £20 for a couple of small bottles of water and boxes of popcorn.

The third and final shock was the film itself. I wish Walter Mitty had kept his life secret and not shared it with me. Sally was asleep in her chair within ten minutes. I managed to stay awake. I don’t know why.

The end result was that we paid nearly £60 to watch a film which would have cost us about £2 if we waited six months and ordered it through our unlimited £7.99 a month LOVEFiLM account. We also drank nearly £200 worth of alcohol the previous day and stuffed ourselves with too much food costing about the same amount as the drink. We also exchanged presents and cards which none of us need.

I have nothing against the concept of Christmas in as much as it’s a time for families to get together and enjoy each other’s company although, quite often, they don’t. What I object to is the expected and often unaffordable extravagance over the festive period. The Co-operative bank claims that most of their customers don’t pay off their Christmas debts until at least March and a staggering 22% don’t envisage paying off their Christmas debts at all during the course of the year!

I moved on to a narrowboat after I closed my business as a result of HM Revenue and Customs forcing me into bankruptcy. Although my accumulated debt was over expenditure on the business rather personal spending, the experience still drilled into me the need to only buy what I can afford. I don’t earn much money these days, but I don’t need much money to live happily.

Much as I enjoyed the over indulgence on Christmas and Boxing day, I would have been just as happy here on James just with Sally and the dogs. A traditional Christmas isn’t practical on board a narrowboat but typical owners of liveaboard narrowboats are unusual creatures. They don’t need “stuff”. They don’t need to spend money they don’t have as an escape mechanism for stressed and unhappy lives.

“Bah, humbug!”, I hear you cry. You may be right, but do you know what, I don’t care. Both Sally and I are supremely happy just being on our boat and living close to nature. Long may it continue!

Liveaboard Case Study – The Pearl

Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months. Here’s their story.

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.

22nd December 2013

Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.

15th December 2013

Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?

8th December 2013

Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.

Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel

1st December 2013

Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.

Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content

Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.

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
Entertainment
Summary

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat The Pearl

Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.

Who are you? (and your significant other and, of course, your dog if you have one)

Tony & Jane Robinson.

Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to live a life afloat

Narrowboat The Pearl

We are both retired, having worked in Libraries & Community Education. We have been interested in canals since the mid 1970s and regularly hired canal boats for holidays. As soon as we married in 1976 we had the “Boat Fund” – a future amount of money to purchase our own boat. Of course, in reality, the fund never reached 3 figures and we always held on to the belief that one day… Fast forward to 2006 when we were fortunate to have the funds to have our own boat built. Having spent more and more hours afloat on the boat we decided in 2011 to down size – empty our 3 bed roomed house, and move onto the boat permanently. We decided that whilst we are fit & active – lets go for it + most people we met and spoke to who live aboard felt they had never looked back.

What is your boat called and why did you decide on that name?

The Pearl – The boat was built and launched following our Pearl wedding anniversary in 2006. Since we had got married in 1976 and always wanted our own boat – the name seemed a perfect confirmation of a future on the water.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

We moor presently in a large purpose built marina with all facilities and lots of other boaters – a great place to make new friends and share interests in life afloat. However it is not a residential mooring and we have a different postal address.

What is your boat style and length

The Pearl is 60’ – we decided we needed an extra 2 feet for living aboard! It is a semi-trad, with large hatch at the back, Beta Marine engine, diesel central heating and a lovely stove! We like to have light, so we decided to have lots of windows + a hatch on the side which is great in the summer.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Previous to 2006 we had a share boat for five years. This was the first stage in realising we still loved canals after all those years and gave us ideas of what we wanted & didn’t want on a boat of our own.

How did you finance your boat?

Don’t sell your house – but rent it out! This is what we have done and so far this has worked well. We are renting to a young family who need the space and love our large garden. The income from the house rent is paid into our “sinking fund” to pay for all the costs of repairs, maintenance, mooring fees, fuel etc.

How much time do you spend on your boat each year?

All the time. We stay moored in the marina over winter and then chug off in the spring to explore the waterways throughout the country.

Are you still working? (If so, what do you do?)

Depends what you mean by working! We are presently retired from paid work but do regular voluntary work to keep us occupied during winter. Considering returning to some form of part time work next year to put into the sinking fund!..

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Emptying the Elsan – in winter! But it’s a simple process and it just comes to be a routine. Not having space for a large hi-fi system to listen to all my vinyl records. Gales in winter making it a challenge to manoeuvre our boat into a tight mooring space without ramming the neighbours!

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

  • Being able to untie the ropes and cruise away on our home where we want and when we want.
  • Being adventurous.
  • Meeting and getting to know other boaters – we know more people at our moorings than we ever did by living for 25 years in a house! Boaters are mostly a friendly lot.
  • Being out in the fresh air – even in winter.
  • Spectacular sunrises and sunsets
  • Having a cosy coal fire and listening to the rain and wind hammering outside.

If you could change just one thing about your boat, what would it be?

We have a good shower but a bath would be great! However- we periodically treat ourselves to a night in a motel to have a good long soak and laugh at the size of the king size beds – usually wider than our boat!

When you are cruising how do you resupply (How do you get to the supermarket without a car)?

We have a fold up bike for the times we are moored away from supplies. We also have a wheeled shopping bag – hauling heavy bags along a towpath is difficult. We have occasionally got a taxi back to the mooring.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a small washing machine which is good for small washes – usually when we are cruising. We also make use of launderettes when we are out and about – some are very close to canal moorings. If we are moored for a few days we occasionally have a service wash – all washed and ironed!

What type of toilet do you have on board and are you happy with it?

Elsan – Economical – not much to go wrong. We have 3 spare cassettes for when we can’t get to a sanitary stop for a few days.

How do you connect to the internet when you are on your boat and are you happy with the service you receive?

We connect to the marina broadband when we are moored in winter. When we are cruising, we use a dongle on the laptop and this is ok – but the download speeds can be slow and we don’t access music and movie websites.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Shropshire Union – lots of interesting things to see, well maintained and the Shropshire Union Canal Society do a fabulous job in providing good overnight moorings. We also like the BCN – ignored by a lots of boaters as not safe – but some really interesting parts to visit and do complete rings in a few days.

How do you generate electricity when you are cruising and how much do you use?

We have a plug in landline in winter for which we have a pay card. When we are cruising, we use the battery power – but have very low voltage LED lights and an inverter to power the t.v. and laptop. We only use the washer when we are cruising or connected to a land line.

Remember – you use more electric in winter than summer – those long long cold dark nights!

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Great – we have just had a Little Wenlock fitted and it’s excellent – it’s been alight now for about a month and I have mastered keeping the fire going overnight. We also have diesel central heating radiators which are on a timer to come on in the morning and keeps the back cabin warm before going to bed.

What advice can you offer someone considering living on a narrowboat?

Speak to as many live aboards as you can – we are mostly a friendly lot. There is no standard boat or typical mooring or typical persons living  aboard. Don’t buy a boat and expect it to be a cheap way of living.

We have found living on a boat can be expensive in terms of maintenance and upkeep – there’s always a list of repairs and improvements and living on water requires regular maintenance throughout the year.

It’s worth hiring a boat in the middle of winter to see how you cope with bad weather.

 What obvious questions have I missed from this list?

What do you do about Drs and medical matters?

I am a type 1 Diabetic and require regular prescriptions. We are both registered at the local GP surgery – but have to call back to the surgery periodically in the summer to restock with supplies. Ensure that you think ahead and plan how you are going to access and pick up any regular medications. Most GP surgeries are understanding, particularly if you need urgent medical treatment whilst cruising – you can register as a temporary patient – but ensure you have your NI No!

What do you do about TV?

We are now experienced in getting a TV signal in most places we moor. We have an Easyfinder sat dish to get freesat and this is the first task when we moor up at the end of a cruising day i.e finding the satellite signal.! When we can’t get a sat signal we have a small digi aerial and re-scan the t.v to get digital tv. When all this fails – we have a good supply of dvds + there’s also Radio 4!

_____________________________________________________________________

Are you one of the lucky few who lives the dream on board your own narrowboat full time? Would you like to share your experience with some of the thousands of potential floating home owners who visit this site? If you can spare the time to answer a few simple questions, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know so I can email the questions to you. I’ll create a post like the one above complete with a link back to your own blog or website.

Tony & Jane Robinson.

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 12 22 Newsletter – Narrowboat Storage Space

I love it when a plan comes together. Over the last two years I’ve been working hard to improve a key area of the site here and one which spoiled an otherwise beautiful marina. Calcutt Boats own 110 acres in total. Seventy acres are accessible agricultural land but the main part of the site is a very impressive forty acres including ten acres of water for two hundred and fifty moored boats.

The largest of the two marinas, Meadows marina, was completed in 2006. To reach the moorings you turn off a very quiet lane about a mile south Napton village and drive sedately up a half mile long private drive with stables on either side before reaching the entrance to Calcutt Boats and our three stunning wild flower meadows. The road then bears left past an avenue of disease resistant elms and into the main car park which serves the west side of Locks marina and the east side of Meadows marina.

Until recently, just before you reached the car park, you also had to pass our “storage area” (or tip to use a far more accurate term) on the left hand side.

The storage area was home to a huge range of dilapidated machinery and engine parts including three redundant earth movers which were used in the construction of Locks marina. You can see one of them here in this post from March 2011. The road past the tip was lined with dozens of unused metal piers, hundreds of steel pilings and several old trailers. The edge of the car park was also used to store our stock of road planings and crushed brick which we needed to frequently repair the potholes in marina road before it was tarmaced. The site’s road roller, dumper and small excavator were also parked there.

The area was a mess.

Since March 2011 I’ve been slowly improving the area so it’s more in keeping with the rest of the site. The three large yellow machines, several scrap vehicles, three disused trailers and a selection of old machinery has been taken off site, our stock of old engines has been hidden from sight along with the unused piers and pilings, trees have been planted to hide what remains of the tip from public view, a six feet high earth bank has been created to hide the tip from the car park, several hundred tonnes of hardcore have been brought in to provide a level and stable surface to the now cleared front half acre of the tip area and, a couple of weeks ago, the first five of a planned couple of dozen storage containers arrived.

Over the last few days I’ve been doing the final landscaping to help hide the new tip area from the container storage area. I’ve planted two hundred mixed hawthorn, quickthorn, blackthorn, spindle, hazel and field maple to form a aesthetically pleasing screen in years to come. I’m looking forward to watching it grow.

Living On A Narrowboat Video Update

Right! We’re up and running. I’ve overcome my stage fright, taken the bull by the horns and started recording. My first proper video on the subject of living afloat is narrowboat storage space (see below) which I recorded during my lunch break on a rather dismal Monday.

I was quite happy with the result so I processed the video, uploaded it to YouTube and proudly showed Sally when she came home from work. She wasn’t quite as happy as me.

She wanted to know why I hadn’t “tidied up” before shooting the video. Sally’s idea of tidying up and mine are poles apart. I think I’m pretty clean and tidy but Sally takes tidy to a whole new level. I tried my best. I made sure that there were no dirty dishes in the sink, hid my work clothes under the lower bunk behind my office desk and only popped briefly into our bedroom with the camera because the bed was in a state of disarray due to our ongoing attempts to find a solution to the damp between the mattress and the boat’s port side.

My attempts weren’t good enough. Sally feels I’ve let the side down so, on behalf of Sally, I apologise for showing you a scruffy boat. The things I do for a quiet life! (Please don’t tell Sally I said that).

I’ve also uploaded two further videos. One is a very short clip as an introduction to the new YouTube channel. You can see it here. You’ll only be able to see the video if you haven’t yet subscribed to the YouTube channel as it’s a trailer for the videos I’m adding there.

The other, a five minute clip, is now on the site’s home page and is an introduction to me, my boat and livingonanarrowboat.co.uk. I recorded it on Friday during a lull in the rather strong wind we’ve had over the last week. Unfortunately the wind was still strong enough to sound like a gale on video, but it’s a start. At least you can get a feel for the space I enjoy even though I’m moored in a marina.

I’ll be replacing this video next April or early May when the peninsula next to James will be covered with flowers and the trees will be under a heavy cloak of spring blossom. Until then, you’ll have to make do with this one.

Please note that all of the videos are HD so they are suitable for watching full screen without any loss of quality. If you want to watch them full screen, just click on the right hand icon on the video tool bar, the one which looks like four brackets.

I would love to hear what you think about the video’s so far. Are they too long, short or boring? Are they a useful addition to the written articles on the site? Would you like to see more of them and, if so, what subjects would you like to see. Please let me know.

Narrowboat Storage Space

In preparation for recording this video I searched the site to see what I’ve written in the past on the subject. It’s an important issue. I thought I had covered it in detail but I haven’t as far as I can tell. There are over 4,500 posts and pages on the site now so I may have missed a dedicated post on the subject but I don’t think so.

It’s very important to give proper consideration to narrowboat storage space before you start to look for a boat in earnest. There’s very little space in which to store all your worldly possessions when you make the move from a bricks and mortar home to a narrowboat.

My own boat James is 62′ long but only 48′ of that is internal living space, and that internal living space includes the engine room. James is a traditional (trad) stern narrowboat which means that the engine is housed inside the boat. A semi traditional or cruiser stern narrowboat has a large back deck with the engine under the deck boards. Semi trads and cruiser sterns offer space for a number of people to stand and chat to the helmsman while traveling but the internal storage space is lost.

I use the engine room to store wet weather gear, tools, boat cleaning equipment and any other odds and ends which I don’t want inside the rest of the boat. My engine room is currently unheated (which causes damp problems in the bedroom just in front of the engine room, but when I have my central heating system put in early next year, there will also be a heated towel rail to help dry damp clothing. Damp clothing is a big part of life afloat so the ability to dry wet and sometimes dirty clothing away from the boat’s clean interior is a big bonus.

My living space is forty eight feet long but the external width of the boat is only 6’10”. The internal width is a foot less. For ease of calculation though I’ll call the internal width 6′ which means that I have a total of 288 square feet of living space.

To put that into perspective, just the lounge in my old marital home was 324 square feet. My lounge contained just a three piece suite and a television cabinet. My boat, with just 88% of the space I had in the area which I used to use just to sit mindlessly and stare at a box in the corner of the room, has to house everything both Sally and I plus two spaniels need to live in comfort.

There are over 1,000 narrowboats for sale at any one time. Many are described as perfect for living aboard, but beware of boats which are described as either spacious or open plan. These boats simply don’t have any or have very little built in furniture or storage space. Here’s an example.

Open Plan liveaboard NarrowboatThis boat was advertised on eBay. It was advertised as “designed for those wanting to live aboard”. The boat didn’t actually have a bad specification for a liveaboard boat but as far as I’m concerned the storage space was woefully inadequate.

The boat was priced at £40,000 which, given that it was 70′ long and had a decent amount of equipment on board, wasn’t a bad price. It wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t bad. However, boat builders can offer boats like this for less money because they haven’t had to incur the time or the money involved in fully fitting it out.

Look at the photo. This shows what is probably half of the internal living space. How many cupboards, drawers or shelves can you see? There’s just the few in the galley area in the foreground and absolutely nothing else. And where do you sit and eat on this boat? There’s no fixed dinette with handy storage underneath like I have on James. You would have to either use a free standing dining table or eat off your lap on the leather sofa.

In the same area on James I have a set of three shelves either side of the front doors we use to store books and DVDs. Each set of shelves has a spacious two or three shelf cupboard underneath. one is used for dog toys, grooming equipment, leads etc and the other is used for storing firelighters, kindling and a three or four day supply of logs.

Next to the cupboards and opposite the stove are L shaped bench seats. All of them have storage built underneath. One is used to house the (over used) vacuum cleaner and an anchor, chain and rope. I know it’s a strange combination but it works for us. The other is used for storing rucksacks and other bags.

Further back towards the galley is the Pullman dinette, a fixed table with bench seats either side. Each of the seats has storage underneath, accessible via drawers in the end, where we keep crockery and cooking utensils and top opening storage next to the windows where we keep spare duvets in vacuum bags.

In addition to the above, there is a very handy shelf along the starboard side just beneath the gunnel.

In all, there are thirteen shelves, four under seat top opening storage compartments and five end of seat drawers in the front section of James compared to none at all in the “spacious open plan” boat in the photograph.

Which do you think is more practical?

James has plenty more storage in the back half of the boat. The galley, tiny as it is, has cupboards and drawers under the sink and small work surface then behind the galley we have what Sally refers to as her utility room. This area is home to the set of side doors and hatches either side of the boat. There are two ply bulkheads separating the galley from the bunk/office area. Each bulkhead used to have a folding door fitted but the doors stopped the heat from the stove reaching any further back than the galley so I took them off. Now there’s just an alcove either side of the boat next to the hatches.

These alcoves offer really handy additional storage space. We have the twin tub washing machine on a raised platform on the port side. Under the washing machine there’s space for plastic boxes for washing powder and conditioner and a couple of dozen tins of dog food. On the starboard side is another plastic box large enough to hold the contents of a 15kg dog biscuit bag, dog drinking and eating bowls, mops and brushes and a small stock of wine (Apparently the three dozen bottles of red I used to keep here before I met Sally is an unnecessarily large supply).

Just above head height in both of the alcoves is a rail for hanging drying washing.

In the office/bunk area there is an abundance of storage space. There are three bunks here, but I’ve taken the mattress off the one on the port side and have it set up permanently as a desk to house my laptop, printer, files… and my new gourmet coffee machine. Thank you Sally, but I’m drinking so much of the stuff now that I’m in a permanent state of over excitement.

The two bunks on the starboard side are used for storage. It’s the only area of the boat which looks a little untidy. We want to keep the bunks for guests (which we never have) so we don’t want to change the area into more aesthetically appealing permanent storage space. In this area there are also two five drawer chests.

Behind the bunk area is our tiny walk through bathroom. It’s just four feet long and the width of the boat. More storage space has been built into every spare inch of space. There’s a shower cubicle on the port side with shelves to one side. On the starboard side is  our Porta Potti Elegance toilet, a hand basin with storage underneath and a medicine cabinet.

Behind the bathroom is our bedroom. Again, every spare inch has been used. There’s a small double bed – 6’3″ x 4’0″ – with six drawers accessible from the side and a further storage space accessible via a hatch in the bed base once the mattress is lifted. There’s also a wardrobe. a shelf on the port side, another on the starboard side and a third on the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom.

That’s it. LOADS of storage space. Oh, I nearly forgot. There’s still more storage space on the front deck.

When I moved on board James the cratch cover looked very sorry for itself and didn’t do a very effective job of protecting the front deck. I had a new cover fitted plus a cratch board to give the cover support in addition to the existing side rails. I also bought plastic mats for the deck and cut them to shape. We now have a very handy additional twenty square feet of storage space before we go inside the boat.

We keep a hose and reel in this area plus a storage box full of coal, another full of logs and muddy shoes and boots. We also keep a towel or two here for drying the underside of wet dogs when they’ve been out for a run on wet days.

There’s an additional feature on the front deck which is very handy for the summer months. There’s a bracket just beneath the cratch board where we can fit a table top with fold down legs when we fancy an al fresco meal. The table top is stored clipped vertically to the starboard side inside the boat next to the stove.

The cratch cover not only provides additional storage space but also helps prevent draughts through the front doors. It’s a very handy addition to the boat.

That’s James for you. I didn’t choose the internal layout but there’s very little about it I would change if I were to have a boat built from scratch. I think that all I would do would be to have my office at the very back of the boat in a traditional boatman’s cabin where I could shut myself off and work without distraction but I wouldn’t change the storage.

Maybe, out of necessity, I would reduce the storage slightly. We currently have a cassette toilet. This type has its advantages but there are significant disadvantages too. One of them is that, with a waste holding tank of just twenty one litres, the tank needs to be manually carried to a waste disposal tank every two or three days. A full tank weight slightly less than a bag of coal. It’s hard work carrying it through the boat from the bathroom, lifting it onto the pier then carrying it down a hill to where the car is parked and then driving it to the disposal point.

A pump out toilet would be much easier to manage. A pump out toilet has a much larger waste tank. Tanks of three hundred litres or more are not unusual so the period between essential emptying can be extended to weeks rather than days. However, additional space would need to be allocated for the much bigger tank. You often find that the toilet waste tank extends from underneath the toilet in the bathroom to underneath the fixed bed in the bedroom. What you think are waves sloshing against the outside of the boat may be waves of an entirely different kind underneath you.

I’ve been on a few liveaboard boats where there hasn’t been adequate storage space and, to be quite frank, they look a mess. They certainly don’t look either comfortable or homely. There’s clothes and equipment piled in corners and on, around and under free standing furniture. The boat owners quite often have to resort to storing stuff they can’t fit inside the boat on the boat’s roof.

The large expanse of flat roof is possibly an obvious place to store surplus possessions but you have to think carefully about what you can reasonably store here. The more weight you add to your roof, the higher the boat’s centre of gravity and the more unstable it becomes. There’s an excellent explanation of why this is such a problem here on the forum. Another possible problem you’ll encounter if you have things piled too high on the roof is negotiating low bridges and tunnels.

Adequate storage is essential if you’re going to live comfortably on your boat. Sally and I haven’t quite got the balance right yet. To be honest, I think we buy too many gadgets that we don’t really need. Many of them are used for a little while and then taken to our storage container out of the way until we want to use them again (which we never do).

We’ve had a storage container now for a year and a half. The twenty foot long container costs us £70 a month. Sally has been slowly but surely emptying it. I’ve left it all up to her because it’s main function is as storage for her house contents. I wrote about the logistics of downsizing from a house to a boat in this post. It’s a useful addition to the information here.

Now I’ve told you how important it is to use your space wisely, let me tell you about the still unfitted secondary double glazing panels which are cluttering up the boat.

Secondary Double Glazing Update

Last week I told you that I fitted polycarbonate panels to four out of the boat’s ten windows. I also told you that one of the panels had fallen off the frame. This week, I rather embarrassed to report, another panel has headed south.

I know the reason. It’s partly because of the varnished and highly polished mahogany window surrounds but also because of the screws holding the surround against the Parana pine cladding. The round headed screws – fourteen to a frame – stand proud of the woodwork so stop the adhesive steel tape which hold the sheets in place from adhering to a flat surface.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday removing all of the screws, countersinking the holes a little deeper then replacing them again. Now all I need to do is lightly sand the varnished mahogany while I wait for the replacement steel tape to arrive.

Earlier in the week I phoned Access Plastics to tell them that they had sent me the wrong colour tape. They agreed to send out three replacement rolls (after they had asked me to check the tape again just to make sure that I knew the difference between brown and white). They also asked me to package the incorrect tape ready for collection on Friday. The wrong tape has now been collected but the right tape has yet to arrive. The replacement tape was promised on Friday morning. I guess the Christmas post is to blame.

Good news! The replacement tape arrived on Tuesday. Bad news! The replacement tape was the same glaring white as the original incorrect tape. Access Plastics also kindly sent me three additional rolls of magnetic tape that I neither need nor want.

I telephoned them on Wednesday to ask why they sent white steel tape again. “We don’t have any brown steel tape”, was the mystifying reply. I reminded him that I had placed an order for brown steel tape to match my brown window frames. “I Know”, he acknowledged, “I was the one who processed your order.” I asked him, if he had remembered taking the order for brown steel tape why the company had dispatched white steel tape TWICE. “Because we don’t have any brown steel tape.”

I told him how unhappy I was with the white tape and that I was considering asking for a refund. “I SUPPOSE I’LL HAVE TO GET SOME IN THEN!”, he shouted. He actually shouted. I had simply asked him to send me the product that I had ordered from him, a product which he advertises on his site, and he shouted at me.

I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with him so I thought of a solution. I offered to source the brown steel tape myself, buy enough to do the job and ask Access Plastics to refund the full amount I have to pay for it. He agreed.

I confirmed the details of our conversation to him via email. He responded saying that they have been having a problem with their brown steel tape supplier for some time now but that he expects to take delivery of an order for the tape at the end of January at the earliest. That won’t help me much during the first month of the year when I want to prevent icy draughts in the boat.

I sent the email to Access Plastics two days ago. I haven’t found an alternate supply yet so I’m beginning to think that there’s another and better solution. Maybe I should fit the polycarbonate panels now using the white steel tape that I already have so I get the benefit of the panels immediately and then switch the tape over when Access Plastics receive their supply.

The whole thing is a bit of a pain in the bum whatever I do but maybe this will be the most practical solution. I had better call Access Plastics again. I’m not looking forward to that.

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.

8th December 2013

Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.

Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel

1st December 2013

Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.

Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content

Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.

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
Entertainment
Summary
3

2013 15 Newsletter – Roses And Castles Canal Art

What a wonderful way to start the week. I was asked to collect a boat from Wigram’s Turn marina at Napton Junction and bring it back to the engineering workshop at the southern end of our Locks marina.

The weather was beautiful on Monday. A weak autumnal sun was trying to break through a grey mist over the water. There wasn’t a breath of wind. Just half a dozen mallards disturbing the quiet with their slow mocking quacks and about a dozen juvenile swans gliding aimlessly up and down the canal.

Wigram’s Turn marina is less than a mile along the canal from Calcutt but the trip took me just under two and a half hours by the time I had checked an unfamiliar boat and its engine before I set off, cruised along the canal, negotiated the Calcutt flight and then turned into the marina where I moored the boat and shut it down.

For the rest of the week I’ve been blitzing the lock cottage garden. The lock cottage adjoins our office, reception and chandlery and is home to marina manager Martyn Tylson and his wife Sue. They’re not really into gardening so the area’s upkeep has been transferred to Calcutt Boats’ grounds team, Pat and I.

Pat has been busy digging a 200m long 12″ deep trench for a new power cable for the moorings above the top lock this week so I’ve had the pleasure of attacking the garden on my own. The garden contains quite a few productive fruit trees. There are apple, pear, damson, cherry and a rather impressive walnut tree.

The garden is also home to a rather unusual feature. There’s a full size lock running along the inside of the black and white iron railings which separate the garden from the canal footpath. This additional lock was originally used to weigh cargo carrying narrowboats when they left the Grand Union and entered the Oxford canal. I haven’t been able to find out when it was last operational but it’s probably safe to say that its only use has been as a garden water feature for at least the last century.

I’ve now reduced the height and spread of the apple and pear trees, removed a truck full of dead reeds from the lock’s stagnant water, leveled the ground around the lock by removing some rather large ant hills, removed some well established willow from the lock wall, dug out six inches of earth and matted roots to reveal the original brick lock edging, removed half a dozen stands of self seeded buddleia and strimmed the garden to within an inch of its life. The garden looks a little bare at the moment but, if you approach Calcutt Boats from Napton Junction next spring, as you reach the top lock glance over to your left. I’m sure the garden will be a thing of beauty.

Roses And Castles

Canal art narrowboat JamesAs you probably know, I had my wooden cabin over plated with steel in November 2011. The original wooden front, side and rear doors were removed, as were the side and rear hatches. The boat was returned to me with new hatches and doors in unlined steel. Bare steel conducts heat out of the boat very quickly so as soon as possible I had the front and the side doors lined with ply and then painted. I didn’t line the doors in the engine room.

The original engine room door panels were painted with “roses and castles”. Roses and castles is the name given to the artwork adorning many traditional narrowboats. The panels had suffered irreparable damage after years of water running down them from a warped and leaking hatch so I had to throw them away.

No one knows the true origin of the elaborate artwork adorning traditional narrowboats but the practice became commonplace when working boatmen were forced to move their entire families on boat with them as a result of plummeting wages as the canal carriers tried to compete with a rapidly developing railway network and the boatmen’s inability to afford cottage rent.

If you think there is very little space to live on a narrowboat these days, spare a thought for the family of an average working boatman on board a narrowboat. The entire family lived full time in the “boatman’s cabin”. This cabin was at the very back of a working narrowboat just behind the engine room and would offer a maximum living space of roughly six feet by ten feet.

In sixty square feet the boatman and his wife had eat, sleep and keep all of their worldly possessions. Their water supply was kept in a can on the roof which could be topped up at standpipes along the canal. Clothes washing was done in the canal itself and hung up to dry on a washing line over the cargo area once the cargo had been discharged. Their toilet facility was either a bucket, a convenient hedge or over the side of the boat into the canal. Think about that next time you use a slightly smelly but very convenient pump-out loo.

Boating families were looked down upon by the majority of Victorians living in homes on dry land so they did everything they could to smarten up their boats to show the pride they had in their tiny living space. They decorated the inside of the boat’s rear doors then folded them open for the world to see. They painted hatches, poles and planks, water cans, cupboard doors and food bowls. They created  intricate crochet lace trimmings, ornamental and practical ropework and added highly polished brass fittings.

The more I learn about traditional narrowboats’ decoration, the more tempted I am to add as much as possible James. I have to be practical though. Although James is thirty six years old, the boat doesn’t have the traditional engine room/boatman’s cabin layout so much of the old canal art would just look out of place. I’ll have to stick to a couple of rather fetching rear door panels.

Shortly after the boat was delivered back to me after the new steel shell was added I asked Mel Jeffs, wife of our carpenter Roger at the time – now retired an living an idyllic existence as a continuous cruiser – to paint some canal art on my new rear door panels. She agreed, and she made an excellent job of it.

Unfortunately they didn’t end up on my boat at the time.

I don’t know what went wrong. It was a classic case of miscommunication. Mel finished painting the panels for me at the same time I left the marina to visit my family in Australia for two weeks. As soon as I returned to work I asked her husband Roger if the panels were ready. He said that they had been ready for two weeks but, because I hadn’t paid for them on time, Mel wasn’t happy to give them to me.

I don’t know who to blame for the misunderstanding. I suspect we both had a hand in it but the end result was that Mel kept the two panels on their narrowboat, Beam. Time passed, Roger retired from Caluctt and the pair left the marina to realise their lifelong dream of cruising the network. As the couple left, so did my chances of getting my hands on the beautifully painted door panels.

Earlier this week I spotted Beam moored near Caluctt Top lock. Later in the day I spoke to Roger when he walked his dog past where I was working in the cottage garden. Coincidentally, a few days earlier I had asked another retired carpenter who moors at Caluctt to fit some door panels for me. The panels had been decorated by a well meaning but inexperienced budding “artist”. To tell you the truth the end result looked like an accident with half a dozen yoghurt pots. I was keen to have the panels fitted to help retain the heat and combat the draught in the engine room but I would have probably painted over the artistry.

So I was delighted to see Roger and delicately touched on the subject of the panels his wife painted two years earlier. He had good news and bad news for me. The good news was that he still had them, carefully wrapped in a spare dog blanket and stored under their dinette table. The bad news was that, just four days earlier, they had offered the two door panels for sale on eBay.

Roger agreed to speak to his wife to see if she was (A) prepared to sell the panels to me after our previous misunderstanding and (B) withdraw the listing from eBay.

I saw Roger again the following morning. Mel was happy for me to take them off her hands so, as there had been no bids placed, she had already removed them from the auction site. I paid her as soon as could race back to James, find £120 in cash and hurry back to Beam.

The panels are now mine, and I am absolutely delighted with them. They are as good as an example of traditional narrowboat art as you will find anywhere. The photograph below is of a traditional narrowboat at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere port. The photo above is  of one of my own door panels. As you can see, both panels have the traditional romantic “castles” scene on a raised panel at the top, the “roses” art on a sunken panel in the middle and a lower blank panel.

Traditional narrowboat canal artI’m going to have the panels fitted next week. I can’t wait to get out on the cut and casually pin the doors open when I’m moored up to show them off. I would have liked Mel to paint panels for the two pairs of side hatches too, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I told her that I was going two write about her artistry in this week’s newsletter and asked if I could publish her contact details for anyone who was interested in asking her to paint for them.

Mel explained how difficult it is to paint the panels on a narowboat where two people and a rather large and clumsy rottweiler are living full time. They could just about manage it when Roger was away at work for five days a week but since he’s retired having freshly painted panels dotted about the boat just isn’t practical. Maybe I’ll just have to ask young Stuart to refine his yoghurt pot approach.

Secondary Double Glazing Update

Last week I told you that I fitted polycarbonate panels to four out of the boat’s ten windows. I also told you that one of the panels had fallen off the frame. This week, I rather embarrassed to report, another panel has headed south.

I know the reason. It’s partly because of the varnished and highly polished mahogany window surrounds but also because of the screws holding the surround against the Parana pine cladding. The round headed screws – fourteen to a frame – stand proud of the woodwork so stop the adhesive steel tape which hold the sheets in place from adhering to a flat surface.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday removing all of the screws, countersinking the holes a little deeper then replacing them again. Now all I need to do is lightly sand the varnished mahogany while I wait for the replacement steel tape to arrive.

Earlier in the week I phoned Access Plastics to tell them that they had sent me the wrong colour tape. They agreed to send out three replacement rolls (after they had asked me to check the tape again just to make sure that I knew the difference between brown and white). They also asked me to package the incorrect tape ready for collection on Friday. The wrong tape has now been collected but the right tape has yet to arrive. The replacement tape was promised on Friday morning. I guess the Christmas post is to blame.

Living On A Narrowboat Video Update

I’ve been champing at the bit to record my first video. I was waiting for a mini tripod for the camcorder before I could start. The tripod arrived on Friday. Circumstances have conspired against me since then.

There was a question asked on the forum a few days ago about the practicality of downsizing from a house to a boat. I thought that a quick video about a narrowboat’s internal storage space was in order. Sally persuaded me otherwise as I set up the camcorder. “What are you doing?”, she asked suspiciously. I told her. “You must be joking! The boat is a mess.” I disagreed. I think we have a very tidy boat. I disagreed until Sally pointed out that she had just done the washing.

Sally works long shifts as a carer at a nearby nursing home. She had just worked forty eight hours over four days and now had three days off. On her days off she’s like a whirlwind going through the boat. She uses some of her free time getting the washing done. The twin tub does a pretty good job of washing and then spinning the water out of the clean clothing but it then needs to be hung up to dry. There’s very little space to hang anything out of sight on a narrowboat, so the washing is usually hung from the curtain rails near the fire for twenty four hours. Sally had been working the twin tub to death ffor a full day before my intended video session so there was washing hanging everywhere. I could see her point.

Sally is also in the process of sending one of her regular tea chest sized packages back to her family in the Philippines. They don’t have much money for anything else other than food, so Sally does what she can to make life a little easier for them. Old clothes and unused electrical devices, mismatched sets of crockery and cutlery, battered old shoes… Anything which could possibly be of use is packaged and dispatched.

My planned video session coincided not only with Sally’s mission to rid the boat of dirty clothes, but also with one of her let’s-get-rid-of-everything-you-don’t-wear sessions. There were piles of old clothing everywhere. I had to agree. It wasn’t the best impression we could have given of a tidy and organised boat.

I was still determined to make a video for the site. If I couldn’t use the camcorder inside, I would have to take it outside instead.

I need to make an introductory trailer for both the site and for my new YouTube channel. I thought the perfect location would be standing on the grass covered peninsula next to James, overlooking the marina and with a scenic view of James on its mooring. I spent ten minutes experimenting yesterday before I gave up in frustration.

Yesterday was very windy, especially around midday when I foolishly tried to use my lunch break from work to do the recording. The tripod was promptly blown over. I weighed it down so it wouldn’t move and recorded for five minutes. Back on the boat, I played the video back. It was hopeless. I couldn’t hear a word I said over the exaggerated howling of the wind.

Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sally’s back at work for four days from tomorrow. I’ll have the boat to myself so I’ll upload the first of the videos by mid week. Please do me a favour though. If you see any items of intimate apparel hanging to dry in the background don’t tell Sally.

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.

8th December 2013

Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.

Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel

1st December 2013

Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.

Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content

Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.

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
Entertainment
Summary

2013 12 08 Newsletter – Fitting Secondary Double Glazing

We still have water on our pontoon which is an indication of the mild autumn weather so far. We usually turn the water off to the above ground taps on Meadows marina at the beginning of December when sub zero nights and marginally warmer days can cause damage to the plastic pipes. We’ve only had one or two nights below freezing so far this month but but much higher temperatures on the following days ensured that damage didn’t occur. I’ll have to turn the water off before 23rd December when Calcutt Boats closes down for Christmas. When that happens I’ll have to unreel my hose an extra twenty feet to get water from the nearest underground tap. It’s so hard living aboard a boat in a marina!

I’ve had a slightly frustrating week this week. My secondary double glazing arrived on Friday but part of the order was wrong, and the camcorder I ordered from Amazon for adding videos to the site arrived, but without a memory card. I knew a memory card wasn’t included with the camcorder so I ordered one at the same time. Unfortunately it won’t be here until early next week so you’ll have to wait until next weekend before you see my pretty face on the site.

I was further frustrated when I started to fit the polycarbonate secondary double glazing panels. Fixing and fitting isn’t something I do terribly well. I try so very hard, but I just can’t accomplish the most basic tasks. Here’s what went wrong this time.

A Condensation Solution – Secondary Double Glazing For Your Boat

I placed an online order with Access Plastics for the secondary double glazing kit on 29th November. The ten custom cut sheets and three steel/magnetic tape kits arrived here at Calcutt seven days later all the way from Dublin. I was very impressed with the speed of the delivery. I would have been even more impressed if the steel tape they sent had been the brown that I ordered rather than the white reels they sent.

“Never mind”, I thought, as usual like a bull in a china shop, anxious to get the sheets fitted and to hell with the consequences, “the magnetic tape is brown so once the sheet is mounted on the wall, the white steel tape will be masked by the brown magnetic tape.”

Happy with my ill thought through reasoning, I laid the first sheet carefully on our dinette table and diligently prepared the first window frame.

I unclipped and removed the curtain rail and curtains, thoroughly cleaned the window itself and then cleaned the window frame with a water based solvent to remove any grease on the wood which would prevent the adhesive on the steel tape from sticking. Next I peeled back the sheet’s protective film slightly on one side so that I could carefully stick the adhesive side of the magnetic tape all the way around the sheet making sure that none of the sections of tape overlapped. Then I placed the (unfortunately white) steel tape steel side downwards onto the sheet’s magnetic tape.

Then I had a cup of excellent coffee.

Sally’s given me an early Christmas present. She knows I love a good cup of coffee. She knows I love a cappuccino with frothed milk so thick you can mould it into small mountains then shower it with chocolate rain. Because she likes to see me happy (and hyperactive) she’s bought me a Nespresso CitiZ coffee machine.

I love it.

Sally’s daughter, Maricar, has quite an expensive coffee machine. Although it produces decent tasting coffee, it’s never hot. I like coffee which scalds my tongue. My new Nespresso coffee machine makes cappuccinos every bit as good as the high street cafe chains. At 35p a cup it’s an expensive treat at home but it’s about a tenth of the cost of buying one when we’re out.

Sally scored ten out of ten with her choice of gift to help satisfy my addiction for good coffee, but just one out of ten in terms of practicality for the boat. The coffee machine draws 1.8KW which, sadly is 200 watts more than our inverter can handle. I’ll just have to make the most of my supply of gourmet coffee when we’re on our home mooring and slum it with instant while we’re out.

After my coffee break, one of half a dozen in the course of the day, Sally helped me line up the polycarbonate sheet with the window frame then press the adhesive side of the steel tape firmly against the wood. Job done and an instant and dramatic improvement.

The first window we did was the one we have the biggest problem with. It’s on the port side closest to the bow and is opposite the fire. On anything other than a windless day, cold air streams through the ill fitting top hopper and then races down our necks and swirls around our feet before being drawn into the roaring fire.

The icy draught has now disappeared completely. There’s not a hint of a breeze on the back of my neck as I sit in a blissful stupor in front of the stove’s flickering flames.

We only had time to fit four sheets on Friday; two on opposite sides at the very front of the boat and two in the bedroom. I was particularly keen to see what impact the panels had in the bedroom. Sally sleeps next to the window and suffers from the cold air from the window tumbling down her side of the bed. She made a jumbo “snake” draught excluder to act as a buffer between her and the side of the boat but it hasn’t really been effective.

The two new sheets have been in place now for two nights and the snake draught excluder has been thrown away. Sally is now warm at night which means that she gets a better night’s sleep and I don’t get shouted at when she doesn’t get a good night’s sleep.

We haven’t quite sorted out the problems in the bedroom yet (No, not that!). I think I’ve mentioned before that we have to be very careful when we fill our water tank.

There’s a split in the hose between the water tank filler cap on the front deck and the water tank itself. If we don’t keep a very close eye on the tank as we fill it, the water overflows the tank, surges back up the hose, runs down the outside of the hose and then the outside of the tank before finding its way under the floor where it runs the full length of the boat before ending up in the engine room.

Sally left the tank filling while she helped me fit the two panels in the bedroom. Fifteen minutes after we finished fitting the second panel she let out a startled squeak as she remembered the still running water before sprinting the full length of the boat to turn it off. She turned it off many gallons too late.

After previously spending a considerable length of time vacuuming every last drop op water out of the engine room and under the bedroom floor to ensure that the back end of the boat was as dry as possible, I now have to do it all again. I spent about an hour and a half with the wet vac yesterday. I’ll finish it off today.

Sally’s keeping  a low profile at the moment so she’s not quite as vocal as she should be after the two cock ups I’ve made with the secondary double glazing.

The first I’ll put down to my general ineptitude when it comes to DIY. The second is down to advancing age and my inability to use the half-decent brain I’ve had for the last fifty three years.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, Sally drew back the curtains to let in what passes for light at this time of the year. When she reached the front of the boat where we had fitted the polycarbonate panels the previous afternoon she pulled back the curtains and exclaimed, “These panels are fantastic. You can hardly see that they’re there!”. Then, as she reached forward to caress the almost transparent plastic, “Actually, I can hardly tell that the panel’s there because it isn’t. It’s on the floor!”

I’ve learned an important DIY lesson. When sticking adhesive tape to a window frame, it’s important to make sure that the window frame in question has a surface that the adhesive tape is likely to stick to. It’s Sally’s fault. The varnished window frames have been repeatedly polished to achieve a mirror-like finish. I should have lightly sanded the frames first. I’ll do that before I re-fix the fallen panel.

The second mistake was with the steel tape. Remember I told you that Access Plastics sent white steel tape rather than the brown tape I ordered? I reasoned that we would probably leave the panels in place all year round because they work well in the summer to keep heat out in addition to retaining heat in the winter.

By the time we came to fit the panels in the bedroom I had changed my mind. Sally and I like to sleep with the bedroom windows open in the summer so we can hear the sounds of the birds on the water. I decided to stick the brown magnetic tape against the frame this time instead of against the panel and fix the white steel tape against the panel instead. I was quite pleased with myself. This way, I thought smugly, when we take the panel off in the summer, all we’ll see is the brown magnetic tape against the brown window frame.

We fitted the panel to the first window in the bedroom and stood back to admire our hard work. “Why is there a white band running all the way around the window?”, asked a puzzled Sally. Of course it was the white steel tape on the inside of the transparent sheet.

I did what I should have done in the first place. I emailed Access Plastics to ask them to send the correct coloured tape. I expect it will come some time next week. When it arrives I’ll take the few panels off which have remained stuck to the shiny window frames, strip the white steel tape off and start all over again.

These panels are easy to fit. Honestly. It’s just that I am to DIY what Prince Phillip is to international diplomacy. I am convinced that we are going to enjoy a huge improvement on the boat once they are in place. I guess we’ll just have to wait another week.

The photo below is a window without the panel in place. It’s the window with the panel which fell off overnight.

Narrowboat secondary double glazing

 The next one still has a panel in place. Can you see it?

Narrowboat secondary double glazing

And finally, one of the bedroom panels complete with the ill though through addition of the white steel tape.

Narrowboat secondary double glazing

Living On A Narrowboat Podcasts

Thank you, as ever, for your constructive feedback. Last week I asked you if you wanted video on the site. Your collective answer was a clear and resounding YES PLEASE!

I’ve taken the bull by the horns and ordered the best quality entry level camcorder I could find. It’s the Sony PJ220 Handycam. It’s had fantastic reviews by bloggers who’ve raved about the quality of the videos that they’ve been able to produce with it.

All I need to do now is overcome my “stage fright” – I really don’t like being either photographed or videod – and crack on with the job of translating the site content into beautiful pictures. I’m going to start with a walk-through of James and an explanation of the features which I think make the boat such a comfortable and practical floating home.

The camcorder arrived on Friday but I can’t use it until I receive the memory card which I’ve had to order separately. While I wait for the card to arrive, I’ve been learning more about setting up a YouTube channel. It’s fascinating stuff. One of the important factors in determining a YouTube video ranking is how many subscribers a channel has. I have very few at the moment. Can you help me change that?

You can see the work I’ve done on my new channel here. So far I’ve just concentrated on getting the layout right and making sure that, when I start to add videos on a regular basis next week, that there’s a degree of organisation and continuity. Each newsletter from now on, once I’ve got to grips with my new toy, will be in two formats; written blog posts and audio visual blog posts, or vlogs as they’re increasingly known.

As with livingonanarrowboat.co.uk, my new YouTube channel will contain a number of different sections for different types of information. For example, there will be one section for the weekly newsletters, another based on the articles I’ve published on the site and another for video’s of cruises. I haven’t added the sections yet because I don’t have any videos yet to upload to them. I’ll add more sections over the coming weeks and months.

I also need to add an introductory trailer to my channel home page. The introductory video will be in the middle of the page between the banner above and the video thumbnails beneath. You’ll only see this video if you haven’t yet subscribed to the channel. If you are already a subscriber, instead of the welcome video you’ll see a suggested list of videos to watch next based on your previous viewing.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, please visit the channel home page and click the subscribe button at the top right hand side beneath the banner. You’ll then receive notification each time I add new content to YouTube. You’ll be helping yourself to learn more about living afloat, and you’ll be helping me to improve my video’s ranking. Thanks in advance for subscribing!

Living on a narrowboat with a disability – Update

Last week I wrote about the practicality of living or holidaying afloat with a disability and suggested that hire boats able to accommodate those with mobility issues offered day trips only. There appear to be a few exceptions though.

The Bruce Trust has a fleet of four purpose built wide beam boats on the Kennet and Avon canal. They range from six to twelve berth and all have lifts and or ramps, specially fitted showers and toilets, low level bunks and low set windows.

The Bruce Trust is a none profit organisation and the hire charges reflect that. At the height of summer the weekly hire rate for their twelve berth boat is just £950 which is far less than a narrowboat of the same length. The boats appear to be ideal for both disabled holiday boaters and their carers.

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.

1st December 2013

Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.

Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content

Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.

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.

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5

A Near Death experience, CO alarms a must and a costly mistake.

Hi everyone no I’m not writing this from the other side. This is not a ghostly missive but maybe it could have been. Here are a couple of reminders for everyone about CO alarms and chimney cleaning and a slightly embarassing not knowing your boat’s electical system as well as you should.

Firstly I was rudely awoken by the shreiking of legions of the damned at 1.30 am Saturday morning. Leaping out of bed I discovered it was in fact my Carbon Monoxide alarm which I hastily took off the wall, stuck my finger over the speaker while I worked out how to silence it. In my half comatose state I opened a couple of windows reset the alarm, opened the fire up a little as I thought if  it burns hotter it might stop the CO production and crawled back into bed. It went off again in quite a short time so I leapt out of bed again and opened some more windows and the houdini hatch too and went back to bed again after resetting the alarm. This time it stayed silent.

003In the morning I let the fire out so I could check the stove. I had done a thorough clean of the stove and chimney in the late summer to make sure everything was ok for  when winter set in. My baffle plate doesn’t come out as it is an integral part of the stove so it’s not easy to clean but I had done it at the end of summer. I got my hand in and felt on top of the baffle plate and instead of a smooth metal plate there was what felt like cold molten rock which on the right hand side had formed a stalagmite type structure from the baffle plate to the roof of the stove. Oh bugger I thought, this is fairly solid. The only thing I could get in to chip away at it was an electrical small screwdriver. After about 10 or 15 minutes I’d broken a few pieces off when it cracked and the mass of it then came loose to shouts of joy as I was beginning to think of other ways to get at it. It was about 3 or 4 inches across and about an inch high overall with a bit of it joining up with the flue. Now I have only had the fire on regularly for about 4 weeks or so and I never thought that it would want checking so soon but I will let it out once a fortnight or slightly less and check the baffle plate.005 I then borrowed Tim’s chimney brush, it really is wonderful having good neighbours, see second half of post too, and gave it a good sweep out.

If I hadn’t had the Carbon Monoxide, CO, alarm what would have happened? Would I have woke up to find myself deceased, kaput, an exboater, regretting not having strangled a few worthy people before departing for the ultimate cruise. It might just have been a bad headache and severe tiredness but then would I have put that down to carbon monoxide or just being under the weather and stoked up the fire and gone to bed early again. It makes you think. Well it has me.

The costly mistake was a few weeks ago, infact probably about 4 or 5 weeks ago, my batteries finally gave up and after taking one out to check the colour of the spyglass hole and it was white which means it is no more. I took it round to Midland Chandlers and they checked it and it was an ex battery as where the other two when I took them out. 3 new batteries where needed which cost £240 give or take a few sheckels. They did ask about the charger which I said must have been working ok as I’d not had any trouble before. This was partly a lie but in fairness it was what I believed.

After installing the new batteries the battery level indicator read about 80% yeah. However now that I’m not out and about as much as I was and the nights longer I kept more of a watch on the battery levels which dropped fairly quickly. Now a chance conversation with one of my neighbours, Ken, about battery levels and as he know a bit more than me he asked about a charger. So we had a look round and in the engine room and checked the inverter as they can be inverter/chargers. Mine isn’t. Ken fetched is volt meter and the batteries were at  a reading of 12.09  volts which is about 25%. Not good so the engine was run for an hour or so which boosted them up to a more healthy 50%. Good neighbours are worth their weight in brass fittings.Anyway after a search and a bit of reading of the Adverc battery management manual I don’t have a battery charger so through my ignorance it has cost me £240 before it should have done.

I’m certain Brian who sold me the boat  must have mentioned it but at the time of picking her up there were so many things he went over with me before we set out that I obviously didn’t latch onto it and assumed when plugged into shoreline power that my leisure batteries were being topped up. So if you are thinking of buying an older boat check this out as it isn’t a great problem if you haven’t got one it’s just a problem if you don’t know you haven’t got one.

Now I can spend the winter deciding wether to install a battery charger for hook up or to invest instead in some solar panels to charge them up.

I have so much to learn and only one life to do it in, well as far as we know.

Take care out there.

Nige

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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
Entertainment
Summary

The Downside Of Living On A Narrowboat

Oh, what a life! Seven days a week of gentle relaxation watching the world go by as you sip a never-ending supply of gin and tonics from the comfort of your luxurious floating home. That’s the dream but not quite the reality.

Finding A Place To Moor

On dry land it’s easy. The home you buy is fixed at the location you bought it. Unless you’ve bought a mobile home, there’s no problem finding a place to put it. In fact, a major factor in the buying process was probably your house’s location. It’s not so easy with a narrowboat.

Whether you intend to use your new narrowboat for occasional cruising or as a full time home, the question of where you are going to moor it is something you need to consider BEFORE you make the purchase.

Unfortunately for you, you can’t moor long term at the first pleasant spot you see on the canal bank. British Waterways – who control the vast majority of the canal network – have very strict regulations controlling both duration and purpose of narrowboat moorings. You have to find a dedicated mooring either on the cut or in a marina. Residential moorings in ANY location are very hard to come by.

Utilities

In your house, you don’t have to think about your utilities. Providing you pay your bills, everything is on tap. You press a light switch and the light comes on; you turn on a tap and you get a rush of hot and cold water; you turn a dial and your gas hob lights. You don’t have to worry about them running out.

On your narrowboat it’s totally different. Your gas supply is in bottles weighing 50lb or more. Coal for your stove comes in dirty bags weighing just as much. Your electricity has to be generated by your boat’s engine and stored in batteries or, if you moor in a marina, is supplied from a pre payment point next to your boat. You water comes from an on board tank which must be filled by you at least once a week.

Sewage

What goes in must come out! At some stage you will have to remove your sewage from your boat. If you have a “Porta Potti” toilet with a removable cartridge beneath or behind the bowl, you will need to remove the cartridge and empty the contents at the nearest Elsan disposal point. If your toilet has a large holding tank, you will need to take your boat to the nearest boatyard or marina to have the toilet pumped out. You can expect to pay £10-£20 for each pump out.

Heating Your Boat

Modern boats should have good quality insulation to prevent heat loss in the winter and overheating in the summer. Modern heating systems are quite efficient and can be run at any time of the day or night but heating your boat and heating the water on your boat whatever its age usually requires a degree of thought.

Many boats rely on solid fuel stoves for heating. Solid fuel in the form of coal or wood is difficult to light so you have to ensure that you have a good supply of newspaper and kindling or firelighters to hand. Solid fuel is also dirty. Your stove and the flooring around your stove must be cleaned on a regular basis.

Communications

You will want to be able to receive letters by post (and you will need to receive bills too). You need to use a phone, and you will probably want to access the internet and your email. And you possibly want to watch television. All of these methods of communication are just a little more difficult when living on a narrowboat.

Narrowboat marinas and canal-side moorings are often remote from TV and mobile telephone transmitters. And, of course, you are unlikely to be on your postman’s regular route.

There is always a solution though. You can buy a laptop “dongle” to give you access to the internet. You can ask friends or family or the marina where you moor to accept post for you. You WILL be able to receive a mobile phone signal… but you may have to change network provider (and you may have to make your calls with your head out of the window). You can watch television. You can even receive satellite signals providing you fit your boat with an aerial and a correctly aligned dish for satellite signals.

Lack Of Space

A narrowboat is just 6’10” wide and no more than 70’ long (no more than 60’ long if you want to explore all of the canal network). Even on the longest narrowboat, once you have allowed for the foredeck and engine room, you probably have no more than 55’ of living space.

You have to fit all of your worldly possessions into this space. You will have to say goodbye to your three piece suite, wardrobes, chests of drawers, super-size television and music system and the contents of your shed and garage. You simply won’t have room for them all.

You will have to get used to FAR smaller rooms on your boat. You will get used to using every last nook and cranny to hide things. You will have cupboards under your bed, under all of your seating, in your gas locker, your engine room and your foredeck.

Laundry

Your boat probably won’t have a washing machine. You won’t have the space and, even if you do, you won’t like the power it uses. You will probably have to rely on a local laundry service either in a marina or the nearest town.

Summary

It’s quite a list of downsides for you to consider. Living on a narrowboat isn’t for everyone. You have to accept that you will work a little harder to achieve what you take for granted on dry land. Things take a little bit longer. But that’s OK. Life at a slower pace is more relaxing, more rewarding and more enjoyable. Rather than watch mind numbing late night television, you can turn in a little earlier than you would normally and listen to the natural sounds around you; the gentle patter of rain on your roof, the lapping of water against the side of your boat, owls hooting and ducks quacking. Unfortunately, it’s so relaxing you won’t be able to stay awake long enough to enjoy it.

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 11 24 Newsletter – Winter Fuel Allowance

It’s official. I’m now fully trained to cut down the same size trees I was cutting down quite happily before the four day training course I endured last weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that comprehensive training is necessary when working with dangerous tools and chainsaws are very dangerous. There are far more serious accidents in forestry than there are in the building industry. Comprehensive training is important but the thirty six hours of instruction on safely felling and logging predominantly oak, ash and willow saplings nearly finished me off.

We didn’t actually start a chainsaw until day two. On day one we learned how to carry out a risk assessment of the areas where we work, assemble an effective first aid kit and put together a tool kit for every eventuality. We learned about chainsaw development from the first chainsaw manufactured by Andreas Stihl in 1926 (electric powered and weighing in at 140lbs) up to today’s relatively lightweight, more powerful and much safer saws.

Our instructor Tim Rose, former poacher, gamekeeper, prison officer and now tree surgeon for eighteen years, really knew his stuff. He demonstrated all of the saw’s safety features, why we need to use them and what to do if they go wrong. He lectured us on fueling, safe practices, legislation, manual handling, the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP), the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and the Sustaining Trees & Understanding Particularly Infectious Diseases  (STUPID) act 2013 (I made the last one up).

After the theory we were actually allowed to hold a real live chainsaw, but not to start it. Tim had brought a couple of his working saws with him, and both had particularly blunt and battered chains. Tim then explained, in mind numbing detail, the anatomy of the chain. He told us about the witness mark, top plate, side plate, working corner, gullet, depth gauge, toe and heel. He waxed lyrical about the difference between and full and a semi chisel cutting heads, cutters, drive links, guard links tie straps and rivets.

With the finer points of chain composition finally exhausted he very kindly allowed Pat and I to spend an hour sharpening his blunt chains. Oh, what fun we had!

Finally, after twelve hours tuition, we were allowed to take our chainsaws into the woods.

We spent the rest of the day working next to our reed bed filtration plant cross cutting half a dozen oak which I had felled earlier in the week. We learned about tension and compression, the correct sequence of cuts, the dangers of kickback, correct posture and grip, pulling and pushing chains and when to use them and, most importantly, how to pay attention and look interested so we didn’t hurt Tim’s feelings.

On day three we spent the morning practicing our felling techniques… but not on living trees. Tim strapped two 2m oak logs vertically to two nearby willows so Pat and I could spend a couple of hours practicing cutting “sinks”, the wedge shaped pieces which are cut out of the tree to determine the direction of fall.

In the afternoon we ventured further into the woods to fell our first trees. We spent a couple of hours discussing what we needed to do before felling the 10m high oaks.

The reason we are removing so many oak, apart from the damage done by the squirrels which has resulted in the crowns dying, is because our 1,500 oak are far too close together. Most of them are no more than 2m apart which means that they don’t have room to grow and that they are all competing for a limited amount of water.

The fact that they are so close together means that the one which need to be removed are quite difficult to fell without getting “hung up”. A hung up tree is one which falls against an adjacent tree and stays there. I felled an oak surrounded by other oak and ash which immediately hung up. Tim then spent the best part of an hour describing the methods which could be used to safely put the tree on the ground. He finally came to the conclusion that the best remedy for the problem would be to attach a robust strap to the half-fallen trunk, run the strap through a pulley strapped to a nearby ash and use a ratchet to ease the tree into the horizontal position.

Given that I didn’t have any of the necessary equipment and, to be honest, didn’t understand at all what Tim was suggesting, I waited until he left for the day, picked up the troublesome oak and carried it out of the woods.

On the last day we concentrated on felling oaks although, with frequent breaks for review and correction, we didn’t fell very many. We finished the course at about 3pm on Sunday after cutting down a total of eight oak and two willow out of the twenty five trees I had reserved for the course.

So now the course has been completed. Both Pat and I have passed and are now certified in chainsaw maintenance and crosscutting and basic felling techniques on trees up to 200mm in diameter. Do I think the course has been worthwhile? Yes I do. Every minute of it.

I was pretty confident felling trees before the course, but possibly for the wrong reasons. Since last Sunday I’ve spent a couple of days on my own in the woods both felling and crosscutting. The techniques which were repeatedly drilled into us have stuck with me. As a result I’m now less of a danger to both myself and those around me and, because of the techniques I learned, I can use a chainsaw for longer with far less fatigue.

I’m grateful to Tim for sharing his extensive tree surgery knowledge with us, but I’m even more grateful for the encyclopedic knowledge he shared about woodland management.

Tim’s first experience with woodlands began over three decades ago as a teenage poacher. He then legitimised his woodland exploits by becoming a gamekeeper and then a tree surgeon. He knows a huge amount about the balance which needs to be achieved if the woodland is to develop into something which is both aesthetically pleasing and a haven for a rich variety of birds, insects, reptiles and mammals.

Tim told me that, although there are plentiful signs of both flora and fauna in our larger six acre wood, it is what is described as a “cold” wood. A cold wood is one which has a top layer, a canopy, but no mid or bottom layer. Our wood is predominantly oak and ash with a few conifers and other marginal species thrown in for good measure. There is no understorey (mid layer) or ground cover. The animals which venture into the wood don’t stay for very long because they feel exposed.

There are plenty of signs that animals have passed through the wood; there is, of course, the extensive damage done by grey squirrels to the oak canopy, then there are marks left low down on tree trunks by rabbits, hares and muncjack deer and, slightly higher up, by roe deer. Tim told me – and he kept a very straight face – that the muncjack marks are made by sexually frustrated bucks who are prevented from getting anywhere near the does by the dominant buck. There are signs that they have passed through but passed through too briefly.

The easiest way to provide quick and effective ground cover is to use the brash, the twigs and smaller branches, from the felled oak. It’s a win/win situation for me and for the wildlife. They get plenty of ground cover and, rather than having to drag the brash a couple of hundred metres to the truck, load it up, drive to the tip and unload it again, I can leave it close to the felled trees in tidy piles.

Using oak brash for ground cover

The remaining stumps or stools from the felled oaks will also help to provide ground cover. Early next year the stools will produce new shoots which will initially give cover close to the ground and then, over the coming years, grow into an understorey layer.

With some ground cover in place, I just needed to find a solution for the missing understorey. Next week I’ll be planting some. On Wednesday I hope to take delivery of 270 mixed holly, wayfaring tree, spindle, hazel, field maple and crab apple. It’s not enough to cover all of the woods, but it’s a good start.

I’ve only just stated to use the brash from the felled oaks as ground cover. Most of it had already been removed from the woods before Tim visited us last weekend. Some of it had been burned. I didn’t like burning the oak branches. I thought it was a shame to see it go up in flames. We use a fair amount of bark chippings around the site on paths and to suppress weeds around shrubs. A rubble sack full of chippings costs about £60. I knew we could save this cost if we chipped the large amount of brash we generate in general from site maintenance and in particular from the oak felling project.

I persuaded the powers that be to hire a professional chipper for the day. Early on Tuesday morning I drove twenty miles to West Haddon in Northamptonshire to pick up a professional Timberwolf chipper. It was a beast of a machine.

Patrick with chipperWe fed the brash from about forty oak and half a dozen willow through the machine – plus a couple of arm-fulls of very painful to handle blackthorn – over six very intensive hours. The end result was four truck loads of chippings, or about ten rubble sacks, numerous cuts and scratches and absolute exhaustion. Patrick and I don’t work together very often. I think we’re both a little antisocial. But on the days we are together we tend to be quite competitive. Feeding the chipper was quite demanding physically, as was wrestling the branches off the bonfire which I had compacted with our small excavator.

The hob’s been done now though and I’m delighted with the end result. The brash from the felled oak has been processed so that it can be put to use in and around the woods. Chipping Mountain has also added a bit of interest in the woods for Charie and Daisy. I took them to explore it this morning (below).

Charlie and Daisy on Chipping Mountain

I’ve strayed from the usual newsletter subjects this week but, because the chainsaw course took up all of my free time last weekend, I haven’t had an opportunity to think about, research and write any other subjects. As living on a narrowboat, for me anyway, is all about being able to live a quieter, more peaceful life close to nature, I thought that you too might be interested in the wonderfully rich nature which surrounds me.

After I’ve finished planting 270 new saplings next week the short term projects in the woods will be complete. I’ve removed 120 damaged oak to give the healthy oak more space and coppiced about fifty goat willow. In the process I’ve logged and split enough wood to keep me warm for a couple of years.

Talking of keeping warm, did you know that the government would like to help you out with your winter fuel bills, even if you’re living afloat?

Winter Fuel Allowance

If you are over 62 and otherwise meet the government’s criteria for winter fuel payments you’ll receive £200 towards your heating costs regardless of whether you live on dry land or on the water. If you have a house and a boat, you won’t receive payments for both. The payment is per property rather than per person so if you share your home, floating or otherwise, with a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband each of you will receive £100.

There’s information about how to claim for the winter fuel allowance if you use a friend’s or relative’s address as a postal address on the Association of Continuous Cruisers web site here. Please note that they state that you can receive the winter fuel payment if you are over sixty. However, the qualifying criteria is that, for this winter’s payment, you were born before 5th January 1952 which means that you need to be closer to 62 than 60 before you qualify.

Sadly, or maybe I should say happily, I won’t qualify for another nine years, which is a shame considering that my total expenditure for coal last year was £888.

Case Study – NB Progress

Kim Wainwright, Deckhand on the forum, registered for this site in April this year while she waited for her own boat to be built. Now she’s living the dream on her new narrowboat Progress with her ex corporate high flyer husband Jim and their five dogs. They’ve been living afloat now for a month and love every minute of it. Here’s their story.

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. 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 2013

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

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

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.

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.

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.

20th October 2013

Condensation. 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

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.

3rd November 2013

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

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

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.

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
Entertainment
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