2014 03 16 Newsletter – Paying For A Narrowboat
We’ve had a week of frantic activity at Calcutt. It’s always the same. When we put the hire fleet to bed for the winter at the end of October, the start of the following season seems an impossible distance in the future and then, all of a sudden, the future has arrived and we’re not quite ready.
While I don’t play a direct part in any of the boats’ refurbishment, I do assist the fitters and wharf staff whenever I can. This usually entails moving the boats they have finished with from the workshops in the marina up through the two lower locks of the Calcutt flight to their home on our wharf. Nine of the twelve boats in our hire fleet are now moored on the wharf ready to go, and two were taken out by the first hirers of the season on Friday.
Patrick and I have been doing some last minute frantic cleaning and tidying ready for the hirers. Retaining walls around the flower beds and around our wharf diesel tanks have a fresh coat of snowy white paint, the wharf-side flower beds have been cleared of weeds to show off hundreds of bright yellow daffodils, we’ve cleared up after the contractors who spent a frantic day installing new block paving over the old concrete next to our boats for sale area and the grass has been cut and strimmed to perfection. All we need now is customers.
As well as ensuring the site looks its best I’ve been trying to do the same to my boat.
No More DIY!
You know I’m incompetent. I’ve told you often enough. I’m frequently frustrated when I try to do the smallest jobs on the boat. I fitted two stainless steel fender hanger to the boat’s starboard side last summer. I broke three drill bits at £5 each. The simple job took me two hours.
Last November I bought some very expensive polycarbonate secondary double glazing panels and an even more expensive magnetic fixing kit. The instructions were simple. “Fix the adhesive backed steel tape to your window frame. Fit the adhesive backed magnetic strips to the polycarbonate sheets.” That was pretty much it. What could go wrong? Plenty actually. They all fell off. Not some of them, all of them. At least I’m consistent.
I’ve fitted tiles which have also fallen off, navigation lights facing the wrong way (they were on the boat for six months before the glaring error was pointed out to me), door handles at an angle, picture frames which have fallen off the wall… the list goes on and on.
It’s reached the stage of our relationship now where Sally doesn’t even bother asking me to do anything. She tries to do it herself and usually makes a much better job than I could ever hope to, and if I’m foolish enough to say something like, “What are you doing with that manly power tool? That’s my job. Let ME fix it for you!”, Sally just gives me a knowing and disdainful look then carries on. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Here’s a recent example; we had a leak. Every time either of us had a shower, we would have water dripping, almost flowing, from the pine panel just above the gunnel in the bedroom. Even I could put two and two together and work out that, as the same pine panel ran through the shower cubicle, water was getting behind the panel in the shower and running back eight feet to the bedroom.
I gave the problem my usual ineffective attention. I couldn’t see a leak but decided to strip the existing sealant off the shower cubicle and reseal all of the joins. I was pleased with the end result. Better than that I was proud of my workmanship, so proud that I almost insisted that Sally have a shower as soon as the silicon was dry. I sat in front of the fire smugly listening to the sound of happy splashing coming from the bathroom, and then the not so happy scream as Sally walked into the bedroom to find that, far from being cured, the leak was worse than ever.
As soon as it was safe to come back in to the boat, I suggested to Sally that we ask a proper man to have a look at it. She gave me one of her best you-should-have-done-that-months-ago looks which I read as enthusiastic agreement, so we called one in.
Before he arrived, Sally and I sat down and made a list of all the things which needed doing and which we both agreed were beyond me. Needless to say, virtually all of the outstanding jobs went on the list. Sally is still going to allow me to screw a new coolie hat onto the chimney providing I’m happy to work under her supervision, but that’s about it.
The list included fitting internal locks and clam shell handles on the front door, internal locks, clam shell handles and restraining latches on the rear doors, replacing all of the old ceiling dome lights with new LED domes, fixing or replacing the kitchen extractor fan, building a shoe rack in the alcove beneath the starboard centre hatch, curing the draught (gale force wind) coming through the poorly fitted front doors, curing several small engine diesel leaks, finding out why the engine is losing water, replacing the ring main wiring to comply with BSS regulations and, of course, finding and curing the shower leak and then fitting a folding shower door to replace the current curtain and, last but not least, moving the shower pump switch from its original and very inconvenient position at the back of the bedroom wardrobe into the bathroom where it can be reached from the shower.
Our knight in shining armour arrived at 10.30am on Monday, exactly on time. His name is Matthew (Matty) Smith. The boating world is a small one. I’ve heard his name mentioned a few times, including on the site forum once or twice. He’s friendly, competent and was very honest about his limitations.
He has a range of skills including plumbing. After I had walked him through the boat pointing out what needed doing, I asked him if he was able to fit a full central heating system. Calcutt Boats are supposed to be doing it for me but they have so much work on at the moment that I’m not sure when they are going to be able to fit me in. Matty told me that although he’s fitted one central heating system in the past, he’s never fitted a Webasto and that I would get better value for money having they system installed by an experienced fitter. The confession enhanced my faith in his ability to tackle the jobs he’d agreed to do.
As we looked at each of the jobs he quickly offered a solution to each of the problems. When we came to the shower I told him about the remedial work I had already done and suggested that the leak was probably going to be quite difficult to find. He didn’t say anything but gently poked the sealed pine strip that runs through the shower cubicle at waist height on the port side of the boat. “This pine is spongy in this section here. “The shower water is pooling on top, then running down behind the panel here. This is definitely where the leak is.” The cause of the leak was obvious once he had explained it. I’m constantly frustrated by my inability to see these things myself.
He did the same instant diagnosis in the engine room. The engine has been losing water. I haven’t been able to spot the leak but as soon as Matty turned the engine on (why didn’t I think of doing that?) he pointed to a rubber hose. “This hose has perished. There’s a split underneath it there, and cracks here, here and here. You need to replace it immediately. You’re lucky it hasn’t fallen apart when you’ve been out cruising.”
Matty “never say no to a coffee” Smith was with us for the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday. The front doors are now secure and decorated with some very nice brass handles, there’s no sign of a draught through them, the kitchen extractor fan and switch have been replaced, the shower leak has been stopped by fitting some very neat white plastic trunking over the damaged pine then resealing the shower cubicle, the shower pump can now be turned off without having to walk naked and still dripping wet into another room, there’s a lovely new and very bright LED ceiling dome to illuminate the very dark bathroom space, there are brass handles and brass external retaining catches for the rear doors and I’ve been given a shopping list for the other jobs he hopes to tackle when he returns next week.
I’ve ordered seven more LED ceiling domes, a Smart Gauge battery monitor and a shower door from Wesley Marine Windows. I had a problem finding a shower door to fit the front of the shower cubicle. Nearly all of the shower doors available are from mainstream suppliers who cater for customers with standard sized room in bricks and mortar homes. The standard height available is 1780mm which is too tall to fit in a raised shower tray on a boat. Wesley make windows for boats and also supply slightly shorter shower doors. Our new door is 1635mm high which, when fitted, will just leave a small gap between the top of the door and the ceiling’s pine cladding.
The shower door was ordered on Tuesday and arrived Wednesday afternoon. Great service. Thank you Wesley Windows. The new ceiling lights arrived two days later and I’m still waiting for the battery monitor. Hopefully it will be here before Matty returns to fit it.
Parting With Your Hard Earned Cash
If you’re a typical narrowboat buyer, the purchase of your boat will be the largest you will ever make after your house. In fact, if you’re having a bespoke boat built, you may well be paying as much as you would for a small house. When you buy a house you can rely on your solicitor, their paperwork and the checks they carry out to ensure that everything is above board. Even when you buy a car it’s pretty easy to check whether the seller is the legal owner and whether there is any finance outstanding on the vehicle.
When you buy a boat it’s not so easy. You can’t check for outstanding finance and it’s difficult to check on ownership. The most thorough checks you can do are to ask to see an original bill of sale and then a paper trail of invoices for maintenance and repairs, mooring and license fees and any other boat related purchases which span the period between the bill of sale date and the current date.
You also need to check that the person selling the boat has the same name as the receipts and invoices and, if you decide to buy the boat, that the account you transfer your life savings into is in the same name as the paperwork you have checked.
Many car buyers would rather buy from a reputable garage rather then dealing directly with the seller so that the garage can do all the checks into legal ownership for them. With boat sales, rather than go through a garage you go through a broker, but what checks can a broker do if there is no official register and if outstanding finance can’t be verified?
The simple answer is that they can’t do any more than you could do yourself. They ask the boat owner to sign a document stating that they are the legal owner and that there is no money outstanding on the boat. What the broker can do for you is hold the money you pay them until the boat is in your possession before handing the money over to the seller, and mediate between buyer and seller if liability needs determining if any remedial work is necessary before the boat’s sale is completed.
Even after the most stringent checks carried out by either you or your broker, you can’t be sure that there isn’t any finance outstanding on the boat. Here’s a cautionary tale about a couple who spent £23,000 on a boat and then invested another £8,000 on repairs and refurbishment. They were then contacted by Clydesdale bank who told them that the previous owner had taken out a loan to buy the boat and that there was still £26.000 outstanding.
The story has a happy ending but only because This Is Money magazine intervened on their behalf. I’ve been told by a broker that it’s not actually possible for a loan to be secured on a boat and that the lending institution would have to pursue the person who took out the loan rather than the boat that the loan was used to buy. If that’s true then Clydesdale bank wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on. The problem of course is that the bank had the financial resources to bully new owners into accepting liability. I suspect that the bank would have been successful if it hadn’t been for the magazine’s assistance.
I don’t know what would happen if the new owners of a boat purchased through a broker was later found to still have outstanding finance. Would the broker accept liability? I suspect not.
So you can’t tell for sure whether there is outstanding finance but there are several things you can do if you are buying from a private seller to ensure that the substantial amount of money you are paying for it is protected until you have your new boat in your possession.
Site subscriber Alan Izatt purchased his first boat just over a year ago. He’s kindly provided me with the following information about concerns and practicalities of dealing with the transfer of money during the sales process. Here’s a post he made on another forum…
“As an ex corporate financier (among other things) one of the things that concerned me when I bought my boat a year ago was what happened to the deposit money and, more importantly, the balance monies before I took physical delivery of the boat. It is a bit of a nightmare. Slightly different if you are buying privately but similar considerations apply.
If the broker goes into liquidation after receiving your money and before you receive the bill of sale (and the boat) you will be an unsecured creditor and very unlikely to get any money back.
Normally people will pay by cheque which will take 3-5 days to clear.
A bankers draft is not guaranteed so the broker will insist on waiting until it clears (3 days?).
Some brokers claim the monies are kept in a separate client account. All solicitors use these (and they are securely ring fenced – fraud excepting) but from my research it is very unlikely that any brokers have a “safe” client account. Mostly they are just a separate account which would still be part of the broker’s assets in a liquidation. If they claim to have a ‘proper’ client account (at least one does) I suggest you ask for written confirmation from their solicitors or accountants that the account is properly ring fenced ie confirm that, in the event that ABC Ltd goes into liquidation, your monies will be returned to you.
The solution I found was to pay by debit card, in person, and have the bill of sale handed over simultaneously. The broker kindly also reduced the amount of deposit required. Note some banks will set a daily limit on the amount you can pay, which would scupper this option. With “faster payments” it might be possible to use a BACS transfer (free), or a CHAPS transfer (about £50 I think), but you might be sitting in the broker’s office a few hours until the transfer takes place. Another possibility would be to pay the monies to the broker’s solicitors (if they have one) who hold the money in their client account, just like the sale of a house, but fees would undoubtedly be involved. I briefly discussed paying the owner direct – the broker might insist on deducting his commission, which you would have to pay direct to them, but this is obviously not without problems.
On the other side of the coin the vendor will be at risk from the moment the broker hands over the bill of sale to the purchaser, until the vendor receives the cleared funds in his account. I’ll worry about that one when I come to sell!”
This interesting and very useful reply was made to Alan’s post…
“Alan makes several valuable observations here about the risks and practicalities of transferring a large sum of money in a boat purchase.
We purchased our own boat last year in what became an extremely stressful transaction. It was a private sale. The seller was not a well-educated man and I had only ever met him at the boatyard, not at his home. I had no proof that he was who he said he was and more importantly, he had no proof that he owned the boat. The boat was lying 180 miles from my home and the seller (allegedly!) lived a further 70 miles away. The seller had no computer or email, and because he wasn’t very worldly-wise his workmates had filled his head with all sorts of nonsense such as the idea that if I transferred the money into his bank account and took the boat, I could then a week later reverse the transaction and take my money out of his account again! So he didn’t trust me at all and yet he couldn’t understand my concerns about whether he had full title to the boat he was selling since he had no paperwork.
Things went downhill when I had the boat surveyed. I appointed a surveyor who advertises widely in the canal press. I was unable to attend the survey but of course the seller did. He asked the surveyor what the boat was worth and to my everlasting incredulity the cretinous surveyor, who was working for me and being paid by me, told the seller his boat was worth £9,000 more than the price I had agreed to pay! Predictably the following morning the seller re-advertised the boat on ApolloDuck for £9k more.
You might think we should walked away but the boat was the one, it was the best match for our requirements in four years of research and hunting. We didn’t want to let it go.
I looked him up on the electoral register using 192.com and at least he and his wife matched the home address he had given me but since he’d failed to show me any ID I didn’t know if this was really him! I offered to pay for a solicitor to oversee the transaction and deposit the purchase money in the solicitor’s account but he didn’t want to use a solicitor and anyway I couldn’t find a solicitor who would help because they would need to run an ID check for money-laundering prevention on me and the seller and the seller wouldn’t agree to this! Furthermore the solicitors I spoke to expressed doubts about getting involved because there’s no guaranteed way of establishing who owns the boat and if there is a marine mortgage on it,
The seller banked at the branch of Barclays near the boatyard so I offered to open an account at the same branch and deposit the funds there, and then accompany the seller to the branch to transfer the money from my account to his. Sadly Barclays said this wasn’t possible because the transfer would still have to be done by CHAPS and wouldn’t be instantaneous. A bank counter cheque wasn’t possible because they can be stopped by the issuing bank in certain circumstances. I even considered cash but with a purchase price of £75,000 this was neither practical nor risk free; neither of us would know if the notes were forgeries!
In the end I took the biggest risk of my life and I transferred the entire sum by Faster Payments into his account the day before I was due to collect the boat (my bank’s limit was £10,000 per transfer so I had to do eight separate transfers, all of which immediately went through). He could have disappeared completely, or it could have turned out that the boat wasn’t his. I was so unsettled by this that having transferred the money I booked myself into a Travelodge near the boatyard and kept vigil through the gates of the locked boatyard for much of the evening and night to check that the boat didn’t disappear!
In the end it was a happy ending. Apart from him childishly siphoning nearly all of the diesel out of the fuel tank the boat was still there in the morning with all agreed fittings and I was able to collect the keys and cruise away. The whole process did add several grey hairs to my head though. Despite Alan correctly saying there are risks (for buyer and seller) when using a broker, at the time I would have been grateful for the involvement of one.”
I received a further email from Alan as a follow up to the information above…
“Yes, it is a pretty complicated/grey area. When you consider some people are paying the same as they would for a small house, the contracts and the whole process leaves much to be desired.
I think Nottingham Boat Sales are unusual, in that they will refund the full deposit, if faults are found by the survey and ”agreement cannot be reached by renegotiating the price or by fixing the fault”. I think most other brokers (certainly two which I had dealings with) only refund the deposit if there are faults which impinge on the BSC – unfortunately I did not keep the copies so perhaps you should just say it is something that buyers should check. NBS require 6 working days for cheques and bankers drafts to clear.
One other thought I had when buying was to examine a copy of the brokers accounts to check their liquidity. Also, if buying direct (or paying direct to the vendor, which was muted when I bought), to carry out a credit check on the vendor – this should disclose whether he has any loans outstanding (I do not think it would disclose whether one was specifically on the boat) and help to verify his bona-fides. Voters roll could also be checked to verify identity.
One suggestion would be to pay some or all of the deposit by credit card. This may give protection under s75 of the Consumer Credit Act, but only if the cost of the boat is below £30k. It is a grey area as the broker is acting as a third party and AFAIK has not been tested in the courts.
A few years ago, when buying a second hand car, I discovered there was a finance agreement outstanding. The solution was for me to go with the vendor to the local bank to pay in cash by bank giro to pay off the loan.”
I hope you’ve found this information helpful. You may consider some of the checks and the time they’ll take excessive but when you consider the time it takes to save the purchase price of even a modest second hand boat, and the speed at which it can be transferred out of your account into one belonging to a complete stranger, the relatively small investment in additional time to safeguard your savings is one which you need to make.
If you have boat and have some useful information or an interesting story to share about the purchase, please email me. It’s an important subject so the more information I have on the site about the subject the better.
A New Case Study
Morialta 11 – Here’s another couple who have sensibly decided to retire early to enjoy life in the slow lane. They keep their boat at the bottom of their riverside home when they aren’t cruising, which doesn’t appear to be very often. I particularly like the iconic photo’s they sent me to include with their case study.
I always like to receive articles from site subscribers. The articles allow me to add to the mass of information on the site and give site visitors a bit of a break from my own style and content. There are a few site subscribers who have their own blogs on the site so they can publish their own blog posts without my assistance. Two of the more active posters are Our Nige and Pearley.
Pearley has posted the latest in his “Rough Guide” series of cruising notes. This time it’s the Ashton canal to complement his guides on the Rochdale, Huddersfield and Calder & Hebble canals so, if you fancy trying the South Pennine ring, you’ll find this guide very useful.
Our Nige likes to share his down to Earth, warm hearted ramblings with us now and then about the joys of living float (and the joys of visiting his local pubs). Here’ are his latest observations about the pleasure of living a simple life in the slow lane.
The last few newsletters have included cooking tips from other boaters. While I though the tips were very useful, I was just a tiny bit jealous as many of them required a solid fuel stove larger than my own modestly proportioned Torgem to either balance pots on top or place in the ash tray underneath. This week I thought I would move away from the tips I can’t use and provide a tip of my own.
Parachute cord. That’s my tip. I always keep a 100m reel on board. The stuff I use isn’t genuine parachute cord so you wouldn’t want to use it to support you if you jumped out of a plane, but it might just do tied to an old waterproof if you find climbing down from your boat roof a bit of a chore.
I use mine for tying to my recovery magnet when I, quite often, drop metal objects into the water, as temporary shoe or boot laces, dog leads and fender hangers. It’s very useful stuff. This is the cord I use.
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.
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.
Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.
Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.
Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou
Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.
I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.
Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.
Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.
Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.
Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?
If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)
Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.
The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?
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.
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.
Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Popular narrowboat terminology – Hundreds or words or phrases used to describe parts of boats and the waterways they cruise through.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Managing your water supply
An American blogs about his travels
Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube
All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller
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!
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.
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?
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
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?
The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.
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.
Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold
Meet one of your legless canal side companions
The canal network’s largest floating hotel
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.
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?
The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring
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
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.
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
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.
Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis
Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer
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
First tests and reviews of the budgeting application
The best aerial for a narrowboat television
The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application
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
I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date
Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs
Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home
The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners
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
Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans
Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson
Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels
Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)
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
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
DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter
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.
- Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
- Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
- 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
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.
|vaccines||Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.|