2014 03 16 Newsletter – Sharing Your Narrowboat Space

I’ve had Matty Smith here on the boat again this week. He came on Friday afternoon to fit seven LED ceiling domes and my new Smartgauge battery monitor.

The ceiling lights were a mess. I suspect that they were the original lights fitted when the boat was built in 1977. On several, the catches which secured the heavy glass domes to the bases were broken so the domes couldn’t be secured properly. As a result they hung at an angle from the ceiling. As well as looking unsightly, they didn’t provide much in the way of light. The glass had stained over the thirty seven years they had been in place so even with all of the ceiling lights on, Sally and I often collided in the dimly lit interior (that’s our excuse anyway, and we’re sticking to it).

The new lights have made a tremendous difference. We purchased two of them at Crick last year but such is my enthusiasm for DIY and my limited knowledge of electrics that they remained in their boxes until Matty came last week. We liked them so much that we ordered seven more for him to fit on his next visit.

I was a little worried that I might have made the wrong choice with the seven additional lights. The seller, HMS Marine Supplies,  offer the 7″ domes in both cool and warm light. The first two we bought were the brighter cool light as they were for the galley and the very dark bathroom where we need plenty of illumination. We were slightly nervous when we ordered more of the same fearing that the inside of the boat would look like Blackpool illuminations. Neither of us are getting any younger though and our eyesight isn’t what it used to be. We decided that brighter was probably better. I’m pleased we did. The lights have transformed the inside of the boat. It’s even prettier than I thought it was.

I’m equally pleased with the Smartgauge battery monitor.  I have five batteries; four 135AH for the domestic supply, and one 110AH as a starter. Batteries are so expensive to replace and so easy to damage by flattening them too often that it’s worth investing in something to keep a constant eye on their health.

The new battery monitor is extremely easy to use. Even I can understand it. There are three buttons to press. The first shows the volts for the main (domestic) battery bank, the second shows the battery bank status (% remaining) and the the third displays the volts for the secondary battery bank (starter).

The Smartgauge display unit has been fitted into the ply bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom with the display in the bedroom. The display turns off after two minutes so the panel is not intrusive at all. Although I haven’t done so yet, it’s possible to set a number of alarms based on either voltage or status. When triggered, the panel will constantly display the current status and voltage until deactivated. The unit can also be used to turn on a generator or to trigger an audio alarm, however the visual alarm display will be enough to trigger me to get off my backside and to start the engine to charge the batteries.

The battery monitor is yet another piece in our nearly complete live aboard narrowboat jigsaw.

After spending so much money ensuring that the boat is fit to cruise, it would be a crime not to test it, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do for the first two weeks of June. We can’t decide where we’re going to do the testing yet though. Below I’ve talked generally about couples getting on together when they live on board and particularly about Sally and I. One of the aspects of life afloat where we currently disagree is how much cruising to do when we go out on the boat.

I’m quite frustrated when I consider the length of time I’ve lived afloat and just how little I’ve seen of the river and canal network. On the few occasions we have the time to cruise, I want to see as much of it as possible. I want to be able to talk knowledgeably about sections of rivers and canals, the best places to moor, spots to avoid and things to do and places to see along the route. I want, like Pearley on the forum,  to be able to consult my extensive cruising notes then answer any query quickly and accurately. If we have two weeks to explore the network, I want to make the most of every day.

Unfortunately, Sally doesn’t feel the same way.

She, like me, wants to make the most of the break to get away from it all when we cruise. Unlike me, for Sally “getting away from it all” on the boat doesn’t include travelling all day every day. Our summer cruise last June was perfect for her. We cruised very slowly to the end of the Ashby canal and back. We managed just over 100 miles in fourteen days  or just over seven miles a day. (You can read about the cruise here. Just follow the “Next Post” links at the very bottom of the page if you want to read about the whole trip).

This year Sally wants to do something similar, somewhere new but at a very relaxing pace. She told me, probably correctly, that we’ll have all the time in the world to see as much of the network as we want when we’re cruising full time. She’s probably right. I’m just naturally impatient so I’ll have to try to reign in that impatience for now.

Sharing Living Accommodation The Size Of A Large Garden Shed

I was wondering what to write about this week when I received an email from Trevor Ingram. Trevor emails me quite often to point out, in a very useful and much appreciated way, some of the many spelling or grammatical errors I’ve made when I’ve hastily published a newsletter without proofreading it thoroughly first.

Trevor’s email this time contained a welcome and useful suggestion for a newsletter topic. Here’s Trevor’s idea…

“Maybe a theme for the future could be ‘partners’. I know that Sally is part of your life and boat, but you could perhaps ‘flesh her out’ in a manner of speaking and at the same time provide some useful help, hints and advice to couples in a similar situation.

 She was living on dry land, how did you ‘persuade’ her to adopt a narrow boat lifestyle, especially as being from The Philippines, a canal culture would be rather alien to her? Your smooth talking persuasive talents would be a helpful hint to many a mere male faced with the same problem of ‘partner persuasion’
How has she adapted to the confines of  boat, women have different needs and requirements from men, as we all know. 
What does she like dislike about the boat, the lifestyle, her partner (not too personal here)?
Her ideas on any improvements from a feminine perspective would be a nice balance to your more macho input, if I may phrase it that way
Anyway just a thought, hope it might be the germ of an idea for a future newsletter”
It was indeed a germ of an idea for a future newsletter. This one.
Trevor suggested in another email that this should be Sally’s story rather than Sally’s story as interpreted and told by Paul. Unfortunately, although Sally speaks English better than many full blooded English men and women and reads English easily and comfortably, she isn’t comfortable or very quick when she has to write down her thoughts in languages other than her native Tagalog or her island dialect, Llonggo. So, dear reader, you’ll have to make do with my interpretation.
I’ve lived on my boat now for four years. I lived on my own for the first two years. I met Sally in May 2011 and although she spent quite a bit of time on the boat when we first met, she still had her house where either she or we would stay for a day or two each week.
Just under two years ago she burned her bridges somewhat by moving all of her furniture into storage (most of which she has now either given away or sold) and moving herself and her two spaniels onto the boat with me. Her tenants have now renewed their yearly agreement and, we think, want to spend the rest of their days there. Sally is happy for them to spend the rest of their days there because she wants to spend the rest of her days with me on the boat. Isn’t that sweet?
2012 08 02 James Roof
Sally has done what women do and “improved” both me and the boat. I’m very happy with most of the changes, but sometimes, just sometimes, I think she misses the point of a stress free life afloat. Take my clothes for example.
When I first moved on board I left 90% of my clothes in the house. All I took with me when my wife and I went our separate ways was a 50 litre rucksack stuffed with my more robust outdoor clothing. I left suits, dozens of dress shirts, getting on for a hundred brightly coloured silk ties, dress shoes… there were wardrobes and drawers packed full of the stuff. As far as I know, they’re still there.
Once on the boat I vowed to only buy good quality clothing which needed very little care. My standard method of choosing garments when shopping was to see how well it performed in the “screw it up” test. I would grab a handful of the garment, bunch it up and squeeze it tight for ten or fifteen seconds before opening my hand. If the creases didn’t fall out of it as soon as I let it go, it failed. It was a fantastic way of selecting clothing which didn’t need ironing, which didn’t need the excessive power which an iron uses up on a boat and which didn’t involve standing for hours with an iron in my hand when I could be relaxing enjoying the natural sights and sounds from the boat.
To a certain degree, that has now changed. I now have smart clothes for going out in. Quite a lot of them, all chosen for their aesthetic appeal rather than their practicality by Sally. Of course, a greater variety of clothing requires more storage space and as these smart clothes don’t pass the screw it up test, Sally often ends up ironing when she should be relaxing.
Relaxing is not a thing she does well. It frustrates me no end.
Before we met, I thought I did a pretty good job of keeping the boat clean. Once a week, regardless of whether I felt like it or not, I would spend a reluctant hour with a duster and vacuum cleaner getting rid of the accumulated dust and cobwebs. These days, Sally spends at least that much time every day dusting and vacuuming, especially vacuuming.
The boat is spotless. I can’t deny it, but I wonder whether the trade off between time spent keeping it that way rather than relaxing is really worth it. I can hear many women reading this, and maybe a few men, saying “Well, if you actually gave her a hand instead of moaning about it, she wouldn’t have to spend so much time cleaning!” I understand the point of view, but I don’t think it’s accurate. If I joined in with the, to me, excessive cleaning, this would just release Sally so that she could do some other, more intensive, cleaning.
And then there’s the washing.
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Sometimes I regret having a washing machine on board. Everything gets washed now on a very regular basis. I even have to change my socks every day! Because we now have an easily accessible washing machine rather than having to use the two in the marina shower block, and because our hot water is courtesy of a gas burner, our gas usage has increased from one 13kg bottle very month to one every twenty days and we have to fill up with water nearly every day.
More importantly, because a washing machine used to be less accessible, Sally used to do less washing, so she had more time to relax.
I was pretty happy with the general state of the boat before Sally moved on board. I had identified the leaks and had them fixed, and that was pretty much it. When Sally came along she didn’t want the boat to look OK, she wanted it to look good. She wanted it to be something she would be proud to show her friends. It’s not something I had considered. Probably because I didn’t have any friends.
One of the first additions to the boat was a television. I spent the first year and a half without one and I was pretty happy. I spent much of my time adding content to this site. When I wasn’t doing that, I was more than happy to sit and read. In the summer I would finish work at 5.30pm, be back on the boat by 5.35pm and be sitting at the table on the front deck by 5.45pm with a glass of red wine, a bowl of mixed olives and my Kindle. To tell you the truth, my Kindle often lay on the table unused while I enjoyed the wind and sun on my face and the occasional insistent nip from a bold swan to let me know in no uncertain terms that bread was required.
In the winter I would do much the same but rather than sit on the front deck, I would sit ten feet further back, inside the boat and next to a flickering coal fire. Again, I would often forget my book as I was lulled into a trance by the flames in front of me and the rain pattering on the window behind me.
I thought Sally would feel the same but one summer’s evening after we came in from the front deck and sat down to listen to some music, Sally summed up her feelings when she said, “Don’t you ever get bored just sitting here doing nothing?”
I can sometimes take a hint. I bought a television and now, after a hard day’s labour, I often sit in front of the evil eye in the corner of the lounge area, turn it on and tune in to Dave, “The home of witty banter!” And do you know what? I quite enjoy it.
The first substantial change she made was to swap the old threadbare beige carpet for some new oak effect laminate flooring. It was only after the new flooring was fitted that I realised how unsightly the carpet was in the first place. Now we have practical flooring which is incredibly easy to clean and which looks smart.
The next thing to change in pretty short order were the curtains. I don’t know how long they had been on the boat but it wasn’t until we took them down that I realised there was a pattern on them. We bought the material, Sally made the curtains. They looked good when she was making them. They looked better still on the windows.
Since then we’ve replaced the old Porta Potti with a shiny new and, most importantly, unused one, replaced the green and very scruffy cratch cover, added covers over the side and rear hatches and doors, replaced all the old lights with LEDs and then replaced the light fittings too, added mats to the front and rear decks, changed the old and stained mattress (Sally’s still not entirely convinced that I wasn’t an enthusiastic bed wetter while I was single), fitted an inverter so that we could use 230v appliances away from the marina, added 3 x 100w solar panels so we could provide power to the new inverter, added a new alternator for the same reason, and added more batteries to the bank, again for the same reason. The engine room has been smartened up and the fuel lines rerouted to stop them from becoming damaged from the ballast they were laying under and, last but not least, we’ve bought a yet to be fitted central heating system.
How much of this would I have done if I had still been on my own? Probably not very much. It hasn’t just been a case of Sally wanting to make a comfortable home out of the boat. She’s of the opinion that if you intend to keep something, you might as well keep it in working order.
Much as I appreciate the positive changes Sally has made to the boat, there are some aspects of boating and of living afloat where we disagree. And there are also some aspects of life afloat which Sally misses terribly.
Sally mourns the loss of her beautiful garden. Ever since she came to the UK over twenty years ago she has been a very enthusiastic gardener. Before her late husband died she had a large house with an equally large and comprehensively stocked garden. I didn’t see it but she often talks about it. I did see the garden of the house which she still owns, and what a work of art it was. There weren’t a huge number of flowers and trees but the ones she had planted were perfect for the garden and for each other and were regularly and lovingly tended.
She’s been very frustrated living on the boat where the only living things she can look after is a small potted plant on a shelf between the galley and the dinette. Whenever we cruise, Sally looks wistfully at each mooring we pass which has a small garden attached to it.  She always asks the cost of such a mooring and whether they are difficult to find.
Even on our home mooring at Caluctt she stands on the small peninsula next to the boat and tells me which flowers and shrubs would enhance the view if we planted them within site of the boat windows. She knows the marina won’t allow us to plant anything there, but it doesn’t stop her from dreaming.
She’s reached a compromise now. Last week she advertised in the local post office offering a gardening service. Next week she will start looking after a garden for an elderly lady in the nearest village who is crippled by arthritis. It’s not the greatest of solutions as Sally will have to drive two and a half miles to “her” garden and she won’t be able to see it from the boat, but it’s the best we can do at the moment.
Sally also misses the convenience of having utilities on tap.
Try as I might, I struggle to get her to adopt a short shower regime. She enjoys a long shower and there’s nothing I can do to persuade her otherwise. Consequently our water usage is high, as is our gas usage.
She is also extremely fond of two appliances which the boat doesn’t like; a 2.2KW vacuum cleaner and an equally power hungry iron. I could happily throw both of these out of the side hatch into the canal, but I know I would follow them a couple of minutes later so I have rather wimpishly resisted the temptation so far.
Another pet hate of hers (and mine too if the truth be told) is the cassette toilet. With most standard household toilets you get a decent surge of water to flush away your unmentionables. With a cassette toilet, and to a large extent with a dump through toilet, you get an apathetic dribble which does little to help move the mess.Both of us prefer to use plumbed in dry land facilities wherever they are available but I think the issue bothers Sally more than it does me.
Really, we both pretty much like the same things with just a few minor differences. It’s the same with any cohabiting couple. The difference on a narrowboat is that you have to do it in a very much smaller space. On a narrowboat there’s very little opportunity to have a row and go somewhere out of sight where you can sulk until you’re ready to act like an adult again. We’ve tried, but it doesn’t really work.
At a push, one of us can go into the bedroom and close the door. Unfortunately the only space in the bedroom is on the bed and we tend to have the mattress raised during the day to allow air to circulate under it. We also take the duvet and the blanket off the bed and fold it up, again to air the mattress.
Going into the bedroom to sulk involves making the bed in order to have somewhere to sit, so it’s not really practical.
The noise of the appliances Sally uses to keep both the two of us and the boat neat and tidy drives me mad. I find sitting in the centre of the boat with the washing machine droning away just feet away from me, occasionally drowned out by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, a very difficult environment to work in.
However it’s a small space and there are two of us living here. Sally doesn’t moan about me sitting motionless in front of a laptop for hours on end without lifting a finger to help while she works up a sweat cleaning and cooking just feet away. I try not to moan when she makes too much noise for me to concentrate.
There you are. I started off as a scruffy single guy on a scruffy boat. Now I’m a slightly less scruffy not so single guy on a boat which I am proud to call home.

Secondary Double Glazing Update

A brief recap. I purchased ten polycarbonate secondary double glazing panels at the beginning of December last year. The order arrived, complete with a magnetic strip fixing kit two days later. Unfortunately I had ordered brown magnetic tape to match my brown window frames but the company sent white tape.
I rang them to point out the error. They apologised and promised to send me more tape out that day. They did and the replacement tape arrived two days later. Sadly, it was still white.
I called them again. They admitted they didn’t have brown tape in stock and that they had a problem sourcing it. Their current supplier had stopped producing it so they were looking for a new supplier. They expected to have some in by the end of January.
I lost focus on the project given that I was away on holiday for all of February and given that the winter weather that the panels were going to be used for just hadn’t materialised.
Yesterday I remembered that my two emails to them in January asking for an update still hadn’t been answered. I sent them quite a stern email suggesting that unless they got their collective finger out PDQ, I would have no alternative other than to demand a full £350 refund for the order.
To my surprise, I received a very quick reply to inform me that they still couldn’t find a supplier and that they were going to refund me for the full order value within the next couple of days. If they do as they promise, I will be very happy indeed. However, doing what they were either expected to do or what they had promised they would do hasn’t been a strong point of this company so far. We shall see.

Guest Posts

I’ve set up two new blogs for site users in the last week, and there’s another on the way for next week. Many potential or existing narrowboat owners start their own blogs but then are bitterly disappointed when no one appears to be reading their blog posts. What they don’t generally take into account is that people who might me interested in reading their blog don’t know it’s there.

I know from personal experience how difficult it is to attract visitors to a new web site.  I’ve just had a look at my site statistics for the last month then compared them to the same period four years ago which was just after I launched the site. For a full month in 2010 I was swamped by visitors to the site… all eight of them. Four years later, and after countless hours of marketing and content writing, the number of unique visitors each month has risen to a very respectable 10,442.

Why am I telling you this? Because blogs on this site get plenty of readers courtesy of the visitors who already visit this site. I often publish links to blog posts if I think that newsletter readers will be interested in them. I’m actively encouraging new bloggers for two reasons; Good blog entries from other contributors mean that I don’t have to come up with so much content myself, and content written by other current and soon-to-be boat owners lend a different view of life afloat to my own.

Here are the two new bloggers for you.

Ian Canham – He’s recently purchased a boat and is finding out, as most new boaters do, that water getting into parts of the boat where it shouldn’t is a daily part of life and that parts of Manchester are frequented by imbeciles who should be locked in cages. Here are his posts to date. Start at the post dated 18th March and work forward from that.

The second new blogger is Laurie St. Lyon.  Laurie is actively looking for a boat and wanted to share his experience of the looking/choosing/buying process with other potential boat owners. You  can read his first two posts here.

Loans On Boats

New blogger Laurie St, Lyon is a solicitor by trade. I was swapping emails with him on the subject of setting up his blog when he mentioned last week’s newsletter, particularly about buying and selling boats. He’s kindly added a little more information on the subject for us…

“On the matter of Loans on Boats. Your information was not quite correct. A loan CAN be secured on a boat just in the same way that it can be for a car or any other item. It is called Hire Purchase! If they have this type of arrangement it will likely not be with a High Street bank. However there is no register of such debts.

There are also Secured Loans, again not usually with a bank, but available. Here the debt is secured on the boat and the ownership, pending repayment of the loan is with the lender, but there is no register of such debts.

Oh and the reason a solicitor will not (and should not) let you use his Client account if there is no underlying legal work (ie, conveyancing, debt claim,etc) is that to do so is a serious breach of our professional rules for which our beloved regulator will have us before a disciplinary tribunal.  Any matter to do with the client account is taken VERY seriously which is why billions of pounds changes hands via UK solicitors accounts every year in terms of Mortgages and UK and International commercial transactions.

Of course you could instruct a solicitor to draw up papers of sale and deal with the monies that way that would be OK. It should not cost that much and obviously if you do not wish to gamble the loss of your funds that is a way to go.   Yes he will ID you for money laundring purposes and possibly the otehr side for his own peace of mind. Not a bad thing perhaps.

However, YOU can do the same as long as you have a name and an address. Add a DoB or a spouses details and it gets even better. Just google “tracing a person”. Cost can be £35 for a simple online confirming person exists, address, etc, to more expensive £120+ checks to the full gumshoe routine! Not conclusive but comforting. Unless you have a Mickey Spillane streak and wish to hang about outside his home to see if he really does live there!!  (NB. If you get arrested I don’t do Criminal law but can direct you to a chap who does! 🙂 )

Just my two pennies worth.”

Then, just before I was due to publish this newsletter, I had an email from Russell Myers. He’s looking for his own boat at the moment so read last week’s article with great interest. We wanted to share his own experience of the logistics of dealing with substantial quantities of cash during the sales process. This particular sale was one of his cars, but there’s certainly some useful information here if you think that a cash sale is the safest way to go when you buy or sell your boat. Here’s his story…

“Hi Paul, Interesting article about paying for a boat particularly as we are getting closer to that point in our plans to get afloat. I thought you might make use of this anecdote from the sale of one of our cars which resonates with the article. You may find it amusing in its own right although the wider membership of the forum may find it useful too.

I thought I would sell the car privately and save a bob or two (Yorkshireman with short arms and  deep pocket) and achieved this to a guy from Northern Ireland! (Not sure about canals over there). Haggling over the phone clinched the deal price but he only wanted to make one trip to check out the car and conclude the purchase before driving back to Northern Ireland.  The car was only a year old with less than 10k on the clock so a good bet from his point of view. The problem that arose as highlighted in your article was the purchase point i.e. paying and handing over the car – trust needed on both sides!

We discussed various methods electronic banking being the favourite on the basis that the money would instantly transfer from one account to the other which we could check through online banking. Not so! My bank would not guarantee the transfer within 24 hrs. So we could be hanging around checking one another’s progress for some time. (Interesting thought – where does the money go in this limbo period? No doubt someone is making a fast buck out of it.) The commercial world does have instantaneous banking but only when set up and paid for – not a practicable option on a one off transaction but see my thoughts later.

Anyway, we decided to do the deal with cash! Scary – very scary in retrospect – the sum in question was £15k + not a sum I have ever held in my hands before or likely to again! Our man was up for it and confirmed he had got the cash and ready to meet up. He was flying into Leeds Bradford Airport – our local and we met up with him there.

In advance of this the thought occurred that the bank notes could be dodgy especially £50 notes and we found a very useful document issued by the Bank of England to help identify forgeries across the £5, £10. £20 and £50 notes – reassuring.

Armed with this we met at the airport – nice chap (but then that is the art of the con man – he turned out to be a vet). He checked out the car and documents and happy with it handed over the cash. I wasn’t sure what to expect – a bundle of 50s in all probability but it was bulkier than anticipated and when I opened the package realised why – a mixture of 10s and 20s all neatly bundled in bank wraps but shock/horror they were “Mickey Mouse “ notes – Northern Ireland issues its own notes and not only that there are five banks issuing their own designs so five permutations of 10s and 20s to conjure with!!!

Bank of England guidance note now a waste of paper.

The airport car park wasn’t the place to start counting the  cash, besides the car park charges clock was running (Yorkshireman)  – what the security people made of it I don’t know. They must not have been watching their cameras as we exited the airport before we were swooped upon – it must have looked very dodgy! Part of the deal was to give us a lift back so we had a chance to sound the man out – all above board and OK and we parted on good terms although he did ask for some luck money by way of a full tank of fuel – no way as he had driven a hard bargain (and I’m a Yorkshireman).

So off we trundled with a big chunk of cash in a supermarket carrier bag on a gloriously sunny Sunday in July – next problem – no banks open on Sundays to deposit the cash. Got home and had a wild moment on the bed …………………………………………………………………………….counting oodles and oodles of Northern Ireland bank notes!!!! It was spot on.

Spent the night worrying how the bank would react and whether there was an issue handling Northern Ireland notes – there isn’t – it’s a bit like Scottish notes (currently) they are legal currency throughout the UK it’s just that people are naturally suspicious of them.

The following morning stood on the bank doorstep waiting for it to open clutching supermarket carrier bag to look in-cognito actually makes you look like a sitting duck for a bag snatch. I puffed out my chest and threw back my shoulders to look “hard”. Bank opened and I was first to the cashier and the hard man look went out of the window when the cashier gave me a right bollocking for not separating the notes into the respective issuing bank wraps! She complained it was going to take her some time to count it so I offered to go for a coffee and come back. “I’m very efficient young man (I’m a 61 year old Yorkshireman) don’t be ridiculous” she said. Smiling apologetically to the back log of customers behind me she proceeded to balls up the count and get the wrong figure – my knees went wobbly and I’m sure I might have fainted but for being a hard Yorkshireman. She had to draft in a colleague who zipped off the count in no time and declared the figure spot on. My sense of relief was unimaginable and everything had worked out OK.


Electronic transfer must be the way to go and what I’m intending to check out is the instantaneous transfer used by commercial organisations particularly solicitors. I’m sure an arrangement could be made into a client account for transfer when the deal is clinched if this is needed although no doubt there will be a fee involved and money laundering checks to make. I’ll let you know.

 Proof of title remains the big issue – we discussed it with a broker yesterday and all the issues raised in your article came to light which we have taken on board. A careful scrutiny of the available documentation is about as good as it gets and then you are down to trust. I suspect the Brokerages could cop for some culpability in the event of a fraud taking place but one for the legal beagles to sort out I think.

Apologies for the ramble but I hope you find the above amusing and if there is some value in posting it on your blog please feel free.”

Last week’s newsletter on the subject is here.

Suggestions Please!

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

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

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.

16th March 2014

Paying for a narrowboat – What practical steps can you take to ensure you’ve established legal ownership and how do you deal with the transfer of monies between buyer and seller?

9th March 2014

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.

2nd March 2014

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.

23rd February 2014

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

16th February 2014

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.

9th February 2014

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.

2nd February 2014

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.

26th January 2014

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.

19th January 2014

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?

12th January 2014

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)

5th January 2014

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.

29th December 2013

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.

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.

  • 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

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.

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.
Useful Information

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Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia wandered Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 35' Dutch motor cruiser. However, the pull of England's muddy ditches proved too much for them. Now they're back where they belong, constantly stuck in mud in a beautiful traditional narrowboat.