Learn about life afloat the easy way

Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.


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2014 04 13 Newsletter – An A to Z of everything narrowboat Part 2

I love the job I do. It’s about as perfect as a job can get. It’s actually the first work as an employee that I’ve had since I ended my twelve year career in pub management in 1990. After that, and until I started working here at Calcutt Boats, I ran my own businesses, mostly fairly successfully until a poorly though out national expansion plan resulted in huge debts and those lovely people at Revenue and Customs leading me non too gently into bankruptcy.

I love the complete absence of pressure I enjoy these day. I have no staff to worry about, no late night financial juggling robbing Peter to pay Paul, no worry about where the next order is coming from and whether it will be enough to satisfy my ever increasing number of creditors, no agonising over whether I can actually afford to pay myself a wage at the end of each month and no worrying about taking a holiday away from the business because of the stress the break causes. And gone are the days when I have to dull my senses through copious and unhealthy quantities of alcohol.

I am completely pressure free, stress free and free from the wish to keep up with the Joneses and spend money that I don’t have. Living afloat is responsible for my stress free life and so is the job I do here at the marina. I love nearly every aspect of the work I do here and the wide variety of tasks I have to complete. I say nearly every aspect because sometimes I have days or parts of days when I can’t honestly say that I’m enjoying myself.

Clearing sewage blockages is one of my least favourite tasks. At least once a month, usually in the summer and usually on a hot day when the smell of human waste is strongest, either Patrick or I get a radio call to alert us to a sewage problem. It usually involves one of the Elsan points and a cap off a cassette toilet. The pipes which carry all of the site sewage, from the office toilets and the public toilets next to them, from the Elsan point and the pump out machine on the wharf, from the shower block toilets and from the Elsan point and the pump out machine in front of the shower block, have just a slightly larger diameter than the plastic caps which some boaters seem to delight in pouring into the Elsan point along with their bodily waste.

Clearing the blockage can take as little as a couple of minutes. The record however is seven hours one very warm day last summer at a particularly difficult area to clear in our tip area which involved a 50m length of rods, a great deal of cursing, and a very smelly pair of overalls by the time I had finished.

Another regular, less smelly, but almost equally unpleasant task at this time of the year is cutting the grass around the car park between our temporary moorings and our older Locks marina. The thirty feet high bank facing the marina is at an angle of about forty five degrees. Cutting the grass in this area involves pulling our antiquated  mower up and down the slope with a rope for about six hours to get it all done. It’s not very pleasant.

Another infrequent but always painful task is any kind of digging. The site sits on Lias clay over a wide plane of Blue Lias which is quarried locally as a raw material for making cement.  The pub on the GU at Stockton is named after it.

I suppose any clay is unpleasant to dig but Lias clay is the only clay I know. It has the consistency of toffee and welds itself instantly to boots, spades ad forks and, on Monday, our hired rotavator.

We had three areas which needed turning over and levelling prior to sowing with grass seed. Although we haven’t had a huge amount of rain in the last few weeks, the clay was still very, very tacky. The 8hp machine just wasn’t up to it. The rotavator didn’t have the power to either turn the clay over or to move forward. Pat and I ended up almost having to drag it across the ground, stopping every two or three minutes when it stalled to try and remove the clay glued to the blades.

We spent six hours doing this, mainly under cloudy skies but sometimes in heavy showers and the occasional hail just to make the day more interesting. It’s all done now, but not done well enough. I feel as though we’ve wasted a whole day. We really need to wait until September when we can be reasonably sure that the ground is dry and that the rotavator has a fighting chance of doing job properly.

Back on the boat, I’ve had some more work done. My office is now neat and tidy thanks to an additional three 230v double sockets which means that I can now dispense with the unsightly multi socket extension lead coiled under my desk which didn’t help Sally’s blood pressure every time she tried to clean around it. It’s another step towards both a completely updated boat and domestic bliss.

However, we’ve taken a step backwards in the engine room. The hoses from the engine thermostat were leaking and the thermostat itself wasn’t working properly so I’ve had the hoses replaced and ordered a new thermostat from Mercedes specialist Westfield 4 x 4  based in Lancaster. I found them when I was searching for information on my vintage engine. Westfield’s web site contains some fascinating information about the engine including the first vehicle the OM636 was used in, the Mercedes 170SD

Of course parts for this engine are difficult to find and are consequently quite expensive so the cost of £114 for next day delivery wasn’t a surprise. The engine is now fully operational but the alternator sadly is not. It’s not putting any charge into the batteries at all so that too is going to be replaced. I’m hoping that the engine will treat me gently after I’ve emptied my wallet into it. Time will tell.

There’s one final expense in the engine room before I put my hard earned cash away. The starter battery has died, possibly as a result of not being charged effectively, or at all, by the alternator for quite a while. I’ve been aware for a few months that the battery wasn’t holding a charge but following the installation of my Smartgauge battery monitor I’ve been able to watch a daily visual display of its demise.

On Friday I said goodbye to my old seat covers. Karl Lassinder from K C Covers came to take them away and to leave me with some temporary seats to use for the ten days before he returns with the eight freshly upholstered seats and backs. In addition to recovering the foam, he’s going to adjust them slightly. The seats’ thickness will be increased by two inches to make them slightly more comfortable and, of course, the sea backs will need to have their width reduced by two inches so that both seats and backs still fit into the same space as the old ones.

The material we’ve chosen should be far more durable than what we have now. To be quite honest, it’s poor quality and an awful shade of light green. Boat seats get a fair amount of use and on James, have had a fair amount of use from me collapsing in an untidy heap after a hard day’s work. Unfortunately when I first moved onto the boat I didn’t have the steadying influence of a good woman, or a bad one for that matter, so I was in the habit of sitting down before I changed out of my work trousers. Consequently the places I regularly sat were quite badly marked. Sally tried to clean the upholstery but because of the quality, cleaning it just resulted in the material stretching and sagging.

We bought the new material from Just Fabrics in Burford. It’s just over forty miles from the marina but it’s a pleasant hour’s drive through the Cotswolds to Burford and both Sally and I had used the shop in our previous married lives. The material we’ve chosen is Arielli Paprika, a rather fetching colour which will go well with the curtains.

Karl has left me with some temporary seats which he’s just removed from another boat. Coincidentally, the seats he’s left me are in a similar colour to the material we’ve chosen. The colour looks wonderful, the seats do not. They’ve obviously come from a much larger space than we have available for the seating on James so, although they’re very comfortable to sit on and are certainly better than nothing, they almost completely block the isle past the lounge area into the rest of the boat so I have to remove the seat if I want to walk through the boat.

Fortunately for me, the work should be completed before Sally comes back from the Philippines so there won’t be two of us trying to get past the too large seats in an already very tight space.

Finding Your Way around The Site

Here’s what I wrote last week…

“There’s a huge amount of information on the site now. Much of it has been added by me over countless late nights and early mornings but much more has been contributed by a wide variety of experienced boaters. There are now four hundred and eighty pages of information on the main part of the site and a further four thousand nine hundred posts on the forum.

Because there’s so much information, finding exactly what you want can sometimes take a while. Your only option until now has been the Google custom search facility which added a few months ago to the top of the right hand column on any of the pages on the main part of the site. It’s really good at finding the information you’re looking for. The problem is, you need to know what you’re looking for before you can search for it.

There’s now another way to find what you want.

I’m in the process of compiling a comprehensive index of all of the information on the site. It’s going to take me a few weeks to complete but here’s the index so far. It’s an alphabetical list of the most popular posts from the forum. I’ve yet to add the articles from the site and all of the content from the newsletter archive. I’ll also include everything from the narrowboat terminology newsletter and links to useful resources on other boating sites.

At any stage if you think something is missing from the index which is either on this site or which you think is worth including from another site, please let me know. It will be a work in progress for a while but I hope you agree that there’s some valuable content here already. here’s the index so far…”

Last week the index was just the more popular forum posts in alphabetical order. In the last seven days I’ve added all of the articles from the site and links to the main subject in just under half of the newsletters from the archive.

Aerials – Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
Aluminium narrowboats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
Back Boiler – Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
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.
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?
Boat monitoring – A simple way of keeping a close eye on your boat from afar
Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
Budget Software –
Building a narrowboat – A very detailed account of how a narrowboat is put together
Buying A Boat – The logistics A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be surveyed.
Buying a boat – The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
Cam, living on the river – Live aboard boat owner Luther Phillips talks about the pleasures of living on the river,
Cold weather – Living on a boat in cold weather
Canal network map – There are over 2,000 miles of connected rivers and canals to explore. Here they are.
Car insurance for boat owners – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
Case Studies – For the last couple of years I have been asking boat owners who live on board full time questions about their life on board; who they are and what prompted them to switch from a traditional bricks and mortar home to life on the water, how they funded their purchase, whether they cruise continually or live on a fixed mooring, boating likes and dislikes, how they cope with the logistics of washing clothes, restocking essential provisions and medical supplies, their favourite sections of the network and, last but not least, what advice they would share with a potential live aboard narrowboat owner MORE HERE
“Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
Children – More mites, but far more expensive to get rid of than chiggers. Is life really practical with children on board?
Composting Toilets – Most narrowboats have either pump out or cassette toilets. Here’s an environmentally friendly alternative
Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
Condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Condensation – My own battle against condensation and a technical explanation
Condensation – Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Continuous cruisers: How to cruise the network continuously – Peter Early sent me this excellent article soon after he joined the site
Continuous Cruisers – Tips – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
Continuous Cruising – The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
Cruising  – Pre Cruise Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
Damp: Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
Digital Books – A lifetime’s reading in the palm of your hand
Digital maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Digital music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
Diseases- “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
Downside to narrowboat life – It’s not all sitting on the towpath drinking gin and tonics as the sun goes down. Here are the less pleasant aspects of life afloat
Downside to narrowboat life: Pauline Roberts – Pauline sent me this article about her life afloat. It proved to be very controversial.
Downsizing – The practicalities and logistics of moving from a house with plenty of storage space to a boat with virtually none.
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.
Electrics Part 1: Batteries – Ex narrowboat builder Tim Davis explains narrowboat electrics
Electrics Part 2: Generators and Inverters – The concluding part of Tim Davis’ very detailed explanation of narrowboat electrics
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?
Finance – Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
Flooring – The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
Footwear on board – Your boat floor is often very cold. What can you wear to keep your feet toasty warm?
Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
Furniture – Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
Gadgets – Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on 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
Generators – A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
Heating – Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Heating Systems Part 1: Stoves – An in depth look at narrowboat heating systems by ex boat builder Tim Davis
Heating Systems Part 2: Central heating – The second and concluding article on narrowboat heating systems
Height – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
Hire boats – Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
Hurricane Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
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.
Inverters – Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
Kindle review – Digital reading for boat owners
Knots – 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!
Length – The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
Live aboard narrowboat – 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.
Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
Loans on boats – Information about getting a loan for your floating home and how to deal with a cash transaction
Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Mail services – 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?
Maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Marinas – How to choose the right one for you and your boat
Marinas Listing – Here are all of the marinas listed on the site. If you want to filter the results by the waterway you’re interested in, just hover over the “Marinas” label on the menu at the top of any page on the main part of the site, select either rivers or canals and then select the one you want.
Marinas Map – A more or less complete map and listing of the network’s marinas
Mikuni Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Mobile Broadband Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
Mobile Broadband – More information – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
Money – How to continue earning as you cruise the network
Mooring in winter – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
Mooring enforecement – CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
Mooring fees – It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
Moorings – Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
Music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Narrowboat Choice – 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.
Narrowboat hire (long term) – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
Ownership – Determining Proof Of Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
Painting – A professional paint job can cost you in excess of £100 a foot. You may want to save money and do the work yourself. Here’s a blow by blow account of my own attempt in April 2010
Paying for a boat – The practicalities of transferring your money to the seller and how to prove he actually owns the boat
Pets – Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
Planning – Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
Postal services – 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?
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.
Replating – Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
River cruising – 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.
Rivers – 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?
Road Transport – 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
Ropes – 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?
Running costs (Month) – Living on a narrowboat costs far more than many people imagine. Here’s a detailed breakdown of my own costs for February 2013
Running costs (All) – I’ve put together a package of everything you need to know about the cost of buying and maintaining a narrowboat, whether it’s for occasional recreational cruising or as a full time home. It’s the only information on the site which you have to pay for but the feedback I’ve had from the thousands of people who have invested in my guides is overwhelmingly positive. For the price of a round of drinks you get a very clear picture of the cost of life afloat.
Safety – Keeping yourself out of harm’s way on the cut
Self build/Self Fit Out – Are you on a budget and thinking of buying a sailaway to fit out yourself? Here’s someone who has done it and recorded everything along the way
Shared ownership – It’s a cost effective way of enjoying regular canal breaks. Here’s what you need to know.
Single handed Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own?
Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
Smoke detectors – Why you need them –
Solar power – The owner of popular narrowboat solar power system installation service, Onboard Solar, explains how they work (and what they cost)
Space – The practicalities of sharing a long corridor with a significant other
Spiders – How to keep the eight legged monsters out of your boat
Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
Steel – Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
Stoppages – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
Stoves – 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?
Stove Fuel Test – Based on a Waterways World test but conducted in the real world on my own boat
Stove Glass Cleaning – 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
Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
Stoves – Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
Swans – How to deal with the world’s second heaviest flying bird
Television aerials – Here’s what I use
Television license – Do you need one on a narrowboat?
Television reception – Which aerial is best?
Tips – 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.
Toilets – Choosing the best one for your boat
Toilets – 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?
Toilets – Pump Out: 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.
Towing a butty – What’s the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty)
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
Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
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?
Washing Machines – 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
Water damage – Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
Weil’s Disease  – Canals are not the best spots to choose for a cooling dip on a hot day. Here’s why.
Windows Choice – Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
Windows – Condensation – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Winter – Living aboard a boat in cold weather
Winter – A new boat owner’s first winter on board
Winterising – Preparing your boat for the winter
Winter moorings – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?

Is anything wrong or missing from this list? Please let me know.

Spam Forum Posts

I keep a close eye on the forum. I am very pleased with the way it has grown over the last eighteen months and I am eternally grateful to those of you who have taken the time to contribute to its success, both by posting comprehensive answers to forum visitors’ questions and by having the courage to ask those questions in the first place. I know that making a post which is going to be read by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of site visitors can be slightly unnerving. I thank you all for your contributions.

I’m very pleased the way the forum has developed, but not all posts are welcome. I sometimes get unwelcome and useless spam posts which have nothing to do with boating and which are nothing but an unwanted distraction. Up until today, identifying the spam posts has been a hit and miss affair. If I see them by chance I delete them instantly, but many have slipped through the net.

I installed some code today which identifies all new posts then presents me with a list of them each time I visit the forum. I will be able to catch all of the spam posts from now on but unfortunately the code doesn’t work retrospectively. It won’t identify any spam posts already somewhere on one of the forums which I have missed. Can you help me with that?

If you see a spam post, a post which has nothing to do with the thread’s subject, can you let me know. The spam post will look something like this…

qzqlzoc
Guest
Post 8 in Topic


32YNAD xymgygljzqqf, xnhqpmuwodvz, [link=http://ewgjsewkppsa.com/]ewgjsewkppsa[/link], http://tdztxuibrisi.com/

Just send me a quick email and include the URL of the offending post. To send me the URL, just copy the address in your browser’s address bar and paste it into the email. Thank you.

I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. 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.

6th April 2014

The A -Z of everything narrowboat – With over 5,500 posts and pages on the site now, quickly finding exactly what you want can sometimes be a problem. For this newsletter I started creating and A-Z index of all the site content.

30th March 2014

How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?

23rd March 2014

Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.

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.

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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.