2014 05 04 Newsletter – How To Find A Residential Mooring
Firstly let me start with an apology if you’re on the newsletter mailing list. Last Sunday, as ever in a bit of a rush, I drafted the introductory email and scheduled it as usual to go out at 1pm. One o’clock came and went but I didn’t receive a conformation that the email batch had been sent out. The reason I didn’t receive conformation was because it hadn’t been processed, and the reason for that was because I had scheduled the wrong time.
The company which owns the software I use is in the USA. The default time zone they use for scheduling is EST which is five hours behind British Summer Time. I had forgotten to convert the scheduled time to 1pm in the UK so the newsletter was still waiting to be sent out later in the afternoon.
I couldn’t alter the scheduled time so I quickly wrote another newsletter introduction then sent it on its digital way. Unfortunately I forgot to cancel the original incorrectly timed emails. Sorry! I hope that if you read the newsletter twice, you enjoyed it just as much the second time.
After I finished messing about with the newsletter last week, Sally and I spent half an hour discussing and agreeing the route for our two week cruise at the beginning of June. It was wonderful to finally decide on where we are going, and wonderful to be actually talking again after a couple of days of childish silence from the pair of us after my comment about her obsessive cleaning. The result of our row is that now Sally isn’t doing as much vacuuming in case she sets me off again and, because I feel very guilty about complaining about her cleaning in the first place, I’m now doing almost as much as she was doing to try and make up for making unnecessarily argumentative comments. The wonders of cohabitational bliss will never cease!
We had originally planned to go down the south Oxford onto the Thames. It’s a lovely route which I have done before but I wanted to explore the waterways between here and Market Harborough. Our journey isn’t going to break any records for the most miles travelled in fourteen days, but we aren’t intending to rush.
The return trip is just seventy eight miles or 5.5 miles each day. We will pass through fifty two locks (34 narrow and 18 broad) and5.4 miles of tunnel (I must make sure that the headlight is in good working order). The total cruising time there and back is an estimated thirty nine hours.
All of this information is courtesy of CanalPlanAC. It’s the second most popular inland waterways site in the UK and is an invaluable resource for route planning. It almost instantly provides interesting and useful information about the route’s distance, number and type of locks, bridges, aqueducts and tunnels. The site also allows you to take virtual cruises along your intended route via the photographs submitted by site users. It’s a fascinating and really useful site, but you can’t use it to plan every part of the journey for you.
Using the default route calculation settings, the site suggested mooring locations for overnight stops. We like to stop somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life where I can listen to the natural sounds around me while I enjoy a beer or a glass of wine, or both, after a hard day at the tiller. CanalPlan had a different kind of evening in store for me. On the first evening, after 6 hours 46 minutes cruising, the planner suggested that I stop close to bridge 6 on the Leicester section of the Grand Union. It’s possibly the worst place to stop on the canal network if you want to moor away from traffic noise.
Bridge 6 is within spitting distance of Watford Gap Services on the M1 on one side and the A5 and the West Coast Main Line on the other. I suppose if I had run out of food on the boat and I wanted a reminder of the noise and stress of modern day living, I could walk 50m along the B5385 which crosses the canal at bridge 6 to the motorway service station’s staff entrance, which runs alongside the canal, and join the throng of harried travellers stuffing themselves with overpriced fast food.
Alternatively, I could use the excellent Pearson’s Canal Companion: East Midlands to identify far more tranquil surroundings to spend the night far, far away from the sight or sound of speeding trains, cars and lorries. Fortunately there are many peaceful spots on this mainly rural route. I intend to stop at as many as I can.
Hopefully we’ll have somewhere comfortable to sit by the time we cast off from the shores of lake Calcutt in four week’s time. A month ago I had the boat’s eight upholstered seats and backs taken away to be recovered. Last week I discovered that the work, far from being complete, hadn’t even been started.
On Friday I called Karl to see whether his return with the completed cushions is imminent. His response to my greeting didn’t fill me with confidence. “Paul Smith from where? Calcutt Boats? What did you say the boat name is? Ah! I remember you now. Yes, I’m working on them now. No, they aren’t finished. I’m working on the buttons. There are over sixty to make you know. These things take time! When will they be ready? I’ll call you in a day or two, hopefully over the weekend, maybe some time next week.”
I was hoping for some better news to give Sally when she comes home from work tonight after twelve hours on her feet. Karl left us with some temporary seats when he took ours away. Unfortunately they’ve come off a slightly larger boat, maybe an ocean liner or an aircraft carrier. They’re so much bigger than the wooden seat bases that we had to climb over them to get from one end of the boat to the other. They drove Sally to distraction so, before she threw them in the marina, I removed them from the boat and stored them in our container where they will be safe. We’ve had a couple of weeks now of sitting on bare wooden seats. The arrangement gives us more space, but it’s not very comfortable.
We’re not going to be terribly comfortable next week either. I’m praying for warm weather.
Some time next week, I don’t know when yet, our new Webasto central heating system is going to be fitted. The logistics are frightening.
Even on the most organised narrowboat there’s very little space so the three or four days the fitters are scheduled to work on the boat are going to be quite uncomfortable. For a start, the stove needs to be cold so that the back boiler can be disconnected and made safe. The stove is currently the only heat source so we’ll either have to endure a cold boat or find some electric heaters to use while the work is done.
There’s going to be disruption all over the boat. The fuel tank will need to be drained of 350 litres of diesel so that the new feed for the central heating can be fitted, the fuel replaced then the burner and pipe work added in the engine room. The three existing radiators and pipes on the starboard side will be removed, two new radiators and towel rails fitted on the same side and then a radiator fitted under my desk on the port side. The gas water heater will be removed, the gas feeds capped off, the old calorifier removed from under the bed and a new one fitted in its place.
We can’t live in the shed where the work is being done so each morning the boat will have to taken across the marina to the workshops then tidied up each evening before returning the boat to the mooring. I don’t know what Sally or the dogs are going to make of it all. I’m tempted to sleep in the shed where we keep the grass cutting equipment for a few nights.
I’m sure it will all go smoothly though and we’ll have a working central heating system for our cruise in June when I’m sure we can expect nights cold enough to test it out.
On Friday afternoon, to give myself a break from sitting motionless in front of my laptop writing the newsletter, I took the dogs for a walk. As I climbed back on to the boat I noticed streaks of tar running down the side of the boat from the chimney. I decided to spend just a few more minutes away from the computer to remove the marks.
Inevitably, after ten industrious minutes with a mircrofibre cloth and a measure of traffic film remover in a bucket of warm water, the streaks and the accumulated winter dirt were gone, but the rest of the boat was looking decidedly tatty. I cleaned the starboard side next to the pier and as much as the roof as I could reach from the pier, turned the boat around – always fun in a stiff breeze – cleaned the port side and the remaining sections of the roof, then cleaned the brass mushroom vents too.
Much as I enjoy cleaning the boat, the task eats up free time I rarely have and highlights every chip, scrape and scuff in the paintwork. I painted the boat myself two years ago. I thought I did a pretty good job at the time but now I’m less pleased with the quality of the work. The boat still looks good from a distance but I won’t be happy now until I book it into one of our paint tents for a day or two to touch it up.
A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Manouche
Paul and Pei work in London and live on their boat on the nearby river Lee. Decent London residential moorings are as rare as hens’ teeth but this newly married couple have found one. In fact, they like the mooring so much that they rarely move their boat off it.
They are very happy with life on board. Initially their move afloat was all about money and the cost of property in and around London. After four years afloat though they now love living almost everything about living on the water. I say “almost” because they can’t stand bugs on board. When they first moved on to their boat they looked at available solutions for keeping crawling and flying critters outside the boat but couldn’t find anything which worked for them, so they designed a solution themselves. The end result is a product which they now sell to other boaters.
To find out more about their insect deterrent and to discover more about their life afloat, you can read their case study here.
How To Find A Home For Your Home
I often receive emails asking for advice about finding residential moorings. The number of enquiries I get are on the increase. In the last week alone seven aspiring live aboard narrowboat and wide beam owners have asked be for advice.
If you are tied to a geographical location for work, school or health reasons, finding somewhere where you can officially moor your floating home is often more difficult than finding the boat itself. It’s a challenge to find a suitable residential mooring for a narrowboat, and very difficult to find one for a wide beam.
The difficulty in finding a wide beam live aboard mooring for a specific boat was highlighted in my newsletter on 20th April.
The boat owners are still here at Calcutt wondering what they are going to do with their boat when their six week temporary mooring booking ends in two weeks’ time. They are so desperate now that they are considering selling the boat that they have lived on for less than two months. In their particular case they did everything right. They searched for and secured a suitable mooring before they had their boat built. Sadly they were let down at the last moment and because residential moorings are generally difficult to find, they are really struggling to find anything at all for their 72′ long 13’6″ wide boat.
Finding somewhere to moor a live aboard boat is far more difficult than it used to be.
When British Waterways were in charge of the canal network, the enforcement of mooring rules was rather halfhearted. Communities of non compliant continuous cruisers grew along many popular sections of the canal and river network, sometimes staying long term on visitor moorings causing inconvenience to cruising boat owners and often clogging up already busy waterways. Continuous cruisers who moored for long periods in the same canal-side location were largely ignored, encouraging new boat owners who wanted to live on the network to do the same.
British Waterways created a new division, the New Marina Unit, to help landowners develop marinas on land close to the canal network. The suggestion was that as the number of available marina moorings increased, British Waterways were going to reduce the number of online moorings and encourage boat owners to moor in marinas.
Unfortunately the reality is that many of the canal-side long term moorers are not on official moorings anyway so are not paying mooring fees. Many are reluctant to move onto official berths were they would be charged upwards of £2,000 a year depending on location and facilities available.
Even if boat owners without a mooring are prepared to move into a marina, there are very few marinas offering berths for live aboards. Residential boaters are often considered aesthetically displeasing to owners of “posh” marinas and are thought of as far higher maintenance than owners of boats used for recreational cruising.
The Canal & River Trust inherited the problem of non compliant long term moorers. They have been far more proactive than British Waterways. When they took over from British Waterways the Trust gave existing non compliant continuous cruisers a little latitude but were far more strict with new live aboard boat owners.
I emailed the Trust’s Head of Boating, Sally Ash, earlier in the week to ask her to comment on the current residential mooring situation. Fran Read replied on Sally’s behalf. Here’s her email…
I don’t think I’ll easily be able to get any figures about availability of residential moorings (most moorings are managed independently, not by the Trust) – although anecdotally in some areas (London, for example) it can be difficult to secure a mooring space. Like with the property market, supply and demand means that in popular areas moorings can be very expensive. Some information on finding a home mooring is available here: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/mooring/finding-a-home-mooring
Our policy on non-compliant continuous cruisers remains the same. We’re big fans of continuous cruising, but we urge people to consider the demands of the lifestyle before casting off. If you’re tied to an area, for example, because you have children in school etc, it may be hard for you to fulfil the licence terms. There’s more information on continuous cruising here: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/mooring/want-to-be-a-continuous-cruiser. Perhaps a good summary is the two questions asked on the page:
To help you see whether your circumstances ‘fit’ the continuous cruising lifestyle, you only need ask yourself two questions:
- Are you free of fixed obligations, such as education, employment or healthcare, in any one area?
- Can you commit to moving to a new place every 14 days?
If you answered no to either question something in your circumstances would have to change for you to become a footloose, rule-following continuous cruiser.
We’ve recently started contacting all newly registered continuous cruisers welcoming them to the waterways and providing them with information about the requirements they need to fulfill, and the action we’ll take if they don’t. I’ve attached the related press release, which I think you’ll find helpful. We want people to be aware of the cruising requirements so they don’t run into trouble later on.
Hope this helps,
Fran mentioned a press release in the email above. Here it is…
“CANAL & RIVER TRUST SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT DEMANDS OF LIVING AFLOAT
The Canal & River Trust is reminding people taking up a new liveaboard lifestyle on its canals, but without a home mooring, to think carefully about the demands of living afloat through a series of awareness-raising measures.
In some popular areas, this style of living is on the increase and the Trust is concerned that the newcomers may not be aware of or fully understand the requirement for bona fide navigation and may believe it is sufficient simply to move around within a small area. Some therefore get a shock when they find that they are in breach of the rules, while the Trust is forced to embark on a time-consuming and costly enforcement process.
The Trust is working to raise awareness of these constraints amongst home-seekers and boat sales advertisers. It is also aiming to provide clearer information to the floating community so, from January 2014, will be contacting everyone newly registering as a continuous cruiser to ensure they fully understand the requirements. After three months, if there is concern about a boat’s limited movement, the charity will send a reminder and invitation to contact the local enforcement officer to discuss the cruising pattern. Ultimately if they can’t meet the movement requirements they will need to get a home mooring before their license can be renewed.
Sally Ash, head of boating at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We want people thinking of living afloat to be fully aware of the challenges, as well as the benefits, before taking the leap. We hope that, by spreading the message widely, people won’t end up making a costly mistake. Our new step of contacting every new continuous cruiser will help them in their new lifestyle, without falling foul of the enforcement procedures needed to manage the waterways fairly for everyone. We
hope that, by keeping people informed, they will use the waterways responsibly, so they can be enjoyed by everybody.”
The press release was written eighteen months ago but the Trust’s attitude towards boat owners who don’t comply with the rules hasn’t changed. If anything, the Trust is now more determined than ever to identify and challenge non complaint continuous cruisers.
So now you know where you stand. You know that if you are considering moving onto a boat to live and if you need to stay in the same spot for work, healthcare or school, you need to find an official residential mooring if you want to avoid unpleasant visits by the Trust’s enforcement team, possible legal action of the possibility of having your boat removed from the water for non compliance.
You know that in these circumstances you need to find a mooring so you need to know where to find them.
You can start on this site. I have created a fairly comprehensive listing on of all of the inland waterways marinas on the network. You can search the marinas in two ways. Firstly, you can view where the marinas are located on this map. Click on the marina place marker to show brief marina details then follow the link to read the full listing. Alternatively, you can view an A-Z listing of the marinas here.
The listing won’t give you all of the information you need I’m afraid. Many marinas which don’t advertise that they allow residential moorings will actually have boat owners living aboard unofficially. If you find a marina at a location which suits you, you need to pay the marina a visit, look for signs that there are live aboards are there and ask the boat owners what arrangement they have with the marina owners.
Most live aboard boats are easy to spot. They will have the usual paraphernalia on or near the boat; roof storage boxes, planters, wheelbarrows, bikes and supplies of coal or logs.
Moving away from this site but staying online, Apolloduck’s Marinas and moorings section is worth investigating. You’ll have to wade through adverts for coastal marinas and moorings too but the site is worth a look. The British Waterways Marinas Ltd web site is also worth searching. They manage nineteen marinas. Twelve of them offer residential moorings. CART manage many online moorings. Most are classed as leisure moorings but when I spoke to Sally Ash a year ago she told me that the Trust would rather see a leisure mooring with a residential boater on it than leave it empty. I asked Fran Read to confirm that the Trust are still happy to allow residential boaters to use these moorings. I haven’t received confirmation from her so you would need to do some investigation before committing to one of these moorings. The current listing is here.
Offline, the classified adverts in the popular boating magazines and newspapers are also a source of available moorings.
Last but not least, you should visit the area where you want to moor. Walk along the towpath and look for signs of residential moorings. They will usually be on the opposite side of the canal from the towpath. If you’re lucky you’ll see the mooring owner’s or agent’s phone number displayed. More often you won’t so you’ll need to ask one of the moorers already there. If a mooring isn’t available at that particular location, the person you’re talking to may know of available moorings nearby.
Finding a mooring where you can officially live on board is going to take some time and effort but it’s a neccessary investment if you want to enjoy a tranquil and stress free life on board without worrying about unwanted visits by the Trust’s enforcement officers. Good luck with your search.
CART Continuous Cruising Guidelines – If you can’t meet these requirements you will have to find a home mooring for your boat
The different between residential and leisure moorings – The interpretation of the moorings use is usually subject to the owner’s interpretation but this short article will give you a head start.
Residential moorings and single handed boating – One of several forum threads on the subject of residential moorings.
Do you need a residential mooring to stay on your boat? – Another short article on the subject.
Daily Mail article about a live aboard family on the Avon – This was a fascinating article published by a national newspaper about the huge saving a family made by moving from a house to a boat. The article didn’t mention mooring fees, residential or otherwise, and initiated many comments on the forum.
The cost of living afloat – If you read the Daily Mail article above you could be forgiven for thinking that living on a boat full time is a low cost alternative to living in a bricks and mortar home. You would be wrong. The costs are often far higher than many potential narrowboat owners think. I’ve put together a package which, I am often told, is the most comprehensive and easy to understand breakdown of the costs of buying and maintaining a narrowboat available anywhere.
Types of mooring – Five questions from a wannabe residential boater answered.
Posting On The Forum
The forum is a wonderful resource for you if you are new to the concept of boating on the inland waterways of England and Wales. There are dozens of experienced boat owners waiting to answer your questions if you can’t find the information you’re looking for either on the forum or on the main part of the site.
I receive emails every day asking me questions about living afloat. If the questions asked are of general interest, I always suggest that the enquirer asks the questions on the forum rather than me answer them personally in an email. I do this for two reasons; If the question is of general interest then the answer will be more useful on the forum than squirrelled away in someone’s inbox, and the question will get more comprehensive answers if asked on the forum and answered by more than one boater. Two or more heads are better than one. Quite often I will write what I think is a comprehensive answer to a poster’s question and then another boater will also reply and add points which I had either forgotten to add or which I wasn’t aware of.
The forum is a wonderful resource but many new visitors to the site appear to be either too nervous or unwilling to post there. The forum is a friendly place frequented by friendly and very helpful boaters. I oversee the site content by reading every post which is made there. I read new posts as soon as I can to ensure that no offensive or unwanted posts dilute the excellent content. I moderate all new forum posts but, apart from a handful of spam posts each day which need deleting, I very rarely have to interfere because virtually 100% of posters are genuine boating enthusiasts who either want to learn or share knowledge about the lifestyle.
If you want to find out the answer to an aspect of boating which puzzles you, don’t be shy. Publish your first post today. Posting on the forum us quite a simple process but if you get stuck with any part of the registration or posting process, just let me know.
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.
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.
A cautionary tale if you are considering buying a wide beam boat to live on.
A further update to the site content index.
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.
How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?
Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.
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?
Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.
Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.
Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou
Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.
I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.
Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.
Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.
Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.
Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?
If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)
Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.
The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?
Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.
Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.
Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?
Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.
Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel
Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.
Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content
Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.
Winter fuel allowance – Do you qualify for one if you live on a boat?
Case Study – NB Progress. Kim Wainwright recorded her journey on the forum from nervous anticipation to current liveaboard boat owner. Here’s her story.
Narrowboat central heating – I don’t have any. All that is about to change. Here’s the system I’m going to install and why I’ve chosen it.
Narrowboat running costs – I compare my own running costs to those of a prominent YouTube video blogger and detail my exact costs for October 2013
Popular narrowboat terminology – Hundreds or words or phrases used to describe parts of boats and the waterways they cruise through.
The wind chill factor – How strong the wind is blowing and which direction it’s coming from can determine how difficult it is to heat your boat. Here’s what you need to know.
Case study – Another couple from down under living the dream on the inland waterways.
20th October 2013Condensation. It’s a common problem on boats. Here are a few suggestions how to keep your boat’s interior dry.
A new organisation for liveaboard boaters
On demand water heater problems – Discover a common fault with these water heaters and what you can do to resolve the problem.
Know your firewood – Not all timber burns well. Find out which is best and which to avoid.
Managing your boat’s water supply. You can use your water supply as and when you need it when you live in a house with all mod cons. You can pretty much do the same when you’re on a marina mooring with a water supply just a hose length away. It’s a different kettle of fish when you’re on an online mooring.
Liveaboard case study – A prime example of mooring without a water supply on tap.
The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free
Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.
A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees
Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site
Managing your water supply
An American blogs about his travels
Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube
All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller
A disaster – I inadvertently deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!
Effective fly killers for boats
The downside to living on a narrowboat
Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.
CART Guide Approval – The waterways’ governing body is now promoting the information packages available from this site. Yippee!
Narrowboat Insurance – A summary of insurance quotes from the major narrowboat insurers
Liveaboard Case Study – Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57? “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network. They’re ridiculously young to retire, and I’m very, very jealous
Downsizing from a 3 bed semi to a narrowboat – What do you do with a lifetime’s accumulated possessions?
A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles
Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners
The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring
The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?
The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?
The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.
Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.
Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.
Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.
Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.
Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.
23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?
Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.
Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.
The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt
Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours
Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.
I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.
An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list
Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.
Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story
My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.
Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.
Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.
An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network
An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings
Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold
Meet one of your legless canal side companions
The canal network’s largest floating hotel
Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.
The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?
Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop
RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivalent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?
The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.
Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article
Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.
Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.
Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.
Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.
Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.
Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.
Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start
Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution
Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013
Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.
James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring
Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test
Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.
Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.
Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013
The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.
Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.
Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27? GRP cruiser to a 50? narrowboat
Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis
I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.
Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis
Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer
Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat
Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer
Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat
First tests and reviews of the budgeting application
The best aerial for a narrowboat television
The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application
An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways
Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else
I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date
Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs
Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home
The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners
I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.
VAT on narrowboat sales
Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans
Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson
Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels
Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)
How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.
Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke
DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and
Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly
DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports
Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips
Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all
Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats
As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.
The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments
Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.
Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat
eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)
Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat
A review of Debdale Wharf marina
Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.
The first four narrowboat case studies published
I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study
Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study
Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study
Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.
Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter
Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners
Comprehensive Site Article Listing
There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.
Popular Forum Posts
There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.
- Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
- Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
- Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
- CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
- Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
- GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
- Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
- Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
- Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
- Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
- A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
- Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
- Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
- Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
- Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
- Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
- Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
- The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
- 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
- “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
- Post & Postal Addresses For Continuous Cruisers – You need an address in order to receive post and open bank accounts, register for doctors and hospitals etc. How do continuous cruisers with no fixed abode manage it.
- Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
- It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
- Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
- VAT On New Narrowboats – Can you knock 20% off the cost of your new narrowboat?
- Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
- Narrowboat Burglary – Two boats burgled at the same location. Where is it and what can you do to minimise the risk of theft from your own boat wherever you are?
- Insuring Your Car When You Live On A Boat – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
- Remedies For Sooty Stove Glass – For me, one of the great pleasures of living on a narrowboat is a winter evening in front of a flickering fire. Here’s how you can keep your stove glass clear so you can see the fire in all its glory
- Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
- Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
- Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
- Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
- The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
- Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
- A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
- Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
- Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
- The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
- Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
- Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
- My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
- Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
- Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
- The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
- Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
- Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
- Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
- Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
- A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
- Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
- Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
- Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
- Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
- Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
- Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
- Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
- Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
- Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
- Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
- Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
- Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
- Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
- Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
- Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
- Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
- Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
- Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
- Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
- Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
- Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
- Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
- Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
- Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
- Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
- Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
- Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
- Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
- Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
- Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
- Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
- Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
- Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
- The best flooring for a narrowboat pets – What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
- The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
- The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
- ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
- Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
- Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
- Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
- Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
- Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
- Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
- Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
- VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
- Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
- Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
- How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
- Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
- Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
- Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
- Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
- Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
- Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
- Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
CRT (Canal & River Trust) maintain the waterways. Here’s their site.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.
Find out more about narrowboat central heating costs here.