2014 06 15 Newsletter – Speeding Boats
I’m sorry, but I haven’t done a very good job of writing my holiday blog. I’ve been too busy setting up the new service.
The more I think about the service, the more I find to do, and the more emails I deal with from those of you interested in coming on a discovery day.
I have to make sure that the boat is as safe as possible for those new to boating in general and narrowboats in particular. A few of those who want to learn more about living afloat have told me that they want to see if the lifestyle is possible for them given their limited mobility. I have to ensure that spending a day on board is as safe and comfortable as possible.
I’m nearly there now. If you’ve already expressed an interest via the feedback form I’ll be emailing you in a day or two with a link to the booking form. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and would liket the opportunity to spend a day on a live aboard narrowboat talking about the lifestyle and narrowboat design, and learning how to operate one, you can find out more about the service here.
Back to the holiday. When I finished my account last Sunday we were moored on the Market Harborough Arm halfway between Foxton and Market Harborough. The intention had been to explore a little more of the Leicester line towards Leicester before tackling Foxton locks again but we needed water. The only reasonably accessible water point marked on my Pearson’s Canal Companion was back at Welford, so we spent a hot but uneventful hour ascending the staircase locks before I realised that there are water points both below and above the flight which aren’t marked on the map. They’re clear enough to see as you’re passing, they’re just not marked on the map.
(Update 17th June 2014 – As has been pointed out to me several times since I published this post, the water points are marked on the Pearson’s guide, just not on the actual map where I expected to see them. They’re on an enlargement of the lock flight and are clear for any idiot to see. Any idiot that is, apart from me. Sorry Mr. Pearson!).
We stopped at the water point at the top of the flight, spent most of my weekly wage on two ice creams, then stopped for the night at the most beautiful spot facing the setting sun and overlooking distant Theddingworth church. In fact, we liked it so much there that we stayed two nights.
On Tuesday we visited Welford again to top up with water, empty the cassette and eat at the Wharf before once more at tranquil Welford junction. It wasn’t quite as tranquil this time thanks to a scruffy live aboard boat moored there with work benches set up on the towpath, a working boat and butty moored breasted up, and two holiday narrowboats.
What I particularly liked about mooring on the junction was the complete absence of roads and road bridges for three miles along the towpath here. It’s great for letting the dogs run free without having to worry about traffic.
Sally had to leave on Wednesday to sort out some family stuff. I stayed another night at the junction before beginning the journey back to Calcutt. I stopped at Yelvertoft for a quick bite to eat and to top up with water then headed towards my afternoon shower.
The northern end of Crick tunnel is very wet. I didn’t bother with a waterproof as I had been cruising for three hours in hot sun but after a comprehensive drenching before fifteen minutes in a chilly tunnel wearing a soaked tee shirt I was pleased to get out into the sun again.
Half an hour later I was at the top of the Watford flight and thankful to see a lock keeper on duty to help me go down. There are two ways of tackling the Watford flight on your own. One involves plenty of climbing in and out of the locks using the ladders. The other is far easier. You just stand on the back of your boat, ignore everything around you, and wait until the lock keeper does all of the work for you. That’s what the single bloke on the boat in front of me did.
He helped the lock keeper set the top lock, climbed onto his boat and stayed there until he reached the bottom lock half an hour later. The lock keeper understandably wasn’t happy. “Perhaps he thinks the lock gates open by magic”, marvelled the veteran volunteer as we wound the paddles on yet another gate for him.
It is quite physically demanding going through the flight on your own, but if you’re a lone boater you have to accept that you need to work that little bit harder. This man was just rude and unappreciative.
It was 5pm and a beautiful evening. I moored just past Welton Haven marina, set up my camp chair and table on the towpath facing the sunset, placed two cans of ice cold Strongbow cider within easy reach and relaxed for two hours in the sun with my Kindle.
I was off again at 8am. An hour later I pulled over just before the entrance to Braunston tunnel to make sure I was ready for the mile and a quarter journey in the dark. Have I mentioned my boat’s headlight before? It’s a very sad affair which fails completely to show me the way in the dark. I have to help it out a bit.
I turn on all the lights inside the boat and make sure that the curtains are open. The light shining out of the windows really helps to illuminate the tunnel walls and helps me stay away from them. I also make sure that I have a powerful torch with me on the back of the boat so that I can see the tunnel roof and walls immediately in front of me. The combination works very well… until I meet a boat equipped with a headlight better equipped for searching the night sky for bombers.
I met one such boat in Braunston tunnel. The headlight was so bright I had to hold my hand in front of my face and peer through my fingers. I still couldn’t see where I was going so I stopped. So did he. He didn’t stop because I was blinding him. He could probably barely see my headlight but he stopped anyway. I didn’t realise he had stopped as he was half a mile away hidden behind a halo of white light.
Eventually I began to inch forward, grinding my way along the right hand wall as his boat grew slowly larger. The passing boat was no more than thirty feet long. He must have used the enormous searchlight on the front deck partly as ballast. The rest of his ballast was probably achieved by a battery bank large enough to power the light. It was ridiculous.
Back out in the sunlight I had the pleasure of accompanying two of the Trust’s landscaping contractors down the Braunston flight. These guys work very hard and they perform an essential service but it isn’t pleasant stepping on and off the boat and handling ropes on a towpath buried inches deep in grass cuttings.
As the bottom lock was emptying I treated myself by dashing into the shop on the towpath to buy an ice cream. A word of warning if you’re boating on your own. Climbing down the ladder into an empty lock carrying a windlass, centre rope and a Magnum Classic isn’t easy. I managed to wipe the chocolate off my tee shirt and I’m sure it will come off the roof but I don’t know if it did the engine any good, even if it smelled very pleasant as it sizzled.
I reached Braunston junction but rather than turning left for Calcutt I couldn’t resist spending a night on what is usually a very quiet spot a mile out of the village on the North Oxford. Unfortunately the canal was like rush hour on the M25 on the Friday before a bank holiday. Virtually every available spot was taken by boats moored nose to tail but I managed to sneak in behind a single live aboard boater.
The problem with mooring so close to other boats is that you often have to talk to people. I am antisocial most of the time. I enjoy being on my own and I like nothing more than an isolated mooring where I can sit in the sun, enjoy the solitude and read. I can’t complain though when I make the conscious decision to moor almost within reach of another boat.
I suppose it was reasonable to expect the single and elderly guy in front of me to wander over and start a conversation. Actually, it wasn’t so much starting a conversation as beginning a monologue. He told me about his failing health, his wife’s failing health which has resulted in him spending much of his time cruising on his own, his daughter’s failed marriage, his mother’s recent demise and the impact it’s had on his own health, and his boat’s failing health. Overall, it wasn’t a very uplifting hour we spent together.
As a direct result of our conversation and my need to get away, I walked back to Braunston marina then up the footpath to the very well stocked village shop. I didn’t really need anything but I came away with a tin of hot chocolate, a loaf of bread, a small bag of M & Ms for the walk back and a small pack of self adhesive hook and loop tape (Velcro type stuff).
I’ve used the tape to secure my Three MiFi unit to the window above my office desk where it can get a decent signal. I am delighted with the way the MiFi has performed while we have been out. I’ve managed to get a good enough signal to surf and work on the site at every place we’ve stopped.
Yesterday, with Sally back on board, we returned to Calcutt. The two hour journey back from near the junction took four hours. Because we were moored facing away from the junction we had to find somewhere to turn before heading back. The closest point was in the entrance to Barby Moorings about an hour’s cruise away.
We saw more boats moving yesterday than we had in the entire previous week. There are quite a few narrowboat hirers in the area so quite a few were novice boats including a stag party on a Willow Wren boat, all subdued and looking very hung over and one with a face full of bumps and bruises and nostrils stuffed with cotton wool to stem a nose bleed.
I followed another stag party on a Rose Narrowboats hire boat. I first saw them as they were getting ready to set off after a night apparently moored almost under the M45. Why would you want to do that? By the time I had reach Barby Mooring’s entrance and turned round they had set off. They were cruising at tick over though and weaved erratically from side to side in a very odd manner.
They too looked a little the worse for wear but they were polite and considerate and moved over to let me pass. They passed me nearly an hour later when I was moored at the ridiculously positioned water point on Braunston junction and then turned right to head towards Napton junction. They were still cruising at the speed of a very slow walk but rather than overtake them again I pulled over and moored up to give the dogs some exercise and to make myself a cup of coffee.
If you’re thinking of cruising on your own, that’s another logistical obstacle you need to overcome. Making a hot drink for yourself is just about possible on the move if you have a reverse layout boat with the galley next to the rear deck. If you’re very careful you can bring your boat almost to a half in the centre of the canal if there’s no other traffic about, dive into the boat to put the kettle on, dive back outside to carry on cruising until the water boils, then dash into the boat once more to make your coffee and return to your cruising.
I can’t do that because my galley is nearly thirty feet away towards the front of the boat. I either have to make a flask of coffee before I set off or moor quickly while I make a drink. I prefer to moor and make a fresh cup rather than use a flask. Mooring takes less than a minute. I make sure that I pick a spot where there are Armco rainings, bring the boat to the side almost at a stop, jump off holding the centre line and carrying a mooring chain, then chain the boat to the railing just using the centre line. It’s quick and easy to do once you’ve tried it a few times.
I set off again a few minutes later with a steaming coffee and thankfully without any sign of the wobbly stag party. I met them half an hour later though as they were trying to turn their boat around. They’ve taken a wrong turn at Braunston Junction but didn’t realise until they had nearly reached Napton Junction.
I stopped briefly at our wharf to top up with fuel. I’ve run the engine for eighty five hours since I last topped up. I put in one hundred and fifteen litres yesterday so the average was 1.36 litres per hour. Nearly half of the running time was for battery charging.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my domestic battery bank is terminally ill. I haven’t been using much power while I’ve been away from the marina. The fridge is on all of the time of course, and the inverter’s on in the evening to power the television for a couple of hour of mindless entertainment, and there have been a few low power devices plugged in during the evening to charge them, but that’s about it.
Each morning my battery bank is down to about 65% capacity. Each day, despite plenty of free power from the sun via my 3 x 100w solar panels, I have to run the engine for at least five hours to get the batteries back up to 100%.
I have four 135ah batteries. The accepted wisdom is to change all of the batteries in your domestic bank at the same time to prevent one from dragging the others down when it fails before the others. Unfortunately I didn’t do that.
When I moved on board, the boat electrics, like everything else on James in 2010, were in a bit of a state. The batteries on board, one 110ah starter and one 135ah leisure battery, were just about OK for taking the boat out for a day’s cruise, not that the engine was in a fit condition to take the boat out for a day, but they were totally inadequate for a live aboard boat. Being able to live off grid wasn’t really a consideration at that stage but I had another 135ah battery added and a charger to keep them fully charged when I had the shore line plugged in, which was pretty much all of the time.
Nothing much happened in the electrical department for the next two years. I had bigger fish to fry. I had the boat taken away to have the original ply cabin over plated with steel and had the engine, which broke down on the two occasions I was brave enough to leave the marina, fully serviced and repaired.
In March last year I had a 1600w Sterling inverter fitted. In order to supply the inverter with enough power I added another two 135ah batteries to the leisure bank.
I suspect that the latest batteries are still OK. One, or both, of the older batteries have failed so it’s time to get all of the batteries in sync and replace the lot. It’s an expensive maintenance cost. A 135ah leisure battery retails at about £120. Hopefully I’ll get them a little cheaper than that through Calcutt Boats but it’s still going to be enough to make my bank balance wince.
The battery bank needs replacing, and so does my old Vailant gas water heater.
The heater finally died two days ago after thirty seven years of faithful service. I suppose I can’t complain.
The Vailant still heats the water. It heats the water rather too much actually. The burner doesn’t shut down properly when the hot tap is closed so it carries on heating the water in the coil until the water reaches boiling point and then starts to turn into steam. At this point the whole unit starts to pop and hiss and groan. If the hot tap is turned on in the bathroom at this stage, the tiny room quickly fills with scalding steam.
It’s not safe to use.
I may or may not fit a new gas heater. I haven’t made up my mind yet. In the meantime as a stop gap I’ll get the 55 litre horizontal calorifier fitted which I bought a few months ago to replace the small calorifier under the bed which has never worked.
Next week Calcutt Boats will fit the new calorifier and try to integrate it with the hot water produced by the engine so that I can have water from (A) the calorifier’s 1KW immersion heater when I’m plugged in to a mains supply and (B) the engine when it’s running.
I’ve never had hot water from the engine. I understand that the facility is in place but it’s slightly unusual because my engine is raw water cooled. At the very least I will have hot water back on the boat in a dew days’ time via the calorifier’s immersion heater. I suppose I’m fortunate that the heater has failed in the summer when we can just about tolerate cold showers. I don’t think that either of us would be quite so happy with an icy shower in the winter when the water in the boat’s tank is close to freezing.
Beware! Free Newspaper Advice
It’s summer. The days are long and, surprisingly, mostly warm and dry, narrowboat owners and hirers are out in force and journalists, no doubt after a pleasant stroll down the towpath, like to write about the idyllic and low cost lifestyle you can achieve on board a boat on the waterways network in England and parts of Wales.
In July last year the Daily Mail published an article about a family of four who sold their home, purchased a narrowboat, and then lived happily ever after moored on the river bank close to Stratford-upon-Avon. Happily ever after that is for the very short, and warm, period they had been enjoying life afloat before they were interviewed.
The costs quoted in the article were inaccurate and the need for a hard to find residential mooring wasn’t mentioned at all. Maybe you should expect such inaccuracies from the Daily Mail but last week the Daily Telegraph ran an article which was just as misleading. You can read it here.
The journalist suggests that one of the best places to live on your boat is the Kennet and Avon which “is well supplied with boatyards and suitable moorings”.
Poppycock! The Canal and River Trust acknowledge that the Kennet and Avon is a problem area with a high concentration of non compliant continuous cruisers. If you are new to boating on the inland waterways, let me explain. A non compliant continuous cruiser is a boat owner who, when applying for a license, states that he doesn’t have a home mooring. If he doesn’t have a home mooring, he is obliged to observe the continuous cruising guideline and cruise continuously around the network. Moving backwards and forwards between two close geographical locations to stay close to work, school or medical facilities isn’t allowed. Staying in one spot without an official mooring is what hundreds, maybe thousands, of live aboard boat owners do and the Trust don’t like it.
The Trust have a team of roving enforcement officers. They are traffic wardens for the waterways. Their job is to look for unlicensed boats and boats which stay too long on short term moorings. Persistent offenders face legal actions and in extreme cases their boats can be removed from the canal.
The Telegraph article fails to mention the need for residential moorings at all and then quotes a very misleading total of £3,760 as the cost of running a 55′ boat kept on a “premium” mooring and then using it to travel 3,000 miles during the warmer months. The main reason that their figure is so low is that the figures used to calculate the total are eleven years old. Diesel, for example, is quoted at 30p – 40p per litre.
Three thousand miles is also an enormous distance to travel in a narrowboat in twelve months especially if the 3,000 miles is done in just 100 days as suggested in the running costs breakdown. Three thousand miles in one hundred days is thirty miles a day. Even if you could achieve an average of 3mph during a day’s cruising you would need to keep going for ten hours every day to reach the thirty miles a day total.
Of course the average boater doesn’t manage anywhere near this distance. There are locks and queues at locks to negotiate, tunnels, bends, bridges and other boats to slow down for and leisurely lunches to enjoy. Two popular routes taken by hirers at Calcutt are the out and back trip along the south Oxford to Oxford and the circular Warwick Ring. Both are about 100 miles. One has about 80 locks to negotiate, the other has closer to 100. Both require seven days of fairly intensive cruising to complete at an average of fourteen miles a day.
On my journey towards Market Harborough two weeks ago, on the second day I started cruising at 8.30am reached Brauston at 9.30am, moored on the water point for twenty minutes to top the tank up, empty the cassette then dash into Midland Chandlers to buy some engine oil, went up the Braunston Flight, through the tunnel, joined the Grand Union Leicester Line, negotiated the seven locks in the Watford flight, enjoyed an unexpected shower in Crick tunnel and arrived at our mooring for the night opposite Yelvertoft marina at 7.30pm. Over a very tiring eleven hours we had travelled just under fifteen miles.
Don’t use newspapers as a source of reliable information about the cost of living afloat. The facts they quote are often wrong. If you want to know the true cost of living afloat, you won’t find a more comprehensive guide than this one.
A Perception Of Speed
By Peter Earley
It’s that time of year when the forums are full of complaints about speeding boaters. We’ve all experienced them. You’re sitting comfortably with your pint in hand when suddenly a boat comes past. ‘Too fast’ you say to yourself as the beer sploshes over the top of the glass but you’re too polite to say it out loud. Instead, you smile and wave hello to the steerer as he goes by and you tell your partner that when you pass him later you’re dammed if you are going to slow. But, of course, you do.
However, was he really going that fast? Was his engine noisier than yours making it seem he was? Were you moored with loose lines allowing your boat to move too much?
Nothing is as simple as it first appears. I’m not an hydrologist – I think that would be the right expert for this – but long observation leads me to believe that most perceived speeders aren’t. They may not be going as slow has you think you do but they’re probably going as slow as they can. There are so many factors to take into account.
Firstly there is boat design – big engine or small, prop sizing, bow design, long swim or short, rounded counter or square. And it’s not just the design of your boat, take a look at how much some boats move around next time you pass them, despite being adequately moored.
Then there is the waterway itself. If you’ve ever moored on the Bridgewater Canal you will have noticed that local boaters only pay lip service to slowing down but it doesn’t have much effect on you because the canal is deep and wide. Compare that with the adjacent Peak Forest with its shallow water, narrow width and its sloping sides. Unfortunately, our passing Bridgewater boater still thinks he is on his home water!
Yes, I would agree that there are some boaters who don’t slow very much. They probably think you can’t tell from their engine note how much they’ve slowed or when. There are some who say its the hirers, others blame private boaters and some say its the share boats. I don’t think there is any one group that can be blamed. We can all get caught out by long queues at locks or lines of moored boats upsetting our timetable. Fortunately we rarely have to get anywhere in a hurry but I recognise that others do but it is not helped by the promotion of the ring cruises as something that can be done in a week or whatever.
All you can do is make sure you tie yourself boat up properly. Ideally your ropes should lead forward or back so as to be about a 45 degrees angle to the bank. If this is not possible then consider extra ropes leading in the other direction, called springs. This is all to resist the drag of the passing boat pulling your boat to and fro. Do not use a centre rope for anything other than short term mooring. It will only cause your boat to list as it gets dragged forward causing even more problems.
If there are rings or bollards use them. If they are not in the right p!ace, and sods law dictates they won’t be, consider a chain or hook through the piling, if there is some. Be careful where in the piling you put these. As near to one of the through bolts is best to prevent the chain or hook getting jammed behind the rail. If you have to use pins, try to make sure they are in solid ground or put another pin through the eye at a different angle to prevent it being pulled out.
If you’re one of those early starters, please bear in mind that some of us like a leisurely start to the day and that moored boat may just have someone enjoying a lovely dream who might not like a rude awakening. So as slow as possible and no loud talking with the rest of your crew.
If you are the passing boat remember, it is not engine speed that causes problems, it is speed through the water. So slow down in plenty of time. I always cut my speed about 2 boat lengths before but you can put the power back on as soon as the steerer is alongside the far end of the moored boat. Unless it is that boat that sped past you earlier in the day.
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 four 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.
Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.
Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges
Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.
Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.
How to avoid common narrowboat accidents. They happen far more often than you might think. Here’s what you need to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
If you want to live on your boat and don’t want to, or can’t, cruise full time, you must have a residential mooring. Here’s how to find one.
What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment
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.