2014 07 27 Newsletter – The Pros And Cons Of A Wide Beam Home
I love the internet and the vast amount of information which is instantly available twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year. However, sometimes I think there is too much information available. Take this week for example.
Meadows marina is beautiful. One hundred and forty boats rest on spacious moorings on six acres of reed fringed marina. The reeds and bull rushes screen each of the mooring bays, provide a degree of privacy for the boats moored there and a home for the marina’s musical reed warblers and an al fresco dining area for coots, crested grebes, mallards by the score, swans, tufted ducks and a very occasional kingfisher. The healthy reed growth is wonderful for wildlife but a bit of a problem for Pat and I.
The reeds grow at a tremendous rate at this time of the year. New shoots on the bank surrounding the marina often grow six inches between weekly grass cuts. New growth on the grass is easy to remove with a quick pass from the comfort of my ride on mower. New reed growth in the water is an entirely different matter.
There are nine bays in Meadows marina, each separated from the others by a grassy peninsula which extends thirty of forty feet into the water from the bank. The perimeter of the marina including the sides of the peninsulas was planted with reeds when the marina was built in 2006. Each year since then the reeds have extended their territory more and more until this year when many of the boats on end moorings have rather more privacy than they would perhaps like.
We have tried many ways of removing the reeds. We’ve tried throwing a grappling hook from one of our hire boats brought down from the wharf especially for weed removal. The grappling hook couldn’t budge the firmly rooted reeds. We tried leaning over the side of the hire boat and pulling them out by hand but we couldn’t reach them. We tried an outboard engine powered skiff to use as a platform. This was low enough to enable us to grab the reeds but they were so well anchored that giving them an almighty yank almost capsized the boat rather than pull them free.
Eventually we came to the conclusion that there was no other way of clearing the mooring bays than to climb into the marina wearing chest waders and carrying a pair of short handled garden shears. That’s when my problems began this week.
Our marinas are very healthy. The ten acres of water support a variety of fish including perch, roach, bream, common carp, zander and pike. The perch, roach and bream aren’t a problem. Nor are the carp although some of them weigh in excess of 30lb and can often be seen wallowing in the shallows. I’m not really bothered by the zander either even though they are fierce predators. What really bothers me is the thought of monster pike lurking beneath the surface looking for an easy meal.
Pat told me that he had an underpants changing incident when he was clearing the reeds a couple of months ago. He said that he felt something bang into his leg. He looked down to see a pike with a head as big as a Doberman resting against his thigh. He ran out of the water and hasn’t been back since.
I’m not entirely sure I believe him, especially as he’s told me on several occasions that he thinks the woods are haunted. I was pretty sure that he was having me on but, as I have a good internet connection and love a bit of surfing, I decided to spend a few minutes finding out if there are any record of pike biting people.
Worryingly there are quite a few. In fact world pike expert Fred Buller stated that a trailing hand in the water, or maybe a groundsman grabbing handfuls of cut reeds from a marina, is quite likely to trigger a predatory attack. A pike has a mouthful of needle sharp, backward-sloping teeth (see below) which I don’t want to get too close to.
Of course I didn’t really expect to get attacked by a ravenous and ferocious four feet long meat eating fish, but the stories were at the back of my mind when I waded chest deep into the cool marina water armed with a pair of garden shears on a very hot Wednesday last week. I soon forgot about the pike as I concentrated on staying upright on the uneven and steeply shelved reed choked marina side.
Meadows marina is unusually deep. The contractor who dug out the marina ran out of clay to build the island in the middle so, on the side closest to where I was working, he scraped more and more off the marina bed until he had enough to raise the half acre island six feet above the water. The result was a section of the marina over twenty feet deep. More than enough water to hide some very large fish.
Of course there was nothing to worry about, other than an unexpected under chin suntan from the searing sunlight reflected from the crystal clear water, the difficulty in keeping my footing on the steeply shelving and very uneven marina bottom and the problem of maintaining my balance with my increased buoyancy due to being nipple deep in water. There was nothing to worry about until I saw a line of bubbles approaching me.
In my late teens and early twenties I spent nearly every weekend fishing on lakes and ponds near my Merseyside home. I know all about fresh water bubbles. It’s a sure sign that something is under the surface disturbing the silt. I knew that there were often large carp foraging in the shallows but the carp are shy creatures so I would have expected the bubbles to move away from me and not in an arrow straight line towards my legs.
I took a precautionary step backwards and checked to see how close I was to the bank. Stepping backwards in chest deep water over an uneven surface wearing waders a size too big for me was a bad idea. I stumbled but managed to maintain my balance but not before a litre or two of marina sloshed over the top of my waders and down my legs. I would have been all right if hadn’t glanced at the line of bubbles again and then seen something beneath the water make the reeds quiver and shake as it moved closer and closer towards me.
I took another step backwards just as the water boiled in front of the quivering reeds and something launched itself from the water towards my bare hand just beneath the surface. I leaped backwards, tripped over a rock and emptied the contents of the marina into my chest high rubber boots.
After a brief and rather unpleasant tour of the marina bottom I struggled back to the surface to see my “assailant” disappear into the bank-side reeds. It was nothing more harmless than a three month old coot chick making its ungainly and very noisy way through the undergrowth looking for food. The fluffy little vegetation eating bird wasn’t quite the 40lb attack-anything-on-sight predator I had tried so hard to get away from. Still, looking on the bright side, my phone soon dried out and in the searing heat I soon dried out too as I sat on the bank in my boxer shorts.
The Pros And Cons Of A Wide Beam Boat
I was asked recently what the advantages and disadvantages are of a wide beam boat and how they compare with narrowboats. I am biased of course. I have a narrowboat and wouldn’t swap it for a wide beam for all the tea in China. In one of the May newsletters last year I wrote about a chance meeting with a brand new wide beam hotel boat on the stretch of Oxford/GU canal between Napton and Braunston junctions. One reader thought my post was a personal and unwarranted attack on wide beams. It wasn’t. I have nothing against them at all. Many have beautifully designed and undeniably spacious accommodation but the waterway network wasn’t designed for such wide craft. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, many will disagree with me, they aren’t suitable as a recreational vehicle at all.
Here is what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of a wide beam boat compared with a narrowboat. I know that this post is subjective so in the interest of providing as balanced a view as possible, I welcome all comments from wide beam owners and enthusiasts. I know that a number of site visitors and regular forum contributors are wide beam owners. If you are one of them, and disagree with any of the points I have made below, please let me know so that I can publish your comments,
- More living space You have more space to store them your stuff and even though your boat is sometimes nearly twice as wide as a narowboat, you only pay the same license fee for the canals (If you are going to be moored full time on some rivers, such as the Thames, the fee you pay is determined by the area of the boat rather than by the length. You will also have to pay more than you would for a narrowboat if you buy a Gold license.
- Severely limited cruising In theory, you can cruise on rivers and wide canals. Wide canals get their name from the width of the locks rather than the width of the waterway itself. A wide lock will take two narrowboats side by side so wide beams can use these locks too. However, wide beams cannot use the narrow canals.We have some wonderful routes available to the moorers and hirers here at Calcutt Boats. We’re on the Grand Union canal at the heart of the network. The most popular routes are to Oxford and back along the south Oxford. The Warwick Ring which passes by our front door. The route is through Leamington Spa and Warwick, through the centre of Birmingham, on to Tamworth down towards Coventry, through Rugby, on to Baunston and then back to Napton and the final short hop to Calcutt Boats. A very popular and very gentle route is the “four locks” cruise to the end of the Ashby canal and back. My favourite route from Calcutt is to Market Harborough. There’s a huge amount of variety including three tunnels, two flights of staircase locks, a deafeningly noisy section as the canal squeezes past the M1 next to Watford Gap service station, the A5 and a busy railway, and some of the most remote and peaceful countryside on the network. Wide beam boats can’t do any of these routes.Wide beams also cannot travel on the Huddersfield Narrow canal, the Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Caldon or Trent & Mersey canals, the Shropshire Union, Birmingham & Fazeley, the hundred mile plus BCN network around Birmingham, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire, or the Worcester and Birmingham.And because wide beams can’t travel on some of the canals in the Midlands, it’s not possible to travel between the northern and southern sections of the network.I started off by saying that in theory wide beams can cruise the wide canals. Unfortunately, in practice it’s rarely either pleasant or stress free cruising.I live and work on the Grand Union less than half a mile away from Napton junction. It’s one of the busiest stretches of canal in the country. As well as being at the heart of the canal network, just two hour’s cruise from the canal capital of Braunston, it’s home to a large number of marinas. There are more than two thousand offline moorings within a ten mile radius of where I live.Because of our location, and because of the number of boats moored in the area, there’s a constant stream of boats passing by. I see hundreds off boats pass by each week. How many are wide beams? Not one.Seeing a wide beam moving along the waterway here is a rarity. I see one every couple of months at the most. The fact is that traveling on the canals, even wide canals such as the Grand Union, can be quite a painful process.Canals are often shallow but by keeping to the centre of the canals where passing narrowboats have kept the channel clear silt, you can cruise without difficulty… in a narrowboat. In a wide beam you often straddle the cleared channel, especially when passing under bridges and especially when you need to pass traffic moving in the opposite direction.When you pass through a bridge hole in a narrowboat, you have some manuouvering room. You can steer close to the towpath side where there is more headroom and more clearance for the any roof furniture. You don’t have that luxury with a wide beam. You have to pass under bridges very carefully and make sure that your boat roof is clear of obstructions.
- Increased maintenance costs Your boat’s steel hull and cabin needs constant attention to prevent the ever present threat of rust. You’ll want to have your boat removed from the water every two to three years to black the hull. A wide beam is going to cost you more to black because of the increased surface area which will need painting. You’re also going to have logistical issues when looking for someone to do the work for you. We black a large number of boats at Calcutt Boats. I’m not sure of the exact number but it’s probably in excess of 150 each year. They are all narrowboats.We can’t black wide beam boats because of the equipment we use.We have a wheeled cradle which is pushed down the slipway into the water by a JCB. Boats are steered over the trailer which is then pulled back out of the water along with the boat. The cradles four corner posts are just slightly wider than a narrowboat so we can’t accommodate boats wider than seven feet. Many other boat yards have similar restrictions because of the equipment they use to remove boats from the water of because of the width of their dry docks.
- Increased running costs Your license won’t cost you any more on the canals than a similar length narrowboat but it will on the waters which determine the license cost based on the boat’s area rather than the length. And because you have more living space, your heating costs will also increase.
- Increased mooring costs and difficulty finding a mooring I told you recently about the monster wide beam which was launched at Kate boats a few months ago. Avalon is 70′ long and 13’6″ wide. The owners had done as much as they could to find a suitable mooring before the boat was built. They found a marina which promised could accommodate them, paid a deposit to secure the mooring and with the mooring secured instructed the Colecraft to build their sailaway. Gary then spent a year fitting out the boat himself. During that time he paid another deposit to the marina to hold their marina berth.On the day that they launched their new floating home, the marina informed them that the mooring was no longer available as it wasn’t suitable for their boat. They cruised as far as the Calcutt flight and stopped because Gary was a nervous wreck. On top of the devastating news that the boat now had no mooring, they launched the thirty seven tonne and surprisingly shallow drafted boat on a very windy day. Gary, with no boating experience at all to draw on, said that he travelled most of the three miles to the Calcutt flight at a forty five degree angle.Clacutt Boats’ owners agreed to let them stay for a few weeks until they found themselves somewhere else to moor. They searched high and low, and I helped them, but because of the boat’s size, nothing was available. For a start, even if they wanted to moor in a marina, the boat’s width caused a problem. I don’t know whether they could have negotiated the entrance to the marinas here, but it would have been a tight squeeze. I think they might just have made it if we removed the sleepers protecting the marina entrance sides. Whether they could or not was academic. There were no moorings suitable for them inside the marina and the business doesn’t accept live aboards anyway. If there had been space, it would probably have been prohibitively expensive. Our moorings are all on pontoons with just two narrowboat widths between each finger. They would have had to pay twice the normal cost because they would have taken up two boat spaces. The cost would have been in excess of £5,000pa.We didn’t have a suitable mooring but Wigram’s Turn marina half a mile away at Napton Junction offered them a place. Unfortunately they couldn’t use it because they couldn’t fit their boat through the marina entrance. The marina entrance is 13′ wide, six inches too narrow to allow them access.I took Gary and his wife Marie out on James for the day to help them search for another mooring. There was nothing remotely suitable. The only other marina in the area which was prepared to take them and which had an entrance wide enough for their boat was at Braunston. They decided against it. The main reason for buying the boat and moving afloat was to afford their severely handicapped nineteen year old daughter Emily a better quality of life for her few remaining yearsEmily was shaken by a child minder as a baby. The child minder was imprisoned for a few short years. Emily suffered brain damage and lost almost all of her sight in both eyes. Water soothes and calms her. The boat is a wide beam to give her the space she needs to move around her new home safely. The boat’s temporary mooring on the canal between two locks away from roads and surrounded by wildlife is the perfect location for her. The berth offered them at Braunston was wedged between other boats with difficult and dangerous access for someone so visually impaired. It just wasn’t suitable.
Even if Marie and Gary didn’t have to consider Emily’s particular requirements, there were no mooring opportunities even remotely suitable. The boat was simply too wide for most online moorings. There wouldn’t have been room for canal traffic to pass easily or safely. Most of the marinas in the area don’t take live aboard boaters and couldn’t have physically fitted their boat in anyway. There was a glimmer of light at Barby Moorings on the North Oxford but the further we cruised up the canal from Braunston towards Barby the more apparent it became that the boat simply wouldn’t fit through many of the bridge holes.
Gary and Marie were both very despondent when we moored at the end of a ten hour cruise. In theory they could have travelled further afield to look for somewhere suitable but they had the logistical issue of having to ferry Emily too and from her special school, a task they had to accomodate around their own full time jobs.
The situation appeared so hopeless that they seriously considered selling the boat, probably at a substantial loss, and moving back into their Southam home. Since then they have been given a further stay of execution by Caluctt Boats’s owners but I don’t know what they will do if they are asked to move elsewhere.
As you can see, I think that the disadvantages of a wide beam far outweigh the advantage of having a little more living space. What do you think?
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.
The dreaded weed hatch – Sooner or later your engine will start to overheat, you’ll lose propulsion and you’ll know that you need to dive down your weed hatch to free an obstacle or two from the propeller. Here’s how to do it properly and a list of the tools you’ll need.
Digital aids for narrowboat owners – Digital applications and maps for inland waterways boaters
Practical experience for lone boaters. Here’s an account of a day’s cruise with a nervous single boater. He wanted enough confidence to deal with locks on his own. I spent the day with him, designed a route to include twenty six locks and spent ten hours helping him hone his locking skills.
Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks
Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names
Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?
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.