2014 08 17 Newsletter – Popular Narrowboat Myths And Misconceptions

Lat week I told you about my Australian bush hat’s baptism of fire when I spent four hours cruising in torrential rain. I received a few suggested remedies. One of them (from my father in Australia) was to send the send the kangaroo skin hat adorned with crocodile heat back to the supplier and get a crocodile skin hat decorated with kangaroo teeth which, my father assured me, should offer far more effective rain protection.

Much as I like the idea of a crocodile skin hat, I’ve settled for a more workable solution and ordered some good quality dubbin to rub into the hat. Unfortunately the application process involves heating both the hat and the dubbin with a hairdryer so I need to persuade Sally to lend me her monster. I’m sure she hires it out sometimes to film producers to use for wind effects.

Over the next couple of days I’ll make sure that it’s thoroughly covered with the mixture of wax, oil and tallow and then wait for some heavy rain so that I can try it out. I don’t think I’ll have to wait for long.

The weather has taken a turn for the worse. After months of beautiful summer days under cloudless skies, I’ve been regularly running for cover this week to escape heavy showers. Running for covers has often been difficult because I’ve spent much of my time chest deep in the marina. The reeds are a nightmare at the moment.

There’s nearly a mile of them to cut; 0.96 miles to be precise. I’ve just measured the circumference of the marina with the measuring tool on Google Maps. The circumference of Meadows marina is 0.48 miles and we need to cut back both the side facing the water and the side facing the bank.

The reeds, which we were assured wouldn’t spread when a two feet thick band were planted around the marina edge in 2006, are now a jungle fifteen feet wide in places. They’re encroaching on the marina’s grassed earthen retaining wall and are spreading out onto the moorings themselves.

We aren’t allowed to cut the reeds between the the beginning of February and mid May because of nesting birds but it’s open season on them now. Cutting the reeds on the bank side isn’t too painful a job. It’s painful enough, but it’s manageable. At this time of the year when the ground is hard, we can drive our Nissan Cabstar truck up onto the bank, use one of our strimmers with a circular saw blade attachment to cut the reeds and load the cuttings straight into the truck and then take them to our tip area where they will be burned.

It’s the water side which is proving a problem. We’ve tried casting a grappling hook from the bank to try to snag them and pull them out but the grappling hook can’t grip the slender stems. We’ve tried leaning over the back of the cruiser stern of one of our hire boats but we can’t get low enough to the water. We’ve tried doing the same from a small flat bottomed skiff but we’ve nearly overturned the thing. We’ve tried wading into the water to pull them out but Pat, who is built like a rather large silver back gorilla which has spent far too long in his jungle gym, has nearly put his back out trying to pull the deep rooted reeds out of the stones lining the marina.

The only option open to us at the moment is to climb chest deep into the marina wearing our only pair of chest waders armed with a pair of 12″ garden shears and cut them off level with the water. It’s not a very good solution given that (A) the shears are blunt, (B) there’s nearly half a mile of them to cut, (C) they extend out into the marina into water too deep for the waders and most importantly (D) the waders have now been punctured in half a dozen places by razor sharp cut reed stems.

It’s a right royal pain but there are worse jobs to do around the site. Sewage pipe unblocking is one of them. Unfortunately for Pat, he was the first one to see a blocked sewer this week. We process all of our own sewage on site. All of the human waste from the pump out and Elsan points in the wharf and in the marina, the toilets in the office, the cottage, the wharf toilet block and the toilets in the shower block flow down to our reed bed filtration system where the solids are retained in a tank for collection and the liquids pass through a reed bed for purification before entering drainage ditches. There are 350 metres of fairly narrow pipes to carry the waste. Unfortunately they are only  a little larger than the caps of toilet cassettes which boat owners feel the need to drop down the Elsan points several times a year.

Fortunately for Pat, ten minutes with a forty feet length of blockage busting rods was enough to dislodge a thick wad of flow stopping toilet paper. The rod pushing endurance record was set by me last year when I spent seven hours knee deep in the brown stuff when a cassette cap jammed seventy metres from the nearest manhole in our tip area. It wasn’t my most pleasant day at work.

While Pat was busy with elbow length rubber gloves and reeking rubber rods, I was busy slug slicing.

We’ve had plenty of heavy showers this week followed by bright sunny spells. It’s perfect weather to bring out the slugs in droves. In places the grass was alive with masses of writhing 6″ long black custard filled crawlers. In a perfect world I suppose I should have either postponed my grass cutting until the slugs retired for the day, or scooped them up by the  bucketful to carry them to the safety of the verges. But we don’t live in a perfect world, I don’t like slugs and I didn’t have time to move them so I mowed them instead. Cutting them to shreds didn’t bother me too much but cleaning off the body parts from the mower’s three blades at the end of the day wasn’t too pleasant.

We took the boat out for the day on Friday, just so that we could play at being proper boaters. We didn’t go far. Even though we moor in a wonderful location on the network with a wide variety of routes available to us, two out of the three canals within a day’s travel have a dozen locks within an hour’s cruise so they aren’t really practical for a day out.

We made our way around the frequent twists and turns heading towards Braunston, turned the boat around at the winding hole in the middle of the garden moorings at Wolfhampcote and headed back towards Calcutt. We stopped for an hour to sit in the sun, then cruised for another hour while Sally made dinner with an ever changing view from her kitchen window.

We moored again for long enough to enjoy a leisurely meal while we watched the rain clouds march towards us then made our way back to Calcutt. We decided to stay above the top lock on Friday night so that we could make a quick escape after I finished  my normal day’s work on Saturday and after Sally had finished some last minute overtime.

We didn’t quite beat the rain. We moored in a torrential downpour in the only space available which meant trying to secure pins in a crumbling bank hoping to secure the boat against the stiff breeze which was trying to push us into the middle of the canal. After half a dozen attempts I found some firm ground. At least I thought it was firm ground until the following day.

Just before lunchtime on Saturday I was working on one of the seven boats due out in the afternoon. Young Stewart was washing down a boat roof so he could see above the top lock. “Is Sally taking your boat out on her own?”, he asked me. I told him that she was at work. “Then why is your boat moving out into the middle of the canal?”

I ran from the wharf back to the boat to find that the pin holding the bow had pulled from the crumbling bank in the freshening breeze allowing the boat to swing out into the canal blocking it in both directions. How embarrassing!

A couple of passing boaters had pulled over and were busy pulling the boat back in when I arrived. They left me to finish the job with a cheery wave.  I pulled the boat back into a recently vacated space next to firm ground. We’re still there now. I didn’t say goodbye to the last holiday hirer until 6pm yesterday so wasn’t in the mood to cruise for a couple of hours in a strong breeze.

Neither of us minded staying put. It’s a wonderful location to just chill out and do a bit of people watching. The couple moored on the opposite bank have five dogs. The dogs were quiet last night but they also have a large and very vocal pet crow in a wardrobe sized cage beside the boat. Other than that we enjoyed a tranquil night on the towpath. It’s wonderful living afloat.

The Three Most Commonly Asked Questions And Misconceptions… And The Subject Which No One Wants To Ask About But Everyone Needs To Know

Popular misconception number one; a narrowboat is like an ice box when the temperature drops. “I bet your boat is cold in winter!” the gongoozlers cry. I answered this one last week so I won’t go into it again. Here’s last week’s newsletter, here’s a post I wrote about living on board during the colder months and here’s a post from last year when I tested a number of different stove fuels. There you go, no more cold winters or winter boat problems.

Popular misconception number two; I don’t need a mooring. I can save several thousand pound every year by moving to a new location every two weeks. The only way you can do this is by moving as part of a genuine cruise from points A to B to C to D to E. What you aren’t allowed to do is to move from points A to B to A to B to A. It’ called bridge hopping and the boat owners who do it are often referred to as continuous moorers.

Continuous moorers or what CRT call non compliant continuous cruisers, are an increasing problem on the waterways, especially in the south. The lower section of the Grand Union, large stretches of the Kennet and Avon and just about anywhere on the canals around London have become extremely congested.  I’ve been told, although I haven’t been able to verify the fact, that the number of residential boaters in London has increased by 60% in the last year. Many do not have official moorings.

I emailed CRT at the beginning of May to ask about the current status of residential moorings and the Trust’s view on the recent increase in boat owners wanting to live afloat. Here’s the reply I received.

“Hi Paul,

I don’t think I’ll easily be able to get any figures about availability of residential moorings (most moorings are managed independently, not by the Trust) – although anecdotally in some areas (London, for example) it can be difficult to secure a mooring space.  Like with the property market, supply and demand means that in popular areas moorings can be very expensive.  Some information on finding a home mooring is available here:  http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/mooring/finding-a-home-mooring

Our policy on non-compliant continuous cruisers remains the same.  We’re big fans of continuous cruising, but we urge people to consider the demands of the lifestyle before casting off.  If you’re tied to an area, for example, because you have children in school etc, it may be hard for you to fulfil the licence terms.  There’s more information on continuous cruising here: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/mooring/want-to-be-a-continuous-cruiser.  Perhaps a good summary is the two questions asked on the page:

To help you see whether your circumstances ‘fit’ the continuous cruising lifestyle, you only need ask yourself two questions:

    Are you free of fixed obligations, such as education, employment or healthcare, in any one area?
    Can you commit to moving to a new place every 14 days?

If you answered no to either question something in your circumstances would have to change for you to become a footloose, rule-following continuous cruiser.

 We’ve recently started contacting all newly registered continuous cruisers welcoming them to the waterways and providing them with information about the requirements they need to fulfil, and the action we’ll take if they don’t.  I’ve attached the related press release, which I think you’ll find helpful.  We want people to be aware of the cruising requirements so they don’t run into trouble later on.

Hope this helps,


Here’s the press release…

The Canal & River Trust is reminding people taking up a new liveaboard lifestyle on its canals, but without a home mooring, to think carefully about the demands of living afloat through a series of awareness-raising measures. 

In some popular areas, this style of living is on the increase and the Trust is concerned that the newcomers may not be aware of or fully understand the requirement for bona fide navigation and may believe it is sufficient simply to move around within a small area.  Some therefore get a shock when they find that they are in breach of the rules, while the Trust is forced to embark on a time-consuming and costly enforcement process.

The Trust is working to raise awareness of these constraints amongst home-seekers and boat sales advertisers.  It is also aiming to provide clearer information to the floating community so, from January 2014, will be contacting everyone newly registering as a continuous cruiser to ensure they fully understand the requirements.  After three months, if there is concern about a boat’s limited movement, the charity will send a reminder and invitation to contact the local enforcement officer to discuss the cruising pattern.  Ultimately if they can’t meet the movement requirements they will need to get a home mooring before their licence can be renewed.  

Sally Ash, head of boating at the Canal & River Trust, said:  “We want people thinking of living afloat to be fully aware of the challenges, as well as the benefits, before taking the leap.  We hope that, by spreading the message widely, people won’t end up making a costly mistake.  Our new step of contacting every new continuous cruiser will help them in their new lifestyle, without falling foul of the enforcement procedures needed to manage the waterways fairly for everyone.  We hope that, by keeping people informed, they will use the waterways responsibly, so they can be enjoyed by everybody.”

I receive emails almost daily asking me about the availability of moorings, especially in the south. The fact is that official residential moorings are hard to find so unless you are free of ties to a geographical area or unless you are prepared to invest in a considerable amount of time looking for a suitable mooring you need to think very carefully about the viability of living afloat.

Popular misconception number three; narrowboats are cheap to live on. It’s true. There are boat owners who exist on very little but they tend to do just that, exist, rather than living in comfort.

A couple of years ago, a common site at Calcutt was a single middle aged guy named Paul and his affectionate bull terrier. Paul lived on a run down GRP cruiser. The benefits he received from the government funded his lifestyle but it was a lifestyle which was a long way from being comfortable.. Although he wasn’t quite as uncomfortable as those sleeping rough on the streets, he wasn’t far removed.

Paul liked to move from place to place but he couldn’t afford fuel for his outboard engine so he pulled his boat along the towpath with a piece of string as he couldn’t afford any rope. I didn’t establish whether he had any cooking facilities on board, and I don’t think he had heating either. He certainly didn’t have a license for the boat, didn’t have a  home mooring to pay for, and didn’t have to fork out for expensive engine maintenance given that he didn’t use his engine. It was a very low cost lifestyle, but it wasn’t a lifestyle which would suit me.

Of course Paul was at the far end of the scale but there are a fair few live aboard boaters who aren’t far removed from Paul’s situation. Roughly 4% of all boats on the network are unlicensed. Given that there are 34,000 boats registered on the inland waterways network, that means that over 1,300 are unlicensed. But many of the licensed boats are in a bit of a state too.

I get to know quite a few live aboard boaters and a little about their personal circumstances. Many spend a honeymoon period, sometimes lasting a year or more, when they live a very comfortable lifestyle courtesy of what remains of their savings after they’ve bought their boat. Once the initial period of easy living is over though, they have to rely on income which doesn’t always allow them to maintain the boat and live the way they would like.

At the moment it’s not too difficult to get away without having an expensive mooring, or even a mooring at all. It’s possible to avoid the waterways enforcement team for a while and a boat will last for a number of years without any maintenance at all. Eventually though. paint will flake, bare steel will rust and pressure from the authorities will mount to pay the required fees. The once idyllic lifestyle will become just as painful as it was on dry land. It’s best to know the full costs involved before you sell your bricks and mortar and buy a boat to live on.

I’m frequently told that the very best place to find out the true cost of living afloat is here on the site. The package is the result of years of writing and research. There’s over 500 pages of information, in PDF and Kindle format and a user friendly and very flexible browser based budget calculator for you to play around with and establish how much your new lifestyle is going to cost. If you’re seriously considering living afloat and don’t know the costs involved you can instantly have all the information you need at your fingertips for less than the cost of a pub meal.

Toilet Talk – A Popular Boaters’ Topic

Put two or more boaters in the same room and sooner or later the subject of toilets will come up. They’ll discuss waste tank capacity, pump out costs, toilet designs and problems, and they’ll do it with a degree of enthusiasm which you might not expect. Toilets and their contents is something which boat owners need to get much closer to than those living with the luxury of mains drainage.

As a boater, I’m quite used to discussing the topic length. As an instructor for Calcutt Boats I have to discuss toilets briefly and very delicately with our holiday hirers. I normally see the first grimace of distaste from the adults, and sniggers from the children, when I say “dump through toilet”.  Most hirers dislike the subject but manage to get through the two minute toilet tuition without any problem. Most, but not all.

Last week we had to explain the ins and outs of on board waste disposal with a very sensitive lady. Her first sight of the dump through toilet was enough to start her retching. By the time we had explained how to tell if the waste tank is full (You press the flush pedal to open the flap at the bottom of the toilet bowl so that you can see the level of waste in the tank beneath), she was leaning over the side of the boat examining her morning’s breakfast.

Most people don’t find the topic that distressing but it’s a subject you need to be familiar with when you own a floating home. I’ve written a post here about narrowboat toilets here. I made the mistake of stating that there are two types of narrowboat toilet. Of course there are three types. I didn’t mention the composting toilet but several people have added comprehensive comments about composting toilets.

Narrowboat Electrics

I received the following email after I published last week’s newsletter on the subject of narrowboat electrics…

Hi Paul,

Continuing on the theme of Narrowboat electrics there seem to be a number of options:

  •  Shore line connection supplying stable 220-240V AC 50Hz. The amount od current is only limited by the thickness of the cable and of course the upper limit imposed by the shore supplier
  • DC 12 – 48V from batteries, powering battery equipment. Batteries can supply lots of current but have limited capacity so need a source of electricity to charge them
  • Modified or pure sine wave inverter supplying 220-240V AC 50Hz, drawing power from a bank of batteries. The available current is limited by the size of the inverter and capacity of the batteries. Some equipment and appliances do not take kindly to modified sine wave, so there can be a problem.
  • On board generator supplying 220-240V AC 50Hz to power appliances and other equipment, and possibly also charge batteries when needed. Some generators are fitted with a starter motor and battery and also have a 12V DC output specifically for charging external batteries.

This leads me on to the suggestion for another article, which will probably need some research, so maybe should be as an invite for an expert to comment or write –

What about a fairly powerful generator connected directly to the main engine. This could provide maybe up to 10kVA of sinewave 220-240V AC 50Hz, sufficient to power almost anything you care to imagine (fridge, freezer, washing machine, coffee maker, electric kettle, lights, heaters – the list is endless).

For a continuous cruiser this would seen the ideal, while cruising along spare engine capacity could be put to good use making life on board as convenient as living in a house, but with the added advantage of the freedom of cruising. I don’t know much about diesel engines but I remember reading somewhere that they “prefer” to be loaded, running on light load causes them to coke up.

The one problem I see is the need for a stable sinewave frequency of 50Hz, this is controlled by the engine rpm, so needs to be stable. For a single phase generator this usually means a shaft speed of 3,000 rpm (divide that by 60 to get revs per second and this magically gives a result of 50). The only way I know to maintain a steady engine speed and still control the boat speed is to use a variable pitch propeller and use a governor system on the engine – are these available for narrowboats?

I see a quite complex electrical set up as being the ideal. Shore line connection, on board generator, solar panels, maybe even a wind generator, batteries and inverter. Each interlinked via a complex switching arrangement (which can be automated) so certain sockets on the boat are only powered when under certain conditions. This would allow the big things to be run from raw AC power (shore line or generator) while smaller things like laptops and tv’s etc to be run from the inverter, which then also acts as a UPS (uninteruptable power supply)

Just some thoughts

Kind regards

Roy Plant

An engine mounted generator is available from Beta Marine. I understand that the downside of the Travel Power system is that it’s difficult to retro fit because of the pulley configuration and that the maximum stated power is only available when the engine is running at between 1500 and 2000rpm or, in my case, at maximum inland waterways cruising speed. Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t know much about the system. However, there are a few technical types on the forum who will be able to provide you with all the information you need on the subject.

Discovery Day Case Study

I’ve been inviting narrowboat enthusiasts on board my own live aboard narrowboat now for the last two months as part of a new service I offer on the site. The day is a mix of helmsmanship, a day long discussion on the pros and cons of different narrowboat styles, sizes and types of equipment, a walk through of my own boat and an explanation of how everything works (or doesn’t in some cases) and a cruise  through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside.

Last week I took Justin Parish out for the day. Justin is ex military, so he’s had the pleasure of living all over the world. He’s used to packing light and constantly moving, living close to nature and meeting new people. Justin is a seasoned narrowboat hirer so he didn’t need any basic helmsmanship training. His goal for the day was to learn how to handle a narrowboat single handed and to decide one way or the other whether living a life exploring the canal network is the right move to make.

Here’s what he had to say about the day…

“Hi Paul

Thanks again for a great day, good to have a laugh when we could and certainly your company kept me cheerful.  Sorry to read that you ultra snazy croc hat was a bit of a flop!  You can buy waterproofing spray for them by the way.  Will let you know how I get on with boating. I guess I should sign up for he site.

The pre info for the day was great.  The directions were very good. I followed them and had no issues finding my way directly to your boat.  Just looked over them again and cant see anything missing really.

I thought the day was splendid.  As you know I am planning to buy a canal boat and live on board cruising permanently. Although I have plenty of holidaying on boats experience I had gaps in knowledge and was particularly after information/tips on buying a boat and preferred specs, some explanations on technical aspects and to gain some experience with solo boating.

I thought you covered everything I was after.  The walk round your boat explaining systems and talking about relative merits of different types of heating etc was great and will help me greatly with buying a boat.  I enjoyed the cruise and was grateful to learn how to solo lock with someone about to help or fish me out of the canal if needed.  The way you get information across is very good with your knowledge, patience and enthusiasm for the subject always coming through.  I can not think of anything else I needed on the day. I think the merit of your day is that it covers pretty much everything with enough time to still be tailored to the needs of those who attend.

If anyone is thinking of canal boating and has any doubts in their mind about any aspect then the day is well worthwhile.  I’m sure novices and veterans could all learn something and you were great company throughout.

Thanks again Paul for a great day.  I enjoyed myself and learned lots, which I know will give me the confidence to make my dream happen.


I try very hard to make the day as informative and as pleasant as possible. It’s great to receive feedback which indicates that I’m on the right track. If you’re seriously considering living afloat I urge you to consider attending a discovery day. There’s an enormous amount of information on the site but the discovery day allows you to piece it all together and get some practical boating experience under your belt too. You can find out more about discovery days here. Please note that you need book well in advance of the date you want. You can check availability by clicking on any of the yellow click here to book now links.

I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

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

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over 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.

10th August 2014

Narrowboat heating, electrics and engine specifications – How is the perfect live aboard narrowboat configured? Here are a few suggestions

3rd August 2014

Essential boating equipment – Here’s the stuff every boater should carry on board

27th July 2014

The pros and cons of a wide beam boat – More and more wannabe boaters are considering more spacious wide beams rather than narrowboat. There is clearly more living space on board but how practical are wide beam boats on the inland waterways?

20th July 2014

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.

13th July 2014

Digital aids for narrowboat owners – Digital applications and maps for inland waterways boaters

6th July 2014

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.

29th June 2014

Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks

22nd June 2014

Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names

15th June 2014

Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?

8th June 2014

Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.

1st June 2014

Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges

25th May 2014

Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.

18th May 2014

Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.

 11th May 2014

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.

4th May 2014

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.

27th April 2014

What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment

20th April 2014

A cautionary tale if you are considering buying a wide beam boat to live on.

13th April 2014

A further update to the site content index.

6th April 2014

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

30th March 2014

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

23rd March 2014

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

16th March 2014

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

9th March 2014

Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.

2nd March 2014

Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.

23rd February 2014

Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou

16th February 2014

Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.

I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.

9th February 2014

Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.

2nd February 2014

Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.

26th January 2014

Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.

19th January 2014

Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?

12th January 2014

If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)

5th January 2014

Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.

29th December 2013

The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?

Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.

22nd December 2013

Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.

15th December 2013

Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?

8th December 2013

Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.

Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel

1st December 2013

Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.

Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content

Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.

24th November 2013

Winter fuel allowance – Do you qualify for one if you live on a boat?

Case Study – NB Progress. Kim Wainwright recorded her journey on the forum from nervous anticipation to current liveaboard boat owner. Here’s her story.

17th November 2013

Narrowboat central heating – I don’t have any. All that is about to change. Here’s the system I’m going to install and why I’ve chosen it.

10th November 2013

Narrowboat running costs – I compare my own running costs to those of a prominent YouTube video blogger and detail my exact costs for October 2013

3rd November 2013

Popular narrowboat terminology – Hundreds or words or phrases used to describe parts of boats and the waterways they cruise through.

27th October 2013

The wind chill factor – How strong the wind is blowing and which direction it’s coming from can determine how difficult it is to heat your boat. Here’s what you need to know.

Case study – Another couple from down under living the dream on the inland waterways.

20th October 2013Condensation. It’s a common problem on boats. Here are a few suggestions how to keep your boat’s interior dry.

A new organisation for liveaboard boaters

13th October 2013

On demand water heater problems – Discover a common fault with these water heaters and what you can do to resolve the problem.

Know your firewood – Not all timber burns well. Find out which is best and which to avoid.

6th October 2013

Managing your boat’s water supply. You can use your water supply as and when you need it when you live in a house with all mod cons. You can pretty much do the same when you’re on a marina mooring with a water supply just a hose length away. It’s a different kettle of fish when you’re on an online mooring.

Liveaboard case study – A prime example of mooring without a water supply on tap.

29th September 2013

The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free

Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.

22nd September 2013

A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees

Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site

15th September 2013

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

1st September 2013

Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube

All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller

8th September

A disaster – I inadvertently deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!

25th August 2013

Effective fly killers for boats

The downside to living on a narrowboat

Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.

18th August 2013

CART Guide Approval – The waterways’  governing body is now promoting the information packages available from this site. Yippee!

Narrowboat Insurance – A summary of insurance quotes from the major narrowboat insurers

Liveaboard Case Study – Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57? “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network. They’re ridiculously young to retire, and I’m very, very jealous

Downsizing from a 3 bed semi to a narrowboat – What do you do with a lifetime’s accumulated possessions?

11th August 2013

A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring

4th August 2013

The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?

28th July 2013

The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.

21st July 2013

Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.

14th July 2013

Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.

7th July 2013

Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.

30th June 2013

Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.

Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.

23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?

Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.

Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.

16th June 2013

The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt

Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours

Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.

9th June 2013

I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.

2nd June 2013

An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list

26th May 2013

Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.

Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story

19th May 2013

My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.

Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.

Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.

12th May 2013

An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network

An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings

5th May 2013

Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold

Meet one of your legless canal side companions

The canal network’s largest floating hotel

28th April 2013

Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.

21st April 2013

The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?

Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop

RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivalent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

14th April 2013

The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.

7th April 2013

Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article

Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.

31st March 2013

Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.

Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.

24th March 2013

Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.

Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.

Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.

17th March 2013

Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start

Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution

Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013

Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.

11th March 2013

James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring

3rd March 2013

Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test

Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.

Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.

Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013

20th February 2013

The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.

8th January 2013

Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.

Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27? GRP cruiser to a 50? narrowboat

24th December

Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis

I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

2nd December 2012

Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat

Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer

Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

28th October 2012

An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways

Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else

17th October 2012

I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date

14th October 2012

Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs

Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home

30th September 2012

The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners

18th September 2012

I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.

VAT on narrowboat sales

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

10th June 2012

Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)

27th  May 2012

How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.

Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke

13th May 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and

Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly

29th April 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports

15th April 2012

Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips

Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all

Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats

 1st April 2012

As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.

18th March 2012

The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments

Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.

4th March 2012

Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat

eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)

Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat

A review of Debdale Wharf marina

22nd January 2012

Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.

8th January 2012

The first four narrowboat case studies published

I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study

Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study

Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study

Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

1th January 2011 – 1st Newsletter

Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
  • Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
  • Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
  • CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
  • Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
  • GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
  • Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
  • Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
  • Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
  • Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
  • A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
  • Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
  • Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
  • Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
  • Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
  • Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
  • Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
  • The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
  • 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
  • “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
  • Post & Postal Addresses For Continuous Cruisers – You need an address in order to receive post and open bank accounts, register for doctors and hospitals etc. How do continuous cruisers with no fixed abode manage it.
  • Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
  • It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
  • Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
  • VAT On New Narrowboats – Can you knock 20% off the cost of your new narrowboat?
  • Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
  • Narrowboat Burglary – Two boats burgled at the same location. Where is it and what can you do to minimise the risk of theft from your own boat wherever you are?
  • Insuring Your Car When You Live On A Boat – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
  • Remedies For Sooty Stove Glass – For me, one of the great pleasures of living on a narrowboat is a winter evening in front of a flickering fire. Here’s how you can keep your stove glass clear so you can see the fire in all its glory
  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
CRT (Canal & River Trust) maintain the waterways. Here’s their site.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.
Find out more about narrowboat central heating costs here.


Useful Information

Please Help Keep This Site Online

If you enjoy reading these posts, if you find the masses of information on this site and my new motorhome site, rvblog.co.uk both useful and entertaining, please help keep it available for those who both want and need it. There are eight years of painstakingly written and researched information on hundreds of posts and pages on the two sites. They may be lost forever if I can't find a way to maintain them. Click on the button below to find out more.

Click Here to Find Out More
Paul Smith

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