2014 10 26 Newsletter – A Directory Of RELIABLE Waterways Tradesmen

I’ve gone in to “last time” mode. On Wednesday when I started writing this newsletter I had 162 days to go until I set off for distant shores. Not-too-distant canal banks actually, but you know what I mean. When I installed a countdown app on my phone there were 210 days to go before the Grand Cruise and my target date seemed a lifetime away. Now, in the blink of an eye, 25% of the remaining time has elapsed. It’s a very exciting time for me. Sally too probably, but she’s keeping the excitement to herself. In the meantime, it’s work as usual.

On Monday Rob helped me load one of our two 150lb three wheeled mowers onto the cruiser stern of an available hire boat, set the two locks for me as I took the boat down into the marina, and then helped me lift the heavy mower onto a very slippery island jetty. I dropped him off at the entrance to Meadows marina before returning to the island to cut the grass there for the last time.

I’ll miss my visit to the island every two or three weeks during the warmer months of the year. When I first set foot on the island three years ago, it was completely covered by four feet high thistles. I spent two days wading through them with a strimmer, then two more grinding away dense mounds of course grasses with the strimmer’s circular saw attachment.

Over the last three years of regular mowing, the thistles and weeds have died off leaving half an acre of short grass under the island’s mix of one hundred white poplar, alder, willow, field maple and horse chestnut.

The island has become a sanctuary for the marina’s coots, moorhens, mallards, swans, the occasional unwelcome flock of Canada geese and three recent and very welcome new guests.

About a year ago we were first visited by a solitary grey heron. He or she, I don’t know which, often stood motionless on one of the marina’s grassy peninsulas before silently floating into the air whenever someone approached. Now the bird has discovered that it’s safe on the island. There’s a three feet high six inch diameter wooden post protruding from the water near the jetty. The fish eating heron likes to stand motionless on the post now and stare intently into the murky water searching for something to eat.

The other two very recent additions to the island menagerie are a pair of beautiful kingfishers. I’ve only seen a kingfisher once here at the marina in the five years I’ve been working here. I was making a coffee on a calm summer’s day when one dropped onto a bull rush three feet from my galley window. I desperately wanted to move to fetch my camera but I knew the movement would frighten the bird. I stood motionless for five minutes until the bird took flight and disappeared forever.

Now there are two of them, and they appear to be here to stay. They’ve been seen flying to and from the island over the last few weeks. I hope they make it their home.

I’ve probably also spent my last day on the site’s ride on Husqvarna mower. The grass is still growing but as autumn advances the ground is getting wetter and wetter. It’s soon be too soft to mow and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have left the marina before the spring’s first cut.

Monday was a good day for me but a difficult day for the engineering department. Jim who deals with general engine repairs here drove himself to Warwick hospital to have some tests done. He was experiencing an increasing numbness in his left arm and weakness in his left hand so that he could no longer grip the tools he needed to do his job. He hasn’t been seen for the rest of the week. We think that he is still in hospital.

On Wednesday we had some smart new oak posts delivered. The site has acres of landscaping. There are large areas of tree studded mown grass next to the access roads throughout the site. Many of them are single track so, as is often the case, if a vehicle is coming towards you, you have to find a convenient passing place, of which there are many, then wait for a couple of seconds until the road is clear. Alternatively, because you don’t have a couple of seconds to wait to get from your boat to the chandlery, and because you have a flashy four wheel drive vehicle which you don’t use nearly enough over rough terrain, you can drive your big fat knobbly tires all over our carefully cut and currently rather soft grass. The new posts are an attempt to discourage the practice.

They are fitted with reflectors for nighttime drivers. I spent a very pleasant half hour fitting two dozen reflectors to the dozen posts then another half hour hammering guide holes for the fixing spikes on the bottom of the post with a mooring stake and lump hammer. I then spent another half an hour removing all the posts I had fitted, spacing them equally and actually standing them up straight.

Thursday was a great day for me, but not such a good day for another of our engineers, Dave. Shortly after arrived for work at 9am, he complained of severe chest pains. Mindful of issues he’s had with his heart before, an ambulance was called. The first responder arrived, followed shortly after by an ambulance. None of the paramedics were happy with his condition or the length of time the ambulance would take to get him to the hospital, so the air ambulance was called in.

The helicopter landed on the meadow close to our reception, quickly loaded Dave on board and whisked him off to hospital. Dave phoned in later in the day to let us know that he was OK and that he will probably need to have an operation to improve his condition. So, we’re now down to just one engineer until the other two are fit for duty which, in Dave’s case won’t be for a month. I know the remaining engineer enjoys a challenge though so he’ll be planning to get up before he goes to bed and working a twenty five hour day to make sure he gets all the work done.

Thursday was a great day for me because I managed to combine two of my great passions; playing with boy’s toys and breaking things.

Over the last five years I’ve been here, a wonderful marina with some slightly shabby areas has improved tremendously. Some rather down at heel Portakabins dotted around the site have provided important but rather untidy dry storage solutions. We removed several of the dilapidated buildings close to reception and replaced them with a much smarter chandlery store. A few months later as part of the project to compact our tip area and create a new half acre space for container storage for moorers, we removed a barely standing Portakabin next to the tip access road.

Removing the buildings is a pretty straight forward process. Pat and I take the windows out first. Actually, it’s usually Pat who does it because he has a gentler touch than me. Then we remove any partitioning or fitted furniture from inside the building. I like this bit because I can go wild with a 10lb sledge hammer. I like the next bit even better. I use the site’s “three sixty” excavator to smash the building to bits. The next part I’m not so keen on. The demolished building then has to be loaded onto our site Nissan pickup and transported to our tip area ready for burning.

There were two Portakabins to remove. Both were between our shower block and the slipway. We removed one of them completely on Thursday and started on the second. Pat finished clearing the second on on Friday when I was off and Saturday when I worked on the wharf all day preparing and then doing instructions for the hire fleet.

Yesterday was a busy day on the wharf. It was the start of the last week before the boat hire operation closes for the season half term for the schools. Most of our boats were scheduled to go out so we spent a morning of furious activity to get them ready and then a very pleasant afternoon showing happy hirers how to steer their holiday homes.

During the busy week I also had to find time to work on this site.

I’m considering creating a new section. Actually, I’m considering starting two but I’ll tell you about the second and far more serious section in a minute. The first section will focus on my stupidity and lack of thought when buying stuff for the boat. I’ve considered calling it Paul’s Pointless Purchases.

Catchy title, isn’t it?

I like gadgets and I always fall for the sales blurb. I’m a little absent minded so I don’t always think things through properly if I have my mind on other things like, for example, how on Earth I’m going to actually fit a day’s work in and finish off the weekly newsletter.

Here are a couple of examples for you.

When I’m working at my laptop I’m easily distracted. Once I’m distracted, I need to take a minute or two to get back “into the zone” before I can carry on working. A couple of years ago I was driven to the verge of insanity by two flies which buzzed about my head as I tried to work. Just to add insult to injury, each of them would take turns to land on my screen to read what I was writing, or to wonder why I wasn’t writing anything at all.

I did a quick search on Amazon and found a neat solution to my problem. It was an electronic fly swat about the same size as a tennis racket and with an electric current passing through the racket’s “strings”. All I needed to do to kill the flies was to swat them with the strings to electrocute them.

Have you ever tried waving a tennis racket around inside a narrowboat? Of course you haven’t. You have more sense. There isn’t enough room to swing anything around, especially a tennis racket.

I tried the racket on a number or different flying insects without success. The only one I managed to swipe was a particularly large and slow moving wasp. There was a load crack as it touched the wires, a joyful cry from me as the wasp fell to the floor, a very angry buzzing as the stunned wasp launched itself from the lino in my direction, and a clatter as I dropped the swatter and ran for the door, pushing Sally out of the way as I left.

Apart from stupidly testing the current with my finger after it failed to to kill the wasp (it hurt!), I haven’t used the racket since. It was a complete waste of money.

Then there was the fancy shower head.

Seven months after buying a ridiculously expensive bespoke narrowboat shower door, I had it fitted. The shower door and its new frame blocked nearly all the light coming from the central bathroom ceiling light. The guy who fitted the door advised me to have another light fitted inside the shower cubicle but I knew better.

I had a cunning plan.

 I’m an avid reader of the Boats & Pieces section in the Waterways World magazine. I like gadgets. I like boats. I love gadgets for boats.

One of the new products in the November issue was an LED shower head. The water powers the lights and the lights change colour according to the temperature. Brilliant. I ordered one.

I took the old shower head off and replaced it with the new high tech replacement as soon as it arrived then stripped off and climbed into the shower to try it out. It was only then that I realised that there were a couple of problems with the new shower head.

The lights need a reasonable flow of water if they are to work at all. My water pressure is only sometimes able to power the lights so it’s a hit and miss affair to get them to work at all. And because some of the water pressure is required to power the lights, the force of the water coming out of the shower head is reduced, in my case to not much more than a dribble. But the real problem with my ingenious solution was something I should have considered before I ordered the useless piece of equipment.

I usually shower with my eyes closed.

If I shower with my eyes closed, I can’t see the lights anyway. I keep my eyes closed to keep the soap out of my eyes. I don’t need additional light in the shower cubicle. I’ve wasted my money again. I’ll never learn.

Finding reliable waterways tradesmen

My Dad was and is a wonderful father.  He drilled many important principles into me. One of them was that you don’t let people down, ever. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a particular time you make absolutely sure that you’re there, preferably early, but never late. Early is on time and on time is late. If you say you’re going to do something, you make absolutely sure you do it. You don’t need words on a piece of paper to make you do it, you just keep your promise. It’s a simple principle but it’s one which so many people you meet fail to grasp.

This principle appears to elude many waterways tradesmen in particular.

Take the joiner who’s been doing some work for me over the last lifetime and a half. I’ll call him Darren, because that’s his name. Actually I’ll call him Darren Aldridge because that’s his full name, and he lives in Tamworth.

Before I begin to question his work ethic, let me tell you that Darren is a first class joiner. He’s now rebuilt my engine room and soundproofed the engine. He’s done a first class job. The engine is now boxed in and the sound from a rather noisy Mercedes engine is very much muted. So quiet in fact, that I can hold a conversation with guests as I’m steering and with other boaters as they pass when previously I haven’t had a clue what any of them have said so I’ve just nodded and smiled and hoped that I’ve given the appropriate response.

So the finished job in the engine room was very good indeed but the way the whole job was done, which included work apart from the engine room, was frustratingly slow, exceptionally badly organised and, to date, incomplete.

The work was due to start at the beginning of September. Following a series of last minute emails it was delayed by a week, then a fortnight, then a month. We then appeared to have an agreed start date and start time. I was expecting Darren with me at 10am. He finally arrived at 2.30pm without a word of apology or an indication that there was anything wrong with being four and a half hours late.

Having a tradesman turn up late when I’m on a static mooring at a marina where I work may not appear much of an issue, but it is when Sally is working nights, something which she is doing all of the time at the moment. She needs to get some sleep so we need to know when anyone is turning up at the boat so she can determine where in the small living space she can sleep with the least interruption.

So Darren turned up at 2.30pm. He was very late, but at least he had started. As he had driven an hour from Tamworth to get to me, I assumed that he would work into the evening to make the travel worth his while. I was quite surprised then to see him driving off site an hour and a half later. Apparently he had only come to “measure up”, something he could have done on his previous visit when I agreed to his price.

The pattern continued over the next two weeks. His longest working “day” with me was four and a half hours. He was rarely on time and frequently more than an hour later than the time he had promised the day before. I could have put up with the nonsensical two hours travel to do two hours work if he had actually finished all of the work he promised he would do, the work he clearly detailed in the quote he sent me.

The engine room was completed but he still had to build and fit some bespoke racking inside the boat. And there was an additional job he quoted for to refit and secure my rear hatch.

I asked him to quote for the work to the hatch after I had seen the quality of his work in the engine room. The price was high but the work needed doing so I accepted it. We agreed that he would return Thursday or Friday of this week to fit the racks and to start on the hatch. He measured up for the racks and the hatch, said he had the materials ready in his workshop then left to do the joinery there.

At the beginning of the job we had agreed on the payment schedule. I would pay him a deposit so that he could buy materials and then pay the balance when all of the work was finished. As soon as he finished the engine room fitting work though, he asked me to pay him for that part of the job because cash flow was tight.

I agreed.

He didn’t turn up on Thursday so I emailed him to ask when he would be here. He replied an hour later telling me that he had decided that I was too far away and anyway he didn’t want to do the work because of the weather’s unpredictability.

I suppose it’s really not a big deal. He’s only been paid for work which he’s completed and the quality of the work he’s finished is very good. But he hasn’t finished all of the work he promised to do and his communication and time keeping throughout the process was diabolical.

Sadly, his approach to work on the waterways isn’t unique. At least the quality of his work is good which is more than I can say for some of the tradesmen who have worked on James over the last four years. I’ve had fifteen stone guys standing on fragile engine fittings, a frame welded in place around the engine which can’t be removed to access the stern gear, an incorrectly fitted alternator which meant that I had to run the engine for three hours instead of the one hour which was needed once the mistake was rectified, shoddy joinery and wonky shelves, dangerous wiring and a few other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten. I’ve also heard tales from other boat owners up and down the cut. Some of them are quite frightening.

One boat owner recently told me about a scary situation she had when her engine failed on a river. From a precarious mooring tied to a tree she contacted a marine breakdown organisation whose attitude to a family in peril was disgusting. To a much lesser degree, my own experience with the same company has been similar.

Of course there are many excellent tradesmen providing much needed services to over thirty thousand narrowboat owners on the canal network but they appear to be few and far between.

I had one of them, two of them actually, doing some work for me this week. Dave Reynolds is a highly qualified marine electrician. He works with his wife Alex. They make a great team. They’re always happy in their work, are exceptionally competent and their communication is first class.

I needed some rewiring doing inside the boat. We’ve had the work loosely pencilled in for the last two or three weeks. It wasn’t urgent so either Dave or I rearranged the work a few times but always as a result of clear and mutually satisfactory communication. He came to do the work on Wednesday and agreed on a time of day which would disrupt Sally’s day time sleeping least.

Of course with an old boat, especially with the wiring, nothing is ever straight forward. He discovered that the wiring he unearthed didn’t comply with the Boat Safety Scheme guidelines, spoke briefly with a surveyor to determine a solution, then quickly finished the work.

After he left I noticed that some of the lights at the front of the boat had stopped working. The first think I checked was the fuses. The fuse board had been rewired by Dave a month earlier and then labelled clearly so that even someone as technically inept as me could understand it. I replace the appropriate fuse, or so I thought, but the lights still didn’t work.

I left a note for Dave about the problem. First thing the next morning he contacted me to ask when he could come and which time would be best for Sally. He arrived, as expected, at the agreed time and spent two or three minutes rectifying the problem. It was a clearly labelled fuse which had blown. My fault. I don’t seem to be able to understand the difference between the labels cabin roof lights and cabin wall lights. Dave was too diplomatic to mention this though.

Dave costs a fortune. as do all qualified marine electricians. His rate is £37 an hour but it is a rate which I am prepared to pay because I know that the work he does will be of the highest standard, and is something which I couldn’t hope to achieve myself in a million years.

Another outstanding tradesman is Tim Davis from Onboard Solar. He installed my solar panels in April last year and did a first class job. As with Dave Reynolds, his communication was first class throughout the process. Actually, there was very little communication. He gave me a price for the 3 x 100w panels and MPPT controller via email (£995) and agreed a time and a date to do the work.

He turned up exactly on time, was both friendly and highly professional, installed the system to a high standard after discussing the panels’ exact location with me, and left me after just three hours with solar panels which have worked perfectly ever since. Unsurprisingly considering the quality product and first class service, Tim has now installed solar panels for more than five hundred boat owners.

Reliable, professional and highly skilled waterways tradesman are out there, but how do you find them? You can scour the classified sections of the waterways magazines and newspapers but anyone can part with some cash to advertise their services to the boat owning public. An advert in a publication isn’t and indication of ability or attitude. Quite the reverse in fact. Many of the better tradesmen don’t advertise at all. They receive so many enthusiastic recommendations from satisfied customers that word of mouth referrals is all they need to keep them busy all year round.

My latest disappointing experience was the straw which broke the camel’s back. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who struggles to find honest, reliable and competent tradesmen. I’m going to take the bull by the horns and create a directory of first class tradesmen, but I can’t do it without your help.

This site’s regular readership now includes hundreds of boat owners, many of them living afloat full time. If you are one of them, you have undoubtedly had your fair share of experiences with both good and bad tradesmen who are either sole traders or staff at marinas and boat yards. You might even be one of the elusive tradesmen I’m looking for.

The directory creation is going to take me a while to put together. The first stage is to try and identify which of the thousands of regular site visitors are boat owners. To help me find out I added a link to the newsletter introductory email. You should have been directed to this newsletter as a result of completing the one click questionnaire. If you told me that you’re already a boat owner, I’ll be writing to you shortly. If you reached the newsletter via another route and you’re a boat owner who would like to contribute, please let me know.

If you are a boat owner or a tradesman who offers a good service, I urge you to help me get this off the ground. I’m prepared to dedicate much of my free time to the project, especially when I don’t have to find another forty five hours a week to earn a living from April next year. All I’ll need from you is the names and contact numbers of tradesmen you recommend and a little about what they’ve done for you and why you think they’re worth recommending.

I’ll update you on progress next week but please don’t leave all the contributions to other boaters. This site is a comprehensive resource for aspiring and current boat owners alike, but it can be improved. How much is up to you.

I Need Some Help!

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

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

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over 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.

19th October 2014

Anti social behaviour on the cut – How common are the unpleasant incidents you sometimes hear about on the canal network and who are the worst offenders? You’ll probably be surprised.

12th October 2014

The pros and cons of buying an ex hire boat to live on – How suitable are ex hire boats for living on board full time?

5th October 2014

I ran short of time during this week and couldn’t think of much to write about anyway, so I just detailed an idyllic week we spent away from the marina, pottering about for a few days in Braunston and then finishing off the week on the south Oxford canal down as far as Fenny Compton. Six months before the start of our continuous cruising lifestyle, it was just what we needed to whet our appetites.

28th September 2014

Emergency food on board – Some of the most pleasant places to moor are a long way from the nearest supermarket. Here are some suggestions to ensure that you’re never short of a tasty meal on your idyllic canal-side retreat.

21st September 2014

Cruising in adverse weather conditions part two – A continuation of the previous week’s newsletter.

14th September 2014

Cruising in adverse weather conditions – Steering a narrowboat over the glassy surface of a placid canal on windless day in the middle of summer is child’s play. Here’s what you need to do on a “normal” day’s cruise.

7th September 2014

Following your dream – Is your goal to some day spend a life of leisure out on the canal network? This article might encourage you to make a move sooner rather than later.

31st August 2014

Route finding for narrowboat owners – Here are the popular paper and digital route finders to help make navigating the network child’s play

24th August 2014

Long term narrowboat hire – Is hiring a boat long term a realistic alternative to buying one?

17th August 2014

living on board in the winter, the cost of living afloat generally and where you can moor your floating home are all subjects which are misunderstood by many aspiring narrowboat owners. Here’s what you need to know.

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.