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Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.


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2014 11 30 Newsletter – A Virtual Tour Of A Narrowboat Equipped For Continuous Cruising

I planned to have a quiet afternoon in front of the fire last Sunday to escape the heavy November rain, but an afternoon of doing nothing more than turning the pages of a good book didn’t materialise. The rain stopped at lunchtime so I decided to take the boat up to our wharf and vacuum some rainwater out of the bilge. Rain trickles through the hinged steel plate above the weed hatch where it collects in a channel and then, in theory, drains through a hole and into a hose where it is directed through the side of the boat and into the canal.

Unfortunately the drain hole has quite a small diameter so it often gets blocked from dirt falling into the channel from the deck above which means that rainwater overflows the channel into the engine bay. It’s a bit of a nuisance because rain flows from the roof onto the back deck too so there’s plenty of water cascading down on to the back deck and then into the engine bay after overflowing the blocked channel.

In theory, the trip should have taken me no more than an hour and a half; fifteen minutes for each of the two locks on the way up, another half an hour for the locks on the way down, and half an hour for a quick blitz with our man sized wharf wet vac. Of course, as soon as I entered “canal time”, the minutes stretched into hours.

I arrived back on my mooring just as the light was fading after removing every drop of water from the engine bay, freeing up the hinge on the flap over the weed hatch, and tidying up the engine room. All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon spent pottering.

Sunday afternoon was far more pleasant than most of my working week. I felled and logged a dozen ash on Monday, which I enjoyed, then spent the rest of the week pressure washing the walkways, which I didn’t enjoy nearly so much. Seven hours a day of trying to remove a high pressure hose from the gaps between the wooden boards nearly drove me mad. Just to make matters worse, I discovered that my waterproof leather rigger boots are far from waterproof. I’m sure the synthetic fur lining will dry out eventually.

On Tuesday I received an email from Waterways World announcing that tickets were available for the Crick show next year. For a moment, as in previous years, I was poised to delete the email instinctively thinking of all the time restricting reasons I couldn’t go or couldn’t stay for very long. Then I remembered, there’s nothing stopping me from staying as long as I want next year!

I’ve ordered a three day pass and an online mooring in zone one close to the show. I actually think I’ve overdone it. I’ll probably have seen all I want to see in half a day and, as I like peace and quiet on the boat, a zone one mooring is possibly the worst place for me to moor, but time will tell.

On Friday I was reminded yet again that I need to get my new headlight fixed. After yet another thoroughly enjoyable discovery day cruising through rural Warwickshire I inched my way back into the marina in total darkness. I was very fortunate to have 6’3″ tall Richard Baven with me who helped navigation no end by holding my five million candle power tunnel torch above his head pointed in the general direction of my mooring. I managed to get where I needed without crashing the boat or falling in, so it was a pretty good day all round.

I spent another very pleasant day out on the cut again today. The weather was perfect; a light and not too chilly wind, patches of brilliant sunshine but a grey and overcast sky when we headed west back to Calcutt Boats in what can often be very difficult cruising conditions if the sun is low on the horizon and shining brightly.

We returned today with just enough light to see what we were doing. Estelle, my copilot for the day, left the boat tired but happy that she’s going to be a confident and competent single lady boater in the very near future.

Cruising in London

I published an article in last week’s newsletter about the pros and cons (mainly cons) of cruising in London. I invited comments from newsletter readers in general and newsletter readers who live on boats in London in particular. Sadly I didn’t hear from any London boaters, but here are a few comments from those who have visited the capital by canal.

“I hated London last year, nowhere to moor, cyclists racing each other up and down the towpaths and the potential danger. I was told that at Little Venice, 3 boats had been set fire to so far that year by immigrant kids from local council estate and although police knew who did it, they would not act for fear of stirring up racial tension!”

Tim Wood

“We went down the Grand Union to Paddington Basin and back this summer. We were very disappointed! It was ok down to Bulls Bridge but the Paddington Arm was full of rubbish causing us to stop several times to go down the weed hatch to clear rope, wool, polythene, dog bags of excrement etc. Not nice! When we arrived at Paddington there were very very limited moorings, maybe enough for 6 boats. On coming out of Little Venice the locals were not encouraging, warm or friendly and we just wanted to get out of there! Boats had been moored on the 14 day Visitor Moorings for months and so Kensal green next to the Cemetary was the only place to safely moor. We got back on to the Grand Union and chugged back to Northamptonshire at a steady pace. As for the capital…I wouldn’t bother again! I’ve been but do not have fond memories at all.”

Bob Green

“Reading the piece on London’s “Continuous  cruisers” I was reminded of a couple I met recently on the painting course I attended.

They were a lovely couple and I liked them very much, however I did not like the way in which they used / misused the waterways. Peter and Jane (Not their real names) were attending the painting course to acquire the skills to repaint their existing narrow boat which at 45 feet was a bit small for them as they live aboard. They were planning on starting a family and released that if they were to continue to live aboard then they needed something bigger.

They both work in Central London and commute from the boat each day. I asked them where they moored and how much a residential morning cost. The answer from Jane surprised me “oh no, we don’t  have a mooring, we are continuous cruisers” I asked her how this worked she replied “ We are on the Regent canal at he moment, we always stay within or close to zone 1 and 2 for the tube. If we have any hassle from CRT we move to the next tube station. When we move we text our mates and we all, that is several of us, all move at the same time, keeping somebody on the tow path to hold the spot. We have been doing this for about two years. I asked if they thought that this was within the rules and Peter responded “ Everybody does it, it is the only way we can afford to live in London as the rents are so high. If we could find a flat then obviously that would be better, but we simply will never be able to afford one”.

This couple had hired a car to drive from London to Northampton, stayed for two nights in an hotel and paid several hundred pounds to attend the course. I would suggest subsidised by those of us who pay for a CRT license and have a paid for mooring or stick to the rules for continuous cruising. As an amusing aside Peter and Jane had brought their toilet caskets with them to empty at the yard where the course was being held, amazing the lengths people will go to. I imagine that Peter and Jane are paid extra for working in Central London, for a start they will get London Weighting allowance (£4000 each per annum) How much is an official mooring?

I would love to visit London in our boat, sadly this is a pleasure that will be denied to me until the rules that we have our enforced by CRT. Incidentally the Kennet and Avon is also clogged with boats, some of which have been there for years on the 14 day moorings between Bathampton and Bath. This means that one is reduced to a crawl at tick over for mile after mile on this stretch. Perhaps we ought not to slow down for the selfish freeloaders that overstay?”

 Simon Birt

A Walk Through Of My Own Live Aboard Narrowboat

When potential boat owners visit me for a discovery day, while we are having coffee and before we venture out onto the cut for the helmsmanship aspect of the day, I walk them through my boat showing them various features, layouts and items of equipment on board. I discuss the pros and cons of each item or area and what, if anything, I could do to improve the situation on my own boat given the wisdom of hindsight and with the benefit of living on board for nearly five years, working at a boatyard and handling and getting to know the more than two hundred and fifty boats we have moored here at any one time.

I’ve been told that the exercise is very useful indeed. I thought that you might find a virtual walk through of my boat useful too if you are considering buying your own in the near future, of if you have recently purchased a boat and are still at the stage of thinking of ways to try and improve it.

My boat isn’t perfect by any means but the layout and equipment on board works for me. Even if you don’t like what I’ve got, maybe this virtual tour will give you a few ideas.

Of course it’s much easier to explain everything if you’re in front of me, but you’re not and you won’t have the opportunity to walk through my lovely soon-to-be-VERY-mobile floating home unless you book yourself on a discovery day. My explanation will mean so much more if you can see what I’m talking about so here’s a virtual tour for you. It’s a video I made about narrowboat storage space about a year ago which accompanies an article on the same subject

Have you watched the video and read the article? You have? Good. Now everything will make sense.

Here are some statistics for you…

My boat, full name James No 194, built ib 1977 at Norton Canes, is 62′ long with 48′ of internal cabin space. I have a “traditional” stern narrowboat which means that the cabin comes nearly all of the way to the back of the boat giving more internal living and storage space but less space at the back of the boat for people to stand while cruising.

The boat has a far larger than normal diesel tank. The Mercedes OM636 engine uses 1.24 litres per hour so, in theory, I could cruise for 282 hours or forty days at seven hours a day without refueling the three hundred and fifty litre tank.

I cook using gas only, heat the boat using just a solid fuel stove burning coal briquettes and heat my water either via the boat’s engine when it’s running or via an immersion heater if I’m plugged into the national grid.

My on board electrics consist of four 135ah batteries in the leisure bank and a dedicated 110ah battery to start the engine. The batteries are kept topped up via a charger when I’m plugged in to the national grid and by three 100w solar panels with an MPPT controller and the engine’s single alternator when I’m not.

My toilet is a Porta Potti Elegance with a twenty one litre waste tank. I don’t have a pump out toilet.

That’s the overview, now let’s start the tour at the front of the boat. If you’ve watched my narrowboat storage video, you’ll be able to relate to what follows. You’re not on the boat with me, so I won’t make you a coffee. You’ll have to make your own, which is a shame because I have a wonderful Nespresso coffee machine.

At the very front of the boat is the bow locker. It’s where my propane gas is kept which is used both for cooking and to power my suitcase generator. I have four propane cylinders in the locker; two 13kg for cooking and two 6kg for the generator. I was using one 13kg propane cylinder every twenty one days when I had a gas on demand water heater. With that removed and the propane used for cooking only, the same size cylinder is lasting four times as long.

The bow gas locker is a bit of a pain when changing empty cylinders for full ones. Thirteen kilos is the weight of the propane inside. The cylinder probably weighs the same again, so the two together weigh about the same as a bag of coal. The easiest way of getting the full cylinder down into the locker is by carefully lifting it on to the bow to avoid scratching the paint with the often rough metal of the cylinder bottom, holding it steady with one hand while you leap cat-like onto the bow, then lowering it slowly through the hatch. Of course, you need to remove the empty cylinder first. You have to be very careful you don’t slip if the bow is wet or icy.

Cruiser stern narrowboats often have the gas lockers on the rear deck where they are much easier to access.

Behind the bow is the front deck. Like most narrowboats, mine has a well deck as apposed to a low flat tug style front deck. My front deck has a cratch board, a triangular wooden frame standing vertically between the bow and the front deck, which supports the cratch cover which encloses the front deck. The cratch cover converts a space which is rarely used in the winter into very useful and dry additional storage space.

Inside the boat there are cupboards and shelves either side of the front doors, then about four feet from the front bulkhead on the starboard side is my old and very faithful Torglow stove. The same stove has been in the boat since it was built in 1977. The flue has been replaced a couple of times and the glass in the stove door has been changed regularly. It’s a reliable and dependable heat source which I wouldn’t want to be without, but it’s not perfect.

I would change the for a Morso Squirrel in an instant if I could. My stove has quite a small footprint so there’s no room on top to place pans for food cooking or warming. The space isn’t even big enough to hold an Ecofan to help push the stove’s heat towards the back of the boat. Not that the Ecofan would work on my stove anyway. It has a double skin on the top plate so even with a fire raging within, I can place my hand quite comfortably on the top. The Ecofan needs the heat from the fan to make it work.

Unfortunately, I can’t switch to a Squirrel because of its size. It is three inches deeper than my Torglow so the new stove would stick out three inches further into the centre of the boat and be three inches closer to the upholstered seating opposite. The only way I could fit a new Squirrel in the boat would be to change the stove position to the front of the boat which would necessitate removing the front bulkhead cupboards on the starboard side. However, the new position would then be classed as a new installation and subject to the new BSS regulations. This would increase the price by several thousand pounds.

Opposite the stove is bench seating in an “L” shape. I have sat on more comfortable seats before but the big advantage is the storage space they offer underneath. We have an anchor and chain, vacuum cleaner, summer folding camp chairs and a box for files under the seats, all hidden neatly away.

Aft of the lounge seating area is the dining area. It’s a Pullmans dinette which is bench seating either side of a fixed table. The dinette is a great place to sit and eat while engaging in the old fashioned pastime of conversation rather sitting with a meal on your lap vegetating in front of a television. It’s also a wonderful location to spend an hour or two on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon with a newspaper spread in front of you. The dinette, like the bench seating near the stove, has storage space underneath.

Behind the dinette is the galley. Ours is small, but still big enough to cook a Sunday dinner if we choose. There’s a four ring Vanette hob, grill and oven. All run on gas. There’s also a 98 litre fridge. Ours, like most narrowboats, is twelve volt and because it’s twelve volt, it’s horribly expensive. In an electrical superstore a similar sized 240v fridge would cost about £150. Our fridge cost just under £500 but it’s worth every penny.

The problem with a 240v fridge is powering it when you are off grid. The fridge would need to be powered via the boat’s inverter. It’s not something that I would want to do for two reasons; firstly the inverter itself uses power so you would be increasing the drain on your battery bank for an appliance which, for most boat owners, would be on twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. The second reason is noise. Most inverters are in or near the engine room. Many engine rooms are next to the main sleeping area. Our inverter is in the engine room fixed to the pine cladding just three feet away from our heads when we are laying in bed. We often have the inverter on just before we go to sleep while we are laying in bed reading. The noise is very annoying and drowns out the natural sounds from outside which we enjoy so much. Having the inverter droning away all night long while we are trying to sleep would drive us mad.

Next to the galley is our “utility room”. This is a three feet wide section between two sapele bulkheads which is home to our washing machine and where there is a side and a roof hatch on both the port and the starboard side.

Two very popular narrowboat washing machines are the Candy and Zanussi compacts. They are good machines but use a fair amount of power. We have this twin tub washing machine. It’s cheap and cheerful but does the job very well indeed. We can fit everything we want to wash on the boat into the machine. What we like most about it though is that it uses about a tenth of the power that the more popular machines use. The wash cycle uses 120w and the spin cycle 180w. The twin tub comes with hoses to attach to the mains supply but we haven’t risked it as the hoses look as substantial as drinking straws.

Next to the washing machine area, much too close as far as I’m concerned, is my “office”. It’s a second bedroom which contains two full size bunks and a compact bunk for a small child. This area also has two five drawer chests built in.

I’ve kept the two bunks just in case we ever make any friends and they want to stay the night, but I use the base for the smaller bunk as a dedicated office desk. On the desk are my laptop and printer/scanner/copier and my beloved Nespresso coffee machine. The machine makes wonderful cappuccino and latte coffees but isn’t very practical when we’re off grid. It needs 1800w. Unfortunately the boat’s inverter can handle just 1600w. I’ve had to buy a suitcase generator to power it when we ‘re cruising!

I spend many hours each day on t’internet researching or adding content to this site so a reliable internet connection is very important to me. I’ve been using mobile broadband dongles by Three for about four years now. The earlier dongles needed to be outside of the boat in order to pick up a half decent signal so I had a long USB extension lead plugged into my laptop then then out through one of the boat’s roof vent’s to a mast on the roof. These days the dongles are much more powerful. I now have their latest MiFi dongle. I have it stuck on my office window with Velcro pads where it nearly always picks up a strong enough signal for me to send and receive emails and usually a strong enough signal to stream video from BBC iPlayer, YouTube or similar.

Next is the boat’s bijou walk through bathroom. It’s just four feet long and 5’10” wide (the internal boat width). One one side is the shower, on the other the sink and toilet.

We have a cassette toilet. It’s a Porta Potti Elegance. The two main types of toilet on narrowboats are cassette and pump out. Pump out toilets look like conventional toilets. They store the waste in a coffin size tank beneath the toilet. The waste tank often extends out of the bathroom into the bedroom and under the bed.

A cassette toilet sometimes has a conventional looking toilet but sometimes, like ours, looks like a square plastic box with a toilet bowl in the top. The waste is stored in a removable tank under the toilet. Ours hold 21 litres so when it’s full it weighs about the same as a 25kg sack of coal. Our cassette needs emptying every three or four days if we’re in the marina or every two or three days if we are cruising and using it more often.

The advantages of a cassette toiletare that it’s free to empty at Elsan points and it can be taken off the boat to empty even if the boat is frozen in during a particularly cold spell. The disadvantages are the relatively small waste tank and the need to lug the unwieldy sloshing tank out of the boat twice a week and the need to get that much closer to the previous night’s dinner when you unscrew the cap and empty the tank contents down the Elsan point’s open sewer.

Many, maybe most, owners of pump out toilets also carry a cassette toilet on board for emergencies. Personally, I don’t see the point but I may revise my opinion next year when I’m cruising for extended periods and need find Elsan points as and when I need them.

The bathroom now has a wonderful shower. It’s a joy to wash my dirty little body now that the gas powered instant water heater has been removed. Getting the shower water temperature right was a nightmare. If the water was too hot and I turned the control know a millimetre the temperature would plummet to near freezing. I would turn the knob in the opposite direction and and need to move pretty quickly to avoid jets of scalding steam. Having a shower wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Now all that has changed. I had the gas heater removed and a 55l horizontal calorifier fitted under our double bed. The water in the calorifier can be heated in three different ways; when we are connected to the national grid via our shore line, a 1kw immersion heater does the job. If we are away from the marina, the engine heats the water, but the engine needs to be run at either end of the day to provide a constant hot supply. That’s no problem though because I just split the battery charging regime into two different sessions. The calorifier has a twin coil so I can also heat water using the boat’s diesel central heating system, or I will be able to once the central heating system is installed IF I can ever find a heating engineer who is interested in doing the work!

The penultimate area of the boat is our bedroom. It’s just big enough to house our 6’3″ long, four feet wide double bed, a wardrobe at the bottom of it and a corridor down the side. Sally and I are both fairly short and slim so the size suits us. Having said that, even at just 5’10” tall, I have to sleep on the corridor side of the bed so my feet can hang over the end of the bed to give me a little more space.

We could create a wider bed by having an infill piece made to drop into the corridor space but then we would need somewhere to keep the additional bed part when we weren’t cruising. We’re happy with what we have, especially as there are six spacious drawers under the corridor side of the bed.

Last, but far from least, is the heart of the boat, the engine room.

Because we have a traditional stern narrowboat, the engine is enclosed within the cabin space rather than underneath an open deck as it is with cruiser stern narrowboats. The advantage of having the engine in the cabin is that the space above the enclosed engine can be used for storage.

I have a comprehensive selection of tools stored here. I’m not entirely sure what most of them do, and I’m sure they would be of more use if I took them out of the original packaging, but they’re there if I ever need them.

I have the bulkhead between the engine room fitted with a selection of hooks and brackets to store my mooring pins, chains, lump hammers, spare ropes and a set of jump leads which are very handy for starting the engine if the starter battery goes down and there’s still a charge in the domestic bank.

On another wall I have shelving to hold a wide range of paints and brushes for touching up the boat, spare grease for the greaser, a high power tunnel torch, recovery magnet and reel of paracord, engine oil, three in one oil, WD40, varnish and I’m sure one or two other items I’ve forgotten.

The shelf unit sits next to the charger which allows me to keep the batteries topped up when I’m connected to the shore supply, an MPPT controller for the three 100w solar panels on the boat roof and my Sterling 1600w pure sine inverter. Beneath this equipment is my battery bank of one 110ah starter battery and four 135ah leisure batteries.

On the starboard cabin side are a couple of coat racks for hanging waterproofs, hats, gloves, waterproof map case, binoculars, camera and, on occasion, my chain saw.

Of course, the most important item in the engine room is the engine itself. I’m very happy with my 38HP Mercedes OM626. In the thirty seven years since it was installed in 1977 it’s clocked up a very modest 4,526 hours, nearly 10% of which have been added in the last twelve months. I’m not worried about the increased use in the last year though. I’ve been told by a couple of engineers who know these engines that it should be good for 100,000 hours which means that no matter how much cruising I do, the engine is going to outlast me.

There’s one feature of the engine that I would probably change if I could. It’s raw water cooled which means that water is drawn directly from the canal to help cool the engine. Most engines these days are keel cooled.

To stop it drawing engine clogging debris into the machinery, there’s a fine mesh grill in the side of the boat and then a mud box to catch the finer stuff. I haven’t had a problem with either the mesh or the mud box being blocked yet but I’m sure the time will come. I have to take the mud box apart periodically and clean the accumulated much out. It’s a painful process as the mud box sits in the bilge near on the port side near the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom. The mud box is very difficult to reach because of the steel frame which was welded around the engine a couple of years ago to support the deck boards which now cover it.

A couple of months ago I had the engine cover renewed, improved and insulated. The work has made an enormous difference to my cruising.

Before the engine insulation was fitted I could hear very little else other than the engine when I was at the helm. I had to endure shouted conversations with anyone standing on the back of the boat with me. I also found communicating with passing boaters or anyone on the towpath virtually impossible. I’m sure in the past that I’ve nodded and smiled in complete agreement with other boaters who were telling me what an idiot I was. Now I can hold a normal spoken conversation when I’m travelling. I’m a very happy bunny.

My boat is far from perfect and probably wouldn’t suit a lot of boat owners. However, it’s a very different boat than the one I moved on to in April 2010. It’s warm, dry and looks pretty good. It’s going to allow me to live in comfort and cruise long distances with total confidence in the months and years to come. There’s nothing about the boat now that I would either change or improve. Not much anyway.

I feel very lucky to own this boat and I can’t wait to unleash it on the unsuspecting waterways network next spring.

Discovery Day And Narrowboat Helmsmanship Training

If you’re new to this site you might not know about the service I launched in June 2014. I host narrowboat experience days on board my own 62′ long narrowboat James No 194. The ten hour days are a combination of discussion about the pros and cons of living on board, narrowboat designs and the best equipment for live aboard boaters, and a six to eight hour helmsmanship training cruise along the Oxford and/or Grand Union Canals. Here’s what a recent participant had to say…

“Firstly, I must apologise for taking so long to get back to you with this feedback after doing the Discovery Day with you, but unfortunately I have been extremely busy since I arrived back off shore and don’t seem to have had five minutes to myself.

Secondly, I would like to thank you for fitting me in at such short notice, and the coffee, gloves, etc. that you supplied. Greatly appreciated!

The day itself, being a little windy, and rainy (I’m so glad your checklist of items to bring with me included wet weather gear), gave me a real insight (as a complete novice) into what living and travelling on a narrowboat is about. Exactly what I was wanting. I feel that if it had been a calm and sunny day, although also highly enjoyable, I would not have learned anywhere near as much as I did.

My initial apprehension at being let loose with your home soon disappeared, thanks to your clear and easily understood instruction, and, by the end of the day, I was feeling a growing confidence in my ability to handle James.

There was a lot of patiently presented information to take in about bridges, locks, lines around bends, cross and tail winds, etc., but I think that I managed to take most, if not all of it, on board.

All the information, tips, and advice you gave me about solar panels, solid fuel stoves, cooking aboard, layout, etc., etc., was extremely useful, and has been stored away for future reference for when I come to purchase my own boat, hopefully saving me a lot of unnecessary mistakes and expense.

It was a pleasure to meet Sally, and I loved the feeling of tranquility that I experienced whilst we were heading back in the rain, with just the rhythmic sounds of the engine and the water lapping against the hull, watching the countryside passing slowly by, whilst the smell of Sally’s cooking wafting up from below.

All in all a memorable day, and I would recommend the Discovery Day to anyone who is thinking of buying their own boat. It gives an excellent base of knowledge and hands on experience to build on.”

Davie was unusual in that he had driven down from Inverness to learn more about life afloat, but with a view to buying and living on a boat close to where he works in Scotland. The majority of attendees intend to explore the English and Welsh canal network.

You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here.

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.

23rd November 2014

London cruising – Every week I receive emails from potential boat owners who want to live on board in London or who want to visit the capital as part of a holiday cruise. This advice from a very experienced boater will be of great interest to you if you’re one of them.

16th November 2014

Narrowboat fuel consumption – How many miles to the gallon can you get out of your floating home?

9th November 2014

How to spot bogus narrowboat adverts – Beware narrowboats for sale at bargain basement prices. Here’s a cautionary tale to make you think twice about reaching for your wallet.

2nd November 2014

Narrowboat CO2 emissions  – Is living on a boat a green alternative to a home on dry land? You’ll have to read this newsletter to find out.

26th October 2014

Finding reliable tradesmen on the cut – They are out there but it’s not always easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s a new service on the site which is going to make the job much easier for you.

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.

 

 

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Paul Smith
 

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.