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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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Yearly Archives: 2014

2014 12 28 Newsletter – Winter Cruising

Ninety four days to go. Three months and four days before I break the shackles of full time employment for a lifetime’s canal and river exploration. I’m very, very excited,  but a little frightened too.

I won’t be retiring. My pension was tied up in my business which went so terribly wrong six years ago. I still have a tiny pension which matures next year but sadly that will just about keep me in toilet roll for the year so, from next April onwards, I will be totally reliant on the income I generate from this site.

Most of the time it’s enough to support me. Just.

We won’t be living in the lap of luxury. Sally is giving up her full time employment working as a senior carer at a local nursing home and I’m giving up my full time employment as a groundsman at Calcutt Boats. We both enjoy our work. Actually, I love the job I do. It’s the only period in my thirty seven year working life when I have worked for someone else but the company give me pretty much a free reign to do what I need to do to keep the site looking as good as it does. I love the freedom and I love working outdoors all year round.

Sally loves her work too but she finds it very fulfilling rather than pleasant. She cares for people with moderate to severe physical and mental conditions which means that she is often subject to very unpleasant physical and verbal abuse. On a daily basis she’s subject to punching, kicking, biting, scratching, spitting, slapping, hair pulling and, of course, shouting and screaming. It’s not pleasant but Sally’s very good at it and finds the work rewarding.

I’m not sure that Sally quite feels she’s ready to retire but she’s moderately enthusiastic about joining me for at least two decades of inland waterways relaxation and exploration.

We’re both giving up our regular full time income. From April next year we’ll have to get by on 36% of our current income. It’s enough but we’ve been used to spending what we want whenever we want so we’re going to have to be very disciplined indeed, and I will have to try very hard not to become totally obsessed with daily sales from the site, or lack of them.

It’s fascinating watching the seasons change and knowing that the outside temperature, the amount of rain and the amount of daylight will have a direct impact on my income. It’s fascinating and slightly worrying. Take this time of the year generally and Christmas in particular as an example. Christmas is a worrying time for most small businesses which don’t offer Christmas related products or services. My old cleaning services business was typical. New enquiries and sales started dropping of towards the end of November, disappeared almost completely over the Christmas period then started to pick up again towards the end of January. For at least a month and a half the phones didn’t ring much at all.

My web site income is similarly affected by the festive period but is also affected by colder weather. People simply aren’t as interested in narrowboats and the live aboard lifestyle when the sun isn’t shining. Visitors to all of the most popular narrowboat web sites plummet in the winter months.The dream for many is of spending lazy days moored in an idyllic spot with panoramic views, sitting on the towpath in the summer sun serenely watching boats drift by. It’s difficult to keep the dream in focus when an east wind is driving icy rain across a drab and cloud capped landscape.

Boat owners aren’t keen either. Most owners of narrowboats used for recreational cruising wrap their boats up for the winter. They have no intention of visiting them again before the following spring. In January and February I see very few moorers visiting their boats. I often spend a full day at work without seeing a soul.

It’s a shame because winter boating is a joy.

Sally and I are out on our Christmas cruise at the moment. We’re having a wonderful time. We cruised for six hours on Saturday and six hours yesterday. In total we’ve seen seven moving boats. There have been no queues at locks and no shortage of spaces at any of the popular mooring spots. We’re on the Grand Union Leicester line. Last June we came this way and had a two hour wait at the Watford flight before we reached the head of the queue. Yesterday we arrived at the bottom of the flight at 9am. The lone lock keeper welcomed us enthusiastically, told us that we were his first and possibly only boat of the day and helped Sally work the locks up the flight. Negotiating the flight took us nearly three hours last June. We did it yesterday in thirty five minutes. The lock keeper told us that the average number of boats per day over the winter is about six, although there are some days when there are no boats at all. It’s boring for the lock keepers but marvelous for boat owners.

Our winter trip began on Saturday a little later than I hoped. Sally had to work a twelve hour shift on Friday night. She arrived back at the boat at 8.30am, tired but eager to set off, but we had to do our food shopping shopping for the trip first. After that we had to drop off a belated Christmas present to Sally’s tenants in Woodford Halse before returning to the boat.

Sally unpacked the shopping then made me a coffee before heading off to bed for a well earned sleep as I headed out of the marina. I only saw three moving boats on Saturday. Luckily one of them was a neighbour of mine who was also heading up the Calcutt flight on a day trip to Braunston. They had two very eager teenagers with them so I didn’t need to get off the boat as we sped through the three locks at 11am. I knew the time because I knew how far away our intended mooring for the evening was and how unlikely it was we would reach it given the limited daylight in December. I’m sure that I’ll relax next year and not be so focused on achieving goals but I definitely had a goal for Saturday.

Sally was still asleep so I pulled over just before Braunston for long enough to make a coffee and have a wee, and be overtaken by my marina neighbour, then set off again. I passed my neighbour moored outside The Boathouse. They gave me a cheery wave from their cosy table by a canal-side window and raised a mocking glass to me.

I had a spot of good luck at the Braunston flight too. A boat owning dog walker helped me up the first three. I am always very pleased when I see a dog walker carrying a windlasss. Thank you Tom! Just as he left to ferry his wife to the shops Sally appeared with a windlass and a steaming mug of coffee. She had only allowed herself three hours sleep. Any more and she wouldn’t have been able to sleep when we both went to bed that evening.

Sally returned to the warmth of the cabin and the reassuring drone of her washing machine as we entered Braunston tunnel allowing me to play with my new tunnel light and super powerful 5,000,000 candle power engine room torch. Both were wonderful even if I was a little disappointed in the cumulative effect of a small city’s worth of candle light. Effective tunnel lighting makes a huge difference. I didn’t touch the sides once.

I emerged from the east end of the tunnel into twilight and realised that I wouldn’t reach my goal of Welton Haven marina before dark. We were close enough though so I pulled over at the least muddy looking spot I could find, couldn’t get close to the bank because of my 2’6″ draught, tried another spot a hundred metres further on, failed again and then succeeded on my third attempt.

We squelched along the towpath for half an hour with the dogs before battening down the hatches for the evening, stoking up the fire and tucking in to a pot of beef stew.I’m delighted to say that we couldn’t manage to get any television signal at all so we settled down for a slightly frustrating evening of card playing. Sally introduced me to a game which she says is very popular in the Philippines. I’m not saying that she cheated but it appeared to me to be a very complicated game made even more difficult by a constant changing of the rules, usually when I had the upper hand. Still, a bottle of honey infused Jack Daniels helped ease the pain.

I was up bright and early on Sunday morning ready and eager – well, ready anyway – for a full day’s sub zero cruising.The thermometer read minus four when I reluctantly eased myself out of bed at 6am and made a dash for the coal box next to the stove. I still haven’t found anyone to fit my central heating system so I’m completely reliant on the stove to heat the boat. Thank you to those of you who recommended reliable and competent tradesmen to do the job. I’ve tried them all. Unfortunately, because they are reliable and competent they appear to have work coming out of their ears. Non of them can accommodate me.

The stove’s not doing a bad job but it’s a little painful for the first hour or so before the boat heats up in the morning. I’ve been up since 5.30am this morning. It’s 7.30am now and I’ve only just taken my fleece hat off. The boat should be much warmer when I’ve finally fitted my secondary double glazing panels. It’s been almost a year since they arrived but I think I might be close to actually getting them on the windows.

The initial problem I had was with the magnetic fixing kit. The magnetised strips simply weren’t powerful enough to hold the weight of the relatively light 4mm panels. Every one of the six I fitted slid off the windows within forty eight hours. I didn’t bother looking for an alternative way of securing them at the time because (A) March and warmer weather had arrived and (B) I despise and consequently am not very good at DIY of any kind.

The current cold weather has focused me on finding a solution. I’ve found one. I’ve ordered some wood to metal double ended screws. One end will go into the window frame then I’ll drill a hole in each corner of the plastic panel to take the protruding metal thread. The panels will be secured with wing nuts which will be hidden by the curtains. Each panel will have draught excluder fitted around the edges. It should work fine, but what do I know?

The half hour cruise to the Watford flight was accompanied by the tinkling of breaking ice on the canal, less than an eighth of an inch in most places, none at all in some, but nearly half an inch at Norton Junction. Nothing to worry about at the moment and if the weather forecast is accurate for the latter part of next week, nothing to worry about on the return journey. With two or three very cold days to come though, the ice is going to get much thicker before it disappears.

The trip to the Watford flight was a bit painful for me. Sally was at the helm. Unfortunately she’s still at the stage where she’s quite confident steering along the straight, around bends and through all but the tightest bridge holes, but as soon as something unexpected happens, she freezes and looks to me for instruction. This level of confidence and competence means that I need to be on hand in case of emergencies but I’m not actually doing anything to generate any heat. I tried dancing on the spot for a while but my complete lack of rhythm depressed me so I stopped very quickly.

We moored on the landing beneath Watford Bottom Lock. Sally bolted for the cabin to thaw out her frozen hands. I bolted back along the towpath to Watford Gap service station to take advantage clean and capacious toilets with an unlimited water supply. They’re much more pleasant to use than a cassette toilet.

Entering the service station grounds from the staff access road next to the canal was like entering a different world. Peace and tranquility was replaced by stress and noise as cars jockeyed for tight parking spaces inches away from the service station entrance. Inside, harassed motorists queued for overpriced food and drink. As I passed the head of a Costa Coffee queue on my way to the toilets I heard a cashier ask a suited traveller for £27 for three coffees and three slivers of cake. The same amount would keep me in wine for a month.

Back at the boat the lock keeper had the lock ready for us and Sally was throwing sticks for his very noisy but happy collie. Once through the flight, Sally took advantage of a set of batteries and unlimited supply of hot water courtesy of the engine to catch up on the washing and, I suspect, to keep out of the cold while I cruised gently through the thinning ice to the water point at Yelvertoft.

We had seen nothing moving along the canal in either direction for the last two hours so once the tank was full we popped into the village for a toilet stop for Sally and a quick brandy at the bar for me.

My target for the day was Welford junction but as we only had an hour of daylight left but two and a half hours to the junction and no real need to get there for any particular time, I pulled over about a mile out of Yelvertoft on a stretch of dry Armco lined bank away from traffic and any risk to the dogs.

That’s where we are now. We dined on Sally’s chilli fish cakes, lowered the level in the Jack Daniels bottle by another couple of inches, watched a bit of telly, then retired for a night’s tranquil rest.

As I mentioned, the boat was quite chilly when I woke this morning. I realised why when I popped outside with the dogs. There’s an inch of ice on the canal and a thick white coating of frost over the fields. The temperature isn’t expected to rise much above zero today so we won’t be going anywhere today, or tomorrow for that matter. The temperature isn’t forecast to rise before Wednesday so I think we’re stuck here for a couple of days.

Being stuck here for a day or two isn’t a problem. At least, I don’t think it is. The Smartgauge alarm was flashing this morning. The leisure batteries were down to 42% from 100% when we stopped yesterday afternoon. I’m hoping the drop is due to Sally’s inadvertent use of the washing machine after we moored and while I was out with the dogs. I’m hoping that’s the cause, but I don’t really expect it to be. Two of the batteries in my bank of four are now three years old. I suspect they’re on their way out which will mean that I’ll have to keep a very close eye on them over the coming five days and then replace the lot when I get back to the marina.

B.O.A.T. Bring Out Another Thousand!

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.

Over the last couple of weeks I mentioned that I was considering offering an option to book a discovery day but rather than pay for it at the time of booking, pay 25% at the time of booking and then the balance over three months. I asked for anyone who was interested in the scheme to click on a link to let me know.

I’m delighted to report that there are enough people interested to make the time needed to set up the option worthwhile. I’ve been working on it for the last week so everything’s just about in place. I need to test the system out though so I’m looking for a guinea pig or two before I make the option available on the site. Are you interested in attending a discovery day but would rather pay in installments rather than in one up front fee? If you are, please let me know. I’ll be running the discovery days aproximately on the first ten days of April, June, August, October and December next year. Half of April’s dates and some of the dates in June are already taken so if you are considering a place next year, please check the diary before it’s too late.

In the meantime, meet recent discovery day attendee Paul Trotter…

Profile

Narrowboat Helmsmanship training in December

Narrowboat Hemsmanship training is enjoyable even in December!

“I am extremely interested in buying a liveaboard in the next 3-9 month. I booked the discovery day to get my first helmsman experience under guidance and to start to fill in the gaps in my knowledge in a range of areas.”

Feedback

“I was very pleased with the day. The information and instruction and its delivery was excellent. I would definately recommend the discover day to somebody else who was considering getting a narrowboat. It was a great day. In addition to the helmsman experience, I found it was invaluble to ask so many questions about the requirements of a liveaboard lifestyle.”

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.

21st December 2014

Cooking on the cut – Here are some gourmet festive recipes suitable for a narrowboat’s small galley

14th December 2014

A Cautionary Tale – Canals and narrowboats offer all the ingredients for some pretty nasty accidents. Here’s one which could have been much worse.

7th December 2014

Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2014 12 21 Newsletter – Cooking On The Cut

First of all, I would like to wish you a relaxing and stress free Christmas. I hope that the break from an arduous work regime helps to recharge your batteries ready for the year ahead

Personally, I don’t enjoy this time of the year at all. I find the commercial aspect of the festive period irritating in the extreme.  According to an article in The Telegraph earlier in the week, one in three people will go into debt this year because of Christmas. That’s over 1,600 readers of this newsletter suffering stress and its associated health problems trying to conform with what is generally accepted as the right thing to do over Christmas and the New Year. I think it’s disgusting.

I probably feel so strongly about debt because of my own experience. A few years ago I endured the humiliating social stigma which is bankruptcy. It’s not a pleasant experience. I lost my business, the equity in the business which I planned to use to support me in my retirement and, as an indirect result, my marriage failed and I no longer saw my three wonderful children.

I know all about stress caused by debt. For over a year I was at a financial, emotional and physical low which verged on suicidal. The twelve month period was without doubt the worst period of my life. The debt was all related to the business rather than frivolous personal spending but that didn’t make me feel any better about the situation.

For three years I was treated like a leper by banks and financial institutions. The banks didn’t want to know me at all. I didn’t want a credit card, just a simple bank account with a debit card. Financial institutions just weren’t interested. I had to resort to an account with an online division of Mastercard where I was charged £10 for the privilege of banking with them.

These days my situation is very different. I have a regular bank account with just a simple debit card. I don’t have credit cards, an overdraft or debts of any kind. I control my finances with an iron fist. Every single spare penny I’ve earned over the last four and a half years I’ve lived afloat has been invested in the boat. It’s now a very comfortable floating home, it’s equipped very well for long term cruising and it’s all mine.

The key to managing my finances over the last half decade is the wonderful but strangely named You Need A Budget. It’s a low cost personal finance application which works seamlessly with PC, MAC, IOS and Android applications and which works much better than better known programmes such as Quicken and Money. I use it constantly to budget for both regular and occasional expenses so I’m always on top of my boating and my personal expenditure.

Because I’m not a great fan of Christmas at the best of times, and because as a self employed contractor for Calcutt Boats I earn far less than usual because of their ten day closure over the festive period, the end of this year and the beginning of next will be a very low key affair for me.

Sally will be working up until 27th December when she will resign from her position as senior carer at a local nursing home. Then she has to go back to the Philippines for three months to tie up some loose ends. She will fly on 6th January then return in time for the start of our eight month cruise at the beginning of April.

We won’t celebrate Christmas at all in the traditional sense. There’s no tree or decorations on the boat and we won’t have a Christmas dinner. However, we will celebrate.

We’ll leave the marina the minute Sally finishes work then enjoy a leisurely cruise down along the South Oxford for a week. The only money we’ll spend over the Christmas period over and above what we would normally spend will be for diesel for the boat. I can’t imagine that we’ll run the engine for more than forty hours over the seven days we’re out so our total Christmas expenditure will be for fifty litres of fuel. We might even splash out and have a glass of sherry each.

Now that’s what I call a financially stress free Christmas!

Talking of stress, at midday on Thursday I was asked by marina owner Roger Preen, he always asks rather than commands, it’s an endearing trait, if I would like to go on a little trip to fetch an engine from another marina. Given that I was getting myself filthy at the time hauling heavy and very wet paving slabs on and off back of our site truck, I jumped at the chance to swap my day for a little gentle driving.

The marina in question was Tattenhall marina. It’s in a lovely part of the country on the Shropshire Union canal three miles west of Beeston castle and about seven miles south east of Chester. The approach to the marina was all the more pleasant after enduring the M6 for two and a half hours. The  sat nav’s circuitous approach to the marina lead me past both Beeston and Peckforton castles which tower above the road.

I’ll be heading this way on the boat next year so I was particularly interested in the Shropshire Union canal, the “Shroppie” and all the attractions within easy walking distance including the stunning thirty four mile long Sandstone Trail. I have a feeling that Sally and I will stay a week or so close to the trail.

Tatenhall marina was a joy. I don’t come across many marinas which are as tranquil as Calcutt Boats, but this one comes close. It’s miles away from busy and noisy roads and railways and the business employs some particularly friendly and accommodating engineers. Thanks for helping my load the engine lads, and thanks for the very welcome coffee.

Back in Warwickshire mt working week flashed by. On Saturday I had the pleasure of taking a couple out for a test drive on one of the boats for sale on our brokerage. They moored here earlier in the year but sold their boat to move to something with a little more space. I spent an hour with them and watched with interest as they fell in love with the well built boat with an exceptionally quiet engine. They almost sprinted into the office as soon as we moored to put a deposit on the boat.

This morning I should have started early so that I could finish the newsletter at a reasonable time then take Sally into town so that she could do a little last minute Christmas shopping. Fortunately I managed to persuade her that a far more pressing need was to take James up to our wharf to top up with fuel and to give the engine bay a clean. As you can imagine, I was bitterly disappointed when, three hours later, we arrived back on our mooring and realised that I didn’t have time to go shopping with her. She’s now gone to fight through the crowds while I tap away at my keyboard. Rather her than me.

Cooking On The Cut

I love to cook but sadly I haven’t done much of it over the last couple of years. Sally has had more free time than me so, as she also loves to cook, she’s been doing nearly all of it.

There’s not a huge amount of space on board for food preparation, the equipment needed for gourmet recipes or for the cooking itself. Aspiring narrowboat owner Alan Cranford realised the limitations when searching for his own boat and kindly suggested using his own extensive experience in the kitchen to put together some recipes for exceptionally tasty meals which can be prepared and cooked on a moderately well equipped boat.

Alan is American so there’s a trans continental slant to them but most of the ingredients can be found in UK supermarkets. I’ve copied Alan’s introduction below, then a recipe for a Christmas dinner, some Christmas chocolates, and some rather tempting and very alcoholic festive deserts.

I’ll hand you over to Alan…

Let me introduce myself… I am Alan Cranford, a “wanna be” narrow boater who lives in Mexicali, Mexico with my wife of 35 years.  I am a former executive chef, working in hotels and restaurants in Canada, the USA and Mexico, and was once Fleet Chef for the Canadian Fisheries and Environment [ a combination of the US Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement with a little Canadian Mountie thrown in for good measure]. My wife and I hope to soon purchase a narrowboat to tour the UK via canal and river for a two year period.

Cooking… GOURMET cooking on a boat is a difficult task.  I have looked at photos of hundreds of narrowboats “for sale” in trying to find OUR boat… and I noticed that many ONLY have two burners, oven and grill.  Now being from the “more burners the better” school, and working in professional kitchens with every gizmo and gadget you can think of, the typical narrowboat kitchen is a bit “cramped” for gourmet cooking…. These recipes are developed and designed to be easy on your “two-burner”!

CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR TWO – NARROW BOAT STYLE
Cooking for two can be a difficult task… even if you have done it for years. It seems NOTHING is truly packaged for two people!  What would your butcher say if you asked for a Christmas Goose big enough for two people?  He would laugh you out of his shop!  Most narrow boats have very small galley’s [kitchen to those of you with one foot still on dry land] with limited counter space, a small refrigerator and, often, a smaller than home size stove and oven. This is why you’re only going to cook for two people! Now all of this MIGHT sound hard to do… It is possibly the easiest Christmas dinner ever! You have some choices… use fresh or canned.  Fresh is going to give the best taste… but frozen or canned will work out perfectly acceptable when it comes time for dinner… and is faster and easier!

OUR CHRISTMAS DINNER MENU

APPITIZER:

Baked Brie topped with Your Choice of Topping

SALAD:
Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

MAIN COURSE:

Duck with Raspberries
Steamed Asparagus
Oven Roast Baby Potatoes

APPITIZER: Baked Brie

Purchase a small whole Brie wheel 8-12 ounces.  Using a sharp knife cut off the rind from the TOP of the cheese.  Place in an oven safe baking dish. Top the cheese with one of the toppings below to about ¼ inch from the edge.  Bake in a medium hot oven 12 -15 minutes until heated all the way through.  Serve with your favorite crackers or bread [French, naturally]

Toppings:
•    Canned cranberry sauce – the whole berry type not the cranberry sauce that looks like jelly.  Grate the peel of one orange into the sauce, mix and spread over the top of the cheese.
•    Sautéed mushrooms with garlic
•    Any flavor of preserves you enjoy… like Orange Marmalade
•    Canned Blueberry or Apple pie fill
•    Almost anything you can think of ….

SALAD:  Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

PREP:
•    Roast ½ cup pecan pieces in a single layer for about 8-10 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet. After the pecans have cooled you want to break them up.  You can chop them but the chopping often breaks them into pieces that are to small.. so I use a rolling pen and gently break them.
•     Now Wisk two tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar, two tablespoons of Olive Oil with salt and pepper to taste.
•    Trim off the very base of the head of endive with a knife. Carefully remove 10 or so outer leaves one at a time. You’ll probably need to slice off more of the base as you go along. If any leaves break or are less than visually perfect, reserve them to chop up for the blue cheese/walnut mixture. Rinse leaves and carefully pat dry with paper towel. Arrange in a radial pattern on plate.
•    Mix ½ cup firm Blue Cheese pieces [or other strong cheese to your taste] with the chopped endive and the vinaigrette dressing we made along with the pecan bits and pieces. Mound in the center of your endive leaves.
o    You use the endive leaves to scoop up a bit of the Blue Cheese mix and enjoy.. when you run out of endive leaves, grab a fork and finish off the cheese!
o    Keep in the refrigerator or someplace cool until dinner time…

MAIN COURSE:  Duck with Raspberries

Ingredients:

•    TWO boneless Duck Breast halves with skin ON
•    1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
•    Salt & Pepper to taste
•    1 garlic clove – chopped
•    1 Tablespoon sugar
•    2 Tablespoons Raspberry Balsamic vinegar
•    ½ cup demi-glace [can be purchased as a concentrate at a good grocery store] •    1 ½ cups raspberries FRESH if possible – whole frozen if not…
•    ½ Tablespoon of butter

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Pat duck dry and trim off any excess fat. Score skin in a crosshatch pattern at 1/2-inch intervals with a sharp knife; this will allow duck fat to escape as the breasts cook. Season with salt and black pepper on both sides, but don’t go overboard; the demi-glace will add a fair amount of saltiness. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof sauté pan over medium-low heat. Place duck breasts, skin side down, in the hot, dry skillet. No oil or other fat is needed—the duck will produce plenty. Cook the breast until the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer breasts to plate and pour off the fat from the pan, reserving 1 tablespoon [actually, save it all—what you don’t use in the sauce can be used for making delicious roasted potatoes]. Return duck breasts to the pan, skin side up, and place in the hot oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 50°C for medium rare [unlike chicken, this is perfectly safe—and delicious]. Remove from the oven. Transfer breasts to cutting board, tent with foil and allow to rest.

While duck rests, add 1 tablespoon reserved duck fat to the sauté pan, then add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and cook, stirring, until dissolved—a minute or so. Stir in vinegar, scraping up brown bits. Add demi-glace and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of raspberries.

If you have to use frozen raspberries… allow to completely defrost in the bag in your refrigerator.  Strain and retain any juice.  When you add the half of the berries to the sauce, add the saved juice also.

After cooking the sauce for about 20 minutes gently, not boiling… force sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, discarding solids. Over low heat, swirl in butter. Remove from heat and add remaining raspberries.

Slice duck breasts, fan on individual plates and top with sauce. Serve accompanied by steamed green asparagus , green beans or kale. For roasted potatoes you can purchase fresh baby potatoes, quarter and toss with a bit of oil and seasonings and bake before you bake your duck or use a can of whole baby potatoes for a faster “baked baby potato”.

EASY CANDY RECIPES FOR NATURALLY LAZY PEOPLE

With Christmas almost upon us, a Saturday afternoon of candy-making fits right in.  Friends and family will love to receive one of these offerings!  These are the easiest candy recipes ever! Wrap some selections in fancy cellophane wrap and fill a nice coffee mug for an easy, much appreciated gift.  These recipes are not for diabetics.  Those who suffer from diabetes should use care and manage their “Christmas Candy intake!”

SMOKEY ALMOND CHOCOLATE BARK
INGREDIENTS:
•    8 ounces Dark Chocolate Baking Bar, broken into small pieces
•    1/2 cup coarsely chopped smoke-flavored almonds, divided
•    1/8 teaspoon sea salt (preferably large crystal)
Line an 8” baking pan with waxed paper or lightly greased aluminum foil.
Put the broken chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for about 45 seconds.  If the chocolate has not melted when you stir it… tray another 15 seconds or so.
Once the chocolate has melted, put in about ½ the Almonds and mix.  Now pour into your prepared wax paper lined backing pan.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top – press in a bit to make them “stick”.  Sprinkle with your sea salt and pop into the refrigerator to sit and rest for about half an hour.
Take the Bark out of the baking pan and break it up into mouth size pieces.  Store in an air tight container.  Makes about ½ pound of delicious easy candy!
PEPPERMENT PATTY BARK
INGREDIENTS:
•    12 ounce bag of white chocolate wafers or “melters”
•    1 bag on unwrapped peppermint hard candies
Using a meat mallet or the side of a cleaver, or rolling pin… beat the bag of peppermint candies to break them up. Best put the bag of candy into a heavy plastic baggie… or you will have candy all over your kitchen!
Melt the white chocolate wafers in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir. Add another 15 seconds if not melted [OR you can heat them gently over hot water, stirring as they melt. They like to melt gently… to much heat and you will get a funny taste… burned chocolate!] Using a strainer, hold the strainer over the melted chocolate and pour in the peppermint candy pieces.  Shake the strainer so the smaller bits fall into the chocolate.  Mix well – saving the larger peppermint bits and pieces.  Now spread your chocolate-peppermint mixture on a baking sheet that you have lined with wax paper [or Saran Wrap]  After you have spread the chocolate [ work kind of quickly so the candy will spread!!]  sprinkle with the remaining peppermint bits and pieces – press into the chocolate gently… refrigerate for 30 minutes or so then break up… White Chocolate Peppermint Bark DONE!
CHEERFUL CHERRY BARK
INGRDIENTS:
•    1 pound white chocolate wafers
•    ¾ cup chopped red maraschino cherries
•    ½ cup unblanched whole almonds
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl [ or over warm water] …. Stir in the chopped cherries and the almonds.  Spread on a backing sheet lined with aluminum foil or wax paper.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so and break into pieces….
DOUBLE TROUBLE PEANUT BAR
INGREDIENTS:
•    1 pound white chocolate wafers [or white vanilla wafers] •    ½ cup peanut butter – I prefer creamy… but you can use crunchy just as well
•    1 milk chocolate plain candy bar – or dark chocolate bar….
Melt the white chocolate or vanilla wafers and the peanut butter together.  Mix well. Spread on a prepared baking sheet. Now freeze for about 15 minutes
Melt the milk chocolate [break into bite size pieces to melt] and pop into microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir.  Drizzle over the peanut-chocolate mix.  Get creative and make a design with your milk chocolate – na… just kidding! IT’s DONE!
MICROWAVE ROCKY ROAD FUDGE
INGREDIENTS:
•    2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)   Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels or Chocolate Chips
•    1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk NOT ordinary “canned milk” but the thick, sweet type.
•    1 teaspoon vanilla extract – Use REAL vanilla if at all possible… the taste is far superior.
•    3 cups miniature marshmallows
•    1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts  OR Pecans
1.    LINE 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil; grease lightly.
2. MICROWAVE morsels and sweetened condensed milk in large, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR.
3. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.
4. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in marshmallows and nuts.
5. PRESS mixture into prepared baking pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve. About 15 minutes is all I have ever managed to wait!!
6. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into pieces.
SPECTACULARLY SINFULL DESERTS
A number of years ago, when I was still a real “working Chef”, I operated an upscale restaurant that had lost most of their clientele…. Which means I got pretty much of a “free hand” to experiment and bring in enough customers to pay the bills.  We had live music and had more of a “late night dinner” crowd than your normal restaurant.  One of my ideas was “Sinful –  A list of Deserts for Adults ONLY!” Here are some of the favorites:
TEXAS KISS ME QUICK PIE
[CHOCOLATE AND PECAN PIE] INGREDIENTS:
1.    1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust
2.    3 eggs
3.    3/4 cup white sugar
4.    3/4 cup light corn syrup
5.    1/4 cup butter, melted
6.    1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips [OR “Bittersweet” chocolate chips] 7.    1/2 cup chopped pecans
8.    ¼ to 1/2 cup DARK RUM or AMERICAN BOURBON [Sorry but all of the alcohol will cook out during baking and just live flavor]

•    Combine the eggs and the sugar, light corn syrup and melted butter in a bowl and mix well.
•    Sprinkle the bottom of your pre-made pie shell with the chocolate chips and pecans. I prefer the Bittersweet chocolate chips – with the booze it seems to give an overall better flavor
•    Add your DARK RUM or American Bourbon to the mix… stir in well and pour over the chocolate chips and pecans.
•    Bake at 175C about 35 minutes
•    Enjoy warm with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream on top, or cold and crunchy.
Guys used to order this next dessert for their girlfriends under the belief that the young lady became “more willing…..”  [Let me know if it works for you….] CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION
[NO SMOKING OR BURNING OBJECTS WITH IN 10 FEET WARNING: THE ALCOHOL DOES NOT “COOK OUT”!!!] INGREDIENTS:
•    21/4 tsps. baking powder
•    1/2 tsp salt
•    2 sticks unsalted butter [*** IF YOU USE SALTED BUTTER – LEAVE OUT THE ½ TSP SALT ABOVE!!!
•    288 grams brown sugar (firmly packed)
•    4 large eggs
•    118 ml Jack Daniel’s ( Tennessee Whiskey)
•    146 grams pecans (chopped)
•    126 grams chocolate chips
•    256 grams confectioners’ sugar
•    3 tbsps. Jack Daniel’s (Tennessee Whiskey)
•    1 tsp vanilla extract [I use pure real vanilla – makes a big difference] •    281 grams all-purpose flour
•    4 tbsps. unsalted butter
•    ANOTHER SHOT OR TWO OF JACK DANIEL’S!!!
It is my understanding that Jack Daniel’s pure Tennessee Sippin’ Whiskey IS available in the UK… but if you don’t happen to have any handy, can’t find it in the store closest to the canal… You can use Dark Rum or Brandy as a substitute… but you don’t get the REAL effect!
You want to use a Bunt pan , tube pan or an Angel food cake pan for this cake….Some Angel Food pans are “two part” so the cake with the center cone comes out of the outer ring/shell – BEST!!!
For the cake:
1.    Preheat the oven to 325°.
2.    Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
3.    Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
4.    Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, eggs, flour mixture, and whiskey, stirring well after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
5.    Sprinkle evenly with the pecans and chocolate chips. Bake about 1 hour, until the center of the cake is firm and the edges begin to pull away from the side of the pan.
6.    Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
7.    After the cake as cooled somewhat – not stone cold but not oven hot – use a long tine meat fork or a bamboo skewer and poke holes all over the top of the cake.
1.    Using a teaspoon as a “shower head” pour the extra whiskey in the cake, little by little going all around the cake. Maximum amount is NOT MORE than 1/4th cup!
8.    Drizzle with the glaze. [See below] 9.    With the alcohol, this cake will stay moist [guess what?] and fresh for DAYS… IF someone does not eat it all….
For the glaze:
1.    Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. While still on the burner, stir in the sugar, whiskey, and vanilla.
2.    Whisk until well blended and heated through – whiskey in last so you save a bit of the alcohol…
You can also cheat and use a cake mix… just add the chocolate chips and pecans… AND OF COURSE THE BOOZE!  – reduce the amount of water called for in the cake mix instructions a bit to allow for the alcohol.      Our alcohol will cook off… so IF you add ¼ cup alcohol ONLY reduce water by 1/8th cup.  Make sense???
COMAONAIWANALAYYA
HAWIAAIAN PINEAPPLE CAKE
INGREDIENTS:
Topping:
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake + ¼ cup for cake….
Special equipment: A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet. If you lack a cast-iron skillet of this size, make the caramel in a small pot and scrape it into the bottom of a similarly-sized cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make topping:
•    Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces.
•    Melt butter in skillet.
•    Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes.
•    Remove from heat.
•    Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly. IF fresh pineapple is NOT available used canned pineapple that has been canned in it’s own juice. SAVE the juice for the recipe…..
Make batter:
•    Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
•    Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar.
•    Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
•    Beat in vanilla and rum.
•    Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended.
•    Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)
•    Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
•    Let cake stand in skillet five minutes. Poke holes in cake using meat fork or bamboo skewer and pour additional rum over cake.
•    Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet.
•    Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.
Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.
Well… I hope you enjoy these ADULT deserts… they make interesting conversation happen on the stern deck when visiting with friends….more than two slices and a Captain may have problems navigating!

Hope you enjoy these Christmas recipes… if you have questions or comments you can reach me at mexicalialan@gmail.com  until then, I am wishing one and all a very merry and safe Christmas holiday season!

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.

Meet recent discovery day attendee Estelle Lomax…

Profile

Narrowboat Helmsmanship training

Estelle enjoying a day’s narrowboat helmsman training in November

“I am well on the way to having my own narrowboat built from scratch, I live on a borrowed boat but it is very small and cramped and I am soooo looking forward to living on my own – it takes ages, though, to get anything done so I grab every opportunity to go on someone else’s…………yours in this case! Wanted to be sure I can handle mine single handedly when she is ready because to me she looks huge at 57ft…….”

Feedback

“Thanks for the day out “on the cut” am now getting on with my fitting out as fast as I can so I can get up there on the canal system and enjoy many more. I had a wonderful day thank you – I was anxious at first but it was very calming and I never felt under any pressure. Of course we were blessed with a gorgeous day for the end of November and thanks to our successful trip I can hardly wait to get going by myself. I think everything needed was there for the taking….I had read all your newsletters before so didn’t have too many questions that needed answering- love your boat BTW. Yes I would recommend the day. It worked for me as I learned a few things that will be essential for me in the future and also I think you have learned a lot of lessons  the hard way and so can help others to bypass the many pitfalls involved in Living on a Narrowboat”

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.

14th December 2014

A Cautionary Tale – Canals and narrowboats offer all the ingredients for some pretty nasty accidents. Here’s one which could have been much worse.

7th December 2014

Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2014 12 14 Newsletter – A Cautionary Tale

I don’t like shopping any more. To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed shopping or high street crowds, but now I positively dislike them.

We needed to pop in to Leamington Spa on Sunday to get a charger for Sally’s iPad and to ask advice about my iPhone. About a month ago I automatically and foolishly installed the IOS 8 operating system update. As a result I lost my WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Since then, I’ve searched high and low for advice on restoring it. I failed.

I asked one of the usually very knowledgeable and helpful chaps in the Three store I sometimes visit when I’m in town what his suggestions were. He gave me his very best embarrassed and slightly nervous smile before suggesting that I get a new phone. There isn’t a solution. Not one that he or any of his colleagues have been able to find anyway. Mind you, Sally is quite happy with the phone’s WiFi failure. For the last month she has been able to relax in bed without the tell tale soft glow from my phone when I indulge in a little furtive nighttime email checking.

We escaped the crowded phone store, dodged hundreds of shoppers laden with Christmas purchases and entered the relative calm of a Cafe Nero coffee shop. I understood why it was relatively calm in there after paying nearly ten pounds for a cappuccino, an orange juice and two almost transparent slivers of carrot cake.

The next stop was a much quieter Braunston. We wanted to test some different coloured paints ahead of our cabin side repaint next April. The Wharf House Narrowboat’s chandlery next to Braunston Bottom Lock carries a wide range of Craftmaster and Toplac paints so we popped in there. We came out with a tin of Craftmaster’s red undercoat and another of Toplac Bounty. The Bounty has a purple tinge to it on the colour chart but is a rich dark red on the couple of boats we’ve seen with it on. I’m going to use it to repaint my pole over the winter before committing to the colour for the rest of the boat in April.

We finished off the afternoon away from the boat  with a pub dinner. A pub overlooking a canal of course. The Boat House in Braunston is a favourite of ours. We went there for a drink the day Sally and I first met in Daventry Country Park three and a half years ago. We’ve been frequent visitors there ever since. The canal side terrace is a wonderful place to spend a lazy hour or two in the summer watching narrowboats cruise slowly by. Sunday was far tool cold for terrace sitting though. The next time we sit outside at the pub, we’ll be living full time out on the cut. What an exciting thought!

On Monday I was back to working in the cold rather than finding places to escape from it. There was plenty to keep me warm.

Early Monday morning I took a boat from the marina up through two locks to the area on the wharf where we keep the boats for sale. It’s a job I do fairly often and one which is normally a pleasure. On Monday the trip wasn’t quite so pleasant. At this time of the year the sun is low in the sky so heading east at 8am on a clear day into the glaring sun isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. After edging the boat towards two locks I couldn’t see I was glad to escape into the shaded woods.

I have four or five tonnes of oak, ash and willow on site which I cut last November. I logged the felled trees for my own use on board, but I’m not going to use it now. I loved the idea of creating and using a store of free fuel during my working day but after thorough research I now realise that I can’t use the wood effectively and keep the boat in reasonable condition.

The problem with burning wood on board is burning it hot enough to prevent creosote and excess carbon monoxide from forming. The hotter the fire, the less dense creosote laden smoke is created and the less chance there is of that creosote from condensing on your flue and causing a chimney fire.

Burning wood at the optimal temperature creates too much heat in the relatively small area inside your boat so if you burn wood on board, you inevitably get a build up of creosote not only inside the flue but also outside the boat around the chimney collar and down the cabin side to the gunnel. You will see many boats with smokey chimneys and an unappealing and difficult to remove nicotine coloured stain on the cabin side.

Last winter, Sally and I had a couple of painful boat cleaning sessions trying to get rid of the stain. If we caught it early enough we could remove the creosote with traffic film remover but the chemical also removed the lovingly applied wax we had polished the boat with.

The other issue was storing enough seasoned wood on the boat to keep us going for a reasonable period of time. We just couldn’t do it.

The huge pile of six inch logs in my store were going to waste so on Monday I took a truck load to a house in a nearby village where the marina owner’s daughter has just moved. It’s a beautiful property set in extensive grounds. It has huge fireplaces in many of the rooms so the truck load of logs won’t last long.

Back at the marina I had some road mending to do. At this time of the year we need to regularly fill water filled potholes with planings, the minced top layer removed from our nation’s roads by contractors prior to resurfacing. We have the planings delivered in twenty tonne loads. We get through about forty tonnes each winter.

I spent a couple of days filling potholes and dressing our car paring areas and the roads around the new container storage area. It’s great work for cold weather.

This newsletter is taking me far longer to write this week because of my chair. It’s a posh office swivel chair with a gas powered height adjust mechanism. Sadly, the height adjust mechanism has developed a mind of its own.

I sit on the chair in front of my laptop at the perfect height for me with my arms resting on the arms of the chair and my hands slightly above the keyboard…. and then I begin to sink.

The chair drops steadily until my laptop’s at nose height and my chin is resting on the desk. It’s not very comfortable. I believe that the chair’s gas cylinder needs changing. I’ll have to see if I’m capable of changing it but I suspect that I’ll be enjoying a child’s view of my desk for quite some time to come.

At least I’ve had something interesting to look at while I’ve been rubbing the varnish off the desk with my chin. I’ve been watching an excellent seven part series of videos by professional narrowboat painter John Barnard. I’m determined to achieve a better result when I paint the cabin sides next year and I’m delighted that I’ve found this excellent advice. John has created the series as a marketing aid for his two day narrowboat painting courses, but the videos are packed with useful information about techniques, equipment and processes. For example, did you know that you can cause imperfections in your work just by breathing on early morning cold steel in an unheated paint tent? I didn’t. The solution is simple and it’s just one of the dozens of useful tips I picked up when I watched the videos. If you’re considering doing any boat painting at all, they are a very useful resource. The first in the series is here.

Friday didn’t look too promising for the penultimate discovery day of the year. I was up at 5am to the sound howling wind and the rattle of pea sized drops of rain against the boat’s port side windows. The weather hasn’t defeated me on a discovery day yet but it certainly looked a challenge on Friday.

Fortunately, as is often the case with the English weather, by 9am and the start of the day’s cruise, the day was totally different. The wind and rain disappeared leaving us with perfect cruising weather for what turned out to be a very quiet day on the cut. In the six hours we were out on the canals, we passed just three moving boats. I spoke to the lady at the helm of one of them. She told me that she cruised for five hours the previous day and didn’t see anyone moving at all. This is remarkable when you consider that the area is one of the busiest on the network with over 2,000 marina moorings within a ten mile radius. Who said that the waterways are getting too crowded?

A Cautionary Tale

In May last year I wrote about common narrowboat accidents in this newsletter. I told you about an experienced lady boater who tripped and fell at Calcutt Top Lock hurting herself quite badly. In fact, she hurt herself so badly that we had to transfer her from one side of the canal to the other strapped to a stretcher on a boat’s bow so that she could be carted off to hospital.

The accident was caused by a momentary lack of concentration doing something she had done a thousand times before without any problems. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a narrowboat owner who had been living afloat for eighteen months and who had just had an unpleasant and potentially very dangerous experience at exactly the same place at the same lock.

The boater’s name is Kelvin Jarman. Here’s his email to me…

“I bought Misty Blue spring ’13 and took her down from Doncaster to Welford, where I had a mooring. She had been neglected for some years; a hose burst between Donny and Keadby requiring a return for it to be replaced, some weeks later we set off again but this time when we got to Keadby we were told the Cromwell lock was shut, so back to the mooring again…
 
We finally set off August time, got to Kilby when the cam belt failed: £2500 and another two week delay! It’s a bloody god job I didn’t pay a lot for her, for what she is. Anyway, spent until June this year painting outside, ripping out the awful linear seats, using their bases as a bed base for a second bed room, fitted new laminate flooring and carpet up to the gunnels, fitted a new kitchen, new led lights, led strip under the gunnels, blah blah and moved on board after retiring at the end June.
 
Set off in July with my partner and spent 3 months doing the Leicester ring, including the Ashby and Erewash. When I got back to Welford I realised I was spending over £40 per week for a linear mooring, with unreliable electric supply and nothing else, no showers, laundry: nothing.
 
So I gave notice ( I had paid up to end Nov) and set off again.
 
So far I have dropped one phone in, fallen in with a phone in my pocket, lost a couple of windlases, got sunburnt in the summer and covered in mud now – and I love it.
 
I am glad you are taking the plunge; I’m sure you’ll enjoy the life.
I must say, it took me weeks to stop thinking I had to move every day, or to plan to be somewhere – getting years of experience out of my system I guess.
Anyway, here’s an incident which happened to me. I thought your readers would find it useful.

Approaching Calcut top lock this afternoon, I got off the stern with the centre line as usual, to stub the boat around the bollard. In this instance though a couple of things conspired to cause what could have been a nasty accident. Firstly, for no reason I picked the ‘T’ bollard – this will have repercussions. Then, I only got one loop around the bollard, ‘cos I  did not have enough rope in my hand.

The boat was moving a bit quicker than normal and, with no friction to slow it, she was carrying on dragging the rope through my hand. I couldn’t flip the rope off ‘cos it was a ‘T’, not a simple bollard.

A loop then caught around my foot, dragging my foot and causing me to fall over. It was getting tighter and tighter around my foot and getting tight enough to cause me to shout out!

Luckily the loop slipped off my foot and, with the boat now almost stopped, I could recover myself.

Lessons are,  always have enough rope to put at least two turns around the bollard to stub it and watch out for loose coils of rope ready to catch hands or feet. Luckily I was wearing wellies; I dread to think what state my foot would have been in had this happened in the summer and I was  barefooted or wearing Crocs.”

Getting body parts caught in tightening loops of rope can cause very serious injury. A 60′ narrowboat can weigh between fifteen and twenty tonnes. A few years ago, again on the Calcutt flight, a boater caught his finger in a loop as his boat was dropping inside an emptying lock. He was on his own so he couldn’t drop the paddle to stop the water level dropping so the iron hard rope loop pulled the boater’s hand down into the lock until it eventually slipped off his finger and released him. Unfortunately, the only reason the rope slipped was because it stripped the skin off his his hand like a finger being cut off a glove. He needed hospital treatment as a result.

Carelessness causes most accidents, so you need to be very careful around your boat, especially when you’ve been boating for a few years.

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.

Meet recent discovery day attendee Estelle Lomax…

Profile

Narrowboat Helmsmanship training

Estelle enjoying a day’s narrowboat helmsman training in November

“I am well on the way to having my own narrowboat built from scratch, I live on a borrowed boat but it is very small and cramped and I am soooo looking forward to living on my own – it takes ages, though, to get anything done so I grab every opportunity to go on someone else’s…………yours in this case! Wanted to be sure I can handle mine single handedly when she is ready because to me she looks huge at 57ft…….”

Feedback

“Thanks for the day out “on the cut” am now getting on with my fitting out as fast as I can so I can get up there on the canal system and enjoy many more. I had a wonderful day thank you – I was anxious at first but it was very calming and I never felt under any pressure. Of course we were blessed with a gorgeous day for the end of November and thanks to our successful trip I can hardly wait to get going by myself. I think everything needed was there for the taking….I had read all your newsletters before so didn’t have too many questions that needed answering- love your boat BTW. Yes I would recommend the day. It worked for me as I learned a few things that will be essential for me in the future and also I think you have learned a lot of lessons  the hard way and so can help others to bypass the many pitfalls involved in Living on a Narrowboat”

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.

7th December 2014

Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Misty Blue

After a lifetime in engineering, one man and his dog take to the inland waterways for a mobile and rewarding retirement exploring the waterways of England and Wales.

Who are you? (and your significant other and, of course, your dog if you have one)

My name is Kelvin and my ‘significant other’ is a gorgeous red and white Border Collie called Sky. I also have a partner who joins me often…

Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to live a life afloat

Always loved the water and sailing, but thought after selling my last yacht it was time to move onto the inland waterways. Ex-RAF electrical engineer followed by assorted jobs mainly in the fork lift truck industry, culminating in Middle East service manger.

What is your boat called and why did you decide on that name?

Narrowboat Misty Blue

Originally Kundalila when I bought her last year, that name was roundly disliked by the family so Misty Blue was chosen instead

Do you have a permanent mooring? If so, tell me about it.

Did have a mooring at Welford, but gave it up in November to go CC

What is you boat length and style?

60ft semi-trad

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

19 months

How did you finance your boat?

Sale of a second house

How much time do you spend on your boat each year?

Since June virtually full time. Anticipate odd weeks away, may for a sunshine holiday

Are you still working? (If so, what do you do?)

Retired in June

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Mud, unable to keep trousers clean

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Pretty much everything else

If you could change just one thing about your boat, what would it be?

Probably the engine, but that’s because I am paranoid about engines since sailing days. I appreciate an emergency on the cut is not the same, but still…

When you are cruising how do you resupply (How do you get to the supermarket without a car)?

Stock up as and when.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Smalls in the shower when I shower, bigger stuff at marinas

What type of toilet do you have and are you happy with it?

Dump-through. Happy enough, I for sure don’t want to trundle a bucket of s*** along the tow path. Seems to me, if frosty times are a-coming, you ensure it is regularly emptied.

How do you connect to the internet when you are on your boat and are you happy with the service you receive?

I have a Wi-Fi from 3, generally very pleased. Originally on a monthly contract at 5gb for £16, I went onto a 24-month contract at 15gb for £15

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Of the (few) I have been on, the Ashby. Erewash is the worst by far.

How do you generate electricity when you are cruising and how much do you use?

Everything is 12v; I have 2x110ah leisure batteries and 2x100w solar panels with an MPPT controller – I may well increase the number next year. I have also fitted a sterling alternator regulator and a Smart gauge.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

I have a wood-burner and 2 rad CH. So far, I only use the wood burner, though I am renowned for not feeling the cold. During modifying the boat to what I wanted, the living area was reduced by about 1/2, the kitchen moved forward and a second double bed fitted onto that space. With the corridor door shut aft of that bed it is quite cosy.

What advice can you offer someone considering living on a narrowboat?

Watch you don’t fall in!

____________________________________________________________________

Are you one of the lucky few who lives the dream on board your own narrowboat full time? Would you like to share your experience with some of the thousands of potential floating home owners who visit this site? If you can spare the time to answer a few simple questions, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know so I can email the questions to you. I’ll create a post like the one above complete with a link back to your own blog or website.

 

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Summary

2014 12 07 Newsletter – The Pros And Cons Of Narrowboat Shared Ownership

Is work getting you down? Do you fancy a change to something entirely more relaxing, more fulfilling and closer to nature?

You do? Well, how about this?

Imagine waking up on a Monday morning actually looking forward to the week ahead. No lengthy commute along noisy and dangerous motorways breathing in lungfuls of carbon monoxide as you wind the window down to freshen the stale air inside your car. No worry about meetings and schedules, targets and turnover. No unpleasant thoughts about sitting in a claustrophobic office next to coworkers you can’t stand before the second lengthy and unpleasant car journey of the day to get back to a home you’re too tired to enjoy.

If fact, imagine no stress or worries at all.

In your new trouble free life you wake to the sound of water fowl on the lake where you’re boat is moored after being lulled into a deep and tranquil sleep by the hooting of a tawny owl in the seven acre wood a stone’s throw from your boat the night before. It’s early May and you enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by an equally relaxing stroll along a grassy grassy flower carpeted bank on your two minute commute to your new job just a quarter of a mile away.

Your week begins with a day sitting on a comfortable ride on mower driving sedately through acres of cowslips and ox eye daisies under falling blossom from hundreds of wild cherry trees.

The following day, after yet another tranquil night on your floating home, you spend your working hours moving narrowboats off their winter moorings, out of the marina and up through two gentle locks to their wharf-side summer home. It’s boating at its most pleasant, and you’re getting paid to do it.

The days merge into weeks, the weeks into months, and there’s not a part of your life you have to worry about. You don’t get paid much, but you don’t care. Life’s a dream, and you wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Actually, you would swap it if you were me and you were planning to embark on an exciting new adventure exploring England and Wales from the comfort of your own floating home.

As you know, I’m off on my travels next April. Calcutt Boats will be looking for a replacement for me. I wondered whether you would be interested in applying for the position before it’s advertised officially.

The job is a joy.

The Calcutt Boats site covers 110 acres of some of the most beautiful countryside in rural Warwickshire. Three meadows have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the rich variety of flowers and grasses. The main part of the site is forty acres, ten of which is taken by the two marinas where 250+ boats are moored. Within the forty acres are seven acres of woodland containing forty nine (that I know of) species of trees, over 8,000 of them in total.

There’s also another seventy acres of agricultural land to look after. Two years ago I spent eight weeks over the winter cutting a rough track through land which hadn’t been used or visited for more than a decade. At dusk I had the pleasure of seeing barn owls swooping feet above my head and saw both roe and muncjack deer stepping nervously across the path ahead of me.

The job is physically demanding so you need to be pretty fit to do it justice. It isn’t actually just sitting on your backside while you let the equipment do the work. There’s a fair amount of reasonably heavy lifting. Take this week for example;

I spent a couple of days felling and logging oak and ash in the larger of the two woodland areas, then loading the cut logs into our site Nissan pickup for transportation and storage at the marina owner’s house nearby. Over at his house, the log store needed rearranging before offloading the fresh logs.

Yesterday, Pat and I spent the afternoon moving engines. A twenty feet long container where we had refurbished engines stored needed emptying at short notice ready for a moorer to move his things into the following day. The engines were moved with our Merlot fork lift truck but they had to be moved within reach of the forklift in the first place so they had to be dragged into place both ends manually. It’s hard work, but it’s great exercise. I’ll miss it.

One of the grass cutting jobs I won’t miss is the dreaded “steep banks”. One of our car parks was built on a thirty year old mountain of spoil from the canal. There’s a 100m stretch raised thirty feet above the level of our older Locks marina. Between the marina and the car park is a grassed forty five degree slope. The only way we can cut it is with a Flymo on a rope. To cut the full length takes about six hours of very demanding labour.

The job on occasion can also be less than pleasant.

The work is 100% outside. You’ll work when there’s thick snow on the ground and ice on the marina, when there’s a howling gale blowing, when there’s hail and driving rain lashing your face (you won’t actually work in heavy rain. You’ll find something, anything, to do to get you out of it, but don’t tell the management that), and you’ll work in the searing heat of the midday sun at the height of summer. Obviously I like the last bit more than other stuff. I get to wear shorts and a tee shirt for work for at least six months of the year. In fact, Pat still has his shorts on now, but he certainly doesn’t look warm.

Pat and I, the grounds team, are also the rubbish and sewage team. We have to manage the rubbish on site which means emptying the bins and jumping on them to compress the rubbish when the bins are too full. Pat is better at this than I am as he can provide an additional two stone of compression.

Our site processes its own human waste. All of the sewage from the site’s two pump out machines, the two Elsan points, the shower block and the toilets by reception and in the main building, flows four hundred metres to our reed bed filtration plant. The solids remain in two large holding tanks ready for removal by a contractor once a month. The liquids continue through the reed beds where the water is purified before entering the area’s field drainage system.

Several times a year, there’s a blockage somewhere between the highest point at the wharf and the reed beds. Pat or I, sometimes both of us, don elbow length rubber gloves and chest waders, collect an armful of metre length rods and set off in search of the blockage. The cause is usually a cassette cap which has been inadvertently dropped down the Elsan point. The endurance record is currently held by me for a seven hour session standing thigh deep in the brown stuff trying to remove what predictably turned out to be a cassette cap from a difficult to reach section of pipe in our tip area. I had a lonnnng shower after that little adventure.

Sewage days are few and far between though and the smell is something you get used to very quickly after a couple of dozen narrowboat pump outs on the wharf.

In April this mainly exceptionally enjoyable position will be vacant. Just about every aspect of the job will make you smile, including the rate of pay, but that will be more a smile of disbelief rather than one of pleasure. It’s a lifestyle choice rather than a job you do to put money in the bank so if your current lifestyle is causing you pain then maybe you’ll be interested.

The position may come with a mooring. I have what I consider to be one of the best moorings on either of the two marinas but this one wouldn’t be available. I think there are already one or two boaters who have their beady eyes on it. There may be an alternative mooring, but you’ll have to ask.

If you think the position would suit you, please email me and I’ll give you more details.

Back on the boat, as ever, I’ve been spending a not so small fortune fine tuning the boat ready for a lifetime’s cruising. My Mercedes engine, I recently discovered, is one of the most reliable and durable engines ever made. They’re often used in African taxis where cars which have done 500,000 miles are common and ones which have done 1,000,000 miles are not unheard of. Of course, a boat engine isn’t described by the number of miles it’s done, but rather by the number of hours. Mine has done 4,600 hours in the last thirty seven years although the ridiculously expensive (£37 per hour) marine engineer who spent the day with me yesterday tells me that the engine has probably only done 80% of that because the odometer is wired to the ignition rather than the engine itself.

He told me, and he is the second marine engineer to tell me the same thing, that my engine should be good for 100,000 hours. Given that it has done an average of just 124 hours a year for the last thirty seven years, at the same average, it will last another 653 years. I think it will probably be the only engine I ever need.

While he was with me yesterday, the engineer fitted a powerful halogen headlight for tunnels and night time cruising, fixed the instrument display lights so that I can actually see them when I’m cruising in the dark, adjusted the alternator to increase the output and to reduce wear and tear, and finally presented me with a bill to make my eyes water.

Still, that’s another job ticked off the list. All that remains to be done now is to get some remedial carpentry done to the rear hatch to improve safety and security, and have a central heating system installed to supplement the solid fuel stove. Both of those jobs will be done early next year.

Early next year is going to be a busy time for me.

Three years ago I had my wooden cabin over plated with steel. A couple of coats of primer were applied to the bare steel when the boat was returned to Calcutt Boats then, six months later in April 2012, I spent three weeks painting the cabin “properly”. Apparently, not properly enough though.

The boat is getting a fair amount of use at the moment. Apart from living on board full time here at the marina, I’m taking my floating home for a cruise on average one day a week. There are often people climbing on and off the stern or using any of the four ropes to moor the boat or to control it while we are traveling. There are low hanging oak, ash and willow branches brushing against the roof, or brambles, hawthorn and blackthorn scouring the cabin sides. And then there’s the occasional inevitable brush with another boat, some of them fenderless and a real danger to paintwork.

As a result of this expected wear and tear and my own inability to apply the paint as well as I should, there are numerous chips, flakes and abrasions in the cabin paint and two substantial four feet long scratches, one on the port and one on the starboard side.

The scratches in particular need attending to. Both are down to bare metal in places. The chips and flakes aren’t going to do the boat any harm at the moment but as I’ve spent a considerable amount of money to make the boat look as good as it does, I want to keep it in the best condition I can.

The original plan for April next year was to head up to Llangollen as soon as I’ve finished my early April discovery days. I want to touch up the cabin pain though and I want to have some sign writing done at the same time. I’ve booked one of Calcutt Boats’ paint tents for ten days in April. Once that’s done, I’ll have the boat taken out of the water so I can spend a couple of days blacking the hull and repainting the tunnel flashes. While it’s out of the water, a worn rudder bearing and all four anodes will be replaced.

Once all of that is done, we’ll have a month to potter about before the Crick boat show at the end of May. After the boat show, we’ll be back at Calcutt for another ten day’s discovery day training sessions. Then we’ll go to Llangollen.

London Cruising

Last week I published some responses I received to the previous week’s article on cruising the capital’s waterways. Neither the original article or the comments which followed it cast either the London canal network or any of the boat owners who live there in a particularly favourable light. Here are a couple of comments to help redress the balance.

 “I felt obliged to reply about the London narrow boat views expressed in the newsletter.   

I have read the coverage of the London narrowboats / continuous cruisers at http://london.lecool.com/inspirations/continuous-cruisers-onboard-mark-walton/

I don’t own a narrow boat, but I do commute into London.   I would like to live in London, but costs are too much.

I think this perspective needs to be highlighted.   People live on boats as it is cost effective.  There is very little allowance for this situation.  One one hand people visiting need to moore, but people also need a place to live.

It is a classic situation, where something needs to be done, but nobody has done it.

My view is that the London continuous cruisers are doing the best they can.”

Miles Davenport

” I was disappointed that nobody had written to say anything positive about the canals in London. I have moored in Paddington Basin 4 times in the last six months and haven’t had a problem finding a mooring. CRT do check the moorings pretty regularly. It’s a terrific place, remarkably quiet for it’s location, clean and secure. The same is true of Limehouse basin. The main issue can be finding moorings in between but provided you’re prepared to breast up I haven’t found a problem. If you don’t venture further than Paddington basin you’re missing out. It’s fascinating to thread your way through London’s back door. Camden market can be really buzzing and a detour into Battlebridge basin to the canal museum is well worth the effort of squeezing into the tight mooring space.

Next cruising season the waterways in the Olympic park should be open to everyone too. And if you don’t cruise through London from the GU you’ll miss out on the Lee and Stort navigations, and they’re lovely, particularly the latter. I hope people haven’t been put off from visiting London by some of the negative comments. They should explore it themselves and make up their own minds.”

Neil Quarmby

Narrowboat Shared Ownership

Narrowboat ownership is an expensive hobby. The purchase of the boat itself is the second largest purchase that most people will ever make after that of the house they live in. Expenditure doesn’t stop with the cost of the boat. There are mooring and license fees and general running costs and repairs and maintenance. For many aspiring narrowboat owners, the initial purchase price and the regular cost to keep the boat licensed and it good condition is just too much.

You may be one of these people and you may have considered a more cost effective option to help you get afloat, at least for part of the year. Shared ownership allows you to enjoy the benefits of narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the cost. I wrote about the subject two years ago in this article but I’m adding to it now courtesy of the ever helpful Peter Earley.

Peter has been a continuous cruiser for the last seven years but after two decades of regular narrowboat hire and before he invested in his own live aboard narrowboat, Peter and his wife purchased a share in a boat. He’s kindly sent me the following article for consideration by those considering doing the same.

“We bought the 11th share of 12 in the, then new, narrowboat Sundowner in October 1999. This was in a shared ownership scheme run by Ownerships. It wasn’t something we went into lightly, after all we were paying out £6000, but we read all the paperwork carefully and the fact that we actually owned our bit of boat and a holiday on a horrible boat hired from one of the largest UK hire companies decided it for us.

Our dates for using the boat were decided by the list system. The owners are listed in a set sequence which rotates two places each year. For this year, the first choice of weeks goes to the owners at the top of the list and then in order down the list. At the end of the year, the two owners at the top of the list drop to the bottom and everyone else moves up. We were able to choose 2 weeks in the summer period and 2 in the winter. The remaining free weeks were up for grabs, with the priority from the bottom of the list this time around. In our case on the two occasions we were in the bottom two, the owner beneath us grabbed them so if you buy a share in a boat using this system, try to get an even numbered share!

In the original Ownership scheme it was possible for some owners to pay a higher amount, which meant that the others paid a lower amount, to guarantee weeks during the school holidays. This meant that they always had the first pick regardless of where they were in the share listing.

It was quite common for two or more owners to agree to remote changeovers which meant they didn’t have to do out and back cruises but were able to extend the cruising range. It obviously meant agreeing on a place with car access and the ability to fill the diesel tank and empty the toilet tanks. It also meant you had to spend most of the first day, or the last day, moving cars around.

We have friends in an ex-Challenger boat. Here the owners pick their weeks out of the hat meaning quite a bit of horse trading has to go on after the draw.

I can’t recall our annual costs now but Sundowner is still in operation as a share boat, now administered by BCBM. The costs they list for Sundowner are:

MOORINGS                                             £2,300
LICENCE                                                £875
INSURANCE                                                £275
TURNAROUNDS                                £1,050
ENGINE SERVICING                                   £400
BREAKDOWNS & REPAIRS                      £500
CALL OUTS – EMERGENCIES                      £300
INVENTORY & REPLACEMENTS         £300
MISCELLANEOUS                                   £300
ADDITIONAL FIGURE                                   £900
TOTAL BUDGETED EXPENDITURE       £7,200

So split amongst 12 owners it will cost each one £600 plus a management charge of £436 plus their diesel, gas and pumpouts costs. So for about the cost of a weeks hire you have use of Sundowner for 4 weeks. A bargain, with the added bonus of it being your boat. Something that you have had input into, whether it be touching up the paintwork or choosing the curtain design or floor covering.

Each year, the owners get together and decide where the boat will be based for the coming year, what maintenance or repairs are needed and what changes or improvements are required. Of course you don’t actually have to do any of these things. You just direct the management company, in this case BCBM, what you want doing. They will cost it and agree it with you and send you the bill. But of course you are only paying a twelfth of the total cost. You will also agree how much money each owner should have to put into the ‘sinking fund’. This is not to refloat the boat after an accident but is to build up a fund for emergencies or for replacing major components such as engine or gearbox. When buying a used share you might want to check how old some of these components are to enable you to assess what major expenses are likely to arise in the near future.

If you want a cheaper deal and are prepared to be involved with the running of the boat then go for a private syndicate. Our friends with the ex-Challenger boat do exactly that. They elect a Chairman and Treasurer each year and decide what needs doing when, just as they did when Challenger were involved. It is said that managed boats can make savings on some costs due to economy of scale but our friends have found it much cheaper running it themselves, not just in the saving of management fees but the ability to haggle or do some of the work themselves.

There is a share in Sundowner currently for sale at £2500 giving the boat a value of £30000. I would think it unlikely that the value drops much lower meaning a secondhand share bought now could be sold in 5 or 6 years time without much loss.

So, what happens when you want leave the scheme to buy your own boat or that villa in the Algarve. In our case it was easy. At that time Ownerships ran a ‘Guaranteed Buy-Back Scheme. Those owners that wished to, could pay a small sum each year and when they wanted out, Ownership would buy the share at a previously agreed price. The price was a slight bone of contention as most of us thought it too low but, knowing we intended to buy our own boat, it was an easy way out. Otherwise, you decide how much you want for your share and the management company will try and sell it. Being your property, you can also advertise it on eBay, Gumtree, Apolloduck or whatever. Many put a sign in the boat window whilst they are cruising. One couple on Sundowner that we keep in touch with did just that and sold it within a few days. But, of course, it is a question of getting the price right and here your management company can advise you. I’ve mentioned the sinking fund and if this has accumulated a large amount you might wish to take this into account when setting the sale price.

Both Challenger and Ownerships are no more, both due to major fraud on the part of their founders, with many owners losing money, fortunately long after we had sold You can read about this on the internet but it does highlight the need to read the contract carefully and to enquire how all those various sums of money are held for you. I am sure that those companies currently offering shared ownership have learned from the previous failures and, in order to retain the trust of their customers, run their schemes with the utmost probity.”

Following this article’s publication Ian Bull emailed me the following…

“Good article on shared ownership which is how we got our feet wet before buying our own boat. Still hanging on to our share in fact, but many of our group have sold quickly through boatshare, http://www.boatshare.co.uk/forsale/index.htm which is cheap and very good!”

Live Aboard Case Studies

After a chance meeting on a cycling holiday in Jordan, Aileen and Mike can now cycle together along the towpath next to their beautiful floating home as they continuously cruises the connected waterways of England and Wales. Here’s their story.

RIP  Steve Hudson

2014 hasn’t been a good year for quality narrowboat builders. Sea Otter ceased trading in June. Their high quality aluminium narrowboats were very popular but not popular enough to keep the company solvent.

Another boat builder of distinction ceased trading this week. Steve Hudson of S M Hudson boat builders died last Tuesday after a short illness at the tender age of fifty five. The owners of his boats have always been evangelists. His summer open days at Glascote basin were always attended by dozens of current Hudson boat owners and their boats. It’s always sad to hear of anyone passing away at such a tender age but particularly so when they contributed so much to the inland waterways.

He will be missed.

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.

Meet recent discovery day attendee Richard Bavin…

Profile

“Recently divorced and re-evaluating my life, I have been looking at what I want to do and where I wish to live. My ex hated anything to do with boating, camping etc whilst I love the outdoors life, and the idea of living on a narrow boat, and exploring this fascinating country appeals hugely. I am very practical and am happy to tackle any of the DIY problems and am very keen to investigate the most efficient use of a large array of solar panels together with a wind turbine, to be as much ‘off grid’ as possible. The challenge is fascinating. The discovery day helped me to make up my mind to go ahead with my plans, as it confirmed that running a narrow boat single handed is for me a very practical idea. Lots more research to do so that I am fully up to speed with all things technical. Looking forward to living my own personal dream!”

Feedback

“The day was great – from the friendly warm welcome and cup of hot tea, to the exploration of James in detail. You managed to answer all of my questions on many varied topics patiently and in a succinct and easy to understand fashion. I like your calm approach to everything. I threw loads of questions at you from heating through condensation to usage of water, lights, washing machine, toilets, usage of gas and diesel, and lots more and you answered them all for me.

I was particularly keen to get down to the real nitty gritty details, and you have certainly cleared my mind on all of the issues I raised. And then off we set on a journey through apparently beautiful countryside, somewhat hidden in the murk. I felt instantly at ease controlling the boat under your guidance and again I praise you for your calm approach and direction. I also feel much happier about negotiating locks single handed.

All in all the day was a brilliant success for me, most enjoyable and informative and made me confident that I will be able to make the change in my lifestyle successfully. I would most certainly recommend this to anyone who was thinking about buying a narrow boat. It will enable people to really understand what is involved, in great detail, and with a friendly informative and calm teacher!

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.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Quaintrelle

After a chance meeting on a cycling holiday in Jordan, Aileen and Mike can now cycle together along the towpath next to their beautiful floating home as they continuously cruises the connected waterways of England and Wales.

Who are you? (and your significant other and, of course, your dog if you have one)

Aileen Queenan and husband Mike

Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to live a life afloat

DSC_7311I’m 46 and from Edinburgh and enjoyed life there working at Edinburgh University with a good social life. I met Mike on a cycling holiday in Jordan in 2010 and we married in February 2013. Mike was due to semi-retire in 2014 and we decided we wanted to do some travelling but without the hassle of packing up every time we moved. Neither of us had really done the UK extensively, so we decided that travelling on a narrowboat that was our home fitted the bill – we could explore the UK with not a suitcase in sight.  We had taken a few holidays on narrowboats, and it rained a lot, yet we still came home having loved every minute of it.

What is your boat called and why did you decide on that name?

Quaintrelle. Well, we couldn’t decide on a name, so I posted on Facebook for suggestions and said the winner would get a week on the boat. Some of the suggestions were awful, but we shortlisted our favourites and got friends to vote. We didn’t really like the winner. Then a friend posted the word Quaintrelle on Facebook, saying she aspired to be this, the definition being; a lady who lives life passionately through leisurely pursuits and looking beautiful – exactly what our boat is!

Do you have a permanent mooring? If so, tell me about it.

No. We are continuous cruisers.

What is you boat length and style?

57ft semi-trad. (You might have seen her in September’s Waterways World – they did a boat test on her).

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Six months.

How did you finance your boat?

We were in a fortunate position that we were able to purchase outright from the builder with staged payments.

How much time do you spend on your boat each year?

DSC_574811 months probably, we live on her permanently, but will maybe head off somewhere warm for a few weeks in February.

Are you still working? (If so, what do you do?)

Mike has his own business, so he still does a bit of consultancy, and I do the admin for him.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

We’re still very much in the honeymoon phase and have had a wonderful summer, but I guess it’s planning when you need a pump-out/water/diesel and making sure that you’re somewhere where it’s all available. Oh, and washing the boat……..

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything else!

If you could change just one thing about your boat, what would it be?

The kitchen tap!  It’s too high above the sink, and to short a spout, so when you rinse something it splashes all over the worktops 🙁

When you are cruising how do you resupply (How do you get to the supermarket without a car)?

We have bikes on board that are stored in a front locker, so we cycle and fill our panier bags. We use the internet to find the nearest supermarket. On a wine-run we can get 12 bottles between us on the bikes 😉

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a compact washing machine on board.  We have used laundrettes for bedding and towels when they’ve been to hand.

What type of toilet do you have and are you happy with it?

We have a pump-out toilet with macerator.  Very pleased with it, it is just like a normal toilet.  It does get a bit pongy when it’s almost full, but that’s just boating life for you.

How do you connect to the internet when you are on your boat and are you happy with the service you receive?

DSC_5754

We have a Huwei mobile dongle, 3G.  It’s been fantastic, only a couple of places in six months where we’ve had no service for a couple of nights.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Gosh, we’ve only just begun….. I did love the Leeds Liverpool on the Skipton to Foulridge section, going across the dales, so looking forward to doing that in Quaintrelle at some point.

How do you generate electricity when you are cruising and how much do you use?

We move most days, so the leisure batteries get charged up. We use about 10-15% overnight.  We’re always careful to do washing and anything that might use a bit more power whist we’re moving.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

We haven’t had a winter yet, but we have a diesel powered Heritage Stove on board which provides hot water, central heating and cooking.  We also have a solid fuel burner.  In the last week we have had the solid fuel on, but found once we’d cooked on the Heritage we had to open the windows as it was too warm.  So I think we’ll be toasty.

What advice can you offer someone considering living on a narrowboat?

Do a few holidays first, in all sorts of weather. See if you think you can live in the space.  Ask all the obvious questions on forums and use Paul’s calculator to see how much it will cost you.  Everyone seems to think it is cheap as chips, and whilst at the end of the day it is cheaper than living in a house, there are still costs.

If you want to find out more about Aileen and Mike’s travels you can read their unusual but very effective Twitter boating blog.

____________________________________________________________________

Are you one of the lucky few who lives the dream on board your own narrowboat full time? Would you like to share your experience with some of the thousands of potential floating home owners who visit this site? If you can spare the time to answer a few simple questions, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know so I can email the questions to you. I’ll create a post like the one above complete with a link back to your own blog or website.

 

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Entertainment
Summary

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2014 11 23 Newsletter – Cruising In London

I am weak. I should know better by now, but I don’t seem to learn.

Over the last couple of months I’ve had the occasional request for recommendations for decent local bed and breakfast establishments close to the marina for those travelling to me from far and wide for my discovery days. The one I’ve always suggested first has been Wigram’s Canalside which overlooks Napton Junction and which is literally a five minute walk from the marina along a very pleasant towpath.

The owner, Ben Heaf, emailed me a couple of weeks ago to thank me for the additional customers. I replied telling him that he was more than welcome but, at some stage, he would need to buy me a couple of pints as a token of his gratitude.

The end result was him offering to take me to the King’s Head in Napton so that I could collect my reward, so on Wednesday evening after a quick shower to wash off the working day’s dirt and an even quicker dinner, a banana, I walked a mile and a half along dark country lanes for our 6.30pm appointment.

I arrived fifteen minutes early, searched in vain for a lonely looking man – not something I’m in the habit of doing when I’m out on my own I hasten to add – ordered a pint of of Old Hooky and settled down on a stool in the corner of the bar with a good view of the door.

The scheduled time came and went but no one came into the pub. I was annoyed. I don’t like being late for appointments. I like the people I’m supposed to be meeting being late even less. I sent a quick email to Ben asking if he was on his way, and ordered another pint.

I was just finishing my second drink of the evening when a guy I had seen at the bar earlier, and who I had wrongly assumed was with with a party sitting in an alcove hidden from where I was sitting, rushed up to the bar and asked a guy with long grey hair sitting next to me if he was Paul Smith. I knew I shouldn’t have cut my own hair last week!

Anyway, we had a very pleasant chat for an hour over another couple of pints and then, much to my disappointment, Ben told me he had to go.

Was it something I said?

This is where I made a huge mistake. The sensible thing to do was to leave at the same time as him, but I wasn’t quite ready to go back to the boat. I don’t get out often, so when I’m out I like to make the most of the occasion.

I plonked myself down at the bar again and ordered myself a glass of merlot, a large one of course. I pulled out my wallet to pay and realised that I didn’t have any cash No problem, I thought, I’ll pay with a debit card.

There’s a ten pounds minimum if you want to use plastic”, the barman gleefully told me.

So, an hour and a half later, and with £18.98 less in my bank account thanks to my lack of willpower, another large glass of merlot and a few single malts from the top shelf, I rather unsteadily made my way out of the pub and back along the pitch black lane to the marina.

It’s was a lovely walk home. I talked to the trees, barked back at the two unseen but ferocious sounding dogs guarding a farm house, mooed back at the cows and baa’d in tune with the sheep. I sang as I walked and sat on the hump backed bridge over the Oxford canal to admire the boats I couldn’t see in the darkness below.

I had a great time.

Thursday morning wasn’t so pleasant though. My recovery time after a night out isn’t what it used to be. I went to work with a thumping head forgetting that thumping things was what the day had in store for me. I had 40 three feet long oak posts to install. Most of them were to block off the grass car parking area which is used by holiday hirers in the drier summer months. Over the winter the ground softens but is often used by unsuspecting winter visitors to our chandlery. They get on to the grass easily enough thanks to a slight downhill slope, but getting off again invariably involves plenty of wheel spinning, sliding across the grass and ultimately being towed off.

I spent the day driving a mooring stake into the ground to make holes for the posts’ metal spikes, synchronising thumping stakes with my thumping head. Still, post fitting was preferable to the job Pat and I have to do over the coming couple of weeks.

At this time of the year, everything is damp. The sun spends much of the time hidden behind thick grey cloud and even when the clouds break for long enough to allow the sun to brighten the landscape, there isn’t enough heat in it to dry the wet ground. The grass is fine. Soggy, but not a problem.

The wooden walkways around the marina are a different kettle of fish.

There are nine mooring bays on Meadows marina, the newest of the two marinas at Calcutt. Each has a wooden walkway parallel with the bank and a number of fingers at right angle to the bank out into the marina. There are nine main walkways and seventy fingers, all wooden, all slippery and all needing pressure washing. The walkways’ total length is just over 5,000 feet or almost exactly one mile.

Pat and I will take turns using fairly low power pressure washer to clean the accumulated algae and lichen off the wooden piers. Each of the nine bays will take about two days to complete and will include a quick wash down of all the moored boats to remove any dirt splashed against them by the pressure washer.

It’s not going to be a pleasant week or two.

I booked a one to one service with River Canal Rescue on Friday. I’ve used their service twice before. Once two years ago for James’ first proper engine service and then again last year for another. On both occasions the office administration was awful. I had to phone three times for the first service before they finally confirmed that they had booked me in. They have the strangest system. It went something like this…

I phoned in to tell them that I wanted to book a service. They reluctantly agreed that they could accommodate me, a non member, and took my details. Rather than book me in while I was on the phone, they promised to call me back. Now, to me, that appears to be a difficult way of completing a simple task. Surely the engineer’s appointments are computerised so it should be a simple process  to go through the available slots on the phone with a customer who has a boat,who  is possibly on his boat, and who is probably in an area with a poor phone reception. I’m not running the office though, so what do I know?

Anyway, I waited eagerly for the return call to tell me when the engineer was scheduled.

I didn’t get a return call.

I phoned them again to establish my service date. They had no record of me on their system. I gave my details again, told them that they were unlikely to reach me by phone, but that they could leave me a voice mail message if I didn’t answer, gave them my email address too so that they could still contact me if phoning me or leaving me a message didn’t work and once more waited for them to contact me.

They didn’t.

On my third call I insisted that I waited on the phone until they unearthed the engineer’s schedule and fitted me in.

The engineer they sent out, Kerry, was excellent. He turned up on time, did an excellent job of explaining the workings of my engine, speaking slowly and very clearly as he knew that what he was saying wasn’t sinking in, and quickly and effectively serviced my engine.

In spite of the lack of the organisation in the office, I booked another service last year purely because of Kerry. This time I only needed to phone twice to book the work in. I wasn’t terribly surprised to discover that they didn’t have any record of me for the previous year’s service and, as expected, they failed to call me back, but we got there in the end.

Kerry once more arrived when he should, but this time he wouldn’t service my engine. He had a quick look at it, asked how many hours it had run since his last minute, then decided that the service didn’t need doing. It’s this kind of service at the sharp end of the business which more than makes up for the poor office admin.

I’m going use the engine more in the next year than it’s been used for the last twenty years so I need to make sure that it’s well maintained. Next year’s discovery days alone will necessitate running it for up to four hundred hours and then, there’s also eight months continuous cruising to fit in.

I need to be able to service my own engine so I’ve booked the one to one service this year so Kerry can tell me what to do then watch me as I do it. It might not seem a big deal for you, but for someone who isn’t sure which end of a screwdriver to hold, it’s a little bit scary.

Of course, the lady from RCR didn’t call back on Friday, or Saturday or today. I’ll call them again on Monday expecting them to have lost my details once more. It’s all very frustrating but I should be getting used to it by now. On the canals, nothing happens quickly.

Engine Fuel Consumption

In last week’s newsletter I mentioned that my fuel consumption over the course of this year has been 1.24 litres per hour. Three boat owners emailed me with their own figures. I’ve included the details below so that you get a more balanced idea of fuel consumption. Ian and Tim have also shared some thoughts on single handed locking.

“Couple of things might interest you regarding your latest newsletter:

My fuel consumption works out at about 3/4 litre per hour. I do not have diesel heating.

I find the easiest way to deal with locks single handed is to pull the boat in and out of locks using the centre line. I am too old to dance around on the roof and those lock ladders are too close to the wall to be able to get more than my toes on them which makes them dangerous, especially in winter. I find that I can usually pull lock gate closed behind me with one hand while holding centre line with other.”

Tim Wood

“Hi Paul I’m just lying on the bed at 2.30 pm in our lodging in Jakarta, outside temperature is 30C. I’m enjoying your latest newsletter on fuel consumption and single handed locking. I carried out my own  consumption survey and get about the same as you about 1.3 ltrs/ hr.

Alchemy is a 60 ft Colcraft with beta 42hp. It has an Invicta square bladed prop ( i think that’s the name.). Most of my cruising is at very leisurely 1200 rpm. I rarely see a wake at all and I can hold conversations with folks walking dogs for 15 minutes or so before they pull away from me so i assume i,m doing about 2 -3 mph. I regularly do Braunston to Barby moorings in 1.5 hours. I only do emergency  sprints at 1800 rpm  to beat oncoming boats to bridge holes on rare occasions of bloody mindedness. I really don’t like to hear a high revving engine on the cut, i believe its a sign of poor anticipation. If I’m not mobile I would run the engine for 2 hours to charge batteries and heat water. I have 1 starter battery and 3 leisure batteries.

On the subject of single handed locking, I gained some experience over last summer. Mostly I walk “Alchemy ” into locks with the centre rope, always open one plate slowly to control water flow and boat stability, pull her out by hand, tie up, reset lock, climb aboard and motor away. I really don’t enjoy climbing up n down the slimy slippery ladder and negotiating the cabin roof, and at 60, with a bad back, climbing into the cockpit is a pain. I think I told you before, on one occasion heading south at whilton, in my haste i slipped down the ladder and between the cabin side and slimy wall onto the gunwhale. Could have been dangerous but was more messy from sliming my faded jeans and sky blue shirt . That slime has impregnated the cloth and is still visible.. But still reminded me on the return journey north I was leading her in by the centre rope at the top lock when suddenly realised there was a slim steel footbridge over the lock gate !! “Alechemy  ” had inertial way on and I frantically tried to pass the rope under the bridge but impossible. I had no option but to drop the rope onto the roof and watch helplessly as she slowed but impacted the cill with her bow. I climbed down quickly and retrieved the rope to the top again. Not a nice experience. I must pay attention to every eventuality. I seem to be able to do a lock single handed in about 25 minutes. Unless I’m pushed by traffic I have no intention of breaking speed records or breaking my neck in the attempt. Canal cruising should be leisurely and safe.

Ian Roberts

“We averaged 1.48 litres per hour during 2013 over 480 hours of engine running. Over half of that would be with the washing machine running. Joanie M is 58 ft long with a Beta 43, PRM 150 with 2:1 reduction driving an 18 x 12 prop.”

Peter Earley

Peter and Tim are continuous cruisers who are out on the cut all year round. Ian, as he reminds me frequently, prefers the much warmer weather of Indonesia during the English winter. He leaves his boat at a marina close to Caluctt while he’s away.

Capital Cruising – Finding Your Way Around London By Boat

Peter Earley has provided an enormous amount of information for this site and after twenty years of hiring, six years of shared ownership and the last seven years continuous cruising on his own boat Joanie M, Pete has a great deal of experience to share.

Pete sent me the following article earlier in the week. It’s an important topic to cover because of the enormous number of potential boat owners who are considering living aboard and working in the capital. At least once a week this year I have  met new boat owners who were on their way down to London where they intended to find a new canal-side home, often with little or no research into the availability of long term moorings. Several times a week this year I also received emails from potential London live aboard boater, many stating that they didn’t really have an interest in boat ownership but rather in a cheap way to live in the capital.

This is a subject which I haven’t written about before, simply because I don’t know enough. Pete does though, so if you’re considering a life afloat close to the city, or if you are thinking about adding a cruise through the capital to next year’s itinerary, you’ll find Pete’s information very useful.

“So, having read the articles in the Guardian, Independent, et al, or you’ve heard the Radio 4 programme extolling the cheap way you can live in London on the canals, you think you might join them. After all, you can pick up a boat for a few thousand pounds and a license is only another few hundred quid. I could say, ‘don’t do it’, but you won’t take any notice of me so instead I’ll give you some advice that you might take notice of.

You may be an experienced boater but you will still have a steep learning curve to climb. If you’re inexperienced then its a mountain so my first bit of advice is don’t start your new life in the winter. Why? Because everything takes twice as long and is twice as hard. Wait for the Spring when things get easier. Read on and you will see why.

The Canal & River Trust estimate there to be 1100 continuous cruisers in the London area. This is assumed to be within the M25. Doesn’t sound too bad for the amount of waterway that covers but the National Bargee Travellers Association reckon that 800 of these are in Central London. The reason is easy to understand, it’s because this lies within Zone 1 and 2 so cheaper travel. And you are dependent in public transport because, even if you have a car, where are you going to park it. All the areas near to the canal are resident parking only.

Being a continuous cruiser you have to move every 14 days. That doesn’t mean from Little Venice to Camden and back to Little Venice. It means from Little Venice to Camden to Kings Cross to Broadway Market to Mile End and so on. And, to make sure you get the message, CRT will text you when your 14 days are up to remind you to move. In practice, because the working week for most people is Monday to Friday, it means most of these 800 boats are all trying to change location at the weekend meaning queues everywhere and everyone is jostling around to get a space. Large lengths of the towpath in Central London are concreted over to protect the high voltage cables underneath. You could try hammer a pin in the cracks but it is not recommended. But it means you will have to moor alongside another boat, or even two boats.

Then, of course there are the basic needs of water and toilet disposal. You may use it sparingly and make use of  facilities at work or the pub but at some point you have to get water. In the whole of London there are, I think, 13 water and 7 elsan points. With everyone trying to make use of them at weekends I am sure you can imagine the congestion this causes. This is made worse by the poor positioning of some of these where boaters using the facilities have to block lock access because otherwise their hoses wouldn’t reach.

Most liveaboard boaters will use some 10 to 20% if their battery capacity each night which needs to be replaced by recharging, either from your engine, generator or solar. Fine if you work nights and can run your engine during the day otherwise, you leave for work at 8am, arrive back home by 6pm giving you just 2 hours in which you can charge. That’s probably OK, with your batteries getting a long charge at the weekend to bring back to full charge. Failure to do this though, because you have to go home to see Mum, visit the launderette (that’s if Mum isn’t going to do it) or a hot date, means your batteries will enter a downward spiral from which there is no recovery. Of course, I’ve forgotten solar but then I’m writing this in November when the charge for most of us is fairly negligible.

London cruising is sort of split into 3 areas. Hanwell/Uxbridge to Kensal Green is about 16 miles of lock free cruising and has plenty of mooring space with easy access to Underground or railway stations and easy parking for a car. But you have to balance the extra travel cost and time of being in the outer zones against the freedom to moor wherever you want.

You know when you are approaching Zone 2 at Kensal Green as that’s when the long line of moored boats starts. From here until Victoria Park or Mile End, every possible place where it is possible to tie up, whether it be rings, bollards or fencing, is occupied by a boat, often 3 deep. Don’t be too concerned about mooring next to another boat. Provided you are not causing an obstruction, and remember this is a wide canal, it is the accepted thing to do. Make your number with the person you’re moored against as soon as you can. Find out when he is moving next. You don’t want to return home to find your boat floating free because he’s gone and he shouldn’t have the worry of having to secure your boat. If you’re sharing his mooring pins it’s important to ensure he can take his pins and still leave you moored.

Moving onto the Lee Navigation you might think that the mooring situation hasn’t improved much. But at least these boats are only moored singly and there are some spaces if you look. The mooring gets easier the further you go upriver. In fact, the area around the only sanitary, or rather insanitary, station at Stonebridge, has plenty of space and it’s still in Zones 3 or 4, again with opportunities to park a car.

I’ve mentioned water but sooner or later you will need diesel and coal. This needs a lot of forward planning or foresight and quite a bit of luck. There are several coal and diesel boats that operate in the area. I would urge you to join the London Boaters Facebook page which will give you contact details and some idea of which boat is what area and when. However, these boats don’t operate to any sort of timetable, of necessity they will be around when you are at work meaning you may have to leave cash hidden in an agreed place, and from my short experience, they don’t answer phones or texts often because they are too busy. Often, they will have run out before they get to you and then there is ICE.

I mentioned at the start, don’t move to London at the beginning of winter, wait for spring. You have a lot to learn and winter only adds more problems. It is colder, the days are shorter and the canal will, at some time, freeze. That is not the time to run out of water, have full toilet cassettes or run out of coal or diesel.

There is an added problem during the winter in that a large proportion of the moorings are sold off as Winter Moorings. These are of two types. Either a specific location, at a high cost, such as Paddington Basin, where you are guaranteed a space. Or a General Towpath Mooring where the payment of £100 a month relieves you of the necessity of moving every 14 days. However, as none of the designated places have their own water points you will have to move at some point anyway!”

Within a couple of days of receiving this article from Pete, I also received an email asking me about the availability of visitor moorings in and around London. I didn’t know, so I turned to Pete again. Here’s what he had to say…

“There are no sensible visitor moorings.

Paddington Basin is 7 days and is heavily policed by the security staff of Merchant Square aka M & S who own the bank side. There are about 20 narrowboat moorings there so should find a space in the summer months. It is all winter moorings until April. You can book a mooring at the London Canal Museum for £8 a night inc electricity. Then there is a policed 24 hour mooring at Limehouse.

If I was visiting for the summer I would aim to be at Kensal Green overnight so as to arrived at Paddington mid morning when other boats might have moved. The moor at the museum which would give an easy run to Limehouse. Limehouse to Tottenham Hale is an easy days run in the summer.

There is also the chance that he could book the moorings at Rembrandt Gardens at Little Venice for £10 a night. I’m assured by CRT that the scheme will be up and running for next year.

London is further compromised at present by large chunks of the towpath being fenced off at Kings Cross because of redevelopment and also by the Olympic Park. Two years after the Olympics and you still can’t moor there or explore the back waterways!

If you are one of the estimated thousand plus live aboard boat owners somewhere inside the M25, I would love to hear from you. I received an email from one London boater last week. He said that I was beginning to annoy him – he put it rather more strongly than that – with my rose tinted view of the live aboard lifestyle. He said that living on a boat in London is all about survival and that the problem is getting worse every day. He said that, over the previous four weeks, he had personally seen at least half a dozen new live aboard boat owners a day heading into the city. If you would like to comment on the situation as you see it, please email me. I’ll include your response in next week’s newsletter.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2014 11 16 Newsletter – Narrowboat Fuel Consumption

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself this week. I am very lucky. I work outside all of the time, away from often crowded heated work places which breed germs. I’m sometimes cold after a day’s work, often wet but, generally, supremely fit and healthy. My last day sick day off work was Boxing Day 1983. I can’t remember when I last had a cold, but I’ve got one now, and I don’t like it at all.

I’ve been working our larger woodland area for the last few days. The squirrels have been at it again. This spring they chewed the bark off about fifty oak and nearly all the hornbeam we have on site. The oak aren’t too much of a problem. One thousand five hundred were planted fifteen years ago. The trees are now twenty five to thirty feet tall and many are far too close together. The oak, and the seven hundred and fifty ash, want thinning out if the trees are to remain healthy and have enough room to grow. I’ll choose which ash to remove, but the squirrels have chosen the oak.

Removing some bark doesn’t kill the tree, but if it’s removed from the trunk’s full circumference, “ring barked”, nutrients can’t reach the part of the tree above the missing bark, so it dies. If the tree is in an open space, the lower section of the tree will survive as a healthy but visually unappealing bush.

In our densely packed woodland though, the ring barked section becomes brittle, then usually snaps off in the autumn’s high winds. In subsequent years, the neighbouring trees form a canopy over the damaged tree depriving it of light. The overshadowed tree eventually dies.

Many of the damaged trees still look relatively healthy but they will die and are currently taking up valuable space. The crowns have blown out of some but, because of the density of trees, they’ve been left suspended above the woodland footpaths waiting to drop on unsuspecting walkers beneath.

So for much of this week I’ve been cutting down trees while trying to cope manfully with a streaming cold. The lethargy and listlessness is bad enough, even if it does give me an insight into how one of our younger members of staff apparently feels all of the time, but the constantly runny nose is driving me made, especially when I’m using my chainsaw.

When I’m using the saw I have to wear protective clothing which includes safety gloves and a helmet with a perspex visor. If I’m felling a tree I can’t stop to blow my nose and if I can’t blow my constantly running nose when I’m bending down, the inevitable result is most of the contents of my head pouring out of my face on to my visor. It hasn’t been very pleasant. The experience reminded me of looking through a scuba mask when diving at a fluid and rippling landscape… only in this instance with far more trees.

Life hasn’t been much better indoors. I’ve fallen out with Sally again. I don’t really understand why she’s so angry with me.

I don’t like to waste money on hair cuts so for the last three or four years my boat has been a DIY barber shop. Once a month I sit on a stool in the only free space we have on the boat. Unfortunately it’s next to the stove so haircuts in the winter can be quite a warm affair. I sit on the stool while part time hair dresser Sally goes to town on my grey head. She does a very good job.

Recently Sally has been working night shifts and she’s also been working quite a few extra shifts, also at night, to save up for her planned three or four month return to the Philippines in January. She comes back to the boat after a twelve hour shift just after I’ve left for my own nine hour shift at Calcutt Boats. When I get back from work in the evening, we say a quick hello, eat the evening meal together, then she’s off again.

On most of my days off I run discovery days and on what few days off Sally has at the moment, I’m working. There’s very little time for my monthly hair cut.

On Tuesday my regular monthly hair cut was overdue by nearly a month so, as Sally is so short of free time, I thought I would do it myself.

Have you ever tried to cut your own hair?

It’s not easy. I started off with the No 6 attachment. I ran it over my unruly mop until there was a mountain of grey and white hair cascading over the dogs laying at my feet. I had a quick look in a mirror and decided that there was more work to do. I couldn’t see well enough to trim the edges around my ears or the back of my neck so I decided that the best solution was to shorten it a bit, and then a bit more, and then a bit more.

Eventually I achieved the neatness I was after but only for one very simple reason. I had very little hair left. I had become so obsessed with neat edges that I didn’t really focus on which attachments I was using. The fact that I was on my second glass of a very pleasant Australian red, and that I was further distracted by Sean Lock on 8 Out of 10 Cats probably didn’t help.  Now I have an all over No 2 and, according to Sally, I look either like a convict or an ardent National Front supporter.

She isn’t very happy.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday felling and logging more damaged oak, ash growing too close to neigbours and a large shallow rooted larch which was about to fall across an often used woodland path, and then I breathed a sigh of relief, brought a copy of December’s Waterways World home with me from work, had dinner, spent an hour on my laptop and then took myself and my magazine to bed.

I don’t usually read for very long. I’m too tired, and the cosy bed plus the sound of the wind and rain lulls me to sleep. The sound of the wind and the rain lulls me to sleep providing the wind isn’t blowing from the east.

An east wind howls across the marina, skirts around the island behind me and then slams into the back of the boat. The wind doesn’t cause any problems. It’s the waves that the wind creates on its trip across the open water. They hit the boat with a rhythmic and rather loud SLAP, SLOP, SLAP, SLOP. It’s not the most relaxing sound in the world.

I didn’t sleep very well on Thursday night. The stiff easterly was still blowing on Friday morning bringing plenty of heavy rain with it. The rain was still bouncing off the roof at 8am when Brent Smith was due to arrive.

The furthest travelled discovery attendee was Davie McLachlan who was with me the previous weekend. Davies drove down from Inverness to see me. OK, he was also visiting relatives on Merseyside but part of the reason for the trip was to come out on James for the day. Five hundred miles was a fair way to travel for a day out on a boat but Brent beat the record by a wide margin. He flew in from Australia.

OK. Again, he didn’t come just to see me. He was over here for five weeks for a variety of reasons, including visiting brokers looking at boats for sale. Friday was his last day in England before the arduous flight back to warmer weather.

At quarter past eight when he still hadn’t arrived I put on my waterproofs and went looking for him. I found him driving through a rain soaked car park on site. I brought him back to my boat, made a coffee and then spent an hour discussing the pros and cons of various aspects of my boat, all the time looking out of the window hoping the rain would ease.

It didn’t and Brent, because he was travelling light, didn’t have any waterproofs with him. As luck would have it, I had some spares on board so we set off with heavy rain being blown into our faces by a chill wind.

We were lucky. By 11am the rain stopped, the wind died, and the sun came out. We enjoyed a very pleasant cruise to Braunston and a bit of a challenging trip back to Calcutt with a low sun dazzling us from a cloudless sky. By the time this newsletter goes out, Brent will be back on the other side of the world with, hopefully, some very pleasant memories of boating in Warwickshire.

Narrowboat Engine Fuel Consumption

“How many miles does it do to the gallon?” It’s a question which is often asked of cars, but rarely of narrowboats. The problem is, miles to the gallon is a difficult figure to work out on a narrowboat. The  boat’s diesel tank is often used to supply the central heating system as well as the engine so it’s quite difficult to work out how much is used by the engine and how much is used by the heating system.

There’s another issue too. The boat’s engine is often used for hours at a time to charge the battery bank when the boat is stationary. Some boaters use the engine more for battery charging than they do to move from A to B.

And when the boat engine is used to move the boat, for a varying proportion of the cruising day, the boat can be sitting still is a series of locks so no distance is covered.

Because of these variables, the figure which is usually quoted, if a figure is quoted at all, is the average number of litres an hour that the engine uses when it’s running regardless of whether the engine is being used to move the boat through the water or just to charge the batteries.

I keep accurate records of my expenditure on diesel and the number of litres I put in each time I top up. I also make a note of the boat engine hours running total. I know that when I last topped the tank up just over a week ago the total hours for the year was 332. Unfortunately very little of that was used by me exploring the network.

Sally and I had two weeks out in June and then another at the end of September. We went from the marina to Market Harborough and back in June and then pottered about without going far at all in September. The majority of the diesel I’ve used and the engine hours I’ve run up this year have been on discovery days. The engine’s generally running for six or seven hours on each day, and nearly all of that time the boat is cruising.

Because I have all of this information to hand, I can say with confidence that my boat’s thirty seven year old 38hp Mercedes OM636 uses an average of 1.24 litres of diesel per hour and for most of this time the engine is running at between 1300rpm (passing moored boats) and 1800rpm (top cruising speed without creating breaking wash).

As a completely pointless but, to me, interesting exercise, as I know the average hourly fuel consumption, I’m also able to calculate the fuel consumption in terms which would mean something to a car owner.

Many boaters talk about an average speed of 4mph but they don’t take into consideration delays at locks, passing moored boats, negotiating congested spots, tight bends and bridge holes. I used the excellent CanalPlan route planner to work out the distance and the time taken for two routes; one from Calcutt marina to Llangollen and one from Calcutt marina to Bath. The average speed for both routes was roughly 1.8 miles per hour. I had guessed that my own average was just over two miles an hour but I’m sure the CanalPlan formula is more accurate.

For the sake of this exercise, if I say the average distance travelled by a narrowboat in an hour is two miles, and I know that my boat uses 1.24 litres per hour, I can work out that a gallon of diesel will run my boat for 3.67 hours (1 gallon = 4.55 litres so 4.55/1.24 litres per hour = 3.67 hours).

If a gallon of diesel will run my engine for 3.67 hours and the average distance my boat travels in an hour is two miles, my boat achieves 7.34 miles to the gallon.

Just over seven miles to the gallon is two and a half times as thirsty as my old gas guzzling Nissan Pathfinder. In fact, my lovely floating home gets slightly less miles to the gallon than a Hummer. Mind you, the boat may well use more fuel per mile travelled than the American monstrosity, but I’m pretty sure it’s much more comfortable to live in.

Single Handed Locking

I received the following email earlier in the week from live aboard wide beam owner Trevor Martin concerning single handed locking, and as I spent all Saturday locking single handed (and getting paid for it. It’s not a bad way to earn a living!), I though I would include the email in the newsletter and add a few comments of my own. Trevor mentions in his email that each lock took him forty five minutes. I questioned him on the figure and admitted that three quarters of an hour was the time taken to negotiate the first lock of the day when the flight had completely drained overnight. The flight actually took him just over nine hours in total to complete, which is still a fair day’s work.

“I recently had the “opportunity” to navigate the Caen Hill flight on my own, 29 locks in under 4 miles with the actual flight made up of 16 locks tightly spaced to raise/lower over 200 feet. I was helped going down the flight by the “crew” of a Fat Boat following me but still took 45 minutes per lock on my own, (moor up, fill lock, open, cast off, manoeuvre into the lock, empty, manoeuvre out, moor up, close lock and cast off again).

The best way I found when operating locks single handed is to slowly open one paddle while the boat is inside so that the boat moves forward toward the gates. Use a centre line on the roof to loop around a bollard toward the aft end, and control the boat movement from outside the lock by using the centre line. Only one paddle to be opened, otherwise the rush of water will make the boat move too quickly for some “crew” to handle in this way. Once the lock is emptied, the gates can be opened. I have found at this stage, the best way to proceed is to tie the boat in the lock, run (or walk) to the next lock to fill and fully open the gates. Now, once back on the boat, manoeuvre out of the lock and straight into the next. Tie up inside the lock, run (or walk) back to the previous lock to close it and start the process all over again. It’s much easier with travellers helping but when I had to navigate the flight on my own, it was last week and not many boats going through the locks.

I’m sure this method has been in use for years by seasoned travellers, but being fairly new to canal boating, I seem to learn things by trial and error :-)”

Leaving your boat in a lock while you walk to the next lock to prepare it is a great way to save yourself a lot of effort. Rather than set the lock, get back on to your boat, bring it out of the lock, move over to the towpath, secure the boat, set the next lock, walk back to your boat, untie it and push it away from the side, climb on board and navigate, often from an awkward angle, into the new lock, you can just head pretty much in a straight line from one lock into the next.

There is a problem with this technique though. You can only do it when the canals are quiet. It’s not acceptable to leave your boat in a lock while you prepare the next one if there’s any traffic waiting to use the lock so you’ll find that this technique works best for you either early in the morning or late in the evening or out of season.

What Trevor hasn’t mentioned in his email is how you are supposed to get on and off your boat in an empty lock. You can either use your centre line to pull your boat out of the lock before getting on board, or you can climb onto your boat in the lock.

I made a mistake when I had my solar panels installed. I have three of them taking up much of the space between the centre and the rear of the boat. Much of the remaining space is covered by the pole and plank and the brackets they sit on on the starboard side. Single handed locking is now a bit tricky for me.

If I enter an empty lock, sometimes I can slow the boat almost to a stop as I enter the lock, then step off on the lock landing with the centre line then run up the steps, flick the rope over the balance beam and then tie the boat off on a bollard and bring it to rest. If I can’t use this technique, I have to take the boat in to the lock and then climb out of the lock if I’m going up or climb down into the lock when I’m ready to exit if I’m going down.

Regardless of the direction of my climb I have to carefully negotiate the clutter on the roof. It’s potentially dangerous, especially when the roof is either wet or icy.

The mistake I made was not installing the solar panels on the front section of boat’s roof. It would have meant running a cable the full length of the boat back to the engine room, but at least I would have a clear section of roof to walk on in locks. In the meantime, I’ll just have to practice keeping my balance.

Discovery Day Update

I’ve finally pinned down the availability for next year’s discovery days and updated the calendar. I’ll be holding the days on the first two weekends of every even months plus the week days between those two weekends. For the sake of clarity, here are the dates.

3rd – 12th April

5th – 14th June

31st July – 9th August

2nd – 11th October

4th – 13th December

Of course, if you are one of the many future attendees who believe in forward planning who have already booked a date for next year, even if those dates fall outside of the new schedule, those dates will be honoured. I’ll hot foot it back from wherever I’ve been exploring on the network to meet you.

If you want to book a date, or just want to check the current availability, here’s a link to the calendars for the single, exclusive single and couple discovery days.

If you’re sitting on the fence, not really sure whether a discovery day will be of real use to you, I urge you to read this feedback from people who have already joined me for the day. Without exception, the comments I’ve received have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m trying not to sound as though I’m blowing my own trumpet, but I’m constantly told what a productive and enjoyable day it is.My apologies for the layout of the testimonials page. As usual, I can’t find the time to add all the bells and whistles. Roll on April when I’ll have so much more time on my hands!

If you’re serious about living afloat, and want to combine a day discussing the pros and cons of various boats, the equipment in them and the lifestyle itself with plenty of hands on training along a challenging and beautiful route, then I sincerely hope you’ll pay me a visit.

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.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2014 11 09 Newsletter – How To Spot Bogus Narrowboat Adverts

The countdown continues. By the time you read this there will be just 143 days to go before the Grand Cruise.  One hundred and forty three days is just a hop, skip and a jump away, but I’m not sure I’ll make it. I nearly finished myself and the dogs off on Wednesday evening.

As is usual these days, I came back from work just after 5,30, tired and very hungry.  Sally had a steaming wok full of adobo waiting on the dinette table. Adobo is a popular Philippines dish consisting of meat, in this case chicken, marinated in soy sauce, garlic and vinegar, and in our case three chopped chillies to give it a little something extra, then simmered in the marinade. It’s delicious. After the spicy dish, served with rice and asparagus, Sally showered and changed into her work uniform while I put some more fuel on the fire in anticipation of a cold night.

Normally I would just add a dozen coal briquettes from the coal box next to the stove, open the stove’s bottom vent and within half and hour relax in the welcoming waves of warm air from the flickering flames dancing above the glowing coals. On Wednesday evening though I took advantage of some free fuel.

We had a sample bag of heat logs in our reception area. I’m not sure where they came from but the half empty bag was shared between office based Douglas and myself. My share was just two dozen compressed “logs”, each slightly smaller than a tennis ball and the same shape as the machine rolled hay bales you see in fields at the end of summer.

Heat logs are usually a waste of time. They burn too quickly, cost too much and expand uselessly to about three times their normal size if they get wet but, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I threw half of them on the fire just as Sally left for work.

Heat logs normally burst into flames almost immediately if added to an already hot fire. These didn’t. They smouldered and smoked for fifteen minutes before finally limping to life. They burned in a very half hearted fashion for about half an hour before smouldering and smoking again. Just to get them out of the way, I threw the remaining dozen pieces on the fire expecting the same result.

The new logs smoked and smouldered with much more enthusiasm than the first batch. In fact they smoked so much that thick grey clounds billowed out from the stove door’s top edge into the cabin filling the space with a choking haze. I couldn’t remove the glowing and crumbly logs from the fire because of the likelihood of dropping them and burning me, the boat or both.

I opened all the cabin windows, turned on the kitchen extractor fan, threw the front doors open and rolled up both sides of the cratch cover to allow the now frigid marina breeze to clear the smoke inside the boat.

The heat logs carried on smoking for a further two hours. All I could do was sit and wait. I couldn’t go to bed and leave the fire as it wasn’t a certainty that the dogs or I would wake up in the morning.

When I could finally open the stove door without filling the boat completely with smoke, I tried to work out why the normally very effective flu hadn’t drawn the smoke out of the boat. The cause of the problem was obvious. An inch high layer of thick ash from the logs had settled on the plate above the fire and just beneath the flue effectively stopping smoke from leaving the stove.

I cleaned out the crud before putting some briquettes in the fire and normal service was resumed. I then spent twenty minutes the following morning cleaning the thick black layer of soot off my normally clear stove door glass, and a further quarter of an hour standing on the gunwale on Thursday morning rattling a length of heavy chain inside the flu to make sure that there was nothing else blocking it.

Douglas took his share of heat logs back to his house in the original bag so I can’t warn you about the particular brand but there’s still a lesson to be learned. It’s important to test new fuel in a controlled environment. I hate to think what would have happened if I had thrown the heat logs into the stove and then left the dense smoke to fill up the boat for a couple of hours.

Apart from the excitement inside the boat on Wednesday, my week has been as gentle and relaxing as usual. I had a rest on Monday after three consecutive discovery days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I spent the day on my Husqvarna mower cutting the grass for about the third “last time” of the year. The very mild October temperatures and frequent showers have kept the grass growing at the normal summer rate. I’m pretty sure that’s it now though. We’ve had a couple of frosts this week so that should have finished the grass off for the season.

On Tuesday the highlight of the day was taking a couple of boats from the wharf down to the marina. The hire season has finished so we have our own fleet of twelve boats moored on the wharf as well as four narrowboat which we look after for the Royal Navy. They offer them to all staff at a subsidised rate. All four boats are out most of the time during the season but like our own fleet they’re finished now.

All of the boats will have some work done on them before the new season starts next April. Some of them will be repainted completely. First in line this year were two of the navy’s boats. Rob and I took them from the wharf, put them into the middle lock and roped them both together. Roping them together allowed Rob to set the locks while I took the two boats from the middle to the bottom lock.

Once the bottom lock was drained and I had slowly brought the pair outside the lock gates so that Rob could close them behind me, we untied both boats so that we could get them through the marina entrance one at a time, then tied them both onto the rusting dump barge we use for mooring our hire fleet over the winter.

It’s wonderful getting paid to take boats for a cruise.

On Wednesday I was back in the cottage garden next to Calcutt Top Lock. It’s a wonderful place to work surrounded by healthy fruit trees and close enough to the canal to watch passing traffic and to have the occasional shouted conversation.

The garden orchard, a mix of apple, pear, walnut and damson has been somewhat neglected in recent years. The solitary pear tree was far too high. I cut a little off it last year which sparked the first pear production for a few years but the fruit was till too high to be picked.

The orchard’s dominant tree was an unproductive damson which overshadowed the garden’s best producing apple tree. Both the damson and the pear needed cutting down to size. Pat held the ladder for me while I spent a couple of hours lopping off branches.

The end result is a much tidier orchard and one which should be far more productive in the years to come. I won’t be working at the marina when the next crop ripens, but I’ll be able to see them from the towpath when I return every six to eight weeks to run my discovery days.

Discover The Joy Of Autumn Cruising

Talking of discovery days, the response since inception has been wonderful. Every date since late June has been booked and the post event feedback has been fantastic.

The season is now drawing to a close. I’ll be running the days up until late December and then taking a three month break before starting again at the beginning of April. I’ve decided not to take bookings for the first three months of the year purely because of the potential for disruption.

The two most likely causes for disruption are winter stoppages and ice.

Stoppages are both scheduled and unscheduled work to sections of the canal network. The scheduled stoppages are carried out during the winter months when there is less traffic on the canals. For example, the three lock flights closest to the marina here are all going to be closed at some stage over this coming winter.

The Napton flight will be closed for a month and a half to carry out a range of repairs and improvements including the repair of a collapsed lock approach wall which caused a bit of a traffic jam in the middle of the season this year when a substantial section of the wall tumbled into the water narrowly missing a passing boat.

The Braunston flight will close for a month early in the new year to repair leaking gates and the structure of several locks and the Stockton flight will be closed for two weeks in March to repair leaking gates.

The stoppage section of the Canal & River Trust’s site gives full details and the estimated stoppage period so boaters can at least make cruising plans around these delays. What boaters can’t plan for is the weather.

Cruising in torrential rain is possible. In fact it’s very enjoyable if you have a decent set of waterproofs and the right attitude. Cruising is strong wind is a bit of a challenge but the wind’s strength doesn’t often prevent a determined boater from getting from A to B. A frozen canal on the other hand isn’t something you should play around with.

Last year was very mild indeed. We only had slightly sub zero temperatures on three nights during the winter months and no ice on the canal at all. The year before was pretty good too but the first year I moved on board was a different kettle of fish.

From the last week in November to the first week in January the canal was impassible. Four to six inches of ice locked boats into their moorings for a month and a half. In theory, it’s possible to move your boat along the canal even if it’s covered with an inch or more of ice. It’s possible, but not advisable. Even a relatively thin layer of ice will scour away the hull’s protective paint and the ice will remove most of the paint from the waterline which is the area of your boat most at risk from rust. So you can take your boat cruising through the ice… as long as you don’t mind paying five or six hundred pounds to have it blacked again when you return.

Because of the uncertainty of the weather and stoppages I won’t do any discovery days between the end of December and the beginning of April but there’s still a chance to book one before then.

There are currently four places still available for single boaters (I’m afraid that all of the slots for couples and exclusive singles are taken). The free dates are Friday 14th, Sunday 16th and Friday 28th November and Sunday 14th December. Find out more and book a date here.

I’ve noticed that as the temperature drops and the days get shorter potential attendees are more reluctant to book a date. I can understand the appeal of a lazy day on the still waters of a reed fringed canal drenched in summer sun and a relaxing midday break sitting in a comfortable canal-side camp chair watching streams of happy boaters float by. It’s a wonderful way to spend the day, but a day spent out on the canal at this time of the year is actually far more productive.

In the autumn it’s often fairly windy. Wind is the enemy of narrowboat owners. The combination of a flat bottom – the boat, not you – and extensive near vertical sides creating substantial wind resistance mean that you have to employ a completely new set of skills to control your floating home.

Three weeks ago I had the pleasure of Ian Hopkinson’s company for the day. Ian owns a 70′ narrowboat but he wanted a few pointers to help him control his craft. Our day out on the water was, shall we say, a little blowy. Here’s what Ian had to say about his experience…

The day turned out to be tailor-made for my needs. I did state that I required help and guidance with single handed narrowboating and that’s exactly what you gave me. The’ icing on the cake’, as it turned out, were the very windy conditions, which really put me on my metal! Several hours of battling difficult conditions, has seared a lasting impression on my memory!

Thanks Paul for the cool,calm way you corrected my mistakes, considering it was your boat, your home and livelihood that you had trusted me with!

I was given a shed load of very helpful tips throughout the day, on boat handling, particularly with regard to bridge holes,bends and locks. All questions were answered in detail.

By the end of the day I was tired but elated,having completed the day without any major mishaps and my confidence level boosted by 100 % !

I am now looking forward to handling my own boat and putting into use everything I have learnt.

I would recommend the Discovery day to anyone new to narrowboating. You give an excellent grounding on which to build upon future experiences. The Discovery day also gives anyone new to living on a narrowboat the chance to avoid some potentially expensive mistakes and help with the pros and cons of choosing the type of boat.”

If I had taken Ian out on a calm day in the middle of summer, I’m sure that he would still have had a very pleasant day and would have picked up some very valuable tips. However, the adverse weather conditions we encountered allowed me to demonstrate the necessary techniques to keep a boat out of harms way, especially when approaching narrow bridge holes in a cross wind.

A windy day in autumn is a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. I took another soon-to-be boat owner out on a windy day yesterday. Davie  McLachlan is my furthest travelled discovery day attendee to date. He drove down from Inverness to visit relatives on the Wirral peninsula then joined me for a day of wet and windy boating. We had a great time.

Inappropriate clothing rather than bad weather is what usually spoils the day. Both Dave and I were kitted out for the worst the day could throw at as but despite forecast torrential rain all day we spent the afternoon cruising in dry but blustery conditions. Dave booked an exclusive discovery so he had the boat to himself for the six hour cruise up through the Caluctt flight of three locks then six often narrow, winding and windswept miles to Braunston where we turned in the entrance to Braunston marina behind the Gongoozler’s Rest cafe.

We didn’t pass a huge number of moving boats while we were out but out of the intrepid few, we saw three which were pinned against the towpath by the wind and one at Braunston junction trying repeatedly to turn against the wind from the north Oxford onto the combined Grand Union and Oxford canals heading towards Napton On The Hill.

Yesterday was Dave’s first taste of narrowboat helmsmanship but within a couple of hours he was confidently negotiating tight bends in a strong cross wind, anticipating the boat’s drift and maintaining his line. He arrived in the morning quite nervous about handling the boat but left in the afternoon supremely confident in his ability to handle a 62′ narrowboat on his own.

The autumn is a fantastic time of the year to hone your narrow driving skills so if you are seriously considering investing a considerable sum in a floating home, here’s the perfect opportunity to experience a day afloat before the end of the year. Click here to find out more or to book one of the four remaining dates.

Beware Bogus Narrowboat Adverts… Again

In February 2012 I published this article about fake adverts detailing narrowboats for sale on eBay. The adverts were, and are, quite common. They show well specified and comfortable looking boats being sold at prices which sound too good to be true. The prices are too good to be true because they aren’t true. They’re scams perpetrated by individuals whose first language doesn’t appear to be English.

I know I’ve covered the subject before but it’s worth mentioning again. Many aspiring boat owners dreams are thwarted by the high costs of boats. These bogus adverts offer an affordable if scarcely believable solution to the problem.

I received the following email from Jess a few weeks ago. Jess has asked me not to publish her surname to save her embarrassment. She realises now that her heart ruled her head. If the person behind the scam had been a little smarter, they would have been able to con Jess out of a £500 deposit for the bargain boat.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photo’s of the boat, nor can I find any now because the listing has been removed. However, anyone who has done a little research to get the feel for narrowboat prices by simply browsing the 1,000 plus narrowboat listings on Apolloduck would realise that an asking price of £30,000 would have been far more realistic than the non negotiable £5,500 requested by this seller.

“Hi Paul,

It seems as though my partner and I have almost been victim to the Ebay boat scam- I now know has circulated in the past thanks to googling it- and funnily enough an article of yours came up from a few years ago.

My incident is very similar to the one you described, it was a beautiful boat and all seemed too good to be true- luckily enough we said we weren’t going ahead- to which I recieved a very robot like response, and after being very disappointed at having to say no (the logistics weren’t right for us) as I’ve come round to realise it was a scam, I feel very relieved.

I think its really important to let the rest of the boating community know- let me know if you’d like more information so you can include it in a newsletter.

It came with a very detailed back story, and we came scarily close to going ahead with it. It would have been our first boat, and all of my savings! It would be great to share my story and make the rest of the boat community aware so it doesn’t happen to them!

Thank you,

Jess”

Jess forwarded all of the emails too and from the seller. Here’s the first response from the seller “Ana Katherine Palmer” after Jess’s initial enquiry;

“Hello, 

This boat its just perfect, Immaculate condition, no damages, once with the boat you will also get all the equipment my husband had. 
The final price is not negotiable: £5500. My husband died 2 months ago and I can’t even use it because I don’t have a driver’s license. I had a buyer just 1 week ago but that person really scared me. He came with 2 friends and wanted to pay me with fake notes. I was lucky that my father in law was close and noticed that. Since I’m getting a lot of messages regarding the sale, I decided to list it on eBay with a buy it now option and whoever wins it will be the next owner. I assume you already have an eBay account. If not, please register and let me know when you are ready so I can email you the link.
If you’d like to secure the deal before anybody else does, then please buy it on eBay. Feel free to ask me any questions.
Thanks”

Jess noted that the seller hadn’t addressed her by name in the email but didn’t pick up the reference to needing a driving license for the boat. Here’s Jess’s reply;

 “Hi Katherine- I completely agree- what a beauty she is. Very sorry to hear of your husbands passing- you can certainly tell all of his hard work and care that went into it. I’m ready to buy it now if you could send the link please? Desperately scared someone else is going to buy it- I’m at work today so will respond as soon as I can.

Many thanks,

Jess”

And then when Jess didn’t hear from the seller she sent another email;

Hi again Katherine,

As I’m at work today and need to transfer some money in to my account in order to make the full payment to you. I was wondering if you could possibly reserve the boat for me? I can pay you a deposit of £500 this afternoon and any additional costs it may have spent you to take it down from eBay. The full payment would be with you this evening.”

Jess then received the following template reply without any reference to her suggested deposit but which mentioned the seller’s reluctance to allow potential buyers to see the boat, something which Jess hadn’t mentioned in her email. The seller also advised Jess of the boat’s location. The location was hundred’s of miles from Bedford which was on the original listing.

“Hello,

After my last experience I’m not welcome visits any more, sorry. The best way to complete this transaction, because of the distance problem (I’m in Ellon in Scotland, the boat is also here with me), is to use eBay Money Back Guarantee.
They will handle everything for both of us, including transportation and transfer of the boat papers to your name. You don’t have to pay anything extra, the total price that you must pay for this boat is £5,500, including transportation and transfer of the papers to your name. 
Here is how the transaction will go on:
-I will make a private eBay listing for you.
-You will have to click “buy it now”, fill in the forms and follow the instructions. 
-eBay will send you an invoice with all the transaction details and the payment instructions.
-You will have to secure the funds to eBay.
-After the funds will be secured to eBay, the delivery will begin and the boat will arrive to you in max. 48 hours.
-When the boat will be in your custody, you will have a 3 days inspection period.
If everything is alright, the transaction ends and eBay will release the money to me. If there is something wrong with the boat, you will be fully refunded and I’ll get my boat back too, without any extra fees.Everything is covered by eBay. I will get paid only after you confirm that you received it. I would need your ebay username so I can send you the link. I’m waiting for your reply.
Thank you.” 

At this stage, even though Jess was still keen to buy the boat at this price, because she had thought about the logistics of getting the boat off the back of a lorry into the water and the costs involved, she reluctantly sent the following;

“Hi Katherine, thankyou so much for your correspondence.
It breaks my heart to say we can’t continue with our payment to you. As you can respect- it has happened very quickly, we can’t afford the additional payments to get the boat in the water, neither can we arrange time off at such late notice to oversee things.
It really is the perfect boat, but has come to us at the wrong time.
I’m very sorry for wasting your time, and I hope you find a suitable owner soon, thanks again,
Jess
Unsurprisingly she received a further stock response;
“The boat will be delivered to you with Shiply, eBay’s official shipping company with a lorry. You are not resonsable for any damage that could happen on the route. As about the payment, the payment is not directly to me. The money must be sent to eBay payment agent. The payment instructions, as I told you, will be sent to you by eBay once the purchase is complete. Also you will have 3 days to inspect and test the boat before the money will be released to me by eBay. If there is something wrong with the boat, you will be fully refunded and I will get it back too without any extra fees. The shipping procedure will begin only after the funds will be secured to eBay, after the money will be deposited into eBay’s payment agent bank account. I’m waiting for your reply.
Thanks”
And then another, this time offering a reduction in the price. Remember, this price is for a well specified fifty five feet long narrowboat;
“Hello,
After my last experience I’m not welcome visits any more, sorry. The best way to complete this transaction, because of the distance problem (I’m in Ellon in Scotland, the boat is also here with me), is to use eBay Money Back Guarantee. 
They will handle everything for both of us, including transportation and transfer of the boat papers to your name. You don’t have to pay anything extra, the total price that you must pay for this boat is £3,450, including transportation and transfer of the papers to your name. 
Here is how the transaction will go on:
-I will make a private eBay listing for you.
-You will have to click “buy it now”, fill in the forms and follow the instructions. 
-eBay will send you an invoice with all the transaction details and the payment instructions.
-You will have to secure the funds to eBay.
-After the funds will be secured to eBay, the delivery will begin and the boat will arrive to you in max. 48 hours.
-When the boat will be in your custody, you will have a 3 days inspection period. If everything is alright, the transaction ends and eBay will release the money to me. If there is something wrong with the boat, you will be fully refunded and I’ll get my boat back too, without any extra fees.
Everything is covered by eBay. I will get paid only after you confirm that you received it. I would need your ebay username so I can send you the link. I’m waiting for your reply.
Thank you.”

I am very grateful to Jess for sending me her correspondence. In hindsight she knows she was very naive to believe the authenticity of either the initial advert or any of the subsequent emails but she said that she was “blinded by the boat” and no doubt the thought of living a tranquil life afloat.

If you are currently considering buying your own boat, always remember the old adage, if an offer seems to good to be true, it probably is.

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.

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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