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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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2015 03 29 Newsletter – Licencing Your Boat

It’s 10.20am on Sunday. I’m sitting on our double bed in the cabin at the back of the boat playing with my new toy.

There isn’t much space on a narrowboat for two people and two dogs to coexist in harmony. We spend our lives with us and everything we own crammed in to three hundred square feet. Three hundred square feet is slightly smaller than the lounge in my old house.

The area where I normally do most of my typing, and what passes for thinking, is next to our “utility room” area where I foolishly installed a twin tub washing machine a year and a half ago to save us having to use the washing machines in the shower block or launderettes when we are out cruising. Unfortunately Sally’s regime for keeping our clothes clean and mine are poles apart.

While Sally was away in the Philippines for six weeks earlier this year I thought I kept myself in pretty good order. Two half hour washing sessions were enough to clean everything needing cleaning before Sally returned.

Sally, on the other hand, manages to find gainful employment for the twin tub most days for hours at a time including times when I need to concentrate on writing. The solution was for me to find somewhere else to work. Unfortunately there are very few alternatives available on board apart from our bedroom.

I tried working in there before with me sitting on the bed with the heat from the laptop resting on my legs burning a hole through my thighs, a crick in my neck and locked wrists from the unnatural typing angle. I gave up after half an hour.

Sally suggested I buy a laptop bed desk. I didn’t know such a thing existed but I found plenty of them for sale on Amazon. I picked a model from Lavolta. I’ve been using it for a week. Now that I’ve worked out how to set it up, I love it. The desk is a flat plastic tray with two pivoting arms either side allowing the table to be set in at least a million different positions. I’ve tried them all and eventually found a position which works for me.

So I’m sitting on our bed with the table straddled across my legs. It’s very cosy in here. There’s the distant and ever present rumble of the washing machine in the background and the faint murmur of voices. I think Sally is using Skype to speak to her sister on the tropical island of Negros.

A gale force wind is howling over the water rattling pea sized rain drops against the window. Grey white crested waves are slapping against the side of the boat. If I look out of the opposite window past the flitting tits and finches on the swaying feeder in a nearby ash, I can see two wind blown anglers cowering under a flimsy green umbrella. They don’t have much equipment with them so I suspect that they are eastern Europeans fishing for the pot. I hope the fish aren’t biting.

Anyway, I digress. Let me take you back to the excitement at the start of the week.

I was up at 5am on Monday ready for my last full week working at Calcutt Boats and eager to get off the slipway where we had been living on the boat out of the water for three days while we blacked the hull.

The initial plan was for me to take the day off work to finish off the blacking but with new bitumen applying supremo Sally at hand I didn’t really have an option. She wanted me to leave her alone so that she could indulge in her new passion for dressing up in a dirty old man’s overalls, sorry, I should have said an old man’s dirty overalls, and slapping tar based paint on the outside of her floating home.

By the time I popped back to the boat for lunch Sally had finished applying the third and final coat to the hull, the removed weed hatch, the weed hatch surround and her face. We then had nearly a full day for the paint to dry before the scheduled return to the water at 8am on Tuesday.

We were both up early for the following day to prepare for our reentry. We took advantage of the nearby facilities first. The nearest tap to our dump barge mooring is 100m away so we used the tap next to the slipway to top up our water tank. Then we hauled the half full toilet cassette off the boat to empty it in to the nearby marina Elsan point. But the most important job of the morning was to replace the weed hatch.

The weed hatch is a lid on a rectangular hole through the bottom of the boat to allow easy access to a fouled propeller when the boat is in the water. If the weed hatch lid is left off when the boat is wheeled down the steep slipway back into the marina, water will flood into the engine bay and possibly into the cabin. If the weed hatch is still left off when the engine is put into gear, the thrashing propeller will push a tidal wave of water into the boat.

I quickly stuck weed hatch tape around the bottom of the weed hatch lid then hauled it up a ladder next to the boat’s stern and on to the back deck. I lined up the two small circular holes in the weed hatch lid with the threaded bars welded to the weed hatch and dropped the lid into place before attempting to screw the two securing handles into place.

I’ve always struggled to secure my weed hatch. Either the weed hatch lid is too tall or the threaded bars are too short but when the lid is in place there’s only about a quarter of an inch of threaded bar to screw the handles on to. Now, with three thick coats of bitumen and a new layer of spongy weed hatch tape, the quarter of an inch was reduced to nothing at all.

I used all of my technical skills to try and resolve the issue. First I tried pushing the weed hatch lid down enough to reveal some of the thread. Then I tried forcing the lid down with a lump hammer. Then I jumped up and down on the lid and swore at it. As a last desperate measure I swore at Sally when she came to help. Nothing worked, especially swearing at Sally. I’m sure she’ll speak to me again but only once she’s taught me a lesson in good manners by remaining silent for three days.

Finally I did what I should have done in the first place. I asked for help.

Ian, the engineer who was driving the JCB needed to put me back into the water, quickly assessed the problem. “You’ll never get that back on. Just put the lid back into place and stand on it as the boat goes back in the water, then take your boat around to my workshop. I’ll shorten the weed hatch support for you. But, for God’s sake, be gentle on the throttle when you move the boat or you’ll sink it!”

With those few encouraging words he climbed back into the JCB cab, crunched it into gear, and pushed the boat down the steep slope into the water. Steering the boat while standing on a hatch below deck level isn’t easy, especially if you have to wait until the boat was in the water before turning the engine on.

My engine is raw water cooled which means that it uses water drawn in from the canal to cool the engine. When the boat is out of the water the engine can’t be turned on because it can’t draw water in through the grill on the side of the boat. Usually when a boat is on the slipway we start the engine before backing the boat in to the water so we don’t face the uncertainty of trying to start an unfamiliar engine while the boat is drifting out of control across the marina, especially if, like me, you happen to be standing on a weed hatch below deck level with your eyes level with the cabin roof without the faintest idea what’s happening at the front of the boat.

I had nothing to worry about though. My ever faithful Mercedes engine fired up first time and with the gentlest of touches on my Morse control I guided the boat slowly onto a mooring next to the slipway while keeping an eye out for any water ingress through the unsecured weed hatch. Ian is a steel cutting and welding artist. Within an hour the weed hatch lid was shortened, aligned and secured and I was back on my rusty steel dump barge mooring admiring my Sally’s wonderful hull painting and Rob’s neat tunnel flashes.

All we need to do now is repaint the cabin. Do you know anyone who would mind lending me a temperature controlled paint tent for a month?

While all this was going on, a driver was trying to deliver a courtesy car to Sally. The car was taken away while she was back in the Philippines after she drove it into the back end of my site truck in a moment of madness. They failed to complete all of the work so agreed to take the vehicle back and lend Sally a car until the work was finished. The driver took the courtesy car to our old mooring. We weren’t there. At the office he was told that the boat with us on board was on the slipway. By the time he drove from the office to the slipway, we weren’t there either. It must be very frustrating for a delivery drive to be given an address to go to and find that the address keeps moving.

After the drama on the high seas, walking back to our office to climb a ladder thirty feet to paint the eves was a bit of an anti climax, but a very satisfying anti climax. The once cream painted building was more of a dirty grey. A couple of coats of cream masonry paint has made a huge difference as has removing hundreds of feet of narrow bore plastic piping from the long defunct auto watering system.

Rain stopped painting play on Thursday so I spent the morning boat moving, rubbish removing and preparing the grassed parking area in front of our offices ready to accommodate the nine boat crews due to join us at the weekend.

Part of the preparation included introducing our ride on mower to the light of day for the first time this year. Spring is here. It’s grass cutting time again, but three weeks later than our early start next year. It’s a wonderful time of year to be working at a rural marina with extensive grounds. After whizzing around the car parking area for fifteen minutes I began cutting the rest of the site.  I have roughly five acres to cut with the ride on mower, much of it fiddly paths and around trees. Each cut takes about fourteen hours and, from April to June when the grass grows quickly, the cutting needs to be done at least once a week.

I spent most of Saturday cutting the grass for the first time of the year, and probably the last time ever. I have just three working days left now. I’m both excited at the prospect of spending eight months cruising this year and very sad to be leaving the best job I’ve ever had. Three days left to work followed by a block of ten consecutive discovery days then we’re off!

Trades Directory Listing

A few months ago I told you that I was in the process of setting up a trades services directory for the inland waterways. There are a few of them already on t’internet but there aren’t any which allow you to comment on the listings. If you are already a boat owner, you know that there are a more than a handful of sub standard service providers on the cut so reviews of the listed services is a very useful pointer in the right direction.

The directory hasn’t developed as quickly as I would have liked, but I’m not surprised. I’ve been running around like a headless chicken recently preparing both the boat and myself for semi retirement and continuous cruising so I haven’t had much time to focus on it.

I can now see light at the end of the tunnel. I finish work in three days’ time and finish my first block of discovery days ten days after that. Then we’ll cast off for distant shores and a life of leisure. I suspect that what will actually happen is that I’ll use much of my new found free time to spend more time developing the site. The first project will be to populate the directory and encourage those of you who own boats to either add new listings and comment on the existing ones.

Maybe you are a waterways service provider. You are more than welcome to add your own listing to the directory. The more listings there are in the directory, the more it will be used by boaters and the more likely your listing is to generate more business for you.

I added a listing for a site user this morning. He is Alan Cazaly living on board NB Pengalanty. Alan has invested a substantial sum over the last year in fancy machinery for his mobile workshop. He’s in the enviable position of having generated a considerable amount of business purely through referrals from happy customers. His new listing is here. If you have used his cratch repair business, please take the time to add a review to his listing.

Boat Licensing

Licencing your boat will be one of the most costly of your annual boating expenses. A variety of licences are needed if you want to explore all of the canal and river network and, to be honest, I haven’t cruised enough of the network to have needed most of them. I know a man who has though. Peter Earley has been a constantly moving continuous cruiser for the last seven or eight years. He’s cruised most of the network so has needed most of the licences. Here’s his appraisal…


An often asked question on Living on a Narrowboat is ‘what licence do I need?’ It seems a simple enough question but a quick count gives at least 7 navigation authorities that cover the connected waterways with no single licence that will allow unrestricted use. In fact, there are so many different terms and conditions attached to them that it needs careful research before you start on your cruise to ensure you are not spending money unnecessarily.

For most of us the standard CRT license is the one. For a 58ft boat it will cost £870.42. I say boat as a wide boat costs the same as a narrowboat. Some may say unfair as they take up more space, etc. but then they are restricted to either the waterways of the North or those of the South. CRT also offer a River only licence which, for our ‘standard’ boat will cost £522.27. Depending on where you moor this could be considered good or poor value. In the North East you could cruise from Ripon to Shardlow, via Boston but on the other side of the country, just the short Weaver Navigation. However, should you wish for a longer cruise, a 7 day licence is available for £48.83 and a month for £148.89. So our boater from Ripon could cruise down to London, up the Thames to Reading then back onto the canals and home across the Pennines for the extra cost of a 7 day  and one month CRT licence plus a Thames 7 day licence and still be about £70 in hand.

The standard CRT licence starts from from the first of the month in which you apply for it and, when you’ve had enough, can be refunded for the unused part. Refunds are made on a pro rata basis for whole months only, less a £30 administration charge. CRT T & Cs are changing as soon which may affect your right to a refund.

The Thames and Anglian waterways, the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse, are Environment Agency navigation’s. However, just to complicate things, on the Thames what you pay is calculated on how much space you occupy, ie. length x width, whereas the Anglian Waterways is just on length. So our 58ft narrowboat on the Thames will pay £18.55 per square metre so 17.5 x 2.1 x 18.55 = £681.71 whilst our 10ft 6in wide boat will pay 17.5 x 3.2 x £18.55 = £1045.29. In contrast the both boats on the Anglian waterways would pay the same, £878.81.

Environment Agency licences run from 1 April to 31 March irrespective of when you apply for it. There are no refunds for unused portions of a licence but there are concessions for licence holders from one EA waterway using the other.

We now come to Gold licences. Not always gold coloured. Ours is blue! This allows you unrestricted use of all EA and CRT waters and can be good value for money. The extra cost is £201.98. Consider that a 7 day licence on the Thames is £70.50 or a month for £172.50. I say can be good value as our wide boat will still pay £1161 for a Gold licence or an extra £284.50 for a month on the Thames. You need to remember that Gold licences only run from 1 Jan to 31 December and are for a full 12 months. So no good applying in April, you’ll still pay for 12 months. So, if you launch your boat part way through the year and would like a Gold licence, wait until the end of December and happy for a new Gold licence whilst at the same time requesting a refund of the unused part of your CRT licence.

The next waterway in terms of number of boats licenced is probably the Bridgewater but the costs seem to be well hidden. After trawling through all the pages on their website I gave up trying to find the costs but from another forum the cost in 2012 was £452. But, to get a licence you must have mooring. Under a reciprocal agreement with CRT it does allow licence holders to cruise further afield for short periods. There is also the option to buy a CRT licence at a discounted rate. The reciprocal agreement allows CRT licence holders to cruise the Bridgewater for up to 7 days.

Licence costs for the River Avon are a bit ambiguous. All licences run from 1 Jan to 31 Dec and will cost you £303. If applying after 1 August there is a 50% discount. However, that price is discounted from the full fee of £616 provided you pay before the end of the year. It is not clear if you will pay the discounted or the full fee if starting later in the year.

River Wey licences also run for 12 months from the beginning of the year at the prompt payment charge of £223 but although they start from the 1st of January they will very generously wait for payment until 1 July before charging you the full cost of £288. Obviously the National Trust is not desperate for the cash. Its neighbour, the Basingstoke, has a different approach from other authorities.  Navigation licence charges consist of a standing charge and a lock use fee. The standing charge is determined depending on which pound your boat has it’s permanent “home” mooring – and as a result how many lockless miles of navigation you have available without passing through one of the controlled sets of locks. For lock usage there are two options, the first is an annual fee of £100 for unlimited (subject to availability) lock usage. The second option is ‘pay as you go’.

However, for cost for mile or for the fewest facilities then you can’t beat the River Cam. For years your EA or Gold licence gave you unrestricted cruising into Cambridge. But a few years ago, faced with ever rising costs, the Cam Commissioners introduced their own licence fee at a hefty £923.54 for the year. They follow the EA rules in that your licence will run from 1 April to 31 March and no refunds. However, as a visitor, you will only pay 3% of your EA or Gold licence so about £35. A bargain to cruise into the centre of Cambridge but unfortunately it won’t guarantee a space in one of the 5 or 6 visitor spaces.

The cheapest cruising is the Middle Levels, joining the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse. Here you have unusual experience of cruising below sea level, for free. Primarily a drainage system, the Middle Level Commissioners are not permitted to charge for navigation by Act of Parliament.

A word of caution though. The Canal & River Trust are the only authority that accepts the concept of continuous cruising. All the others expect you to have a home mooring. That’s not to say you can’t CC on these navigation’s but generally, because they are mostly rivers, you are restricted to the provided visitor moorings and these are all time limited. However, plenty of boaters manage to do it, keeping one move ahead of enforcement, but it is getting more difficult.

Not all of the costs I’ve given are accurate as I’ve taken them from their websites, not all of which have been updated for 2015, but I’m sure you get the idea.


Pete has also written an article about continuous cruising, what the classification means as far as CRT are concerned and what you need to do to abide by the Trust’s guidelines for continuous cruisers. I’ll include this important information in next week’s newsletter.

Did you know that all of the weekly newsletters are also listed on the forum? This week’s newsletter is here. I welcome any comments you would like to make about anything which is written above. Many newsletters email me each week with comments. I’m always please to receive them but so many of them contain valuable information which would make a useful addition to what’s on the site. If you haven’t posted on the forum before, don’t worry. It’s a very friendly place!

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.

I’ll be running the discovery days approximately on the first ten days of April, June, August, October and December this year. As spring approaches more and more site users are booking the relatively few discovery days still available. April is now fully booked apart for one date for a single person on Saturday 1th April. There’s also a vacant slot for a couple of an exclusive single on 9th April because of a rescheduled date. In June just Wednesday 10th is available. August onwards is still relatively free. If you are interested in joining me for a fun and information packed discovery day please check the diary before it’s too late.

In the meantime, meet September 2013 discovery day attendee Brent Smith. Brent spent a day with my last November as part of a two week trip to England from his home in Australia. Because he was traveling light, Brent didn’t bring the appropriate gear for the very wet start we had to the day but I had spare waterproofs on board. As a seasoned narrowboat hirer Brent was quite comfortable handling my boat. His aim for the day was to find out about the practicalities of living on board and to brush up on his boat handling skills.

Brent Smith keeps dry in his borrowed waterproofs

Brent Smith keeps dry in his borrowed waterproofs

“The day was very good; good intro to your boat/home, proper cup of coffee, making friends with the dogs; then outside for launch. Appreciated the knot tying exercise; I’ve always wanted to know how to tie a half hitch! Good tips on single-handed locking, how to use the centre line to good effect etc.? All my questions were answered.

 I have had a bit of experience as I’ve rented narrowboats for holidays in the past, but I still learned a fair bit; and it would be indispensable for a newbie.”


You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here. Don’t forget that there’s just one date for a single person remaining for April now so if you want to spend a spring day out with me you need to book quickly.

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.

22nd March 2015

Three years since we last painted our hull so this week we had the dubious pleasure of taking the boat out of the water to do it again.

15th March 2015

Five live aboard case studies – I added four new case studies to the site and updated my own which I had written three years previously

8th March 2015

Water pumps and security – Bits and bobs from a life afloat

1st March 2015

Narrowboat ownership on a shoestring – How to cut your boat ownership costs

22nd February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 2 – More great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

15th February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 1 – Some great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

8th February 2015

Routine engine servicing – The basic stuff every narrowboat owner should know

1st February 2015

Running a boating business – How to earn a living on the cut.

25th January 2015

A detailed breakdown of my own narrowboat running costs for December 2014

18th January 2015

An unexpected cruise – A surprise cruise to Braunston, secondary double glazing panel fitting, and why dogs and laminate flooring don’t go well together

11th January 2015

Battery Banks – The pros and cons of lead acid and AGM batteries

4th January 2015

More winter cruising – The tail end of my Christmas break afloat

28th December 2014

Winter cruising – A narrowboat isn’t just for the summer months. Winter cruising is a joy. Here’s my account of a week on the cut over the Christmas break

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
Paul Smith

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