Learn about life afloat the easy way

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 04 08 Newsletter – Mooring Guide For Continuous Cruisers

I lay in bed unable to sleep. I don’t sleep well at the best of times these days but my insomnia on Monday night was understandable. A gale force wind howled across the marina pushing foot high waves in front of it wish crashed against the boat’s port side, rocking the cabin from side to side and rattling the wire coat hangers in the wardrobe at the foot of my bed. Hail peppered the windows like hand thrown gravel. Horizontal rain forced through the gaps in my ancient hopper windows covered the bedroom duvet in a soaking mist.

Tuesday wasn’t much better. I spent much of it dodging monsoon showers between spells of frantically hacking at the clay to bury the hundred metre shore line between my boat and the marina meters before I finished my full time work with Calcutt Boats on Wednesday afternoon.

The only boats moving on the cut were crewed by hirers trying to take advantage of their short time afloat. Every boat waiting for the bottom lock was pinned against the towpath by the wind. Every hire boat solved the problem by engaging full throttle and grinding the boat along the concrete bank before crashing their bow into the long suffering lock gates

On Wednesday the weather was calm. I was not. I still hadn’t managed to complete the landscaping around our new mooring. With the wharf staff tied up with last minute hire fleet preparation, I was regularly called to the wharf to fill visiting boats with diesel, fetch them bags of coal, propane cylinders or to pump them out.

My last job as full time employee for Calcutt Boats was to take a boat down through the locks to our engineering workshop on the south side of Locks marina. The task was a thoroughly enjoyable way to finish work before my semi retirement.

My fifty fifth birthday was on Thursday 2nd April, my first day as a lad of leisure. Sally invited two of her Filipina friends to join us on a birthday cruise. Myrna and Sheila arrived at midday in plenty of time for our 10am start.

The three girls posed for photo’s at the upstream paddles of the bottom lock as a bemused single boater in the lock with us waited patiently watched their antics. Once through the locks, Sally and her friends left me to my own devices at the back of the boat while they prepared a celebratory lunch.

I drifted slowly along in a world of my own hypnotised by the gentle beat of my ever faithful Mercedes engine and the rhythmic whoosh of warm water from my wet exhaust. This is a wonderful time of the year. The willows hang ever lower under the weight of a new season’s growth, blossom colours every corner, the soft golden light marks the change from winter to spring, and the mallards are shagging themselves senseless.

We moored at Fox’s Gate near Flecknoe, half way between Napton and Braunston Junctions. As a steady stream of slow moving boats cruised gently by I was serenaded by the three girls singing happy birthday in Tagalog as they presented me with a gooey chocolate cake on the towpath.

We sat at a table groaning under the weight of enough food to feed an army including one of my favourite dishes, eight inch long Thai shrimps swimming in a spicy coconut milk sauce.

This stretch of the canal is often busy courtesy of the 2,000 marina moorings within a ten mile radius and half a dozen busy hire boat companies but Thursday’s traffic was light compared to the four days I was out over the bank holiday weekend.

We passed hundreds of boats each day. Half of them were hire boats, often with novice crews trying to get to grips with steering an unwieldy flat bottomed boat after than no more than twenty minute’s tuition. Every day was an adventure with at least one memorable event to test the developing skills of the people on the boat with me.

We had an approaching private boat stop under a bridge in the centre of Braunston then wave us forward insisting that we pass them at the narrowest point on the canal. As we passed the owner told me that he had just had the boat painted so didn’t want to get it scratched so why he stopped at the only point which absolutely guaranteed the boats would touch was beyond me.

Then we had the pleasure of pulling grounded boats off the shallow offside bank. The most memorable was the Braunston day boat. The crew, in a Stella Artois induced haze, had managed to wedge their little boat firmly on the mud. A kindly private boat owner pulled them off then grounded his boat instead. He shouted over to the boat he had just rescued.

“Can you just tie my bow rope to your stern dolly and pull me off?”

The helmsman on the day boat looked at his watch and shook his head. “Sorry mate, we haven’t go the time. We’re going to be late back to Braunston as it is!”

The day boat crew hadn’t quite embraced the boating community spirit.

The four day weekend was wonderful for helmsmanship training, particularly for frequent demonstrations of the need to expect the unexpected; two hire boats moored on tight bends on the offside so that the crew could access an expansive and flat farmer’s field to use for a ten a side football match and post game smokey barbecue, untied boats blocking the entire width of the canal, hire boat crews – and some private boats – steaming around bends too fast and on the wrong side of the canal and boats snaking in front of use bouncing from bank to bank. I loved every minute of it.

Yesterday was completely different. The canals were quiet with towpath moorings mostly devoid of holiday boaters. On a beautiful and warm spring day we had the water to ourselves. We stopped for an hour for lunch where we used our towpath camp chairs and table for the first time this year. Chris and Paul, my guests for the day, enjoyed the quiet relaxation so much I had trouble getting them back on the boat for the afternoon session. It was a dangerous day to explore the possibility of living afloat. The sun shone continuously and a gentle breeze ruffled the water enough to cool us. As the day progressed the conversation was less about the viability of living afloat and more about the logistics of buying a boat. There are now two more people bitten by the waterways bug.

My guests for today cancelled because of family illness. I know I offered newsletter subscribers the opportunity to fill the date but, to be honest, I’m thankful that no one did. Five consecutive ten hour training days plus my own birthday cruise has worn me out. I’m going to finish writing this newsletter, enjoy a leisurely lunch sitting at the picnic bench next to the boat and then spend the afternoon reading and watching the world go by.

Long Term Narrowboat Hire

The idea of living afloat may appeal to you despite not having enough money to buy your own boat. Maybe you’ve considered long term narrowboat rental as a possible solution. You will often see private owners offering their own boats for hire, but renting these craft can often be problematic as the boats don’t comply with the stricter Boat Safety Scheme regulations for hire craft.

There are very few companies offering narrowboats for long term hire. There’s one less since Sheffield Narrowboats ceased trading last year. I’ve written about long term narrowboat hire in this post and added some information about a company which has three of their hire fleet available for rent over the winter months. While renting a narrowboat for a few months over the winter won’t allow you to live afloat full time, it’s a great way to experience the lifestyle during the less pleasant time of the year.

Waterways Walks Project

As you know, Sally and I are about to embrace the joy and freedom of semi retirement. We’re both keen walkers. I’m possibly keener than Sally given that I’ve just given up a strenuous forty five hour working week which has kept me superbly fit over the last five years. I’ll either have to find alternative exercise or give up eating if I want to maintain the thirty one inch waist I’ve been proud to own for the last thirty five years. I don’t want to miss out on the food I enjoy so much so we’re going to do as much vigorous walking as possible.

I’ve been researching decent walks accessible from the towpath, but I can’t find any decent guides. There are one or two which wax lyrical about the joys of walking along the canal and river banks but nothing that I can find which links the canals with the many superb walks around and over the hills, mountains, forests, lakes, meadows and heath easily accessible from canal or riverside moorings.

There appears to be a gap in the market. Most boat owners are nature lovers and many are dog owners and enthusiastic walkers. I’m wondering whether there is enough demand for a series of guides to complement either the Pearson or Nicholson guides; one guide to help you find your way when you are cruising and one to do the same when you’re moored.

What do you think? I’ve created a simple survey to assess the demand. Please help me by spending a couple of minutes telling me what you think. The survey is here.

Continuous Cruising Guidelines

Continuous cruising and its interpretation by live aboard boaters is an often discussed topic. If you are considering living afloat, it’s a subject you need to understand if you want to avoid unwelcome attention from the Canal & River Trust. Continuous Cruiser and frequent site contributor, Peter Earley, has sent me the following article to help demystify the subject for those new to boating.

Over to Pete…

“Continuous Cruising?

Officially we are called Boaters with no Home Mooring. You can identify us by the code BW-065-007 on our licence. But we come in all types and sizes. Jeannette and I are of that class of retirees, living the dream and cruising many miles each year. There are the Bridge Hoppers who, as the name implies, move regularly but ensure they always moor near a bridge with car access. Amongst these are the Weekenders. They generally don’t live on board during the week but save the cost of a marina mooring by moving the boat every fortnight. Many CCers take a mooring for the worst of the winter months, either with CRT or in a marina. Many a marina moorer cruises continuously for seven or more months a year, returning home occasionally to do the washing, etc. And then there is the Continuous Moorer. This is the most contentious group, the ones who move as little as they can get away with.

A word of warning though. There are another group of boaters referred to by some as the Shiny Boat Brigade. (I should state that our boat is shiny because Jeannette regularly polishes it so it just shows you can’t really categorise people) This group keep their boats in marinas and bring them out on sunny weekends and for their annual fortnight’s summer holiday. They usually moan about how we, the CCers, are getting away with it. They seem to feel that as they are paying around £2,000 for their mooring then so we should be paying more. They forget that the marina owner and the Government get more of that two grand than CRT do. So, during the summer months be cautious of how you answer that innocent question, ‘Where do you moor then?

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

I wrote an article for the Residential Boat Owners Association several years ago about the delights of continuously cruising. The British Waterways accounts from that time gave a figure of 2175 in 2007. Searching for the current figures I came across Canal Junction who stated that this figure was just for London alone and this had now increased to 2964. Narrowboatworld gives a different figure of 3200 for 2007 and 5400 now, but this is the total of all CCers. A survey taken by CRT last year estimated 1100 boats in London but a similar survey by the National Bargee Travellers Association reckoned 800.

Whatever figure you believe, the number of boaters claiming to be continuously cruising has more than doubled since Jeannette and I started 8 years ago. Most of you will be well aware that CRT are getting heavy with those who play lip service to the Guidance for Boaters without a Home Mooring published by the Canal & River Trust. A document that they agree to when applying for their licence. The ones being targeted by the trust are the 16% that move less than 3 miles in a year. Before you say ‘that’s easy, we do way more than that’, the next group in their sights are the 66% who travel less than 12 miles.

If you only took out your licence within the past year you should be well aware of this. You may be one of those who’ve received a text from the trust warning them that your range of movement is not enough to satisfy them. If so, don’t ignore them, even if some of the boating organisation say they can’t enforce this. Move first and argue later.

CCing and the law.

The right to continuously cruise is enshrined in the British Waterways Act (1995) which states that boaters without a home mooring can stay in one place for up to 14 days before they must move. The act also states that CCers must be engaged in bona fide navigation. Therein lies the problem. My dictionary defines bona fide as sincere or true which is how BW and now CRT interpret it. Recent court cases however have made comments that the Mersey Ferry or a coal boat is engaged in bona fide navigation even though it is cruising only between two fixed points. However, one of these judgements went onto confirm that boaters still had to move every 14 days of sufficient distance to be considered a different place.

So because there will be no legal definition of these words unless someone with bottomless pockets tests it in the High Court we a have to choose between the advice that CRT have had from their lawyers and that NBTA and NABO have received from theirs. What is true is that these organisations cherry pick the bits that are to their advantage.

Why are we in this situation?

Well, partly from the poor drafting of the act and partly from poor enforcement in the past. It is no secret that the advice given out by enforcement officers in the past was inconsistent, with some boaters being led to believe that they could remain in a fairly small area provided they moved a bit every fortnight. Hence the stories, probably apocryphal, that some boaters only moved one boat length at a time.

The result of this poor advice and enforcement is that many CCers have children at local schools or need to live near their workplace despite the advice in the guidance that this is not a good reason to stay in one place.

The current situation would perhaps not be so bad were not for the small number of liveaboards who don’t move, spread out all their belongings on the canalside, burn smoky coal or green wood, run generators far into the night and generally are not good neighbours. So it is no surprise that householders bordering the canal get a bit upset.

What happens now?

Over the past few years there have been a number of initiatives to try and reduce the problem.

There was the suggested Roving Mooring Permit whereby a boater would pay a fee to effectively break the rules. However the idea was dropped after legal advice. Although the Winter Mooring Permit would seem to also allow you to break the same rules.

The Lee and Stort plan was for CCers on that stretch of waterway, a whole 40 miles, to cruise the full length over the course of a year. This too was dropped due to opposition.

The Kennet and Avon Plan was introduced last year whereby the section of canal from Caen Hill bottom lock to Bath top lock, a total of 16 miles, was split up into 14 different neighbourhoods and boaters were expected to be logged in each of these over the course of a year. This trial is due to end on 30 April so we will all be interested to see if the planned outcome has been achieved.

And then last year, a document was leaked from the trust containing maps of the whole canal network split up into neighbourhoods or places showing boaters how far they were expected to move after their 14 days had expired. Again, there was considerable opposition, not least because some of the boundaries were quite arbitrary, and the document was withdrawn.

The latest advice from the trust regarding distance is:

We recognise that boaters want clarity over this. However the BW Act 1995 does not stipulate a minimum distance. It does set out the requirement to use the boat bona fide for navigation, and the Trust’s Guidance is our interpretation of this requirement.

Whilst this means that we cannot set a universal minimum distance for compliance, we can advise that it is very unlikely that someone would be able to satisfy us that they have been genuinely cruising if their range of movement is less than 15-20 miles over the period of their licence. In most cases we would expect it to be greater than this.

It is worth remembering that the trust will always have the upper hand in this. They can afford to take you to court if necessary but can you afford to defend yourself. Is a cruising range of 20 miles really too onerous?

Next week we’ll look at that letter all CCers should have received and how we can continue our lifestyle without interruption.

The views I’ve expressed above are mine, not Paul’s or Living on a Narrowboat and may not even be a true representation of  CRTs or other organisations mentioned. If you feel differently feel free to debate them on the forum.”

Thank you Pete for a very interesting and informative article.

I sent a copy of Pete’s article to the Canal & River Trust’s Head Of Enforecemnt, Denise Yelland, and asked her if she would like to make any comments. Her reply complete with some useful links is below…

“Thank you for your email.  I am passing your email on to Fran Read in our press office, who will hopefully be able to comment on the article as requested. 

 However, in the meantime I thought I would point you in the direction of our new enforcement webpages at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/enforcement which we have recently set up. These pages contain information about the strategy you mention and includes details of the recent message regarding ‘how far, is far enough’.  The full guidance for boaters without a home mooring can also be found on our website – link.  Another point to bear in mind is that if anyone ever finds themselves in a situation where they can not move after 14 days – mechanical breakdown, illness etc then the best option is to contact the local Enforcement officer to discuss.  The webpage includes a link to a map with contact details for all Enforcement Officers, both email addresses and phone numbers.”

Here’s the reply I received from press officer Fran Read…

Hi Paul,

To be honest, Peter’s article covers all the salient points, including the recent statement we put out on distance!  I’ve drafted a quote in any case.  J

Thanks,

Fran

 “The right of boats to continuously cruise for boaters who don’t want to be tied down by a mooring when they want to explore the nation’s waterways is supported by the Trust.  This pioneering spirit was enshrined in the British Waterways Act 1995, and boaters who embrace this way of life, travelling through towns, cities and villages, bring colour and vibrancy to our canals and rivers.  We welcome all sorts of boats – shiny and scruffy alike!

 “Everything we do to manage the canals and rivers for navigation is determined by the Act.  As the charity that cares for the waterways, we need a way to make the requirements of the Act work in practice, and our Guidance sets out our understanding of the law.  We take the phrase ‘bona fide for navigation’ to mean that a boat has to be genuinely cruising, not shuffling between a few nearby locations to try and get round the rules.  While we’ve advised that boaters whose cruising range is less than 15-20 miles will be unlikely to satisfy us, we’d urge boaters not to think in terms of minimum distances.  Boating should be a pleasure, not a chore.  Wouldn’t it be better to cruise in the spirit of the Act, exploring new places and simply boating for the joy of it?

 “We’ve seen more people are moving on to boats and expecting to be able to settle in popular areas, like London, where moorings can be expensive and hard to find.  Canals and boats aren’t a cheap housing alternative.  While continuous cruising can be a fantastic lifestyle for those who love boating, if a boater is tied to an area for work or school, it is likely to be hard to manage.  If a boater has concerns about their cruising pattern, they should talk to us as soon as possible, so we can work out together what would be right for them.”

I think that, if you want to ensure that you enjoy a stress free life afloat without having to worry if you are complying with the Trust’s mooring guideline, the solution is pretty clear. If you need to stay in one geographical spot for work, educational or medical purposes, you need to secure a residential mooring. If you have no ties, you can declare that you have no home mooring and enjoy the freedom of continuously cruising the canal and river network of England and Wales.

Follow this link to go to the forum and ask a question or add a comment about the subject.

Please note that there will not be a newsletter on Sunday 12th April. Normal services will resume on 19th April when I’ll be back on track.

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 Tony Binns.

Tony enjoys an overcast but calm day out on the cut

Tony enjoys an overcast but calm day out on the cut

“My plans for 2015 were to buy a 50′ boat by Easter and spend about 50% or more of my time slowly cruising the K&A whilst still working and preparing to retire mid year.  However…..as the Scottish bard apparently said, “the best laid plans gang aft agley”. Translation:-frequently go wrong!).  In my case it was a major fall by ancient mother which meant that I put everything on hold so I could look after her.

So, to take a positive from the delay I am/was able to take a step back and prepare better for the event.

A major part of the revised plan was to take advantage of the Discovery Day.  I found Paul’s website last year and registered on it and have found it a delightful source of genuine, pragmatic and readable advice and also real stories from people living and using British waterways.

I found the preparation from Paul was excellent.  He asks for your aims and objectives (and keeps a copy in case you forget!).  The directions are excellent (in my case, my excuse is that I was driving so missed the last turn and was still a bit jet lagged!)

The day was brilliant.  It exceeded my expectations and fulfilled my objectives.  I did intend to write down as much of the information as I could but in the end just concentrated on enjoying the day and absorbing everything naturally.

I was amazed that Paul just handed over the steering of his lovely 60′ 16 ton home to me with his wife and two dogs asleep inside and then just started his instructions.  That certainly concentrated my mind to not crash, sink or damage his floating home!

With regard to the way the instruction etc was delivered, well I have quite strong opinions on this having, many years ago, was professionally involved with delivering IT training.  Paul’s technique of being totally hands off and just telling you what to do with you in control means that you concentrate and really get to grips with what is happening.  If anything looks like it could be a problem that Paul is there to advise or dive in and take control if needed.

I would unreservedly recommend this day.”

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.

29th March 2015

You need a licence to cruise the waterways of England and Wales but with a number of different licences and options which do you choose? This post tells you what you need to know.

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.

 

 

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Paul Smith
 

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

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