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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A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Andante

Jonathan is a marina based live aboard boat owner who likes to escape to the tranquility of nearby canals when work allows.

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

I’m Jonathan Whiting, I live alone on my Narrowboat Andante

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

I’ve had an interest in boating since a holiday on the Shropshire Union and Llangollen Canals when I was about ten. Many years and a few boating holidays later I was in the position to buy a boat and take to life afloat. It’s the best decision I ever made.

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

My boat is Andante, this is the original name and I saw no reason to change it, though it is one of the commonest names on the system.

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

At the moment I am moored in Nottingham Castle Marina. I plan to travel around the system but for the moment the Marina is convenient for work and family (and shops!). An hours cruise gets me in open countryside, wonderful.

What is you boat length and style?

An idyllic mooring for Andante

An idyllic mooring for Andante

Andante is a 57 foot, trad stern

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

I’ve owned Andante for 18 months.

How did you finance your boat?

Part savings and the balance with a marine mortgage.

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

I live aboard full time.

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

I own a business, normally run by a manager but sometimes I have to go and earn my keep.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Difficult to say, I suppose I’ll find something one day.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Practical flooring for dogs

Practical flooring for dogs

The friendly and supportive community, both in the marina and out and about.

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

When I have time to cruise more I would like to fit solar panels.

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

Rucksack and walking boots! Being on my own there is not too much to carry if I plan carefully.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I bought a small twin tub washing machine last year and have been delighted with it.

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

The boat came with a cassette toilet and I am completely happy with it. It was not a critical factor in my choice of boat.

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

A 3Mifi, with external aerial, provides wifi around the boat. There are places it cannot get a signal but it has proved pretty reliable most of the time. Phone on a different network gives a good backup.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

So far my favourite is the North Oxford but I’ve got a lot more exploring to do so that might change.

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

Twin alternators provide charging so running the engine is necessary every day or two when out of the marina (hence thinking about solar). Most equipment on board is 12V, a 1600W modified sine wave invertor provides 240V when required. LED lighting has reduced consumption noticeably.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm, in fact I’ve never been so warm! A multi-fuel stove is essential for the liveaboard (in my opinion) and provides copious heat, a diesel heater provides hot water and heats three radiators when required. I think at least two forms of heating are important for a live aboard.

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

Research, spend as much time as you can talking to boat owners, read every website you can find. When you’ve done that, hire a boat, in bad weather if you can, and see what you think then. I suspect you’ll love it.

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

 

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Summary
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.