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.


Find out more

A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Eleftheria

Single boater Stuart Inglis cruises the network extensively and continuously during the warmer months then escapes to a more pleasant climate for damp and dreary winter. It’s a cruising plan which many boaters would like to copy.

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

Stuart looking very stylish on a summer Thames cruise

Stuart looking very stylish on a summer Thames cruise

My name is Stuart Inglis and I am 62. I have two ex significant others and no dog, for reasons that will become apparent (the dog that is not the exes!)

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

All my life I have been a sailor and had always harboured the ambition to stop working and sail away into the sunset. This may have been just a dream originally but, with my three children grown up I retired (gave up work) in 2000 and set sail from London, down the Channel and then across the Bay of Biscay to Northern Spain.

For the next five years I sailed slowly around the western Mediterranean spending the first year in Portugal and southern Spain, another year exploring the Balearics, followed by Corsica and Sardinia and ending up in Italy. The plan to continue cruising to the Adriatic and from there on to the Greek Islands came to an abrupt end when I had a problem with the boat mechanics which necessitated sailing the boat back to Menorca.

Having decided to return to England I then tried to rejoin the rat-race but, after a couple of years, decided that working was not something I enjoyed. During these travels I never found any other place that I would prefer to live. I have always loved England and what better way to see the country than on a narrowboat travelling at 3 mph.

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

Eleftheria heads towards Tower Bridge

Eleftheria heads towards Tower Bridge

My boat is called Eleftheria (I had to Google it up!). She came with the name which means Freedom in Greek. Perfect as far as I was concerned for the lifestyle I was seeking.

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

I am a continuous cruiser (in the truest sense) and have been since August last year.

What is you boat length and style?

Eleftheria is a 58 foot cruiser stern.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

I have owned Eleftheria since January 2013. Having carried out lots of research and searching websites for suitable boats, I drove up to a well known marina and viewed about half a dozen boats. I returned home without having seen anything suitable but there was one boat which was fairly basic but had possibilities. Two days later, after a cheeky offer which was surprisingly accepted, I was the proud owner of a narrowboat.

How did you finance your boat?

I paid cash. My pension from my previous career kicked in when I reached 60 and I was able to take out a lump sum.

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

I am a full-time continuous cruiser so spend the majority of my time on the boat. My plan is to take advantage of the CRT winter moorings and go somewhere warm for the winter which is why I do not have a dog.

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

I was able to retire (finally) when I was 60 but have rented my house out since 1997 to finance my travels.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Winters!….. and the narrowboaters, certainly around London, who overstay on visitor moorings so genuine visitors cannot stop.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The freedom.

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

I am currently looking into ways of providing instant-ish hot water without using a gas heater or running the engine so if anyone has any suggestions.

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

I have a small car which I move from one spot to another, moving the boat and then cycling back down the towpath on my fold up bicycle to pick up the car. This works really well until the time when I cycled the 10 miles back to the car only to find I had left the car keys on the boat! Still it ( and working the locks single-handedly) keeps you fit.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I have a washing machine on the boat but have not used it yet. I visit my daughter and take my bags of washing to her – it’s called divine retribution!

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

I have a cassette toilet with a spare cassette. Apart from my initial concerns about emptying it I am now happy with this system.

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

I use the 3 mi-fi and am happy with the service although I do have some problems with reception in the more remote parts of the system.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Stuart breathes a sigh of relief after a lengthy lock flight

Stuart breathes a sigh of relief after a lengthy lock flight

Having now completed all of the southern canals I have loved each of them for different reasons but if I was pressed it would have to be the Wey Navigation

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

When not running the engine I have two 165w solar panels which provide me with enough electricity during the summer and a trickle charge during the winter. This keeps the batteries topped up and the fridge going. Apart from the fridge and LED lighting I have a 240v TV/DVD which I use occasionally. Anything that needs charging( lap-top, i-pad, phone, razor etc.) is done while I am on the move.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Vthe boat came with a diesel fired central heating system. I had a solid fuel stove fitted last December with an eco-fan which is fine in the main area of the boat but does not quite reach the bedroom area.

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

Do your research………then do it!!

____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary
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.