A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Mister Smiths

Darrell, like me, moved on to a narrowboat thinking that his floating home would be a low cost housing option. He was wrong about the cost, but his lifestyle choice was spot on.

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

Darrell Smith

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

I’m 51. After a long term relationship ended I didn’t want to get another mortgage so opted for a narrow boat, thinking life would be cheaper Ha! Ha!

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

Mister Smith's resting after a hard day's cruising

Mister Smith’s resting after a hard day’s cruising

It may appear vain but I wanted a good old fashioned English name but couldn’t find one that I liked. Most were Germanic. A colleague at work suggested my name for the boat name stating that it’s as English as it comes and being in a rush to register with CRT it stuck. Boat name;  Mister Smith’s

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

No I don’t have a permanent  mooring but would love one but paying back my loan for the next few years it will be difficult the moorings near me are either full or prohibitively expensive. CRT were unhelpful when I tried to get a winter mooring.

What is you boat length and style?

The boat is a 57″ cruiser style

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

It depends on how you look at it. I ordered the boat a lined sailaway in January 2014 and took delivery in August 2014.

How did you finance your boat?

I took out a loan to top up my savings so that I could get a new boat that I could personalise rather than take on a used one and have to refit to my style and carry out repairs.

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

I’m a living aboard at the minute

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

Yes I’m working. I’m a carer with disabled young adults.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Having to move to meet the terms of my licence then be told I might need to do 500 lock miles a year. This is ok if you are retired or unemployed (as there seems to be  few round here) who have that free time but as a carer who works long hours time and money are precious and not that plentiful. I could be forced off the water by the CRT.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The tranquility and quiet lifestyle the people you meet and being able to cruise when I would like not to meet the needs of the CRT.

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

I would make it seven feet shorter so I could get a mooring.

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

I used the local merchants.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I use my mother’s machine when visiting or launderettes.

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

Cassette toilette

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 personal hot spot on my phone and link it to my tablet.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

I’ve not seen too many but having done the Cheshire ring and Llangollen my favourite is the Macclesfield Canal beautiful country side not many locks great transport links and towns to re supply friendly people.

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

I use the boat alternator at the minute but am looking into solar panels. I don’t know how much I use as the Lec fridge freezer I got second hand doesn’t seem to state what power it is although it is a 12v one.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?


A solid fuel stove is essential on any live aboard narrowboat

A solid fuel stove is essential on any live aboard narrowboat

When my coalbrokedale little wenlock multi-fuel burner is on its lovely and warm. But if I return to the boat and it’s not been lit it can be very cold and take a while to warm up.

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

Make sure you look it’s what you want. Look into moorings in your area re cost availability and location before choosing your boat. I bought the biggest I could that will be able to navigate all the UK waterways when I retire but will pay premium until I do.


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
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.