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 Mr David

After decades of international travel during an army career, Brenda and David Scowcroft have settled in one spot. They now live on their narrowboat, Mr. David, in Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham. It wouldn’t be my first choice for an idyllic mooring spot, but they’ve been there for ten years so it must suit them.

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

Brenda and David Scowcroft

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

David was the Army for approximately 35 years and I was a civil servant.  We met in Berlin and served in Northern Ireland, Germany 3 times, Poland, England 4 times, Hungary, Scotland, and Cyprus ending up in central London.  So, not having a “base” as such and a wanderlust that had not been fulfilled a boat seemed a good idea.

After visiting several boat shows and lots of second hand boats we decided on a new build and as I fell in love with every Warble boat that I came across. We took the plunge in 1997 to order our new home.  Never having actually been out on a boat we were at the mercy of our builders and Janet and Kevin Wadsworth guided us through our desires and we came up with, for us, the perfect boat.

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

The boat is called “Mr David”.  Because David has an unusual surname and many foreigners couldn’t pronounce it he usually ended up being called by his rank and David – so on leaving the Army he became a Mister.

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

We are moored in Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham.  We were on the waiting list for 2 years and have been here now for 10 years.

What is you boat length and style?

Mr David's pretty galley

Mr David’s pretty galley

Mr David is a 17.5 meter traditional style boat.  It has the usual layout, Seating, fire, galley, single berth bedroom/office, walk through bathroom, double berth, engine etc.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

The boat was launched in 1999 – so 15 years now.

How did you finance your boat?

David’s Army gratuity and savings.

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

We live on her all the time.

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

Fortunately, David retired from the Army at 52 and apart from winter jobs for the first 5 or so years, we have not had to work since we got the boat.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Um….

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything.

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

Mr Davids lounge

Make the “walk in” wardrobe not “walk in” and use up the wasted space for more storage.

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

We shop in local shops, take a bus to the nearest town or at a supermarket if it is beside the cut.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a Bosch washer/dryer, the original one was  great as we could fill with hot and cold water, but the replacement one only uses cold water and the element is too strong for the batteries, so only use the cold water wash.  Launderettes if there is one handy.

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

We have a macerating toilet with holding tank.

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

We have a 3G dongle.  It is very reliable.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

How long have you got?

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

We have 3 solar panels and the rest is by using the engine.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very.

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

It is not for everyone, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

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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 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.