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 Liveaboard Mischief

I love life on a narrowboat but there are those who prefer the extra three or four feet in width that a widebeam offers. Paul and Allayne Roper fall into that category. Here’s what they think of life afloat… and how Allayne’s cancer affects their way of life.

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

We are Paul and Allayne Roper and have two cats Pandi and Phoenix – our family.

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

My husband wanted a change of lifestyle and his love is the sea and always wanted at some point to live near the sea again. A friend of ours heard about Paul’s interest and as he lives on a narrow boat, he asked us down to view his and it all took off from there. We do not regret our life on our wide beam one bit.

Allayne on wide beam Mischief

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

Our boat’s name is Mischief. It was already named but we felt that this summed us quite admirably and the cats too, being such adorable mischievous fellows.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Yes we do have a permanent mooring. We were not up for continual cruising as this would not be helpful for my husband’s work or my own. Having a permanent mooring, wherever you are in the country you at least know the mooring is yours. Fees vary from marina to marina but it’s where you want to be that counts in the end and what you can afford.

What is your boat style and length

Our boat is 60 ft long and 11 ft wide.

How long have you been a boat owner?

We have been on our boat for just over a year now and my husband took to it like a duck to water.

How did you finance your boat?

The selling of the house helped finance the purchase of the boat and left us with money over to help with the survey, blackening of the base of the boat so it worked out well for us.

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

We live on the boat all the time 24/7, with the exception when we go away on short breaks or vacation.

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

Unfortunately not at the moment, as I have been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the breast, spine and liver. My husband works, as he is self-employed.

What do you like least about widebeam life?

Knowing how best to stop the spiders taking up home everywhere you look!!

What do you like most about widebeam life?

The peace, lifestyle, and where we are moored. Both my husband and I have never slept so well since we moved on board our boat. Life is what you make of it, be it on land on water and ours at the moment is good indeed,

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

Moving the stove from where it was position to near the kitchen so when the eco fan is in motion, it circulates the heat more fully around the boat.

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

We are lucky where we live as there is a mooring on the river for Tesco’s and if needed you can moor you boat by the bank and walk through.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a washing machine on board the boat if it was necessary to do washing, otherwise, we would go to a launderette or wait until we got home to use the facilities in the marina.

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

We have a normal toilet on board our boat with its own tank which resides under the wardrobes in our bedroom. We usually have to do a pump out every 6 weeks. We also have a portable chemical toilet for winter use if we are unable to move to do a pump out.

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

We initially used a fob to connect to the internet but this was not always brilliant as we are in a steel boat so reception was not always consistent. As we now have a landline, we have broadband now which is great and is like being in our old house.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

We have not travelled too far at the moment, being novices to the water but down to Henley-on-Thames is a nice journey, through Sonning and all. We do have in mind to travel further but with my cancer, it is difficult.

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

We have batteries that are charged when we are cruising. However, when we are moored up, we are connected to our own source of electricity and pay for that on a monthly basis and we have been surprised how little we use since moving on the boat,

How warm is your boat in the winter?

We have both, diesel central heating and a multi fuel stove burner which burns both coal and logs. Once you get the understanding of how your stove works, its is brilliant in keeping your boat sweet and cosy.

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

Visit the Crick Boat Show for a one on one with all the information Crick has to offer. Search the web, talk to friends and visit as many boats as you can to get an idea of what you really want from your boat. You need to view narrow boats, wide beams, barges and cruisers to find out what is really for you. You will know when you go on board if it feels home to you or not. We went for a wide beam because we enjoy the extra space. Buy a 2nd hand boat first to see what you like and dislike about it before thinking about buying a new boat.

You can find out more about Paul and Allayne’s life afloat here

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 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.