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 Liveaboard Narrowboat Badger

Why own just one narrowboat when you can have two? James and Lorraine Spencer have been narrowboat owners for over twenty years. Even though they now live on board full time, they still have a house as a postal address.

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

James & Lorraine Spencer

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

Took early retirement after 37 years working in a Government Dept. Decided to cruise the waterways for a few years. Instead of only alternate weekends and 2 weeks in summer. As mortgage paid we decided to retain our house in Peterborough and rent it out to our daughter and family so we still have a bricks and mortar base. This  also allows us to  have a permanent address for post, keep on GPs list, Electoral role etc

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

Have two…Aboatime (for sale at present) and Badger. Both already named when purchased. May change Badger to “Aboatime Too”

Do you have a permanent mooring?

NB AboatimeFox Narrowboats March Cambridgshire. All usual facilities that you would expect from a boatyard. Can liveaboard in marina for 10 months out of 12 no stipulation on how you manage the two months that you should not be living aboard ie each night you are away from your boat counts towards the two months. Whilst I am working we usually go off and spend time on the River Nene in Peterborough where free moorings are plentiful. With free pump out and water facilities on the city embankment.

What is your boat style and length

45ft and 54ft both Trads

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

At least 20 years

How did you finance your boat?

Cash by buying first boat cheap and making profit when sold

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

300+ days

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

Back at work as a QA technician (temporally)

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Being iced up in the winter

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom and camaraderie of other boaters and users of the waterways. Inexpensive  lifestyle. Drinking and steering!!

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

Bedroom. (Next year….maybe)

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

Try to moor as close as we can in towns to get to shops.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Washing machine on board (Candy Aquamatic)

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

Vitreous china flush Macerator. Pump out. Yes also have self pump out equipment to keep costs down.

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

”Dongle” T Mobile have had this for last 5 years and very happy. Also Tesco via Blackberry Smartphones

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Far to many to pick one

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

Mastervolt 2500 invertor, small 300watt invertor for phone charging & 3Kw generator as for usage no idea

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Too warm sometimes

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

Remember canals can freeze over for days maybe weeks in the winter so make sure you are moored close to all amenities

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.