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 Narrowboat Etive II

Mary Anne, fed up paying rent to unappreciative landlords, took out a personal loan and bought herself a floating home. Now she runs her own business from the boat. Just look at the view from her new office!

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

Mary Anne Robbins and my partner Tony Bainbridge, 1 dog a sprollie called Lilly (she has her own fan club, thinks it is her job to meet and greet everyone along the canal) 2 cats called Marmite  & Benny who have adapted very well to boat life.

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

Making curtains on the canal bank

Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to live a life afloat. We were renting a house, worrying that when we retired we wouldn’t be able to afford it and fed up with landlords putting up the rent, not fixing boilers etc. Tongue in cheek I said to Tony ‘how about living on a boat’ expecting him to poo, poo the idea. I had a narrow boat many years ago for holidays and weekends, and had worked on the hotel boats in France. Tony had never been on a narrowboat before except for a drunken day trip with friends! Well he was up for it and the rest as they say is history.

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

Etive II already named

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Yes, we were very lucky. After looking at adverts and not really understand the BW system for applying for a mooring. I made 3 phone calls to different boat yards (they weren’t advertising) and just asked! 2 calls went to answer phone and I left messages, but no one got back to me (surprise) the 3rdto call me when he got in. Thought that would be the last I heard, but 10 mins later he returned the call, we had a chat, he told us to come and have a look and the deal was done. It was only after living on the boat that I realised how lucky we had been, up till then I thought people had been exaggerating how hard it was to get a mooring.

We are moored near the dry dock at Bulbourne; there is water and electricity available. Parking for the car is across the lock and a short walk away. People are friendly and the lads in the dry dock are very helpful, think they have had a few laughs about our inexperience! But I supply them with tea bags and milk when they run out so it works well.

What is your boat style and length

60ft semi-trad

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Just over a year, we have survived one of the wettest summers and longest coldest winters and are still smiling!

How did you finance your boat?

An unsecured personal loan each, the repayments are a lot less than the rent on a house was.

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

We live aboard.

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

Tony works as a carer looking after Altsimers patients. I have my own business which I run from the boat. I teach sewing and run clubs in local venues, also have a mending and alterations service.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Not having hot running water.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The lifestyle, meeting friendly people.

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

Would love to have a wide beam.

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

With us both working, my elderly mother and pregnant daughter living in the area we don’t cruise much, but we bought the boat from Great Haywood and cruised to our mooring. We restocked at shops that were close to the canal.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a washing machine on board, wouldn’t have bought the boat if it didn’t have one.

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

Cassette, it is ok, in the snow we had to take it on a sledge to the emptying point at Marsworth! Sometimes think a pump out would be good, but we would have to do 7 locks there and 7 back to use the pump out.

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

3 using my phone as hotspot, it is ok a bit slow at times, but when they say all you can eat data they mean it.

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

Engine, don’t really know how much we use, have replaced the lights bulbs with LED’s

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Warmer than a lot of houses I’ve lived in, unless the wind was in the wrong direction. We have a Squirrel stove with 3 radiators.

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

You must be an outdoors sort of person, with a sense of humour. Research the boat and how it all works, each boat is different and we didn’t know enough. But we are both glad we moved onto the canal. So just do it!

You can visit Mary Anne’s sewing site 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.

 

 

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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 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.