A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Forty Winks

Our Nige thinks he’s a lucky fella. He’s just sold his house and bought a liveaboard narrowboat.  He’s just cruised back from where he bought it to his new home mooring. Read on to find out what he thinks about life afloat and what he thought of his first cruise as a narrowboat owner.

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

Hi I am Nigel Buttery AKA OurNige. I do not have a significant dog or an other either but ever the optimist.

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

I am 56 and and while a few relationships looked very promising I am single, no children and no one to be responsible to or for. I’ve worked in Warehousing for about 14 years then as a white van man for about 14 years too and then went into care, working in residential care with adults with severe learning difficulties. As my house sale went through I actually put my notice in due to the politically correct way the company was run. So I now have a boat and looking for a job. Well I have one but am waiting for a start date.

I have loved water and boats from an early age when our family holidays were a two week stay on the Norfolk Broads from when I was 8 up to 16 and have been attracted to the sea and boats ever since but rather strangely never did much boating or sailing  apart from odd times when on holiday or day trips to the coast. Anyway over the last five years with work and things I looked at my circumstances and said if the worse comes to the worst then I could sell the house and buy a boat if out of work. Then I started thinking well I could do it anyway and it grew from there until a couple of friends, one slightly older and one slightly younger died in the same year and the house went on the market and I thought we’ll give it a go come hell or high water. So here I am.

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

A nice spot for lunch

A nice spot for lunch

The boats name is Forty Winks which isn’t a bad name but came with the boat and I’m pretty sure it will get changed when she is out of the water next to be blacked. Not sure what to call her next but will have a year to live with her and see what comes up. I have some ideas already but no rush.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

I have a permanent mooring at Mercia Marina Willington which seems to be a nice place to be. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks but this pontoon there are about 10 or so liveaboards and quite a few others dotted about the marina. My neighbours I’m getting to know but all seem friendly and I’m going to like it here. The marina has room about 550 boats. The facilities are excellent. Showers and toilets are exceptional and kept really clean. Laundry room is sound with a book exchange corner. There are three facility blocks round the marina and a shop, chandlery, mechanics, pump out, diesel, lovely tearoom and wifi if you require. The marina is about 4 or 5 years old so everything is still newish.

What is your boat style and length

The boat is a 50ft cruiser stern with the saloon at the bow and the dinette is built right up to the prow so there is no outside space only a gas locker which is a little difficult to get at due to no space. This does give extra space inside though.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Nearly four weeks now.

How did you finance your boat?

I sold my house and took the equity and due to not getting as much for the house as I would have liked I’ve spent virtually all of that on the boat which cost £27,000. There are some decent boats out there at decent prices.

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

I’ve bought the boat as a liveaboard so will spend most of the year aboard.002-001

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

Yes I’m still having to work and looking at warehousing but might go back into care or trying to do a bit of guitar teaching and personal poetry for peoples birthdays or anniversaries or any occasions really. Look up ournige.com if you would like a poem for someone special.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Still rather new so not sure really.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The pace of it all. It really is my sort of pace and when it’s a lovely morning or evening sitting on the back with a coffee or a whisky and feeling like I’m a truly lucky and contented man.

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

Not really sure on this one as still new the boat.

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

Not really done enough cruising to answer that one yet.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Again have only cruised for just over a week and had enough clothes to last till we got to the marina. But I suppose you look for a marina with a laundry.

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

I have a pump out toilet and it seems fine but haven’t over wintered yet so see what happens if we get frozen in.

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

There is wifi her which works ok and I’m elevating my dongle as I type which seems to help with the 3 broadband I’m using. I will raising it some more soon to see if I can get up to a good signal, only fair at the moment which works ok.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

So far I’ve enjoyed the Macclesfield and the Trent and Mersey from Stone down to Fradley junction seems nice but haven’t seen too much of anything else.

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

I have 3 leisure batteries and a starter battery which are charged off an alternator and while cruising it seemed no problem but I don’t have a microwave or an electric kettle, dishwasher, washing machine or any thing like that so I think I should be fine with just 12v fridge, lights, computer and charging my phone.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

I don’t know but having lit the fire once I’m not worrying about being cold when it’s lit I’m sure I’ll be nice and snug. I have gas central heating which works ok but doesn’t really make it toasty warm.

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

on’t rush into choosing a boat wait till you find one that talks to you and even if it does make sure you give it a few weeks to see whether you still feel the same when you view it a second time. Think about how you want to live while on board and look for what suits your needs.

You can sample Our Nige’s singing, guitar playing and poetry here

Our Nige’s blog entries are below. Start at the beginning and join him on his journey from fearful anticipation to confident cruiser.

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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.



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.