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 Joanie M

Peter Early (Pearley on the forum) and his wife Jeanette live a nomadic life as genuine continuous cruisers. They’ve been cruising the network non stop since their new boat was launched in 2007. It’s a lifestyle many boaters aspire to.

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

Peter and Jeanette Earley

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

About 10 years ago a good friend died. He was only a year older than me and it made us think that there were other things we wanted to do rather than working. An opportunity came to sell our business and in 2007 with no family ties we had Joanie M built for us and sold our house.

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

‘Joanie M’. We wanted to call the boat after Jeannette’s mum. There were several Joans on the register, 2 or 3 Joanies so we added the M, for Maurice, Jeannettes dad, to make the name unique.

Narrowboat Joanie M

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Continuous Cruisers although we have sometimes taken a winter mooring, on one occasion taking and paying for it then getting stuck in the ice about 5 miles from getting there!

What is your boat style and length

57 ft 6 ins trad.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

20 years of hiring, 7 years of shared ownership then Joanie M since 2007

How did you finance your boat?

From the sale of house.

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

Live on board all time

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

No. Retired vehicle electrician so at least I know how to look after my batteries.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Nothing

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom. We get to see different parts of the country, if we don’t like the view we can move, if we don’t like our neighbours we can move.

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

Second bathroom

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

Walk but often use supermarket delivery services for wine! When your stuck in the ice you tend to drink more!

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Washing machine & tumble dryer on board

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

Dometic vacuum cassette. Gives conventional style bowl at normal height. Yes very happy although like every other boat toilet it has its peculiarities. If it is going to play up it will be when we have visitors.

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

T Mobile wireless pointer. Makes inside of boat wireless.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Mine is Calder & Hebble but Jeannette is not keen on rivers so next would be BCN

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

Joanie M is gas free so have a 7 kVa diesel generator built in.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Solid fuel stove and Ecofan makes it very warm. Cannot rely on Webasto for long term heating

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

Try it out before committing, not just in the summer but during the winter months.

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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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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.