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 Lady River Mouse

Hilary and Nigel Lambert decided to grab the bull by the horns, leave the rat race and live the dream. They are now continuous cruisers after two years moored in a marina and loving every minute of their new freedom.

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

Hilary and Nigel Lambert and jack russell terrier Flynn.

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

I was a stressed carer for my mum who has alzheimers and my husband was stuck in a job which was making him increasingly unhappy. One Thursday in May 2012 we decided that life is just too short not to get on and live your dreams. So a letter of resignation was written and handed in on the Friday while I arranged to put our house into auction.  On the Saturday we started looking at boats.

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

Lady River Mouse.  We inherited the name and after discovering it was an anagram we decided to keep it.  We like to leave it for others to work out what it means.

Do you have a permanent mooring? If so, tell me about it.

We have been moored permanently at Sawley Marina since July 2012 but on 30th June 2014 we became continuous cruisers as we now have the freedom to move on.

What is you boat length and style?

Lady River Mouse is a 1986 50ft cruiser stern narrowboat.  We believe she was built by Alvechurch and is an ex hire boat.
She is perfect for us.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Since May 2012.

How did you finance your boat?

We sold our house and all our goods and chattels.  It was the most liberating experience!

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

We live aboard so all 12 months.

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

No.  After breaking her leg my mum is now in a care home so I am no longer a full time carer.  Nigel has retired, or at  least he thinks he has – I think the roof needs painting, we need some roof boxes making and a good engine service……….well you get the picture, there is always something needs doing.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Honestly nothing. We are living a life long dream and loving every minute of it.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The boating community who are so generous with their advice, time, and the tools for any job we can come up with.

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

I would love a bigger bathroom (ours is tiny).  When we were looking for a boat we did not like the walk through
bathrooms, it was something we had never seen before but now I think the extra space they give would be positively
luxurious particularly now we are leaving the convenience of the marina and all its facilities.

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

We walk.  The Pearsons guides tell you where the shops are and an ordnance survey (or the internet) show you the footpaths so we just moor somewhere close by take a rucksack for heavy stuff, a few shopping bags and the dog and off we go, most villages have a co-op or small convenience store.  We also love to hunt out farm shops and occasionally can get eggs and fruit/veg from canalside homes.  If we are near a big town then we try to stock up on dry goods and household items.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

This is an interesting question as we have never been out long enough to run out of clothes before getting back to the
marina and the laundry.  We do not have a washing machine on board so I guess we’ll be hand washing the smalls and looking out for laundrettes as we travel.

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

We have an elsan with 3 cassettes.  We are perfectly happy with it.  In the marina it is easy but out and about we have to
make sure to make use of CRT elsan points whenever we see them and occasionally a marina if necessary.  We were out for 6 weeks last summer and had no problems and we only had 2 cassettes then.

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

We use a 3G hotspot on our phone.  It is usually OK for our needs and coverage is reasonable but not perfect.  Our main
use is staying in touch with family so a few days here or there is not critical.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

So far we really enjoy the Trent and Mersey especially around Shugborough Hall and Great Heywood.

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

We keep the batteries topped up by running the engine while cruising and by generator if we are static for any length of
time.  Everything except the TV uses 12v and the only thing that runs all the time is the fridge.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm.  We have been warmer over the last two winters than we ever were in our house.  When would you ever open the windows with the central heating on?  We are better at managing our stove to keep the boat at about 24C now but it is not unusual for us to have the hatch open whatever the weather outside.

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

I am probably not the right person to give advice as I believe that if you want something bad enough you should do it and
everything will be fine. Life is for living. I’m afraid we also bought our boat after falling in love with it, something
just felt right – a real case of heart over head.  We did look at quite a number of boats and we really liked the layout
of Lady River Mouse which seems quite unusual with the galley at the front, cabin in the middle and the bedroom at the
back – it works for us.

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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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Entertainment
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.