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 Lucky Duck

Amy and James have been living on their narrowboat since their early twenties. They love the lifestyle. In fact, they’re about to sell their current boat so that they can buy and restore their own historic narrowboat. Rather them than me!

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

Amy steering Lucky DuckMy name’s Amy and I live afloat with my partner James and our cat Lyra

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

Both of us come from families who enjoy boating but we came to love narrowboats through some friends who lived afloat. We both thought that it sounded like a wonderful way of life, so we decided to get one of our own.

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

Our current boat is called Lucky Duck and it came with the name. We wanted to change it but it stuck! We are known as “The Ducks” to many! We are now in the process of selling it, to buy a historic boat. We wouldn’t dream of changing this boat’s name as it is part of the boat’s history.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Yes, we have a residential mooring in Cambridge for which there is a very long waiting list – took us several years to get to the top of it, but it was worth the wait. We love it.

What is your boat style and length

Lucky Duck is a 48′ trad stern boat.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Four and a half years!

How did you finance your boat?

We took out a marine mortgage with Royscot Larch

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

We live on it full time!

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

We are 27 and 25 respectively, so yes, very much still working! I am a research student and James works in a primary school as their IT specialist

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Difficult! There’s not a lot I don’t like. But it is frustrating that we are not allowed to store anything on the bank next to our mooring so we have to keep our solid fuel in a garage 15 mins walk away.Lucky Duck

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

I like being off-grid and in touch with nature and the changing seasons, but the best thing is the community – boaters are such amazing people and we’ve made many firm friends on the water.

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

Its age and history – we want to live on a historic boat and be part of its story. We hope that we will soon achieve this!

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

We use Google Maps to locate the nearest one accessible by foot!

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Use Google Maps to locate launderettes

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

We’ve got a cassette toilet and I think it is the best type – it’s a cheaper and more flexible arrangement.

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

Using mobile broadband – we use our mobile phones as wifi hotspots or use the iPad

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

The BCN!

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

When cruising we use the engine, and when stationary we use our solar panel or the petrol genny. In the summer we are self sufficient for electricity.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Toasty warm, when the Morso Squirrel stove is going!

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

Unless you will be continuously cruising, find a mooring before you find a boat. Don’t treat it as cheap housing because it isn’t, do it because you have fallen in love with the lifestyle!

What obvious questions have I missed from this list?

Collecting post? We get post delivered to my work address.

Type of engine? We have a reliable BMC 1.8 – simple and easy to service and maintain.

You can read about Amy’s life afloat here. If you are interested in buying the boat, the advert is 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.



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.