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 Misty Blue

After a lifetime in engineering, one man and his dog take to the inland waterways for a mobile and rewarding retirement exploring the waterways of England and Wales.

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

My name is Kelvin and my ‘significant other’ is a gorgeous red and white Border Collie called Sky. I also have a partner who joins me often…

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

Always loved the water and sailing, but thought after selling my last yacht it was time to move onto the inland waterways. Ex-RAF electrical engineer followed by assorted jobs mainly in the fork lift truck industry, culminating in Middle East service manger.

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

Narrowboat Misty Blue

Originally Kundalila when I bought her last year, that name was roundly disliked by the family so Misty Blue was chosen instead

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

Did have a mooring at Welford, but gave it up in November to go CC

What is you boat length and style?

60ft semi-trad

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

19 months

How did you finance your boat?

Sale of a second house

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

Since June virtually full time. Anticipate odd weeks away, may for a sunshine holiday

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

Retired in June

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Mud, unable to keep trousers clean

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Pretty much everything else

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

Probably the engine, but that’s because I am paranoid about engines since sailing days. I appreciate an emergency on the cut is not the same, but still…

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

Stock up as and when.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Smalls in the shower when I shower, bigger stuff at marinas

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

Dump-through. Happy enough, I for sure don’t want to trundle a bucket of s*** along the tow path. Seems to me, if frosty times are a-coming, you ensure it is regularly emptied.

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

I have a Wi-Fi from 3, generally very pleased. Originally on a monthly contract at 5gb for £16, I went onto a 24-month contract at 15gb for £15

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Of the (few) I have been on, the Ashby. Erewash is the worst by far.

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

Everything is 12v; I have 2x110ah leisure batteries and 2x100w solar panels with an MPPT controller – I may well increase the number next year. I have also fitted a sterling alternator regulator and a Smart gauge.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

I have a wood-burner and 2 rad CH. So far, I only use the wood burner, though I am renowned for not feeling the cold. During modifying the boat to what I wanted, the living area was reduced by about 1/2, the kitchen moved forward and a second double bed fitted onto that space. With the corridor door shut aft of that bed it is quite cosy.

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

Watch you don’t fall in!

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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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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.