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 Moon Shadow

Retired Aussie couple Peter & Meagan O’Sullivan have spent the last two and a half years continuously cruising the canals and rivers of England and Wales. Here’s their story.

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

Peter & Meagan O’Sullivan

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

Liveaboard narrowboat Moon ShadowRetired Aussie couple in early 60’s who did a trip on the Ashby in 1992 and in Burgundy in 1996. Always thought it would be a great lifestyle. Thanks to my last employer, they gave me a chance to finish work on favourable terms and we grabbed the chance to buy our boat in June 2011 after having come over in Feb 2011 to research the market for a week ( a lot of driving in a very short timeframe but certainly gave us an idea of requirements/ wants)

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

Moon Shadow…..love at first sight for Meagan, a devout Cat Stevens fan ( we marched down the aisle nearly 40 years ago to ‘Morning had broken’)

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Have continuous cruised since the beginning with Winter layovers at Sherborne Wharf, Birmingham ( 2011 – we went back for a few drinks last night) and Lyme View Marina, 2012 ( recommended by some fellow boaters/ now good friends). About to take up a permanent annual mooring at Penkridge from November 1 as we travel a fair bit with cheap airfares available and feel this will be more secure over time.

What is your boat style and length

57′ reverse layout.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

2 years 9 months

How did you finance your boat?

Mr. C Ash

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

Continuous cruiser and loving it even as it cools down.

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

Retired…..let those who have been less fortunate get the jobs! Not easy when you are of a certain age…..

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Power/poo/water/garbage management with CRT facilities sometimes appearing random and poorly spaced.

Mediocre 3G coverage at times.

Loosing hours of my life trying to orient my satellite dish…why is there always a tree between where I moor and the satellite?

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The view out of the kitchen window is always changing. The banter with fellow boaters.

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

Not a fan of the ‘swallowtail’ stern. Have had major issues with our pram cover sticking out resulting in bending/ breakage of support frame ( aluminium tubing)

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

Generally by foot or fold up bike. Always rely on Pearsons who provide clear position of supermarkets. Also, keep eye out for market days to get Narrowboat Moon Shadowbetter quality fruit/ veg.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

3.5kg twin tub that cost £99 on Amazon delivered canalside to the Trading Post on the Macclesfield ( good fella, Andy). Fits neatly in our shower enclosure (Quadrant ) on wash day and under end of dinette table .Previously had a small 1kg twin tub but parts became an issue after a spin dryer timer died. Larger machine better / quicker. Use a Dry Buddy (1.5 kw motor )from Argos £59 to dry when weather does not permit. Does the job within 3/4 hours (cruising generally)and dissembles nicely to fit under dinette bench. Cheap but effective and we didn’t want to lose rear stairwell cupboard space (used for wet weather gear) for a full washing machine.

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

We have both. A small Kampa 10 litre cassette which lasts a couple of days and a pumpout for emergencies or when we have guests aboard. Being continuous cruisers, a £15/18 pumpout every 10/14 days is not economically viable and would start to compete with diesel expense.

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

use 3g through 3 using 3g Ipad 2 normally. Has proven generally brilliant compared to initial dongle and Netbook. Occasionally use MiFi for other hardware but is dongle-based and fairly slow. iPad generally wins most of the time

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Would be a toss up between Llangollen, Leeds and Liverpool (especially through God’s country, Yorkshire!). Also River Soar but there are highlights on every canal we have cruised so far.

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

Principally reliant on main diesel supplemented by 80 watt solar cell ( kept batteries charged over last winter nicely).

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm. Have fitted a couple of computer fans venting from back of solid fuel stove behind shower bulkhead to blow into bedroom. Seems to be effective in moving air albeit a little slow. Walk through bathroom hinders circulation of air into bedroom so this is my solution. Will have to wait until it gets a little colder to ascertain whether this is a fully satisfactory solution but better than nothing.

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

Research before you commit. Subscribe to a good magazine such as WW or Canal Boat for 12 months before buying. Research the web for sites like livingonanarrowboat.co.uk and owner blogs.

If you don’t like camping, don’t do it!

If you don’t like getting wet and cold, think again.

It can be expensive if you are not practical and able to do simple handyman tasks. It’s a lifestyle, not a holiday but has many rewards if you embrace it.

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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.

 

 

12v sockets. Something I’m hoping to resolve pdq.

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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 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.