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 Morialta 11

Here’s another couple who have sensibly decided to retire early to enjoy life in the slow lane. They keep their boat at the bottom of their riverside home when they aren’t cruising, which doesn’t appear to be very often. I particularly like the iconic photo’s they sent me to include with their case study.

We are Mark 55yrs and Helen Meopham (confidential! ). We took early retirement from Police Force/Optician after deciding too many folks never get to enjoy retirement because they put it off for too long.

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Like many people we headed to the sun, and rented in Ibiza, Spain. Now whilst its a great fun island, for a holiday, we did start to suffer from island fever even though the social side was great with wonderful street cafes etc. Looking back, perhaps we were just too young to sit in the sun all day.

We returned to UK late 2011, and decided we would like a home on a river or canal and having spent a few years after school working on Phobus, a converted narrowboat, we decided one option was to buy a narrowboat and commence our search from the water.  We purchased Morialta 11, a 2006 55ft semi trad, and off house hunting we went. The search took longer than we had initially thought mainly due to the high prices of water front homes.

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It had never been our intention to remain on the boat in the depths of winter. We are far too soft for that, so the first winter saw us travel to Florida to follow up reports on very cheap waterside property, and boy were we in for a pleasant surprise. For the price of a one bed flat in Ibiza, you could buy a 3 bed villa, with pool and dock with direct Gulf of Mexico boat access.  It needed a tidy up but painting in the Florida winter sun was not too much of a hardship. Spring of 2012 saw us back on Morialta 11 and in the August we cruised by a river front home in Evesham on the River Avon, so after 3000 miles and 2000 locks we had a home.

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The fact of being on a River means we don’t have to pay mooring fees, and when the river Floods Morialta 11 just rises and falls on her 5 metre tall mooring posts kindly constructed by the Avon Navigation Trust. So at last we had a home but rather missed our nomadic existence so in spring 2013 we set sail again. We advertised the Avon house on a web site for weekly vacations and much to our surprise received lots of interest. We shall never get rich from the income but it does give you a warm glow, when you know the house is helping to pay for its self. Initially we had concerns about arranging the cleaning on change over days, but Enterprise with there cheap weekend rates came to the rescue, they actually pick us up from where ever we are, we drive back to Evesham clean and check the house,see in the new renters and have a car to use till Monday morning.

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We purchased Morialta 11 as a 4 year old boat, and have to say the saving against a brand new boat are even better than buying a second hand car. The Hospital silencer and extra engine room insulation make for an extremely quiet passage. In fact on the Thames were they like you to stop engines in Locks, the Lock keepers all ways assume we have complied !!!!!!!

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We have a Washer/Dryer which if used with the engine running is no different to a house. Shopping is a breeze as many supermarkets have set up in canal side locations and if we can’t see one from the towpath then we have the excellent “First Mates” guide which kindly points out shops etc, often just out of sight from the towpath.

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Internet comes and goes. We have a dongle from 3 which works well. The TV has always been hit and miss so this winter we called an engineer, bought a cheap aerial ( Ours loves to headbutt bridges) and an even cheaper booster.  Now, for the first time, we can get a great signal. We have a Cassette toilet with two cassettes which has worked great.

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Things I would change on the boat would be lower cabin windows so we could see out whilst sitting in Saloon and a larger front deck so we could sit out in comfort on those summer evenings.

The thing we most enjoy living afloat is the other boaters we meet on our travels. Our favorite waterway is the Thames. We love the way they do all the locks for you! The thing we like least is muddy, wet towpaths.

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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.