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 Osprey

One still working and one retired. How does that work? Narrowboat liveaboards Alice and Phil Rosser give you their take on life afloat from their floating home on the Lancaster canal{{{0}}}

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

Phil and Alice Rosser and Jack the whippet, (who isn’t our dog but we look after him during the day while our neighbour is at university and we love him to bits).

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

Narrowboat Osprey on a Lancaster canal mooring

Narrowboat Osprey on a Lancaster canal mooring

Phil took early retirement some years ago and I was working very long hours to pay the mortgage and all the other bills incurred from living in a large four bedroomed victorian terraced house. Our two boys had left home and we were rattling around in this big house and thought it was time to make changes so that we had more time for us and a lifestyle which suited our interests. We are very ‘outdoorsy’ people and after plenty of research discovered that living afloat ticked all the boxes for us.

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

‘Osprey’ We wanted a name that described both of our interests. We both enjoy bird watching and the Osprey is a strong, majestic migrating bird which lives near water so we thought it was appropriate..

Inside narrowboat Osprey

Inside narrowboat Osprey

What is your boat length and style?

57ft. Cruiser stern. Reverse layout.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

18 months

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

All the time, we are liveaboards.

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

Phil is retired. I am a freelance musician and I work part time. I do two days teaching a week in term time, run two music websites, play for weddings and work for an examination board.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

The spiders!

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything!! Being close to nature.

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

Not having the water pump near the bedroom! Phil says ‘Can somebody please invent a silent water pump’ (for the days I get up at 6am for work and turn the shower on).

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

We have a bike on the roof which makes for great transport and most shopping will fit in a rucksack.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a washing machine on board

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

A 3G dongle. Usually service is OK depending on where we are moored. On the marina it is excellent.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

The Glasson arm of the Lancaster canal, but we only know the Lancaster canal so far

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

Run the engine for an hour a day for the 12 volt appliances and we use the inverter sparingly for the television, laptop and radio. We ditch our electric kettle and use one for the gas stove.

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

Do lots of research, talk to lots of liveaboards. Buy the biggest boat you can afford. Think about what you will do with all the contents of your house if you are downsizing. Are you prepared to get rid of lots of possessions? You won’t be able to have much on a boat.

You can find out more about the adventures of narrowboat Osprey 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 web site.

 

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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.

Comments
  • jwillan Wednesday,4 April, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Where is your boat moored? We’re planing on retiring to a narrowboat, and the Lancaster canal would be perfect. My family are in Blackpool and Leyland. I’ve been looking at marinas and finding a residential spot is a bit of a challenge. I’m currently living in Florida so I’ll take a look around on my next trip over.

     
  • William Clarke Thursday,14 June, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Very enlightening as I’m about to buy a boat.Would like to use my computer and can you explain what a 3G dongal is please as you are the second people to mention this gadget during my investigations this evening.

     
    • admin Friday,15 June, 2012 at 6:29 am

      A dongle is… “A device that is connected to a computer to allow access to wireless broadband or use of protected software.”. A dongle is about the same size as a throw away cigarette lighter. It plugs into your laptop USB port (laptop, not desktop PC. You won’t want to clutter up the little space you have on board with a bulky PC). You’ll probably need to buy an extension lead to fit between your dongle and your laptop so that you can place the dongle outside the boat to improve the signal. I have routed my exension lead out through a vent, then to the top of a four foot long pole which is attached to the roof. My signal is good enough most of the time to stream TV from BBC iPalayer and good enough all of the time to send and receive email. There are sections of the canal system though where you won’t be able to receive a signal at all.

       
  • TonyG59 Thursday,28 June, 2012 at 9:51 am

    A 3G dongle (MiFi) is a small device (rechargeable battery pack built in) about the size of a small mobile phone. It works as a router and can enable internet access for 4 devices. The speed is good (dependant on signal obviously) and seems to cope with normal access needs. Mrs G has done all the research and has just brought one in anticipation of us getting our boat Sept (ish)… best goto 3 website and lookup MiFi… hope this helps…

     
    • hilofoz Tuesday,25 September, 2012 at 8:23 am

      I had a wireless hub from 3 com but it was a cheap device and I had one replaced, then the second failed. The MiFi version came with a plan which was not too good, so I stayed with the dongle only, and therefore could not do WiFi which then became a nuisance as I wanted to download larger files on my iPad. The dongle plan was good with 10GB per month, just right for me.

       
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