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 Ouse Dunit

Paul and Helen Newby only live on their narrowboat for six months of the year but they certainly put in the miles. One thousand of them actually AND 600 locks. That’s some serious cruising! {{{0}}}

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

There are 3 of us on the boat, my wife Helen, Our dog a rescue Lurcher very appropriately called Raggs and of course myself Paul Newby.

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

Paul Newby looking very happy in his retirement

Paul Newby looking very happy in his retirement

Lets put this right, we don’t live afloat 12 months of the year we haven’t been brave enough to go full time. We are at an age where we both have several things wrong with us, so we decided to keep our house to give us somewhere to go if things go wrong. We first bought a second hand 38 footer in 1996 but soon realised we were going to spend a lot of time on the boat so 2 years later we bought a shell from R&D Fabrications and fitted it out ourself. We’ll finish it eventually.

When i was working i used the boat as a base so did continuous cruising around Cheshire for a full year whilst working there but since retiring we have spent 5 very enjoyable summers cruising the system and used the boat on numerous weekends through the winter

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

Ouse Dunit. We wanted a unique, slightly comical, name with links to York, our home town

Do you have a permanent or winter mooring? If you do, what type of mooring is it?

Yes we moor at a boat club on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. Boat clubs involve a bit of work, but they are normally much cheaper than a mooring of equivalent standard in private ownership.

What is your boat style and length

Ouse Dunit is a 58ft trad narrowboat with a conventional layout, from the front, sitting room, L shaped diner, galley, bathroom, and a bedroom with cross bed. The modern Nanni engine being hidden under the floor at the stern.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

we bought our first boat in 1996, so 16 years. We have owned our present boat for 14 years.

How did you finance your boat?

A combination of compensation for losing a job, savings and inheritance.

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

6 months continuous, April to October. then about 1 in 3 weekends over the winter. We normally travel over 1000 miles and go through in excess of 600 locks per year.

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

No. I am happily retired.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

going away from the boat

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

An evening cruising along the cut.

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

Narrowboat Ouse Dunit

Narrowboat Ouse Dunit

A redesign of the sitting area at the front from a long bench seat to individual chairs would be nice.

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

Using the internet we are able to find a supermarket close to the canal at least once a week. We use local shops for everyday items. All collected on foot.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Launderette, again the internet is great for finding a location.

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

Vacuum pump toilet to a holding tank. A very refined system but does use a lot of water so needs pumping out regularly. This can be a problem and proves expensive. Not good for a confirmed Yorkshireman.

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

I’ve used a vodaphone dongle for several years with mixed success. It works great when in a good 3G area but not very good in the bad reception areas which are very common on the canal network. I recently got an android smartphone which is great on its own and can be linked up to the laptop when required. This is on a very cheap Tesco package but as yet untried round the system. Role on April.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

This is a difficult one but I think i would opt for the Shroppy, the high embankments and deep cuttings are spectacular.

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

Mainly with the engine but we do have a 60 watt solar panel which helps on sunny mornings.

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

Try it first if you can but I know lots of people who have bought a boat to live on with no experience.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm, I put lots of insulation in. We rely on the multifuel stove that is positioned 10 ft back in the cabin. We use wood durin the day but bank up with coal/ smokeless fuel at night.

We have a central heating system that broke down several years ago, we were so warm without it that I have never repaired it.

Ouse Dunit is moored at Airedale Boat Club on the Leeds Liverpool canal

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 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.

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