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 Pengalanty

I knew Allan’s case study was going to make an interesting read when he said, “I was working full time until I was 77 when doing two or three jobs became a bit much for me.” – And then he mentioned that he cruises with his ex wife who also has her own narrowboat! Enjoy your retirement Allan!

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

I’m Allan Cazaly, who has had an interesting and varied life, not only in the UK, but also 10-years in Europe, based in Southern Germany.

Allan at the help of NB Pengalanty

Allan at the help of NB Pengalanty

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

Itchy feet, I suppose? In Germany, I soon became involved in the Holiday business. This took me as far as Poland, Russia, Hungry, Yugoslavia (Then),UK, France to Italy and all the mountain passes; hard work and immensely enjoyable.

I have always been interested in canals, ever since I lived in Wombourne, near Bratch locks. I found narrowboats fascinating then, and still do. I was lucky enough to be able to design the boat of my dreams (Nearly got everything right) and I had enough money to have the steel shell built based on a trad. design (6 years ago). I have been working towards completion ever since.

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

Narrowboat Pengalanty entering a lock

Narrowboat Pengalanty entering a lock

My boat is named “Pengalanty” I wasn’t clever enough to create the name and it came about almost by accident. Whilst visiting Gloucester docks, I met a boat surveyor on some pontoons (Walking his dog) and we started talking “boats”. He built his own. I was interested and mentioned that I was having a shell build (RLL Boats, Keynsham) and was doing the remainder of work myself
We stayed in touch and he gave me useful information from time to time. One day, I had an e-mail that said – Christine has found the name of your boat – This was because had decided to have graphics with 2 swans intertwined on each side The name stated was Pengalanty – made up as follows: “Pen”, being a female swan, “Galanty“ being a medieval name for amorous. The name sounded good and it rolled off the tongue quite naturally, so that’s how it came about .

What is your boat length and style?

The boat is 58’0” long, supposed to be 2.4” draft but there is so much equipment and timber on board that it more like 2’7” and the stern digs deeper when cruising. This is actually more stable, so I am happy with this.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

I have owned “Pengalanty” for over 6 years and have lived full time on my boat for the last 3 years. This is my forth year as my home – I Love the Lifestyle –

How did you finance your boat?

I had 2 separate private pensions that I had been paying into for many years. I converted the pensions and used the cash allowance to achieve my goal.

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

As I was working nights, at the time, I spend most afternoons working on the boat. It has taken me simply ages, as I fitted and commissioned the engine (Beta 43), the ballast, flooring, lining out, cladding, all the electrics (To above the minimum standards) plumbing and c/heating. A boat doesn’t seem very large but the work is like building and fitting a house out on your own. The electrical installation is more complex, as there are 12-VDC, 24-VDC and a 3KVA comi-inverter giving 220-VAC, much more than one would install in any property.I did have all the skills necessary, due to working in all these trades and owning my own joinery shop, in the past (I said I had an interesting and varied life).

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

I have been working all my life, sometimes doing 2 and 3 jobs (Doubling upon shifts etc) I was known as a work-a-holic! I continued working until I was almost 77. I found that some of the heavy work I was doing was becoming too much and I hadn’t recovered completely by the next morning. I then decided it was time to enjoy more time for myself. Now I am fully retired and still HAVE NO TIME to spare – How did I find time to undertake 3 jobs? I’ll never work that one out!

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Very slippery and muddy towpaths during wet weather and lack of BW maintenance of the hedgerows. Finding a lovely quiet spot, then having another boater moor up less than 6 feet away, making a lot of noise and radio full blast – especially when there are miles of unoccupied canal either side!

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Being on or near water is therapeutic and relaxing. Unless one has lived in the country, (I worked several years on a mixed dairy/arable farm in my earlier days) you have to experience the joy of country smells and perfumes of some flowers; the quietness (Pure Luxury) with no traffic, no aircraft; no pollution, or diesel smoke (Always excepting the fumes from one’s own engine!). As I prefer the isolated areas, I don’t have any problems from other boaters or their engines.

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

Extend it by about 6 feet to have another room available and more cupboard space.

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

I have both a car and a folding moped. The moped stays on the boat and this overcomes the logistics of having the car catch the boat up all the time. I usually by fresh veg when sold along the canal side, as I pass (Straight of the farm, or smallholding is minutes fresh, sometimes dug up, or pick DIY style). As my boat has a UDB fridge freezer combi, I always keep a few days supplies of fresh food. I have ample supplies of dried and tinned goods and can always find something to eat.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Pengalanty has a Zannussi compact washing machine plumbed in – washing is usually done on the move

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

I had no question of any problem here – Hutchinsons My 3 Fast Dongle is almost hard wired speed. No connections problems, (Other than poor weather that reduces signal strength). My dongle is protected and waterproofed, fitted externally at least 4 feet above the roof. It does usually work inside the boat but the O/S position is much better.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Stratford and Oxford and similar narrow canals. It’s the difference in motoring along country lanes and motorway driving. The GU, Sharpness and K&A are less attractive but often easier to cruise.

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

My boat is a high tech boat (Not sure is this is the best though) and is electricity/energy hungry. I have 4 large Solar panels and a wind generator. The V panels produce more energy per ? invested over the 12- months. I am able to leave my boat for a few days, knowing that my batteries will recharge enough to keep my freezer working 24/7. I have a large 24-V alternator to charge the batteries with the main engine. There is a Stirling PDAR digital controller to override the alternator limiter, Due to overheating problems the alternator is cooled with a large “snail” type of blower fan.

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

Have at least one week’s holiday, preferably 2 or 3 holidays over a couple of years to gain experience. One soon knows what the best layout is, how many you want to be able to sleep and other important basic things. This cannot be gained any other way. It is wise to do this before a large investment is made. If you stll like the idea – then go for it ASAP – Life is for real, when it’s gone, it’s gone and you never know when (Or if) your health will last. It’s no good saying,(When it’s too late), “If only I had done this earlier”

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Lovely and warm, cosy and dry, just like a miniature country cottage – S’wonderful!

You must have a “Peep” at my web site for more information and you must have a look at my special site (With a FREE offer) of children’s story books (Ideal for canals).

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.

Comments
  • Jab Monday,6 February, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Hi, Had a shufty at the “free” energy site you quote on your blog. Don’t waste your money, anybody who claims to have invented, discovered or other wise found perpetual motion is either a fraudster or extremely stupid (ie gullible). Check out these websites:
    http://mapawatt.com/2009/07/21/magniwork_perpetual_motion_scam/
    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Magniwork
    Regards

     
  • Pengalanty Monday,6 February, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Yep! I’ve heard all about perpetual motion and it doesn’t make sense to me, you can’t get somethin’ for nothin’ – Even PV panels have a loss factor and must be furnished with the power from the sun

    I don’t think I advocated free energy as you portray – I will check it out and have a look; it may be a comment from someone else’s contribution – you have me puzzled for the moment – A hearty thanks for your comment though!

    It does show that people are reading this site and are interested enough to “Surf” mine as well! Have you seen my other web site, with a *free* children’s story download?

    If not, have a look at: http://www.thewoodknottales.com – you may like to comment on this one too?? (By the way,there is a small “Glitch” with the Facebook “Like” download), so if you have problems, please scroll up to the top again to the RHS and D/L a zip file from the “Pull Down” tab

    By the way, do you like Paul’s new Boaters’ Website and style? I personally think it is a “great” idea and Paul has received loads of positive comments!

     
  • mcghee Wednesday,8 February, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Hi Allan,
    Can I ask what size solar panels you have, and how efficient the wind generater is.

     
    • Pengalanty Sunday,4 March, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      I’m so sorry that my answer has been soooooo slow in coming. I haven’t looked at this site for a few weeks, owing to a boat belonging to a good friend has had ongoing electrical problems that needed attention

      Up to 4 weeks ago, (When we had severe storms and unusually high winds) I had 4 x 12-vdc x 130 watt rated output Solar “Crystaline” panels. These were wired as 2 pairs of 24vdc as my battery bank is 24v.
      1 pair of panels was enough to recoup the energy used by my domestic 240vac fridge/freezer. The other pair of panels helped to reduce my diesel consumption. The 4 panels cost just short of £1900.00 but with a timber frame and some furniture, it was around a £2k investment. The investment turned out to be excellent, as over the year, I was able to reduce my diesel costs by £20pw (£1000pa), so the capital cost was recouped in about 2 years. Even if it took 3 tears, I consider it a good investment.

      Fortunately I have a first class fully comp. insurance and when photographs of the damage of all the panels and a statement was sent to the company, they paid out in full within 21-days. Now this WAS a good service!

      Panels have reduced in price and performance has increased in the last 2 years. I have been able to replace these panels, (With the insurance money) and purchased 4 x 24vdc x 190watt rated output. These will be wired up in 2 x 48vdc pairs, as it saves increasing the cabling size and reduces (Theoretically) voltage drop due to wire resistances. I fully expect that greater savings will be made as the panels are almost 3 x more powerful (A 290% watt rated output increase over my old ones). My American digital controller is large enough to cope with the additional size

      I hope this is helpful to you – once again, my apologies for the delay

      Regarding the latest 914i digtal Rutland Wind generator, although it is considered one of the best in oputput and low revs changing capability, this is really a luxury. It would appear (From the winter months) that payback time for the wind generators will be 4 to 5 years in payback time – not nearly as good as PV panels at around a 2 year payback. However, with the short light hours in Dec thro’ February, it is a help – always providing there is enough wind and you morr in an exposed position to catch the best velocities available! I would not be tempted to purchase a wind turbine if I was staring again.

       
  • kimobi Monday,20 February, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Allan, it sounds like you have a lot of spare cash and/or a house ashore as well. I am wondering what the actual cost of living aboard really is and could it really be a dream for someone with a limited income. looking forward to your reply.

     
  • johnkirkus Sunday,30 March, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Hello Alan
    I tried to have a “peep” at your site but my browser thinks it is in Chinese (or possibly Japanese) – or have I missed a
    subtlety somewhere?
    Cheers
    John

     
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