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 Quaintrelle

After a chance meeting on a cycling holiday in Jordan, Aileen and Mike can now cycle together along the towpath next to their beautiful floating home as they continuously cruises the connected waterways of England and Wales.

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

Aileen Queenan and husband Mike

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

DSC_7311I’m 46 and from Edinburgh and enjoyed life there working at Edinburgh University with a good social life. I met Mike on a cycling holiday in Jordan in 2010 and we married in February 2013. Mike was due to semi-retire in 2014 and we decided we wanted to do some travelling but without the hassle of packing up every time we moved. Neither of us had really done the UK extensively, so we decided that travelling on a narrowboat that was our home fitted the bill – we could explore the UK with not a suitcase in sight.  We had taken a few holidays on narrowboats, and it rained a lot, yet we still came home having loved every minute of it.

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

Quaintrelle. Well, we couldn’t decide on a name, so I posted on Facebook for suggestions and said the winner would get a week on the boat. Some of the suggestions were awful, but we shortlisted our favourites and got friends to vote. We didn’t really like the winner. Then a friend posted the word Quaintrelle on Facebook, saying she aspired to be this, the definition being; a lady who lives life passionately through leisurely pursuits and looking beautiful – exactly what our boat is!

Do you have a permanent mooring? If so, tell me about it.

No. We are continuous cruisers.

What is you boat length and style?

57ft semi-trad. (You might have seen her in September’s Waterways World – they did a boat test on her).

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Six months.

How did you finance your boat?

We were in a fortunate position that we were able to purchase outright from the builder with staged payments.

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

DSC_574811 months probably, we live on her permanently, but will maybe head off somewhere warm for a few weeks in February.

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

Mike has his own business, so he still does a bit of consultancy, and I do the admin for him.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

We’re still very much in the honeymoon phase and have had a wonderful summer, but I guess it’s planning when you need a pump-out/water/diesel and making sure that you’re somewhere where it’s all available. Oh, and washing the boat……..

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything else!

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

The kitchen tap!  It’s too high above the sink, and to short a spout, so when you rinse something it splashes all over the worktops 🙁

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

We have bikes on board that are stored in a front locker, so we cycle and fill our panier bags. We use the internet to find the nearest supermarket. On a wine-run we can get 12 bottles between us on the bikes 😉

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a compact washing machine on board.  We have used laundrettes for bedding and towels when they’ve been to hand.

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

We have a pump-out toilet with macerator.  Very pleased with it, it is just like a normal toilet.  It does get a bit pongy when it’s almost full, but that’s just boating life for you.

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

DSC_5754

We have a Huwei mobile dongle, 3G.  It’s been fantastic, only a couple of places in six months where we’ve had no service for a couple of nights.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Gosh, we’ve only just begun….. I did love the Leeds Liverpool on the Skipton to Foulridge section, going across the dales, so looking forward to doing that in Quaintrelle at some point.

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

We move most days, so the leisure batteries get charged up. We use about 10-15% overnight.  We’re always careful to do washing and anything that might use a bit more power whist we’re moving.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

We haven’t had a winter yet, but we have a diesel powered Heritage Stove on board which provides hot water, central heating and cooking.  We also have a solid fuel burner.  In the last week we have had the solid fuel on, but found once we’d cooked on the Heritage we had to open the windows as it was too warm.  So I think we’ll be toasty.

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

Do a few holidays first, in all sorts of weather. See if you think you can live in the space.  Ask all the obvious questions on forums and use Paul’s calculator to see how much it will cost you.  Everyone seems to think it is cheap as chips, and whilst at the end of the day it is cheaper than living in a house, there are still costs.

If you want to find out more about Aileen and Mike’s travels you can read their unusual but very effective Twitter boating blog.

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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.