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 Willow 2

Gary enjoys the best of both worlds. He’s enjoys the cosy comforts of his liveaboard narrowboat during the week on his own, then takes his washing home to his overjoyed wife at the weekends. Marital bliss!

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

 I am Garry and I am married to Bernadette. We both have our own businesses so we live apart and see each other at weekends. I live on the boat and she at home. It works for us.

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

NB Willow in the snowHave always admired narrow boats and about 2 years ago I decided I wanted to buy one. I looked at some and against advice I bought one. I loved the engine room, she loved the front end but also, it was also a bargain. My pace of life meant that a narrow boat would force me to slow down and it has certainly worked.

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

It had a name but we didn’t know what it was when we viewed it. Amazingly it is called ‘Willow’ which is Bernadettes favourite tree.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

I am on a permanent mooring. There is free water and metered electricity. We also have a toilet and waste disposal. It is at the end of the owners lease and hasn’t been looked after too well. I believe Peel Holdings are taking the moorings back next year so that may change things.

What is your boat style and length

I have a 58ft Trad

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

1yr 7 months

How did you finance your boat?

Bought outright (probably because I work too much!!)

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

about 5/7 of the year

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

I work in education. Another business is in the leisure industry and another in the handyman repair industry

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

The headroom (I am 6’5″). Other boats that wizz past ignoring any speed limit.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

calmness, no rush, rain on the roof, community spirit, frost on the outside, ducks, stress free (usually)

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

reverse the layout

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

usually have everything we need but may have to walk or use a bike

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

save it up and take it home

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

Thetford cassette. Am really happy. So pleased I dont have a pump out after being iced in last year

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

Teather my phone or use the Dongle. Reception can be a bit hit and miss.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Just going into Lymm village from Stockton Heath. Travelling down from Glasson Dock to the start of the Ribble link

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

Use the batteries/inverter. Also have a generator which I have never used

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Too warm at times

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

Rent one first (just like I didn’t) or spend time on a friends. Have offered mine to lots of people who rave about the boat but, amazingly, no one has taken me up on the offer.

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.