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 Stardust

Richard Varnes and wife Valerie have sold their home in Colarado to fund a very different floating home on the inland waterways of England and Wales. Professional photographer Valerie takes photo’s to add to Richard’s written account of their travels.

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

Valari and I are “retired” — she having been a professional portrait and wedding photographer and me a telecommunications and TV production person. We both continue our photographic and writing pursuits.

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

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

We are both long-time Anglophiles — even since before we met. I went to school in the UK at Lancaster University during 1969/70.

In May 2012 we had our first canaling hire-baot experience aboard the “Jack” operated by Armada Boats out of Hillmorton

Our insanity was confirmed after taking a 62′ Wyvern boat from Leighton Buzzard to Paddington Basin and back in about two weeks (going down was brutal — coming back we knew we were boaters)

Life is short.

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

Narrowboat Stardust“Stardust” It it what we all came from and to which we will all return.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

No Fixed Abode — we are continuous cruisers since March of this year

What is your boat style and length

64′ ex-Napton hire boat, fitted with diesel heating and pram cover

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

December 2012

How did you finance your boat?

Sold our house in Colorado

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

As much as we can except for visits home and elsewhere

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

Winter on the canal at BraunstonAlways fiddling with something on the boat. Currently undertaking my first serious rust-repair paint job. Hoping to learn bell-ringing this winter.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Boaters speeding by and rattling the dishes

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

It is a living connection between Britain’s past and present

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

bigger galley

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

We walk to towns or use the buses which are a great way to see the country and meet people

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Find a laundry or use marina machines

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

macerator pump-outs by Tecma — fine except tank level gages don’t work well

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

3G mobile hotspot  — always works, often very slow…

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Braunston or Berkhampsted

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

The usual twin starter/domestic alternators  — no idea of usage amount

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Warm!  Hurricane diesel central heat and 6 double rads

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

Try to hire a variety of boat lengths and layouts. Have a back up heat source for winter.

Richard writes about the places he visits and the people he meets on his travels. There are links to a few of his stories below.

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.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
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.