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 Wide Beam Julynian

Julian Cox is one of those clever fellows who can do things with his hands which mystify me. He purchased a bare steel shell and transformed it himself into a comfortable floating home. There’s a link to his build blog at the bottom of this post.

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

We are Lynn & Julian + 2 cats Zig and Zag

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

We initially became interested in boats about 11 years ago. My brother purchased a narrowboat and after talking to him about it, we thought, yep we like it, let’s get one. So we did. Initially a 3 to 4 year project ended up taking 9 years. Many reasons for this including the recession of course. Fitting out a boat is a lot more difficult than meets the eye, the major delays in the project though were more to do with family issues and some unexpected bereavements. We’ve made now though, although we did have 2 years on the water in 2005 to 2007, fitting out a boat on the canal side though just makes a tricky task even more difficult. We decided to put the boat on dry land to finish the project.

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

The boats name in a mix of Julian and Lynn JULYNIAN

Do you have a permanent mooring?

No we are continuous cruisers.

What is your boat style and length

he boat is a 60′ X 10’6″ wide beam with a traditional stern made by R&D fabrications in 2004. The boat also has a Slipper stern, a design of stern designed by R&D We fitted the 2.5L Perkins Diesel engine.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

10 years

How did you finance your boat?

Initially from a divorce settlement.

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

We live aboard so almost all.

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

We are semi retired. Owning a boat and the reduced costs enable us to live a comfortable lifestyle on a low income.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

I can’t think of anything.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom of movement and independence.

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

Fitting of flexible solar panels to roof. Too expensive at the moment though, so we have 740w of standard panels.

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

We have a van, when we cruise I cycle back and pick up the van. We have oil and gas delivered to the boat, we can also order chandlery items and have them delivered in the same way.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a standard washing machine but a very economical model. We do washing whilst the engine is running it is supplied with power from a 3kw pure sine inverter.

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

We have a composting toilet, it works really well. Not to every ones taste but we done have emptying fees and we only need to empty a small amount of waste partially composted every 6 weeks or so.

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

We have a 3 MIFI which can run 5 things from such as lap tops game consoles. The MIFI sits in a porthole window and is rechargeable.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

We have only experienced the Western K&A so far, favourite area so far is Seend Melksham

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

From March to end October Solar panels supply all of our electrical energy, cruising gives more energy and we do things like washing in the washing machine to use any additional power. Engine running also heats water in our calorifier. We use around 80ah per day.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm, it’s been a mild winter, with the stove on lowest setting it’s too hot, we have to open hatches and doors to cool down. I ensured our boat was well insulated. Most spray foamed boats do not have sufficient thickness, we used Rockwool covered in 10mm Celotex.

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

We’ve only lived aboard full time for 4 months, it’s been a breeze so far, but that’s due to good planning and understanding of what can happen when living afloat.

A lot of people proposing to live on boats work full time. If they intend to continuously cruise they might find it difficult complying with CC cruising rules and working at the same time so a full understanding of the mooring and cruising rules is essential.

You can read about Julian’s epic wide beam fit out here.

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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.

Tony & Jane Robinson.

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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.