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 Widebeam Takey Tezey

Heth and Dave are a little larger than your average narrowboaters… or at least there boat is. They own a widebeam and it’s a beauty. They came close to missing out though but good old Lady Luck was smiling…{{{0}}}

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

Heather & David, aka Heth & Dave. With lots of boaty pals. No dogs, no cats, no ties..

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

First of all does a widebeam count?!

Liveaboard wide beam Takey Tezey on a canalside mooring

Liveaboard wide beam Takey Tezey on a canalside mooring

How we got to where we’re at now: We’d lived in the same place for 25 years, our kids who we’re very proud of had left home with careers to follow. So there we were, happy together but rattling round a big house with nothing left to offer us… Even with great memories from our past in that place, we needed to move on, besides you can take memories with you wherever you go… And we also had our precious dreams, so why not do something about it? What had we got to lose? We both realised it was time to get away from the suburbs & make the move to a more rural area, this was what we wanted to do… At this point we made the decision to sell up & started discussing our options…

Buy a house in the country? Too expensive when you want a 360 view…
Buy a narrowboat? Too small…
Move to Florida – our second home…? It turned out to be a Visa nightmare, with a waiting list of up to 2 years…

So we bided our time & concentrated on getting the house ready to sell, neither of us panicked about it – like we knew there was something out there for us, all we had to do was wait…

We’ve walked the canals for years, & after ruling out a narrowboat, the 27th June 2007 was the day that changed our lives. We almost didn’t go for a walk that day along the Rufford canal because I wasn’t feeling very well, but we did. We almost didn’t stop for a brew at St Mary’s marina cafe afterwards, but we did. We almost walked past our (unknown) dream without looking back, but something made Dave turn his head. He saw a boat on the end of the pier with a “FOR SALE” sign in the window. I carried on walking away (dream on), but something made me turn around & look. We both walked down towards it & noticed it was wider than the others, for all our travels down the towpath we hadn’t noticed WIDTH. We asked the owner if it was still for sale, “Yes & it’s not yet a year old” came the reply. For them, circumstances dictated the sale…

We got the guided tour of this boat called “Takey Tezey” & we were totally in awe of it. The magic of the lifestyle, the boat itself & the space on-board captured our imagination, it was exactly what we’d been looking for, even tho we didn’t know it! We stayed there for a couple of hours just talking to the owners about their life afloat. It was intriguing & surreal…

During our drive back to the house that day we were like a couple of kids in a schoolyard chanting “WE CAN DO THIS, WE CAN DO

Heather stering her floating home

Heather stering her floating home

THIS…!” All the way home… Then we had to remove the rose tinted glasses & discuss the reality of it all, this wasn’t something we were going to rush into & potentially regret later, it needed a lot of thinking about first. Handover date was 30th November 2007. However due to work commitments we were “part timers” for 18 months till early retirement came along…

Something I’ve learned over the years: You’ve only got one life so make the most of every day…

In December last year we had Takey Tezey moved from St Mary’s marina in Lancashire (where she’s been “based” since she was launched) to Mercia marina in Derbyshire. We really enjoyed our time at St Mary’s, we miss our friends, but it was time for a change, time to move on again. On 5th December 2011, TT was lifted out of St Mary’s marina & put on the back of a wagon. The following day she was put in at Mercia marina, 100 miles further south at the heart of the canal system. Just over a month later we’re settled in here now. Being “fair weather boaters” we spend as much time out on the cut as we can in summer, take off & return when we please. Meet up with friends & enjoy the social side of living afloat. It’s a wonderful lifestyle & we’re really looking forward to exploring “unchartered waters,” (excuse pun) this year…

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

Takey Tezey takes flying lessons

Takey Tezey takes flying lessons

“Takey Tezey” aka “TT” we didn’t name the boat, but someone had a sense of humour just like mine.

What is you boat length and style?

57ft x 10ft, widebeam, cruiser stern, reverse layout.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Widebeam – 3 years.

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

Our boat is our home

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

Retired

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Nothing to do with the lifestyle, although the spectre of the canal system falling into disrepair is a concern.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom & happiness.

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

Not a thing, as “newbies” we learned the hard way & spent a fortune improving tech specs on the boat. It can’t be improved on now, not after all the work we’ve had done, unless something goes wrong!

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

We have a fridge freezer & never go out cruising long enough to need food deliveries. If necessary we’d do the online Tesco thing & meet up at bridge number whatever.

Dave enjoys a spot of fishing off the front deck

Dave enjoys a spot of fishing off the front deck

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Washer / Drier on-board.

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

Marina Wi-Fi & Vodafone 3G dongle on the canal

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

So far? Has to be the Leeds Liverpool – away from Liverpool.

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

If we moor up in the same place for a few days, we run the engine for half an hour morning & night to keep the batteries charged via the alternator. Average used: Probably considered a lot! All electrical appliances are 240V except for a 12V TV in the bedroom. However we swap the plug in kettle for a whistling gas stove kettle when we’re out.

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

Do your homework / research in depth & if you’re not sure about something, say no. If you are sure, have a survey done before any money changes hands. Or find & friendly boater with experience to share.

You can find out more about the adventures of wide beam Takey Tezey here.

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 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.

Comments
  • admin Friday,20 January, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve just visited your blog. Posting since July 2007 eh? Now that’s what I call DEDICATION!

     
  • BoatyBabe Saturday,21 January, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Yep, the FULL story of our life afloat!

     
  • BoatyBabe Saturday,21 January, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Complete with photos & lots of laughs 🙂

     
  • fradley100 Sunday,22 January, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    So its a widebeam – not a narrowboat, as per your blog.

     
    • admin Monday,23 January, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Yes, it’s a widebeam.Three feet wider than a narrowboat but the same in every other respect; same canal system, same heating, electrics, gas, licenses and taxes, mostly the same pros and cons. I could understand your comment if Takey Tezey was an ocean going liveaboard yacht, but NOT a widebeam!

       
      • fradley100 Sunday,5 February, 2012 at 7:31 pm

        Yes its a canal barge, but not a narrow boat. The physical width makes a uniquely different experience to the life on board. If your site was livingonacanalbarge then I would not raise the point.

        You want the site to be a valuable resource for narrowboating and I’m just asking you to keep to the well defined niche you selected and advertise in the site title.

         
        • admin Sunday,5 February, 2012 at 7:42 pm

          I understand your point but I don’t agree with it. I think that, on the whole, a case study with as much detail as Heth has offered more than make up for the relatively minor differences between a widebeam on the canal and a narrowboat on the canal

           
        • BoatyBabe Tuesday,7 February, 2012 at 7:09 pm

          Fradley, it’s not a barge & it’s not a narrowboat, it’s a widebeam canal boat & has as much right to be on the canal system as any narrowboat. (It’s what wide canals were built for). Therefore it has the same rights when it comes to being on ANY canal boating web site. Stop being so biased & picky. It’s not working. Heth

           
    • BoatyBabe Tuesday,7 February, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      If you’d read the blog you’d know it was a widebeam, even if you couldn’t tell from the picture. Nowhere on the blog do I hide that fact, we’re proud of our boat. Come round for the disney tour sometime – you’ll be amazed. The number of times I’ve heard our narrowboat friends say “Oh I wish we’d bought a widebeam.” Well I’ve lost count…

       
  • mikedowning Sunday,22 January, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I’m following your story with great interest, well done!! Came ashore 3 years ago having lived on my converted Trawler ‘Olive leaf ‘for 8 years, (on the sea i must add), theres quite a difference in all areas. We spent an absolute fortune to make it really comfortable, with every modcon that could be found, and the space to put it in!! I havent really settled ashore to be honest, and as retirement looms….albeit early!lol, i think narrow boats are well up on the list of possibilities for something to live in, and canals sound such a lovely peaceful way to live, and probably a much more sociable way of life than that of the seaward way.
    Just a quickie to express my interest in your blogs etc, keep it up, and we would hope that perhaps in the next year or so we’l be blogging from our own narrow boat!

     
    • BoatyBabe Monday,23 January, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Hi Fradley, it doesn’t say either way under the photo (top right) mainly because Google was picking up the phrase “Widebeam Takey Tezey” in a search. I’ll put it back to make it clear if ya like, certainly not trying to pretend. It’s pretty clear throughout the whole blog that it’s a widebeam – and proud of it.

       
    • BoatyBabe Monday,23 January, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Hi Mike, all the best for the future, really hope you can achieve your dream 🙂

       
    • BoatyBabe Monday,23 January, 2012 at 11:42 am

      Sorry Fradley, didn’t make that very clear, it was coming up with that, rather than the content in a blog post, thought it was a bug.

       
    • BoatyBabe Tuesday,24 January, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks Mike, hope your dream comes true – soon 😉 And of course we want it all blogged lol

       
  • dryall Tuesday,24 January, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Interesting read.Well done ,makes a lot of sense having a wide beam to live on,but it,s beam will unfortunately exclude a lot of the canal system,you will have to stay in the north with us(we have a river grp cruiser)& live in yorkshire.

     
    • BoatyBabe Tuesday,24 January, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Hi dryall, yes, we weighed up all the pros & cons before buying the boat. We knew we weren’t going to do the whole system or be continuous cruisers. I applaud those who do – but it’s not for us, too isolating being the main reason. Sometimes I’ve even felt guilty showing our friends with narrowboats round. (Disney Tour lol) It’s especially poignant when someone’s bought a narrowboat with the intention of cruising the system & then due to cirumstances it’s not possible. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself why didn’t they think of that first, but never mind! But that’s when you hear “Oh I wish we’d bought a widebeam!” One friend even asked if we could swap boats! Others are gobsmacked by the space & full size appliances etc. I’ve seen regret in people. Many of our friends opted for a narrowboat & never went anywhere – doesn’t make sense & it wasn’t all about cost, it was not thinking it through.
      We were up north, the Rufford branch off the L&L which goes to the Ribble Link. We’ve moved to canal central as I call it at Mercia marina recently the idea being to head south when we go out, down (or up) the T&M. To get further we’d have to go on the river Soar. Being non tidal its just like a very wide canal. And it’s possible to get on the Grand Union. So there’s plenty of options here. Think we’ll spend this summer just exploring our new surroundings!

      Heth

       
  • jannigel Friday,27 January, 2012 at 1:01 am

    good to hear that you are enjoying the lifestyle.my wife and living on a narrowboat presently moored in a marina due to work commitments so we cant cruise .we have enjoyed our life aboard for the past year being made more concious of nature ,frindships and the important things in live
    we live quite frugally really on free seacoal for heating and last electricity for 3 months was under 20 pounds
    cheers and best wishes to all

     
    • BoatyBabe Friday,27 January, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Hi jannigel, yeh, I used to call us “part-timers” when we were working & still had the house to go back to during the week. That’s what it felt like! Been full time liveaboards for 2 years now, still marina based, because that’s what we both prefer – the social side of life on a boat. Will go off out a lot in summer though. We have a new area to discover here!!

       
  • limpopo Monday,5 March, 2012 at 11:16 am

    We are thinking of doing the same, life is too short. Are you still at Mercia?

     
  • BoatyBabe Monday,5 March, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Hi limpopo, yes we’re still here, aim to be based here & tootle off out in summer – if we get one lol. You’ve got the same philosophy as me, we’re all only here once, so if you can achieve your dream – go for it 🙂 We have so many friends & family stuck in the rat race, on the treadmill, in a rut etc. Secretly I feel sorry for them, & it brings home how lucky we are to have been able to make it happen. When we were buying the boat & making plans a friend even asked me “What are you running away from Heather?” I laughed & answered “We’re running TOWARDS something!”

     
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