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.

Find out more

A kick up the proverbial

I am wondering why I bothered with the survey. It cost me £395 and although it did tell me the hull density it excused itself of committing to the density test as the survey only had limited access even though the dry-dock cost £245. It did tell me that the boat was of a good construction and, said the surveyor (though he didn’t write it down) the narrowboat restored his faith in narrowboat owners because the boat was well looked after. Costs for the survey were therefore: £640 including docking.

But – it didn’t tell me that any of the amenities were working such as pumps, this was because (they said) the boat had been winterized and access to water was not available at the time of the survey – would I buy a car without driving it…I think not so why was I prepared to buy this boat without knowing if it worked in the way it should – other than actually floating on the water.

As we now know I proceeded to pump water into my boat because the shower pump-out pump was not properly sealed and was pumping water out of itself and directly into the boat instead of out of the boat.

Wouldn’t a house survey note if the boiler, taps, shower etc were/were not working…why did I accept this useless survey and for the money.

I have since the survey been advised that the Morso is in a dangerous place, fitted dangerously in a confined space in the back cabin and that it has been fitted without a proper fire-board around it. Especially at the back there is no fire proofing – I allowed the (gun-ho) Marine Engineer to lead me in what was required and what was safe…and he extended the bed (at my request) to make it a more appropriate liveaboard but has now left me with a Morso that is in danger of setting the bed alight it is so close – why didn’t he point that out when asked to make the bed a little wider?

The surveyor did point out that the Morso probably would not meet the new requirements for fitting namely; BS 8511 2010 and in his opinion any plan considered to move the Morso forwards was a good idea. Given the latest appraisal regarding a number of aspects including extra work done by the original Marine Engineer (shall remain nameless both engineer and marina until I have taken legal advice) I have had from a local Marine engineer I cannot understand why, for the money the surveyor did not state EMPHATICALLY that the Morso was dangerous and should not be used in its current location – this would have had a direct impact on my decision to go ahead with purchase.

The chimney piping for the Morso is of the wrong diameter and therefore more prone to blocking, there is no fire-board behind it and it is dangerously close to the bed in the first place but since the bed extension it is now dangerous full-stop.

The survey said that the systems and engine were all in excellent condition…what pray are the systems and does this not include the pumps…?

The extra work I had done by the marina included an inverter that apparently does not need an isolator because it has a split charge relay however, I don’t understand why that means I do not have an isolator designed to protect the starter battery from running flat. The starter battery has been running flat (3 occasions to date) all because the Marine engineer wired all the batteries through the same isolator therefore all my batteries including the starter battery are wired in parallel, so when my leisure’s go flat so does the starter battery…they’re all charging the same and all discharging the same…bloody useless.

When I took the boat out at first the sockets fitted by the (so-called) marine engineer failed to work and I had to put up with a very grumpy and rude marine engineer coming out to sort that problem. Now can you believe and I’m sure you can the newly fitted bilge pump doesn’t work either….

Personally I am very upset about the extra work I paid for, the standards of the pretty bloody useless survey I paid for, the limitations for the survey brought on by inadequate docking arrangements and the appalling standards of work applied by the (so called) Marine engineer at the Marina in question.

I intend a strongly worded letter to the Director of this organization supported by the statements of the Marine Engineer where I am having the work a) assessed and rectified and b) upgraded to a safe and acceptable standard.

It feels like an industry in the dark ages like a poor car garage rather than organizations that deal with peoples safety, peoples lives – allowing themselves to get away with shoddy work, bodging, limited safety towards boat owners and purchasers and maverick arrogant (so called) marine engineers who basically need a kick up the proverbial.

Useful Information

I am a 55 year old male living alone on a narrowboat. I continuously cruise the inland waterways and rivers and have taken a year off work to see if the lifestyle works for me both financially and physically. I have sold my house and my car and now have bicycle and a boat. My main intention has been to slow down the pace of my life and enjoy each moment as much as possible.