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Steppin’ out; a few plans and thoughts before the maiden voyage.

Yes I’ve just about recovered from my days outing and I am getting quite excited and nervous as the day of reckoning approaches. The survey is Monday and I really hope it goes through with out any real issues then my crew member and me will go up the following Sunday to bring her back home after parting with a sizable amount of money.

I do realise that it won’t all be simple unadorned nautical travelling with wind assistance but we are both fairly laid back and will take it has it comes. Steve has slightly less experience of boats and canals than I have, we will need blessings from above in abundance, and due to the stoppage near Dutton we shall have to go into Manchester to pick up the Macclesfield and then back to the Trent and Mersey below the stoppage.

The first bit on the map, the Bridgewater canal has no locks, so we should make good time and reach the end by Sunday night. This is the plan anyway, however the next little bit, 16 miles down to the Macclesfield canal seems to have approximately 852,624 locks, so day two may see us gain a little experience on the locking front. Is it possible to do all of them in one day, I think there is 44, or will we need to moor up for the night while going through Manchester.

Does anyone have any suggestions of good places for mooring on this part of the journey? I’m guessing some parts are not always friendly. Information on this would be very useful. Also any hints tips on doing so many locks in such a short space, we will be swapping over frequently and seeing what comes.

I’m beginning to feel like a teenager again and I know when I pick the boat up I’m going to have an enormouse stupid grin but I don’t care. I haven’t felt this excited and enthusiastic about something for many years. My advice to anyone who finds something which makes them feel alive again whether it’s boats or knitting then go for it because I guess we’ve all spent far too long bored and fed up with our lives and the society we have to live. Lets take on the world like we wanted to do when we stupid teenagers, this is the Weston’s organic still cider talking now, two pints counts as one of your five a day. If you have children start behaving in ways that make them nervous and worry, they did it to you.

I will definitely update Monday with the results of the survey so I hope you all have a good weekend and we see a bit of the sun too.

God bless you

Nige

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Steppin’ Out; A day out and some locking experience.

Hi to everyone hope you’re enjoying the recent sweltering temperatures? It is nice though now we have a few degrees more warmth. Last week a friend of mine, Richard who is off cruising for the summer, offered me a trip out to do a few locks as he was moving up from Shardlow to Willington to visit friends before he set off properly. I was only too happy to take him up on his offer.

I arrived in Shardlow about 10 am and after a cup of coffee we set off for the first lock. I’d wrapped up well, two t shirts, scarf, sweatshirt, coat, gloves and hat. I’m fairly short and round anyway so with this much clothing on I looked like a ruddy Weeble. If you don’t remember them they were a toy with a round bottom and the cathphrase was, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. I don’t care what I looked like as in the sunshine it was fairly pleasant but when the sun hid behind a fluffy cloud the temperature seemed to drop about 4 degrees and it was bl**dy cold. I hate to think how cold it must have been when taking into account the wind chill factor of screeming up the canal at nearly 3 miles an hour.

I was given my first windlass and hopped ashore and opened the gates and we paired up with another boat and a lovely chap named Graham. He had just picked his boat up on the Monday and was heading back to Watford to live on it. He hadn’t done any boating before this week  so he was doing what I hope to be doing soon sailing my own boat back home with little experience. It’s just easier to learn and understand when you physically do something rather than just reading or watching clips on YouTube. Ground paddles first when filling up then gate paddles when level has risen up. It was surprising how easy some gates were to open or close and how stiff others were. The other problem which I hadn’t really expected was after you close one gate and walk round to the other the first one had swung open. OK you all know about this but I didn’t and found it quite amusing. At least I know now to open the ground paddles a little to get a little water flow to keep the gate closed especially if I’m on my own. With 3 of us it wasn’t a problem. A couple of the locks were quite deep and they would give me a little concern if I was on my own but I guess you just get used to them after a while. Oh and how slow the locks fill up if you leave the paddles up on the bottom gate. As Richard said drop the paddles as soon as you’ve done then you don’t forget.

A bit of steering practise and the locking and I’m feeling much better about my maiden voyage. It was a lovely day and just standing and watching the clouds, the countryside and the ducks was wonderful. I’m ready and waiting to sample this life style as soon as I can. I know there will be some down sides to things. No I don’t think down side is the right phrase. There will be some different challenges to meet and get used to. Sewage, filling water tank, collecting gas and coal. These are things that have just happened before and pretty soon they are things I shall have to think about and do. We kept checking the mile posts as we went and another cup of coffee and just kept plodding on and I loved it. It took us about 6 hours to do about 9 miles, well there was nothing spoiling, and after mooring up when we reached Willington I rang and got a taxi back to Shardlow to pick up the car and go home. I was pretty tired, 6 hours of very fresh air, standing all the time and doing a few locks, I shall be fitter in a few months I think which just shows how unfit I am now.

This is going to be a long week waiting for the survey to take place and hoping nothing is found that would stop me buying. Then another week to go and pick her up and start cruising. When you ask God for patience what he does is give you the opportunity to practise patience. This is one of those opportunities and I shall wait patiently. In fact I’m waiting as fast as I can.

Enjoy the sunshine.

God bless you.

Nige

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Steppin’Out; Second opinion, does everything work, trial run.

It seems to have been a long day today. Up at 7am and a couple of hours to get to Manchester then a couple of hours on the boat in the fresh air and a couple of hours back and a strange “oh dear me. What have I done?” feeling. I’ve just put a small deposit down on a boat pending a survey. But worse than that, I want this boat. I have spent the last two ruddy years decidint this is what I want to do yet there is a little voice saying “are you really doing the right thing”. I don’t know but I’m sure as apples is apples going to find out.

A little light snow as we travelled over the pennines, a friend of mine, Andy, had volunteered to drive me up there. I had asked him to come and give me his opinion as he is honest and will give me his truthful opinion and isn’t swayed much by sentiment. When we got there the fire was lit and it was warming up the cabin nicely. We checked the cooker rings, grill and oven worked. Checked the lights, 12v but not led. Fired up the gas central heating and he explained a few bits about that. Checked on the amount of storage again. There should be enough and if there isn’t then things will just have to go overboard. Material possesions are a concept of the bourgeoisie or something. Was it Marie Anne Toinnette er er Tounette or whatever her name was said something like that at one of them fancy parties where they eat cake and chop peoples heads off. Oh history isn’t my strong suit if you hadn’t noticed.

He explained what the switches were and the fuses and went over the controls and oil pressure gauge and things and some of it went over my head still but some of started to sink in. As with most things that are new to us it is no good expecting to pick everything up all at once and not at my age either. We lifted the cover over the engine compartment and it didn’t look quite as clean as it had done the first time but still good.

A little different to the norm.

A little different to the norm.

     1 starter battery and 3 leisure with some kind of battery management system. I’m not totally forgetful but I’m beginning to flag a little now. I wasn’t disappointed with how things looked on this second visit. It all still looked in excellent condition and Andy after a good fertle round couldn’t find anything to really pick fault with. All seems to be as it should and how it looks. This I think bodes well for a good survey and then we can pay up, look happy and sail off into the exotic sunset heading for Manchester.

The engine fired up nicely and off we went. He’d come up with a good idea, which others may have used too, he’d made a shorter tiller for use when other people are on the stern with him. this did mean steering could be done with out moving peopl about too much and if you were there on your own you can put the long one on and stand at the rear doors. It was pretty cold and the pram hood was left up but the sides rolled up so we had a little protection from the elements.

The experience of cruising is still very new to me and standing at the tiller of what I think is a beautiful boat which could soon be mine was a wonderful experience. Is this the life I want to lead, is this really where I want to be. I think the answer is still yes, yes and yes.

Living Space

Living Space

I’d better start trying to find a crew member to help with bringing the boat down from Manchester to Derby. At least a crash course of 4 or 5 days straight cruising should be a good start to my boat handling experience although another friend of mine has offered a days cruising with him next week to give me some kind of clue before my maiden voyage. I guess one thing to consider is who can I actually put with in a small space for a week or who can put up with me. How much excitement can they take. Ho ho.

Well I think that ends todays post. Now we have to wait and see if everything goes according to plan. A little nervous as I’m getting closer to my goal but still not quite there and it could still fall through but looking good.

Take care and God bless you.

Nige

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Steppin’Out; Second viewing, surveys, and questions.

Hi everyone a rather nervouse entry on my blog tonight. I hadn’t got round to telling you I saw a boat two Sundays ago which I sort of took rather a shine to. After a little negotiation we have agreed a price which is the top end of what I can afford and I shall be going to have a second look tomorrow with a friend of mine who will give me his honest opinion of what he thinks to her. It’s a fair trip up to Manchester from here, about two hours and hopefully through Derbyshire which will be beautiful with the snow.

She’s twenty years old, 50ft with a cruiser stern but no front well deck as the cabin has been built right up to the gas locker. This gives a little more space inside but less out. You can’t have it all ways with only 50ft to play with. First impressions were that she was very clean and tidy, cleaned up ready for selling by a private seller, but looks like she has been well looked after and maintained. So tomorrows job is to take her out and see how she runs and as Paul has said to me turn everything on that can be turned on to make sure it works. Obviously to make sure I still like it and my friend to help make sure my glasses aren’t too rose tinted. I have noticed when looking at boats in Marinas like Whilton etc that some of the boats seem quite unclean which I find quite odd as for the sake of a days cleaning the boat would be much more saleable but that’s what I’ve found anyway.

Nice dinette but the sofa would go.Providing tomorrows viewing goes well I shall leave a deposit and we shall arrange for a survey. I’ve already spoken to one who surveyor who sounds quite good and at a reasonable price. He’s going to do a full prepurchase survey for me which takes in the hull and then the engine, central heating and other things which will be of interest to me. For the little bit extra he’s charging above the hull survey it makes sense to me to know more or less where I stand with all things then hopefully no little surprises for the first year or not too many.

A couple of pictures of the saloon and kitchen. All wood floors through out and look like they’ve been waxed regularly.

has a nice feel.

Plenty of storage in the kitchen but not too big.

Depending on where you’re coming from regarding buying a boat this is quite a scary time. I don’t have spare cash lying about but I need somewhere to live and fancy a change in life style very much. But for any of you out there thinking about what you’d like to do my advice is to look at your life style and ask yourself where you’d like to be in 5 years time. Only you can answer that and you may think it’s too big a task but look to break it down into small tasks that you can complete one at a time. Each one will bring you more confidence. A nice boating analogy is “Ships are safe when they are moored in the harbour but that’s not what ships are for”. Whatever your dreams are they will not happen if you never try and you never take any risks.

I may live to regret offering this advice when in 6 months |I’m crying in my bilge water and wishing I was still a land lubber. Who knows the secret of the Black Magic box? Rambling at such an early age, is there any hope for me at all. Nurse fetch the screens.

Good night, I shall post later tomorrow and fill you in on the gory details.

Take care

Nige

 

 

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More info. Ideas on the ideal layout.

Hi to everyone on this snowy day. I’ll offer you a little more information about who I am and why and other things of that nature. My name is Nige Buttery and at 56 I’m nearly in my prime. I worked in warehousing for 14 years rising from shop floor to warehouse manager, suit and tie, then after about 6 years as manager is was made redundant. I had been a hippy/biker in my younger days and took my watch off, tie off and decided to regress back to comfort, suits and ties were never me. I then became a white van man, even if it was green, picking up parts of jumpers for out workers to put together. I then became a proper white van man delivering round West Yorkshire, a gorgeous county and I look forward to doing the Huddersfield narrow at some point. 14 years later I decided to try something rather different by working in care and ended up in registered care working with adults with severe learning difficulties which I’ve enjoyed for the last 8 years. I’ve just quit the company I worked for due to the politically correct nature of our industry and the company in particular so I am actually homeless and jobless but still going to buy some kind of liveaboard and look forward to a different year and new employment.

I’m single, quite sociable sometimes but not really a TV fan. I like real ales, real ciders and malt whisky, but not in large quantities as three or four pints and I’m gone so can be vulnerable to nice young ladies who may like their men with a little more sophistication and maturity. Something like that. I class my self as a spiritual type chap and attend an Anglican church but have Buddhist leanings too. I play guitar and sing and write some of my songs and a little bit of poetry too. I will do personalised poems for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries etc for a small fee. I enjoy wildlife and obviously I’m rather fond of water, rivers, lakes, canals and the sea. I’ve more or less always had a liking for boats but where I grew up and still live is as far away from the sea as you can get and the nearest proper canal or river is at least 15 miles away.

After the boating holidays as youngster I’d intended getting a cruiser to live on when I first decided to change my lifestyle. This however quickly changed once I got talking to a few boaters who explained the pitfalls with a wooden or GPS cruiser when the winter sets in. Narrowboats are insulated and geared towards living on where cruisers aren’t and it gets very hard to keep them warm. Lesson one learned so my attention changed to narrowboats which once I really started looking also came up trumps when it comes down to usable space inside when compared to cruisers of a similar length.

As I mentioned  yesterday talking to friends about you’re plans can yield benefits and I found out a friend of mine knew two people who where actually living on the water, one at Willington and one at Shardlow, and she arranged a visit for us. The couple who were at Willington had a 50ft x 12ft wide-beam which was quite new and not surprisingly very nice. It was a cold frosty day in February and when you walked onto their boat it was toasting inside with a roaring solid fuel stove in the corner. The main living room was about 12ft by 12ft the same size as the front room of the terraced house I grew up in. If you can afford it and don’t mind the restrictions of where you can go on the canals then you can have luxury, room and the water too. They have now moved down to Sawley as because of the width they couldn’t navigate much further up the Trent and Mersey so Sawley made more sense with access to two rivers.

The second boat was moored at Shardlow and owned by Richard who was single and had a spaniel too. His was a 52 foot narrowboat also with a roaring fire and a side hatch. I personally like the side hatches as it seems wonderful to just lean on the sill and watch the world go by along with the ducks and swans. One of his suggestions was that 50ft is just about minimum for a liveaboard. I know of people who live on 45ft and even 35ft but I’m inclined to think that having a little bit of space on board is a good thing especially if you’re thinking of inviting friends and or family down.

Everybody is different and will want a different layout. If you’re having one built then you can certainly have it your own way but if like me you’re buying someone else’s dream boat then compromise comes into it too. After viewing a few boats I started to get an idea about what and how I might like my boat to be and the layout of it. There are so many different designs and layouts so check out the Internet and get down to the marinas where they are selling boats and get on board as many as you can. Doing this gave me new ideas and just as useful showed the out door to some ideas I’d already made. I personaly favour an open plan living area or depending on the size and layout some built in furniture but still with an open plan area to allow for a bit of movement and versatility. The boat I’ve made an offer for has a built in dinette in the bow of the boat and then about 10 ft of open space before you get to the kitchen area.

It pays to spend some time thinking about what you’d really like but I’ve found that you get a feeling when stepping on board whether you like something or not. But a flexible attitude and considering what you want to do while afloat is a pleasurable and constructive way to pass the time. I shall try and post again over the weekend and hopefully may have news on the boat purchase front.

Have fun and may God bless you.

Nige

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Steppin’ Out. The first date

Hi to everyone this is my first blog post for Living On A Narrowboat or for anyone else for that matter. I decided to take up Paul’s offer of blogging as I have no real previous boating experience in recent years and what has happened to me over the last couple of years and what hopefully will happen over the next couple of years could be useful to anyone who is thinking about taking to the water and or making a lifestyle change. Tonight I’ve put an offer in on a boat I saw Sunday. The offer is the best I can manage but is a little short of what was asked so I shall have to wait and see what the outcome will be.

I’ll give you a little background information as to why at the age of 56,over weight with dodgy knees and a bit of a bad back I thought it might be a good idea to live on water in a small enclosed space. It all started a long long time ago in a land far away when the black Queen…. oh sorry that’s a different story but it was a long time ago. Between the ages of eight and sixteen we holidayed on the Norfolk Broads for two weeks each year and they were the most marvellous holidays I’ve ever had and the only one’s I can remember where everyone had long faces but only on the Saturday when we had to return the boat back to the boatyard. Eight wonderful years and we didn’t care what the weather did as even if it rained it never really seemed to spoil anything. I fell in love with wooden and GPS cruisers and didn’t really give a lot of thought to narrowboats.

As the years passed I kept repeating one phrase on a regular basis. IF I WIN THE LOTTERY I WILL BUY MYSELF A BOAT. It was a dream I thought had no real chance of coming true. No well paid job, no savings, no rich relatives to inherit vast sums of money from but over the last ten years I kept thinking about a boat and it slowly dawned on me that with the way house prices had risen I had a little equity and could possibly sell the house and buy a boat. This prospect started to look more and more tempting but the fear of making such a drastic change was rather large too when one day in August 2011 a friend of mine from church dropped down dead with a pulmonary embolism and about a week later I found out another friend of mine had been diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t see the year out. My house went on the market the following February 2012. None of us know how long we’ve got so I thought this is my chance to do this and if I don’t take it now it may never appear again.

I’ll supply you with more personal details as the blog progresses. I don’t want to send you to sleep too early. After the house was put on sale I started looking into boats and the boating life with a little more enthusiasm and found out I knew a few people who had boats and a few people who knew people who had boats. So if you’re thinking about boating let your friends know and ask around you might be surprised who owns one. I bought Waterways World and other magazines related to the canals and rivers. Took to having a walk by the canal and the river Trent, which is my nearest river, and visiting some of the marinas. There are some wonderful cafes at some of the marinas. Two I’d like to mention are The Willow Tree cafe I think its called at Willington marina near Derby and a wonderful cafe run by two beautiful if slightly eccentric ladies at Whilton marina. I don’t know if the cafe has a name but home baked cakes and freshly prepared dinners at good prices make a boat hunting trip to Whilton an absolute pleasure. Whilton is also very good as they let you have the keys so you can check out what you want to on the boat but also you can sit and try and get a feel for whether you think the boat might suit you. In my case the question was can I live in this space and how will my meagre possessions fit in. I may need to get rid of one guitar as I have three at the moment. Sawley marina near Long Eaton, Nottingham is another nice marina for boat viewing. I’ve mainly found everyone pleasant and helpful so ask questions and seek advice. Everyone loves being asked their opinions especially if you look like you’re listening to them as well, which you will be, we’re all vain when it comes down to it, and they may be more helpful the next time you visit.

Have a look in the paper or try googling the net for local marinas and don’t feel intimidated to visit. I felt a little out of place when I first started going which is only natural but most people are really friendly and when you’ve been a few times you’ll settle into it like you’re an old hand and if you don’t find anything you like it’s still a nice day out being by the water.

I think I’ve talked enough for the first date. I will post some more tomorrow and see if I can’t fit a few pictures in.

Many thanks and God bless you

Nige

 

 

 

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