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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Lucky Duck

Amy and James have been living on their narrowboat since their early twenties. They love the lifestyle. In fact, they’re about to sell their current boat so that they can buy and restore their own historic narrowboat. Rather them than me!

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

Amy steering Lucky DuckMy name’s Amy and I live afloat with my partner James and our cat Lyra

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

Both of us come from families who enjoy boating but we came to love narrowboats through some friends who lived afloat. We both thought that it sounded like a wonderful way of life, so we decided to get one of our own.

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

Our current boat is called Lucky Duck and it came with the name. We wanted to change it but it stuck! We are known as “The Ducks” to many! We are now in the process of selling it, to buy a historic boat. We wouldn’t dream of changing this boat’s name as it is part of the boat’s history.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Yes, we have a residential mooring in Cambridge for which there is a very long waiting list – took us several years to get to the top of it, but it was worth the wait. We love it.

What is your boat style and length

Lucky Duck is a 48′ trad stern boat.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Four and a half years!

How did you finance your boat?

We took out a marine mortgage with Royscot Larch

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

We live on it full time!

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

We are 27 and 25 respectively, so yes, very much still working! I am a research student and James works in a primary school as their IT specialist

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Difficult! There’s not a lot I don’t like. But it is frustrating that we are not allowed to store anything on the bank next to our mooring so we have to keep our solid fuel in a garage 15 mins walk away.Lucky Duck

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

I like being off-grid and in touch with nature and the changing seasons, but the best thing is the community – boaters are such amazing people and we’ve made many firm friends on the water.

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

Its age and history – we want to live on a historic boat and be part of its story. We hope that we will soon achieve this!

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

We use Google Maps to locate the nearest one accessible by foot!

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Use Google Maps to locate launderettes

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

We’ve got a cassette toilet and I think it is the best type – it’s a cheaper and more flexible arrangement.

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

Using mobile broadband – we use our mobile phones as wifi hotspots or use the iPad

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

The BCN!

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

When cruising we use the engine, and when stationary we use our solar panel or the petrol genny. In the summer we are self sufficient for electricity.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Toasty warm, when the Morso Squirrel stove is going!

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

Unless you will be continuously cruising, find a mooring before you find a boat. Don’t treat it as cheap housing because it isn’t, do it because you have fallen in love with the lifestyle!

What obvious questions have I missed from this list?

Collecting post? We get post delivered to my work address.

Type of engine? We have a reliable BMC 1.8 – simple and easy to service and maintain.

You can read about Amy’s life afloat here. If you are interested in buying the boat, the advert is 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 website.

 

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Xanadu

Mike is a kindred spirit. He moved onto his boat after his marriage failed although his first floating home was far more of a challenge than mine… a 27ft GRP cruiser. His current 50′ widebeam must feel SO spacious after that!

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

My name is Mike, no significant other or pets, unless you count the spiders, I haven’t got around to naming them yet but do talk to them…

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

Same old story, separated after 35 years marriage, (second one at that) and it was all I could afford! I already owned a 27 foot GRP cruiser so I lived on that for well over 3 years, now that’s what you could call challenging…

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

The boat is called Xanadu, it was already named and it seemed appropriate.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

She is moored at [intlink id=”611″ type=”post”]Hartford Marina[/intlink] at a permanent berth, a pontoon, with electricity (prepaid card) and water. I look out over the open basin and have my cruiser moored next door (divorce not settled yet so that will probably have to go!!!!)

What is your boat style and length

I admit to being a bit of a fraud here now as it is a 50 foot all steel widebeam, but hey, what’s a widebeam but a stretched narrowboat??

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Not withstanding the above confession I have owned it for just over 12 months.

How did you finance your boat?

Cashed in all my sayings whilst I still had the chance!!

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

XanaduMost of the time although I did spend September in Australia.

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

I work as a Lead Internal Verifier at a local FE college (will be 65 next March so hope to retire then)!

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Condensation and the chilly mornings

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom to move if I get fed up here!

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

That’s a difficult one, it is an on-going project so couldn’t put my finger on one thing.

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

No problem as I have a permanent mooring and a supermarket within a couple of miles.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Again no problem as I have a washing machine.

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

Now there’s a story! Up until a few months ago I had smart sea toilet. Great piece of kit until the foul water tank under my bed decided to leak in spectacular fashion! The carpet I had just fitted floated out the door closely followed by my socks and slippers. Fortunately for me, if you can call this fortunate, I had worked over 20 years in the water industry and had spent many a happy hour up to my armpits in the smelly stuff so I wasn’t too fazed by that side of the disaster. I spent the whole day mopping, cleaning and disinfecting before I could locate the problem. The tank had rusted through in the bottom corner and was beyond repair without some serious upheaval. I removed the toilet and put a porta potty in its place!

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

I have a 3G PAYG sim in a dongle. The reception can be patchy and slow but it’s ok for emails and browsing the web but not much else.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

As I live on the Great Ouse and my cruiser is a widebeam I have only ever used the wide canals but I guess the section of the Trent that uses the Nottingham Canal is OK.

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

I have access to mains electricity but also have a generator, a decent solar panel that keeps the batteries charged up, that is when the sun comes out, and an inverter. Whilst I use power for the washing machine, fridge and freezer plus all the other random equipment that has a plugtop on, I only need to feed the meter with a £5 card once a week!

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Mmm, can be rather cool! I don’t have a stove but rely on an Eberspacher feeding a conventional 5 radiator wet system. It’s ok at the weekends but it is not cheap to run or easy to keep the fuel tank full. When I lived on the cruiser, during that bad winter a couple of years ago, the water pump, filter, shower and pipework froze and split during the night while I lay and shivered in bed!

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

Buy the best you can, trying to carry out major refurbishments whilst living on board can be difficult. Also have a very good relationship with your partner, there aren’t many places to hide on a boat, whether it be narrow or wide!!

What obvious questions have I missed from this list?

Would I change the lifestyle – defiantly not! In can be a pain sometimes but I love waking up in the morning and listening to the wild fowl. On a summers evening (what summer I hear you ask) there’s nothing better than sitting up on deck with a good book and a cold beer, although a good woman…

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.

 

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Badger

Why own just one narrowboat when you can have two? James and Lorraine Spencer have been narrowboat owners for over twenty years. Even though they now live on board full time, they still have a house as a postal address.

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

James & Lorraine Spencer

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

Took early retirement after 37 years working in a Government Dept. Decided to cruise the waterways for a few years. Instead of only alternate weekends and 2 weeks in summer. As mortgage paid we decided to retain our house in Peterborough and rent it out to our daughter and family so we still have a bricks and mortar base. This  also allows us to  have a permanent address for post, keep on GPs list, Electoral role etc

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

Have two…Aboatime (for sale at present) and Badger. Both already named when purchased. May change Badger to “Aboatime Too”

Do you have a permanent mooring?

NB AboatimeFox Narrowboats March Cambridgshire. All usual facilities that you would expect from a boatyard. Can liveaboard in marina for 10 months out of 12 no stipulation on how you manage the two months that you should not be living aboard ie each night you are away from your boat counts towards the two months. Whilst I am working we usually go off and spend time on the River Nene in Peterborough where free moorings are plentiful. With free pump out and water facilities on the city embankment.

What is your boat style and length

45ft and 54ft both Trads

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

At least 20 years

How did you finance your boat?

Cash by buying first boat cheap and making profit when sold

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

300+ days

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

Back at work as a QA technician (temporally)

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Being iced up in the winter

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom and camaraderie of other boaters and users of the waterways. Inexpensive  lifestyle. Drinking and steering!!

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

Bedroom. (Next year….maybe)

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

Try to moor as close as we can in towns to get to shops.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Washing machine on board (Candy Aquamatic)

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

Vitreous china flush Macerator. Pump out. Yes also have self pump out equipment to keep costs down.

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

”Dongle” T Mobile have had this for last 5 years and very happy. Also Tesco via Blackberry Smartphones

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Far to many to pick one

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

Mastervolt 2500 invertor, small 300watt invertor for phone charging & 3Kw generator as for usage no idea

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Too warm sometimes

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

Remember canals can freeze over for days maybe weeks in the winter so make sure you are moored close to all amenities

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.

 

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Willow 2

Gary enjoys the best of both worlds. He’s enjoys the cosy comforts of his liveaboard narrowboat during the week on his own, then takes his washing home to his overjoyed wife at the weekends. Marital bliss!

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

 I am Garry and I am married to Bernadette. We both have our own businesses so we live apart and see each other at weekends. I live on the boat and she at home. It works for us.

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

NB Willow in the snowHave always admired narrow boats and about 2 years ago I decided I wanted to buy one. I looked at some and against advice I bought one. I loved the engine room, she loved the front end but also, it was also a bargain. My pace of life meant that a narrow boat would force me to slow down and it has certainly worked.

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

It had a name but we didn’t know what it was when we viewed it. Amazingly it is called ‘Willow’ which is Bernadettes favourite tree.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

I am on a permanent mooring. There is free water and metered electricity. We also have a toilet and waste disposal. It is at the end of the owners lease and hasn’t been looked after too well. I believe Peel Holdings are taking the moorings back next year so that may change things.

What is your boat style and length

I have a 58ft Trad

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

1yr 7 months

How did you finance your boat?

Bought outright (probably because I work too much!!)

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

about 5/7 of the year

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

I work in education. Another business is in the leisure industry and another in the handyman repair industry

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

The headroom (I am 6’5″). Other boats that wizz past ignoring any speed limit.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

calmness, no rush, rain on the roof, community spirit, frost on the outside, ducks, stress free (usually)

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

reverse the layout

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

usually have everything we need but may have to walk or use a bike

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

save it up and take it home

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

Thetford cassette. Am really happy. So pleased I dont have a pump out after being iced in last year

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

Teather my phone or use the Dongle. Reception can be a bit hit and miss.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Just going into Lymm village from Stockton Heath. Travelling down from Glasson Dock to the start of the Ribble link

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

Use the batteries/inverter. Also have a generator which I have never used

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Too warm at times

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

Rent one first (just like I didn’t) or spend time on a friends. Have offered mine to lots of people who rave about the boat but, amazingly, no one has taken me up on the offer.

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.

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Shepherds Rest

After a stressful high-flying career, Tim now has a much more relaxed life. After building his own boat he now cruises the waterways offering a full solar power fitting service. He’s recently written an excellent and easy to understand article about the effectiveness of solar power and why he thinks every liveaboard boater should make the most of the sun’s free energy.

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

Tim Davis.

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

Tim DavisAfter spending many years in the corporate world, 12 years ago I decided to leave the stress of that world behind to both live on narrowboats and build them for a living.  I now run Onboard Solar specialising in solar power systems for narrowboats.  I continuously cruise, often followed by a rather smokey pirate boat.  Despite the smoke I find Baddie the Pirate very enlightening!

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

My boat is called Shepherd’s Rest.  Baddie the Pirate tells everyone I used to be a shepherd, but this is totally libellous!  Shepherd is a family name.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

No.  However I used to moor at Alvecote on the Coventry and have many friends there so it is still my spiritual home.  I can recommend the fabulous Samuel Barlow pub, a great place for a pint and a superb meal.

What is your boat style and length

60ft BCN tug.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

22 years.

How did you finance your boat?

Earnings from my previous highflying career!

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

Every day.

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

Up until recently I was a time served boat builder.  I now run Onboard Solar which specialises in solar power systems for boats, providing an all-in-one service:  making sure you get the right sized system, supply of all the components, professionally fitted to your boat by myself, all for a fixed price!  I also work in tandem with Baddie the Pirate who is a liveaboard boater who supplies LED lighting for boats.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Emptying the loo cassette.  It’s a crap job, but somebody’s got to do it!

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom.

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

Shepherds RestThis is the third boat that I have built for myself and I think I’ve finally got it right.

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

I have a car that I move as well as the boat.  (Though I have had Tesco deliver straight to my side hatch!)

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I have a washing machine powered by my onboard diesel generator.

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

Thetford cassette.  In the winter yes because you can empty it even when frozen in.

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

I have a 3G Android phone, which I use for general email and some browsing and it has a clever wi-fi hotspot facility that allows me to leave it in the window and connect to it from my laptop.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

I have many favourite sections on many different canals, but if I was forced to choose I would probably go for the Macclesfield and Peak Forest.

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

I have 200 Watts of solar panels, which keeps all my day to day needs up and running.  I have a 2.1/2Kw inverter, which I rarely use.  I also have a built-in 6Kw cocooned water cooled diesel generator which I use to run heavy duty appliances like the washing machine.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very.  I have a solid fuel stove, central heating and a solid fuel range in the back cabin!

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

Talk to existing liveaboard owners as most will know everything you need to know about making the life a success.

You can find out more about Tim’s solar power fitting service on his web site. Tim’s excellent article about solar power is 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 website.

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Mischief

I love life on a narrowboat but there are those who prefer the extra three or four feet in width that a widebeam offers. Paul and Allayne Roper fall into that category. Here’s what they think of life afloat… and how Allayne’s cancer affects their way of life.

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

We are Paul and Allayne Roper and have two cats Pandi and Phoenix – our family.

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

My husband wanted a change of lifestyle and his love is the sea and always wanted at some point to live near the sea again. A friend of ours heard about Paul’s interest and as he lives on a narrow boat, he asked us down to view his and it all took off from there. We do not regret our life on our wide beam one bit.

Allayne on wide beam Mischief

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

Our boat’s name is Mischief. It was already named but we felt that this summed us quite admirably and the cats too, being such adorable mischievous fellows.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Yes we do have a permanent mooring. We were not up for continual cruising as this would not be helpful for my husband’s work or my own. Having a permanent mooring, wherever you are in the country you at least know the mooring is yours. Fees vary from marina to marina but it’s where you want to be that counts in the end and what you can afford.

What is your boat style and length

Our boat is 60 ft long and 11 ft wide.

How long have you been a boat owner?

We have been on our boat for just over a year now and my husband took to it like a duck to water.

How did you finance your boat?

The selling of the house helped finance the purchase of the boat and left us with money over to help with the survey, blackening of the base of the boat so it worked out well for us.

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

We live on the boat all the time 24/7, with the exception when we go away on short breaks or vacation.

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

Unfortunately not at the moment, as I have been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the breast, spine and liver. My husband works, as he is self-employed.

What do you like least about widebeam life?

Knowing how best to stop the spiders taking up home everywhere you look!!

What do you like most about widebeam life?

The peace, lifestyle, and where we are moored. Both my husband and I have never slept so well since we moved on board our boat. Life is what you make of it, be it on land on water and ours at the moment is good indeed,

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

Moving the stove from where it was position to near the kitchen so when the eco fan is in motion, it circulates the heat more fully around the boat.

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

We are lucky where we live as there is a mooring on the river for Tesco’s and if needed you can moor you boat by the bank and walk through.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a washing machine on board the boat if it was necessary to do washing, otherwise, we would go to a launderette or wait until we got home to use the facilities in the marina.

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

We have a normal toilet on board our boat with its own tank which resides under the wardrobes in our bedroom. We usually have to do a pump out every 6 weeks. We also have a portable chemical toilet for winter use if we are unable to move to do a pump out.

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

We initially used a fob to connect to the internet but this was not always brilliant as we are in a steel boat so reception was not always consistent. As we now have a landline, we have broadband now which is great and is like being in our old house.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

We have not travelled too far at the moment, being novices to the water but down to Henley-on-Thames is a nice journey, through Sonning and all. We do have in mind to travel further but with my cancer, it is difficult.

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

We have batteries that are charged when we are cruising. However, when we are moored up, we are connected to our own source of electricity and pay for that on a monthly basis and we have been surprised how little we use since moving on the boat,

How warm is your boat in the winter?

We have both, diesel central heating and a multi fuel stove burner which burns both coal and logs. Once you get the understanding of how your stove works, its is brilliant in keeping your boat sweet and cosy.

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

Visit the Crick Boat Show for a one on one with all the information Crick has to offer. Search the web, talk to friends and visit as many boats as you can to get an idea of what you really want from your boat. You need to view narrow boats, wide beams, barges and cruisers to find out what is really for you. You will know when you go on board if it feels home to you or not. We went for a wide beam because we enjoy the extra space. Buy a 2nd hand boat first to see what you like and dislike about it before thinking about buying a new boat.

You can find out more about Paul and Allayne’s life afloat 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 website.

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard The Mothership

Here’s another case study of a couple living in harmony together… on separate boats. John and Lowrie offer an outstanding example of what you can do if you can’t find a decent residential mooring. In this case they built one of their own.

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

John and Lowri Keyes, Goldie the Ridgeback hound.

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

I purchased my ship in 2001, because it was the only form of housing I could afford at the time for myself and my two children that would enable us to live in Oxford, and because I had always wished to return to the life afloat since my first job after leaving school, living and working aboard a 50’ prawn trawler in the Isle of Man for a year 1975/’76. My wife bought her 30’ Springer in 2003 whilst studying for her PHD, again because of the affordable housing matter. We met whilst fixing our boats up at Castlemill Boatyard, Jericho.

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

The Mothership and Xophtyk

Do you have a permanent mooring?

The Mothership on a residential mooring on the Thames

The Mothership on a residential mooring on the Thames

Yes. September 2004 we arrived at a piece of waste ground and sometime allotment on a backwater of the Thames, because of the pressures being brought to bear on the above mentioned and now derelict boatyard by the then owner, BWB. In December 2005 we obtained planning permission to create this residential boat marina from the local Council, most kindly assisted by the Environment Agency.

What is your boat style and length

70’ narrowbeam Barry Jenkins “Icebreaker”, 30’ Springer.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

11 years and 9 years respectively

How did you finance your boat?

Ancillary Relief, loan

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

All the time

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

Carpenter and landscape designer, Scientist

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Mildew

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Independence

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

Width

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

Bicycles

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Launderette

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

Compost. Yes.

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

Magmount aerial on steel roof groundplane attached to USB wireless dongle. Service is now adequate except in really wet weather, notwithstanding a passionate dislike for Orange and all their works!

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Many, but I would say the woodland stretch by Kirtlington Quarry on the South Oxford, but generally we prefer the River Thames all the way from Lechlade to Limehouse Ship Lock.

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

Small amount from PV powering completely separate system that runs the water filtration and delivery plant, rest is by means of small modern diesel generator. I have never got around to measuring KWH/Litre performance, but a Master’s Degree final year student carried out a study on the carbon footprints of our boat and others in 2005, revealed that centrally generated mains hook-up is considerably greener than making one’s own electricity from fossil fuels. IE a smokey 33Hp Lister TS111 driving an automotive alternator through an old-fashioned voltage regulator is not a satisfactory way to create domestic power, unless you happen also to be using your engine for propulsion, and be cruising along all the time. Constantly cruising is not compatible with going out to work in one place – but fine if you are retired or possessed of a job that pays you to work from home wherever it might be..

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Warm

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

It is a major commitment, like marriage, and accordingly I would counsel any prospective boater to look well beyond the initial romantic attraction to the practical nuts and bolts, as well as the politics. Do not buy a cheap boat and expect to be able to do it up whilst living on it, and trying to earn a living at the same time.

Consider the politics. The politics of a liveaboards’ experience of whatever waterways or other authority their patch might be managed by will be as much of a determining factor in the quality of life afloat on the inland waterways, as all the enabling technologies put together.

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.

 

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A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Lois-Jane

James and Debbie are the wrong side of forty. They have decided to take a belated gap year cruising the inland waterways of Englarand and Wales. Will the gap year last more than a year and can you forgive James for being an estate agent?

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

Just us two, that’s James and Debbie Ward

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

First part; we are both just the wrong side of 40 with our daughter Jess settled at Winchester Uni. We have a house in Poole Dorset that we have just rented out for a year. We used to really like kayaking and walking but as jobs got busier leisure time got less. Oh, I’m a bit of a waffler as well

Debs relaxing on the bank next to Lois Jane

Debs relaxing on the bank next to Lois Jane

Second part; Wow, the $64k question. We were both really fed up of our 9-5 (8-8 in my case) sort of corporate work lifestyles and wanted the opportunity to see what life and other parts of the UK was all about. We have both worked full time since the day we left school and really needed our ‘gap year’. We moved to Poole on a whim (I’m that kind of person) we had lived in Basingstoke and enjoyed daytrips to the coast. We have no family there and no ties so why not look at other parts of the UK to live in and seeing the Uk at 3mph sounded like a good start. I guess it would be a great opportunity to live on a shoestring to retrain ourselves to live within our means rather than spend what we earned. (Did I mention that I am a bit of a waffler?)

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

She is called Lois Jane, don’t know why, it was all down to the previous owner as was the apples and pears paintings as well. I am sure it all means something.

Do you have a permenant mooring?

No we are CC’ers. We plan to get a mooring over winter (Dec, Jan and Feb) and get some temporary work.

What is your boat style and length

Lois Jane is a 60ft cruiser stern. Built in 2000 by Alexander boat builders and is Sandhills No. 1 boat. She is a gas free boat with a 50hp beta marine engine and engine mounted 7kva generator. I have recently added 4 x 100w solar panels. The layout from stern is – office and electrics, bedroom with cross bed, bathroom with airing cupboard for my homebrew, galley with breakfast bar, lounge with a Becton arrow stove in the corner. The interior is all good quality but I am spending an arm and a leg on varnish for the iroko floor and oak paneled walls.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Picked up the keys about mid Feb 2012 and started sanding, varnishing and wandering around saying OMG what have we done.

How did you finance your boat?

An idylic mooring for Lois-Jane

An idylic mooring for Lois-Jane

Scrimped and saved for a couple of years of a 10 year plan before waking up one day and saying ‘we’re going to the bank to re-mortgage the house’ I didn’t want to wait another 8 years! My most recent background was Estate agency and it’s associated financing so I was able to get quite good mortgage rates that meant we would still have a good few hundred pound over from the rent we were charging our tenants to live on.

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

I should imagine we will be onboard for about 50 weeks of our first year.

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

Not at the mo, Deb is hoping to do a bit of online admin and I’ve got a couple of pin money ideas, but again I want to aim to earn what I need to live not fit my lifestyle around what I earn.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Probably not having the postman knocking on the door. Being CC’ers all post goes to my mother in law. I will try out the post offices ‘Post restante’ soon. but as far as I know businesses like ebay wont send to the post office.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

A different view every fortnight from my lounge window. I also like the fact that it is a bit quirky, the life style always has an opinion ‘fantastic idea’ or ‘b****y idiot’ everyone has an opinion and questions.

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

Gunwales 2″ higher. I know it’s only a small point but head height with the cross bed is a bit too tight!

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

Bike and flat-bed bike trailer with a big plastic box on the back. Deb’s bike has a front basket and back rack for quick trips.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I fitted a mini zanussi washing machine which has been fantastic

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

Pump out that lasts the two of us about a month, but we also use a small port-a-loo. How can I put this … one for solids and one for liquids to maximise the time we can stay in one place.

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

Mifi by 3. Yes it’s great. ?18 per month for 15gb and we can take it out walking or cycling to use google maps etc

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Too early to tell yet but leaving Braunston and surrounding areas felt like moving home again, it’s a great area.

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

It was a bit of a disaster when we started. Dead batteries meant being very careful and charging via the engine for about 3.5 hours (?5ish per day) Since then new batteries and 4 x 100w solar panels have cut charging down to about an hour and a half (?2 ish) which is a massive difference. I think we use about 120 amps per day.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Not thinking about that yet….. still waiting for summer to start!

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

Be realistic, it is not always going to be a bed of roses. You have got to dig deep into Google to get specific answers as most sites will be quite vague with budgets and expenditure. This web site is what I used as the basis of all regular costs and I was then able to adjust accordingly like ‘my boat is newer so better insulated’ etc. I will hopefully post my budget and actual costs soon but so far we are not too far out.

You can find out more about James and Debbie’s watery gap year on their blog.

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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Entertainment
Summary