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2013 05 12 Newsletter – An Interview With The Trust’s Head Of Boating

Living on a Narrowboat News 12th May 2013

I’m always amazed how quickly you make new friends on the cut. After years of living and working in London where even my immediate neighbours were strangers, the easy going and approachable nature of most liveaboard narrowboat owners is truly refreshing.

I spent a very pleasant couple of hours on Monday evening with new narrowboat owners Keith and Gui (pronounced Gee as in geese) on their new Calcutt built Clipper. I first met Keith and Gui last October when they hired one of our boats for a week’s cruise on the Ashby canal. Like many of our hirers, they enjoyed the trip so much that they told me they were going to look into buying a boat of their own and adopting the nomadic lifestyle of continuous cruisers. Unlike most, their suggestion was more than idle talk.

Keith retired from his well paid but far too stressful job in anthropology three years ago. He’s been living with his partner Gui, an ex jet setting travel agent,  at her home in Portugal after leaving his native New Zealand. He loved the relaxed lifestyle in the Portuguese village on the coast about half an hour’s drive from Lisbon. He loved the lifestyle, but not nearly as much as he’s always loved the idea of cruising the canals and rivers of England and Wales.

They’ve been on their new boat for less than a week and they’re enjoying every minute of it. They drove to Calcutt from Gui’s home so they were able to bring a few “essentials” with them. I love port so I was in heaven when I sampled the three different types they brought with them, along with a delicious cheese made from goat, sheep and cows’ milk.

I don’t think there’s a better way of passing an hour or two than sitting on a boat’s deck on a warm spring evening, drinking fine wine, eating exquisite food and enjoying stimulating conversation. It’s what living on a narrowboat is all about.

The Wessex Rose Hotel Boat Update

Last Sunday I wrote about the just launched Wessex Rose hotel boat. At 70′  long, 12′ wide and 50 tonnes it’s a rather cumbersome boat to move through the network. Even though the Grand Union is a “wide” canal – it has locks which can accommodate two narrowboats at a time, or one widebeam – there are very few wide beam boats using it.

Although cruising on a wide beam boat is possible on the canal network, it isn’t always pleasant. The canals are usually very shallow away from the main channel which is kept silt free by the continual passage of narrowboats. A wide beam boat will often straddle the deeper channel, especially at bridge holes and narrow passing places, and necessitates ploughing through the muddy canal bottom.

I met the hotel boat as I cruised back from Braunston at a narrow spot with boats moored against the towpath. The Wessex Rose is to narrowboat owners what a nervous caravan tower on a winding country roads is to car drivers. There was a queue of frustrated narrowboat owners moving at a snail’s pace behind the barely moving monstrosity.

The hotel boat’s owners were highly stressed. Not only did they have to contend with dragging their new boat through the silty bottom, but they also had to absorb the tirade of comments from the boats behind them, the moored boats they passed and the narrowboats travelling in the opposite direction.

I met them at Flecknoe where they only had to deal with boats moored against the towpath. I suspect they would have had far more problems with both navigation and criticism from nearby boaters when they reached Braunston. The approach to the junction from all three directions has boats moored on both canal banks. There’s just enough room for two narrowboats to pass each other. There isn’t enough room for a narrowboat and a broad beam boat to pass. They owners looked stressed when I passed them. They would be approaching a nervous breakdown by the time they had negotiated Braunston.

The Wessex Rose is heading down to the K & A where they intend to take high paying passengers on relaxing short breaks along the rivers Kennet and Avon and the Kennet & Avon canal. There are some very narrow stretches on the K & A and plenty of moored boats. I hope that the passengers travelling on the hotel boat aren’t subject to the same stress as the owners.

An Interview With The Trust’s Head Of Boating.

On Friday I spoke to Sally Ash, the Canal & River Trust’s Head of Boating. I regularly receive emails and respond to forum posts about residential moorings and how to find them. I think I know the answers to site visitors’ questions but I thought it was about time I asked for confirmation. Sally was the perfect person to talk to.

When applying for a license for a narrowboat, owners are asked to either confirm that they have a home mooring or abide by the guidelines for continuous cruising. A home mooring can cost in excess of £2,000 a year, rising to two or three times that figure in and around London. Many boaters are either unwilling or unable to pay for a home mooring, or simply can’t find one which will enable them to legally live on board full time.

Online MooringsThe license guidelines state that a boat owner cannot stay in one place for longer than 14 days, or less as indicated on some visitor moorings. Some boaters, in a mistaken attempt to comply with the mooring guidelines, move their boats backwards and forwards between two points in order to stay in the same geographical location so that they are close to work or to schools. Continuous cruisers are required to move every fourteen days as part of a linear progressive journey although, to date, the distance that a boat needs to move as part of the journey isn’t specified because of the difficulty the Trust has defining locations on the cut. The Trust are in the process are in the process of defining clear geographic areas on maps which will be made available to boaters and which will enable the authorities to qualify distance moved.

Some continuous cruisers simply don’t move at all. They are referred to by the Trust as None Compliant Continuous Cruisers or NCCC. They stay in one spot on the towpath, often as part of a community of other NCCC boaters. Out of the 35,000 narrowboats on the canal and river network, 13.4% or 4,700 are registered as not having a home mooring and are therefore obliged to cruise continuously. Sally believes that as many as 50% are NCCC boaters.

Finding a suitable legal mooring for a liveaboard narrowboat is a considerable hurdle to overcome for many would be boat owners. There are relatively few residential moorings available either online (along the side of the canal or offline (in a marina). Most of the Trust owned canal-side moorings are defined as leisure moorings and are not supposed to be used for residential use. However, the Trust are quite relaxed about boat owners living on leisure moorings full time. They are aware of the shortage of official residential moorings and also feel that the canal is a more attractive and more secure environment than lines of empty boats.

While the Trust are happy to allow boaters to stay full time on their leisure moorings, they aren’t happy at all when boat owners over stay their welcome on visitor moorings. The Trust currently employs enforcement team of  50 officers who patrol the towpath to monitor boat movement. The areas of greatest concern at the moment are the Grand Union south of Milton Keynes , the south Oxford and the western end of the K & A. The problem is so acute in these areas that navigation is difficult and vacant visitor moorings are few and far between.

In order to deal with long term NCCCs, the Trust are about to launch a pilot scheme in the London area. The scheme will grant a license to existing none compliant cruisers which will allow them to legally “bridge hop” (move backwards and forwards between two or more points). This scheme will only apply to currently known long term  NCCCs. Any new boats using the network which flout the rules will be identified and ultimately served with enforcement notices.

So why is there such a shortage of residential moorings when there are so many vacant moorings, particularly in marinas? Sally says it’s all down to the local authorities. A leisure mooring doesn’t need planning consent. A residential mooring requires a change of land use. Many marinas are on green belt land so the local authorities are unwilling to give consent.

Local authorities are becoming slightly more flexible with linear moorings, The Trust are working with them to identify suitable residential moorings along the canal, especially in congested areas such as the Grand Union south of Milton Keynes.

The Trust acknowledge that they have a difficult task ahead of them. For many years NCCCs have been left to their own devices. There are many communities of static continuous cruisers. There are between 500 and 1,000 NCCC cases open at any one time. The Trust will, in extreme circumstances, remove these boats from the water. However, as the boat owners live on board full time, the courts are often reluctant to sanction boat removal and the boat owners subsequent loss of their homes.

The message is clear, if you live on your boat but don’t cruise and don’t have a registered home mooring, you are breaking the rules as the Trust are concerned, but they are prepared to talk to you to discuss a solution. But if you’ve only recently declared on your license that you’re going to cruise continuously, you need to make sure that’s exactly what you do.

New Forum Section

I’ve added the newsletter archive to the forum. You can find it here. Every week when I send out the newsletter, I’ll also post it on the forum. You’ll have all of the newsletters listed by date in one handy section, and you’ll be able to comment on the content in a place where others can respond. You can also use this section to ask for topics to be included in the newsletter. If there’s a subject you don’t think I’ve covered in enough detail, or at all, elsewhere on the site, please use this section to suggest its addition.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 05 05 Newsletter – Narrowboat Fuel Tank Range And An Encounter With Snakes

Living on a Narrowboat News 5th May 2013

I took James out for another cruise last week. I was out for longer but didn’t travel as far, not did I have nearly as much fun. I took James along to our workshops to have some more work on the engine.

River Canal Rescue serviced my engine a couple of weeks ago. It’s an old but ever so reliable Mercedes OM 636. It’s done just 4,000 hours. I understand that it’s considered young and that I can reasonably expect 20,000 hours from it. In fact, the engine should outlast me. However, it needs some TLC.

I can’t ever see myself stripping it down to its component parts and putting it back together again, but I do need to be able to clean and change the fuel filter. I couldn’t get near the fuel filter up until now. It’s positioned at the front of the engine, low down, and very close to the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom. Both the RCR engineer and one of our own engineers have struggled to get it off to clean it. RCR recommended that I install a more conveniently placed pre-filter and that I have the fuel lines rerouted. At the moment they run underneath the engine which means that they too are inaccessible and are subject to damage from the ballast bars which lay on top of them.

In order to change the fuel lines, engineer Jim had to drain the fuel tank. It was a slow process because there was a lot of diesel to drain. Before I went out on last week’s cruise to Braunston, I checked the fuel level. I didn’t know how much the tank held, noticed that there was a bit of a gap between the surface of the fuel and the top of the tank so I added another 25 litres. I needn’t have bothered. Jim removed about 32o litres from the tank. It’s a huge amount of fuel.

I don’t yet know how much fuel my engine uses but I know that the consumption will be between 1.0 and 1.5 litres per hour when I’m cruising. Using the conservative figure of 1.5 litres per hour, the diesel will last me for 213 hours. At a speed of 3mph there’s enough in the tank to take me and my floating home 639 miles.

I could cruise for seven hours a day for a full month up to Lancaster and back, travelling 446 miles, opening and closing 208 locks and passing through ten tunnels. I could do all of this without stopping for fuel. And then, if I still had any energy left, I could head south from Calcutt to Bristol. I would cruise for another fortnight at seven hours a day to travel the 184 miles and 162 locks before I had to look for diesel.

My tank holds a lot of fuel. I can’t wait to use it all!

Jim was called away on an emergency job so he couldn’t finish the work on Tuesday when I took James in so we had to stay overnight in one of our covered double docks. We didn’t have the views that we’re used to and enjoy so much. A polythene tunnel is a very poor alternative to grassy banks and an island covered by trees in their early spring splendour, but I still loved the few seconds of confusion when I woke up knowing that my house was somewhere different but not quite sure where.

A Picnic With Snakes

I spent most of Friday working on James. Steven Cox, our buyer, is very good with electrics. He’s been promising to fit my inverter for a while now. He agreed to do the work on Friday. The engine room was a bit of a mess after the fuel lines were rerouted earlier in the week so I took James up from the marina through two locks to the wharf where we keep the Big Brute. It’s a wet vacuum cleaner the size of a small house which we use for vacuuming the hire fleet engine bays. A couple of hours with the Brute, a tin of degreaser and a stiff hand brush had the engine and its surroundings looking better than it has for years.

Back on the mooring, Steve spent a couple of hours connecting the inverter and adding a changeover switch and a new shore line to comply with Boat Safety Scheme regulation. That’s nearly all of the electrical work done for now. I’m still running on just two 135amp domestic batteries plus a 110amp starter. I have two more 135amp batteries in the engine room. I’m waiting for the leads to be delivered before I can add them to the battery bank.

Grass SnakeIt was mid afternoon before the various jobs were finished. I really don’t know where the time goes. I’m always up at 5am, but then the day flashes by. Maybe I should get up earlier.

Friday was warm and sunny so Sally and I decided to have a picnic on the grass next to the woods. Last winter I removed a fence from the edge of the woods. The extensive grassed area adjacent to Meadows marina now merges with the mixed woodland and provides a beautiful and tranquil spot to spend a few hours relaxing.

While we eat our picnic of chile spiced sausages on buttered baps and fiery chicken wings with salad, Charlie and Daisy played along the tree line. Charlie is always finding creatures to annoy. One of his great pleasures last year was night-time hedgehog rolling. We often see them in the warmer months after dark on the marina embankment. As soon as they see Charlie, they roll into a ball. As soon as they roll into a ball, Charlie tips them down the marina bank. Charlie loves the game. I don’t think the hedgehogs are so keen.

We’re used to Charlie discovering spiders, worms, crane flies, frogs and, of course, hedgehogs. We noticed that he’d found something but didn’t really pay him much attention. After five minutes of jumping up and down and pouncing on a pile of leaves though I went to see what the fuss was about. I couldn’t see anything so I left Charlie to his game.

After a few more minutes of pouncing at leaves closer and closer to where we sat, I had another look. There was no mistaking what he had found this time though, a large and very unhappy looking grass snake. Charlie wanted to play. The grass snake didn’t and was quite vocal about it.

I now had Charlie jumping up and down in excitement, Daisy running around in pointless circles and Sally looking for the nearest tree to climb. Sally doesn’t like snakes with very good reason. She was born in the Philippines where there are a considerable number of snakes far more unpleasant than our completely harmless grass snakes and barely venomous adders. They have 179 species of snake, fourteen of which are venomous. They have a Krait which can kill you in under two seconds and a very aggressive, highly venomous Philippine cobra which only needs to spit at you to kill you.

Sally doesn’t like snakes.

After the poor terrified grass snake escaped into the undergrowth, I calmed the dogs down, helped Sally down out of the tree and reassured her that our snakes, like just about everything else in the UK, are far less harmful than anywhere else in the world, I suggested a walk in the woods. The look she gave me was far more dangerous than any of the snakes in the Philippines. I’ll have to work on that one.

Out On The Cut Again

There’s no holding us back now. Sally and I are out again today. I’m determined to do justice to the diesel  tank’s hanger-like dimensions. Mind you, I’ve just worked out that if I only travel the five hours to Braunston and back once a week, and I make the trip every week until the tank runs dry, I won’t need to top up with diesel until 28th February 2014!

It’s such a joy to be out at this time of the year. There are some beautiful places to moor just a stone’s throw away from Calcutt; just about anywhere on the six mile stretch between Calcutt and Braunston will do, above the Napton flight on the south Oxford or on the GU before the Stockton flight. We love the cruise to Braunston because, with limited time available, we can enjoy a couple of hours of lock free cruising after we’ve passed through the thee locks of the Calcutt flight.

At the moment we’re moored near Napton Junction. It’s not as peaceful as it was last week. I should have expected far more boats about as it’s a bank holiday weekend but there are a lot of people cruising this weekend.

I still haven’t sorted out the problem I had last week with my dongle aerial. I’ve bought the fairleads which, when fitted, will keep the centre rope from snagging both the aerial and the vent over my water heater. Yesterday though I had to keep an eye on the rope to make sure that it didn’t sweep everything off the roof when we were tied up in the lock. As an added security meas.ure I removed the dongle from its fitting and put it in my pocket.

We moored up and, because I’m obsessed with keeping in touch with you, dear reader, my first job was to reconnect my broadband dongle. I couldn’t find it, but I did find a very large hole in the pocket I had carefully placed it. Sally and I ran the mile back to the Calcutt flight asking passing boats and walkers if they had seen a black dongle. The only response was confused and slightly hostile stares.

Back at Calcutt Middle lock we found it laying on the grass by the upstream paddle. I was very lucky.I think I’ll keep the dongle inside the boat in the future.

We ate well last night. Sally’s special spare ribs, beef noodles and sticky rice. All washed down with a couple of glasses of Wolf Blass and a pair of swans with their brand new signets to keep us company. After dinner I sat down to do a bit of work on the site, delighted that I didn’t need to worry about my laptop battery dying as, thanks to the new inverter, I had mains power… for about an hour. The inverter died. I scratched my head for a while before I realised that I had left a 500w heater plugged in when I switched over to the inverter. The heater didn’t take long to drain 2 x 135amp batteries. As it was about 8.30pm and as we had been joined on our tranquil mooring by two other boats, I couldn’t fire up the engine to charge the batteries again. I gave up  for the evening, got up this morning at 5.00am as usual and took the dogs for a long walk along the canal until 7.00am when I could start charging the batteries.

We set off for Braunston at 10.00am. It was an enjoyable but slow cruise. Every man and his dog were out on the cut. Every blind bend and bridge hole was a game of Russian roulette. We managed to get by with just one slight bump and no damage done. Braunston was very busy. Actually I should say, Braunston is very busy. I’m still there. We’ve done a bit of shopping at Midland Chandlers, had a coffee at the Boat House. Now we’re back at the boat. Sally and her friend, Sheila, are basking in the spring sunshine on the front deck while Sheila gives Sally a manicure. We’ll go for a walk later on before an early tea and a sedate cruise back to the marina.

I can’t wait for the beginning of June and our two weeks away from the mooring.

 

The UK’s Largest Inland Waterways Hotel Boat

We had a rather large visitor at Calcutt yesterday, the just launched hotel boat Wessex Rose. It’s a monster of a boat at 70′ long, 12′ wide and weighing in at a rather hefty 50 tonnes. The Wessex Rose was launched yesterday at Stockton. They pulled in to fill up with diesel. They were with us for quite a while. The tank took 1,000 litres. It’s a monster of a boat which tends to get in the way of other boats. Sadly, they discovered the hard way just how difficult it is for other boats to pass around it. One boat caught their bow a glancing blow as the Wessex Rose maneuvered onto the wharf. Only a couple of hours after launch, they had a foot long scrape through the sign writing on the bow.

The boat is heading south where it will cruise with up to six paying passengers on the Kennett & Avon. I imagine that it’s a very comfortable boat to cruise on in luxury (each of the three passenger cabins has an en suite bathroom) but I wouldn’t like to try to pass it on some of the narrower stretches of the K & A). You can read about the Wessex Rose here.

New Forum Section

I’ve added the newsletter archive to the forum. You can find it here. Every week when I send out the newsletter, I’ll also post it on the forum. You’ll have all of the newsletters listed by date in one handy section, and you’ll be able to comment on the content in a place where others can respond. You can also use this section to ask for topics to be included in the newsletter. If there’s a subject you don’t think I’ve covered in enough detail, or at all, elsewhere on the site, please use this section to suggest its addition.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 04 28 Newsletter – Narrowboat Blogs

Living on a Narrowboat News 28th April 2013

I’ve been reading Our Nige’s blog, Steppin’ Out, with great interest and a certain amount of nostalgia. He picked up his new floating home last Sunday and over the last week has been learning all about the boat as he cruised towards Mercia marina. He reminded me of my first cruise down the south Oxford and onto the Thames.

I had only been working at Calcutt Boats, was still living on dry land, and didn’t know much about narrowboats at all. I was given the job of transporting one of our new clippers, a Calcutt Boats built 50′ cruiser stern narrowboat, to the IWA National Festival at Beale Park on the Thames. To say that I was under prepared for the cruise was an understatement.

I took my then twelve year old son, Brook, with me to help with the locks, lift and swing bridges and coffee making duties. I loved every minute of the adventure, and what an adventure it was!

We set off early in the morning on the first day, passed through Calcutt Top Lock from where the clipper had been moored on the wharf, stopped briefly to eject the stowaway site cat that had sneaked on board at some stage and very nervously cruised along a tranquil waterway before coming to our first narrow lock on the south Oxford at Napton.

This was the second time in my life that I had operated a lock (The first had been at Calcutt half an hour earlier). I enthusiastically raised the paddle to let the water out of the lock. Too enthusiastically as it happened as I hadn’t secured the clipper to the bollard correctly and, before I noticed anything wrong, the boat had drifted away from the bank and down the canal taking a very confused twelve year old with it. A couple on a boat moored close to the lock brought both boat and son back to me with a smile and a laugh.

It was a very wet August. By mid morning I was so wet and cold that I could hardly think. Of course, I hadn’t brought any waterproofs with me. I had to stop the boat for two hours so that I could light the fire and warm up. As feeling returned to my extremities I looked out of the window as I dressed for the next leg of the journey… to find that one of the mooring stakes had pulled free from the soft earth and I was broadside across the canal. Another lesson learned.

Over the next four days the adventure continued; we were pinned to the bank by the wind in Banbury, had to extract ourselves from a reed bed when I tried to get out of the path of a working boat and butty, had to stop for four hours while the police pulled a body out of the canal, and had the joy of trying to negotiate a lift bridge that was too heavy for Brook to raise on his own.

We moored in some idyllic spots away from the noise and the stress of the “civilised” world. It was my first experience of the peace and quiet of rural canal moorings and I loved it. And then I joined the Thames.

What a shock! After 49 miles of gently winding canal I nosed out onto the scary and oh-so-wide Thames at Isis lock junction. Although I had become reasonably proficient over the preceding three days on the canal, the river was a different kettle of fish. I immediately headed for the very large and very clear signs warning me to keep clear of the weir and was instantly pinned against the safety barrier put there to prevent idiots like me from being swept over it.

I was pulled free, helped into a lock large enough to take a dozen boats and prevented from going any further down the Thames until my “trade plate” license was checked. Eventually I was allowed through the lock. The remaining 30 miles downstream to Beale Park was exhilarating  With the current helping me, I cruised at more than twice the speed I had on the canal and I had so much more space to play on than I had on the Oxford. We eventually found a bank side mooring on the Thames for our last night. We tried and failed four or five times because of the shallow water next to the bank.

The cruise only lasted four days but we covered eighty miles, forty canal locks, ten river locks and eighteen swing or lift bridges. The first three days were ten or eleven hour cruises; the last day was a rather tiring thirteen hour stretch. The last hour and a half of the final full day was spent looking for a suitable mooring on the gently shelving Thames riverbank. It was a great adventure. I loved every minute of it. I can’t wait for regular cruises in the future.

A Day Trip To Braunston

Mooring at Napton JunctionAfter I wrote the above introduction I realised that, although I can’t afford the time off work to enjoy a multi day cruise at the moment,  there’s nothing stopping us from going out for the day now and then. My home mooring Calcutt Boat’s stunning Meadows marina is the perfect starting point for many different routes.

If I turn left out of our marina, I’m on the Grand Union heading west to Leamington Spa and Warwick and then on to Birmingham. If I turn right, go through the Calcutt flight and cruise half a mile to Napton Junction, I can turn left to Braunston or right to head south on the Oxford canal towards Oxford and the Thames.

I decided to take James out for a day and a night to see how the engine fared after its recent overhaul. Here’s my trip.

New Forum Section

I’ve added the newsletter archive to the forum. You can find it here. Every week when I send out the newsletter, I’ll also post it on the forum. You’ll have all of the newsletters listed by date in one handy section, and you’ll be able to comment on the content in a place where others can respond. You can also use this section to ask for topics to be included in the newsletter. If there’s a subject you don’t think I’ve covered in enough detail, or at all, elsewhere on the site, please use this section to suggest its addition.

Your Own (Free) Narrowboat Blog

Talking of new additions to the site, about a month ago I offered any site user their own blog section on the site so that they can create a lasting memory of their own boating experience.  One or two have already taken me up on the offer. I would like to introduce you to one of them, Our Nige as he is on the forum.

Nige’s dream was to own and live on a narrowboat. Even though he wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing, he bought his boat and he’s now on day seven or eight of his maiden voyage back to his home mooring at Mercia marina. If you’re thinking about buying a narrowboat, even if you’re only going to use it for recreational cruising, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the detail in his blog posts, and his determination to try every different drop of local beer at the end of a day’s cruise.

Here’s the first of Nige’s blog posts. You can follow the blog’s progress through the forum here.

If you’re in the process of seriously moving to a life afloat and you would like your own blog please read this post and then get in touch with me. I can have you up and running in about ten minutes.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary
2

2013 04 21 Newsletter – The Trust Target Illegal Moorers

Living on a Narrowboat News 21st April 2013

I’ve suffered quite badly with wind over the last week. Fortunately for Sally and the dogs not the type of wind that involves a furtive spray up and down the boat with an air freshener. Real wind, the sort of wind that encourages full time boater to stay on mooring rather than cruise.

It’s been a very windy week. On Wednesday night we had gusts of 40mph. Both Sally and I had trouble sleeping. The starboard rear fender hangs close to our bed. In addition to the howling wind, we had the pleasure of the rhythmic squeak of rubber fender on wooden jetty as the boat bobbed on the marina waves.

The following day I had to move several boats around the marina. Calcutt Boats’ Meadows marina is windy at the best of times, but boating on Thursday was a real challenge. Taking boats off their moorings and moving them to the relative calm behind the workshops wasn’t too much of a problem, but returning them to their berths was a real test of nerve.

It’s essential when steering a narrowboat to use the wind rather than fight against it. Because of its flat bottom, a narrowboat doesn’t hold a line, it skates across the surface at the whim of anything more than a gentle breeze. To maintain any kind of control it’s necessary to steer into the wind to slow the boat down rather than with the wind and reduce your ability to stop effectively.

Because the moorings that I needed to get on had the stiff breeze blowing from the port side, I  had allow for the wind and steer the boat, with a considerable amount of throttle, towards the rear of the boat on the adjacent mooring and hope that the wind didn’t drop at the wrong moment. Fortunately the wind blew the bow around until, just at the right moment, it was pointing directly into the boat’s own berth. No bumps, no scrapes, and no need to change my underwear.

Identity Theft – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

As you know, a couple of weeks ago I had my laptop hacked and, among many other problems, my bank account compromised. The account was closed immediately, funds transferred to a new account and a new debit card was sent to me in the post. Unfortunately for me, the bank doesn’t appear to have enough fields in whatever application they use to record addresses. When my new card hadn’t arrived after a week I phoned their call centre to discover that the bank had sent my card to an incomplete address. I corrected the address for them, or rather, told them which parts of the address they already had would need displaying on the envelope to stand a chance of reaching me. They promised to send me another card.

The new card arrived yesterday. It didn’t work. I called the bank to ask why. They told me that the first card had been returned to them marked “Address Unknown”. Consequently, they blocked my account “in case the card was interfered with in the post”. They now have to issue a third card, hopefully to the right address, which won’t reach me before the end of next week. Oh the joys of modern banking!

A New Image For The Site – Tell Me What You Think

New site logoAt enormous personal expense and after months of design, redesign and revisions, I have a new logo for the site. Actually, the whole process took less than a week and cost very little but I’m very pleased with the result. I gave the designer a blank canvas to work with. I told her that I wanted the logo to look professional but informal, both striking and relaxing and to reflect the rural aspect of narrowboat life. Do you think she’s cracked it? Do you like the logo? Please take under a minute to let me know. Before you go to the survey, please look at the logo at the top of the page.  Is it too large, too small or just right?

 The Trust Target Illegal Moorers

I received an email from site subscriber Roland last week. Like many site visitors he’s considering buying and living on a narrowboat. He’s reached the stage where he’s actively looking for a boat to buy but there’s one thing holding him back; the availability of residential moorings.He sent me an update on the mooring situation in his part of the world. Here’s his email…

“I cycled up the grand union today from the village I live in to Leighton Buzzard. On the way back I saw an old chap painting his boat and stopped to talk with him. What he said was very interesting.  I can’t recall where you are based (Midlands ?), but the world of narrowboating in the south is changing and, it appears, becoming a bit of a nightmare unless you can find yourself a proper residential / long term mooring… and that is becoming a very expensive option.

 He said that the amount of people on narrowboats now mooring up on the towpath is causing problems.He knows of at least 3 people who work in the city and earn mega bucks but are living on a narrowboat as it’s cheaper than in the city, but whom have little real interest in canal way of life. He went on to say that, because of this growing influx of people mooring up on the towpaths, the people with money enough to have their boats in southern based marinas, costing them a pretty penny, have caused a stink with the CRT as they dislike the idea of them paying big fees when people are mooring up at random along the towpaths.
To combat this the Trust now have inspectors on bikes.They no longer do the old two week check; they are out every 4 days in teams cycling the towpaths and keeping tabs on who’s where and moving people on. You then have to move several miles and you are not allowed back for a couple of months to that spot and you have to move every two weeks. If you don’t move, they will fine you £25 per day and then if you still fail to move they can seize your boat and auction it off.
All a tad scary and I guess the need to ensure you have proper residential moorings is now even more important than ever. The problem with that is that there just aren’t enough proper moorings and when they do become available, there is this auction system here (which I mentioned previously) where people bid for a place and the price gets silly. The last one I witnessed ended up more than my flat rental for the year! I’d love to live on a narrowboat, and to get involved in the way of life completely. I’m the kind of person who would get involved properly and help out with the canal and land etc, but I’d have to be balmy to pay more for a mooring alone, than my rent on quiet little two bed one up one down in a sleepy village.
He also mentioned that where people used to have ‘end of garden’ mooring rights, since the Trust took over, they are now making them pay 50% of the standard fees. In fact he works for a farmer who owns fields along the canal. The farmer offered him free mooring on his field side (even though there is no water, electricity or path) but the CRT said no and wanted to charge him £1000 for the right.
The old chap now plans to sell up, get a 55 ft steel boat to replace his current boat and move up north where he used to live. He said up there the authorities generally leave you alone and don’t bother as much as they do down here.I guess it’s because we are in the London commuter area in a way. prices go up and no doubt even though there are a lot of real people on the narrowboats down here there appear to be too many wealthy people “playing” at being boaters. What a shame!”
I speak to many boaters either through this site or when they pull into Calcutt for services. The Trust appear to be tightening up on their mooring policy throughout the network. I want the information I share with you to be 100% accurate though so next week I hope to speak to the Trust’s head of boating .

RCR Engine Servicing

You’ve probably heard about River Canal Rescue or RCR as they’re more often known. They’re the inland waterways’ equivalent of the AA/RAC. With my limited practical skills and with a narrowboat engine which is far from standard, membership is essential. I asked them to carry out a service on my Mercedes OM 636. I don’t know when it was last serviced properly but it’s been many years. My boat, James, came to Calcutt Boats in 1997 after being lovingly maintained and used for twenty years by the London based Illiffe family. After reaching Calcutt, James was rarely used or serviced.

I moved onto James in 2010 and treated the boat as a floating house. As finances allowed I slowly improved the boat . I want to do some proper cruising this year. I understand that my engine is a very good engine but it is thirty six years old and hasn’t been well looked after for the latter part of its long life. It needs some TLC.

One of RCR’s longest serving engineers, Kerry, arrived last Wednesday at 10.30am to carry out the service. From the moment I met him I was confident that he knew his stuff. He couldn’t have been more helpful, even though there was a considerable amount of quiet swearing when he tried to remove the very badly positioned fuel filter.

The expected hour long service actually took Kerry three and a half hours. He was very helpful throughout and explained some basic engine maintenance that I wasn’t even aware of. In addition to being a slightly unusual engine, my Mercedes is also raw water cooled. This means that the engine, rather than using its own water as a coolant, draws water from the canal or river. The water passes through a weed trap before continuing to the engine. I didn’t know the boat had a weed trap, let alone the need to clear it out on a daily basis when cruising!

Kerry also identified several areas where I need to have remedial work carried out. I had been experiencing problems with the engine dropping in and out of drive. I knew that this is a symptom of having low or no oil in the gearbox. I’d had the gearbox oil topped up a few weeks previously but I still had the same problem afterwards. I thought I was going to have to get the PRM gearbox refurbished at great expense. Kerry identified that one of the two gearbox cooler pipes had perished and that the gearbox oil was bubbling out through it when the engine was on. I needed one or both of the cooler pipes changing, and not the gearbox. What a relief.

He found an injector pipe with a minor leak and strongly suggested that the engine’s fuel lines were rerouted. They currently run under the engine and under the engine room ballast. It’s not a good place to route delicate copper fuel pipes. The rerouted fuel pipes would also allow a pre-filter to be fitted somewhere more accessible than the current position where it is almost impossible to change even for an experienced engineer.

Kerry’s summary of my engine was very reassuring. With just over 4,000 hours on the clock – an average of just 111 hours a year over the last 36 years – my Mercedes is still a baby. It’s good for 20,000 hours so there’s a lot of life left in it yet. At £145 for the service, which included an additional £15 for genuine parts, I think I received real value for money. For many of you, the opportunity to spend hours tinkering with your engine will please you no end. For me, with very little aptitude in that direction, RCR’s assistance was invaluable.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 04 14 Newsletter – Mobile Broadband Allowance On Narrowboats

Living on a Narrowboat News 14th April 2013

Last week I reported that my laptop was hacked into and my identity stolen. I think I’m back on track now, but there was one further quite scary additional development. I had an email from Google to let me know that my site was producing phishing URLs directing users to a bogus PayPal site.

The company which hosts my site, Liquid Web, one of the largest hosting companies in the USA, has given my site a very thorough spring clean to ensure that any rogue code has been completely removed.  Security to all areas of the site administration have now been changed and improved.

The phishing URLs didn’t affect site users as the URLs were buried deep in the site. I understand that the hacker would have used them as part of a phishing mail campaign where spam emails would have referred recipients to the phishing pages. Talking of security…

Narrowboat Security

I wrote about narrowboat security last week and referred to a thread on the forum.  Forum user Cheeseybits asked about the reality of crime on the cut. He referred to The Water Road by Paul Gogarty. It’s an excellent book about his four month figure of eight journey from London to the far north and back. He mentions carrying a baseball bat for security as he travels alone and of his unpleasant brush with stone throwing yobs in Wigan and then a little later, a charming tale about yobs rolling burning cars into the cut and shooting BW workers with air rifles!

Cheeseybits, in the nicest possible way, accused me of looking at life on the cut through rose tinted glasses and wanted to know whether he’s going to be at risk on his watery wanderings.

I’ve posted my experiences and those of our holiday hirers on the forum. I’ve been doing hire fleet instructions for Calcutt Boats for the last three years so I’ve debriefed hundreds of holidaymakers on their return. Did they experience any problems when they were out and about? You’ll have to read the thread to find out.

If you are a boat owner, please add your comments to the thread. I want the anecdotes in context though. I want to know about the problems you’ve encountered, but I also want to know how often you’ve had unpleasant experiences in all the time that you’ve been out and about on the cut. Have you had issues every time you’ve ventured out, or has it been just once in a blue moon in a geographical area where you might have expected it. If you don’t want to post on the forum, please email me to let me know about your experiences.

Mobile Broadband

I use the internet every day. I spend three to four hours sending and answering emails and researching and writing content for the site. I used to use Three’s PAYG premium package which gave me 7GB of data for £25. My average monthly broadband spend was £40. It was expensive but, because of a poor credit rating brought about by the failure of my business and subsequent bankruptcy, I couldn’t get credit. My inability to obtain credit for absolutely anything meant that I couldn’t take out a monthly phone or broadband plan.

My credit rating has been steadily, if slowly, climbing over the last three years. Eighteen months ago I was able to take out a 24 month contract on a mobile phone and then three months ago switch from Three’s PAYG broadband to a pay monthly tariff. The new tariff gave me 15GB of data each month which was more than enough… until last Friday.

Three weeks ago I bought a new laptop to replace my old Lenovo which had developed a mind of its own and typed text anywhere on the screen it wanted. It was quite quickly driving me mad.

The new Samsung laptop shipped with Windows 8 (Windows Hate would be a more appropriate name – what a terrible operating system!) but no other software. I needed to reinstall all of the applications I use on a daily basis, Microsoft office, Adobe Photoshop Elements, my accounting software, iTunes and half a dozen web site management and editing applications. Then I had to download my backed up data from Google Drive as well as my photo’s and music.

Then two weeks ago my laptop was hacked into so I had to restore the laptop it its original factory settings and do everything again. Yesterday, for the first time, I exceeded my 15GB monthly allowance. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

If you run out of data with Three you can get onto the Three website to check your account but the rest of the internet is off limits. You can check your account to see how much data you’ve used but if you want to change any details, in my case payment details, you need to log into your account using a password. You don’t need a password at any stage when you first start to use your dongle. You just plug it in to your laptop, wait for the automatic driver installation, and away you go. Consequently, you aren’t aware of the need for a password at all.

Of course I couldn’t log in to my account to pay for more data without the password. I didn’t know it so I went through the Forgot Password routine. With any other system that I’ve used, this involves answering some fairly straight forward security questions. Not with Three.

I was asked for both the device and the SIM number. This information is on the SIM which is inside the dongle. My dongle is on the top of a pole on the roof. So on Friday night, in the dark and in lashing rain, I climbed onto the roof to fetch the dongle. Of course I had forgotten that last Sunday I spent seven hours lovingly polishing the boat roof with Carnauba wax. The combination of Carnauba wax on steel and heavy rain should be used on skating rinks. It’s almost impossible to stand on, as I discovered to both mine and Sally’s dismay when I fell over.

I didn’t quite fall off the roof, but it was close. I managed to grab hold of the edge of the port side hatch before I joined the fish in the marina. After retrieving the dongle, I climbed back into the boat to let Sally know what had happened. She wasn’t interested. The shock of me crashing down on the roof caused her to drop what was in her hand – the pressure cooker containing our dinner. She was busy scraping it off the floor.

I copied the details off the SIM  but, before I could find out whether I could log in with them, I had to climb back onto the roof, more carefully this time, to replace the dongle. The device and SIM card number allowed me to log into my account, but I was still unable to top it up.

There was a “helpline” number I could ring, but that involved finding a signal for my phone. I never have one on the boat. So, I went back out in the rain and into my car for a drive around the marina until I could find a signal.

Of course there was the obligatory frustrating automated system to navigate but I was eventually able to make a payment using one of Sally’s debit cards (remember, I don’t currently have a bank account following my hacking attack).

Back on the boat, I joyously connected to the internet… to discover that I still couldn’t get any further than the Three web site.

I jumped back in my car, raced around to where I knew I could get a phone signal and went through the whole painful call centre process again. After ten frustrating minutes I was put through to a real person. He was on the other side of the world, but at least he was human.

He very helpfully told me, from the safety of his call centre 5,000 miles away, that the payment I had just made had been credited to my monthly account but that I couldn’t buy any more data at the normal rate until the next billing cycle began in nine days time. Until then, he told me, I couldn’t use the internet at all unless I purchased data at the emergency rate of 10p per megabyte.

£0.10/MB is a huge amount to pay. To put this rate into perspective, if Three used the same rate for my 15GB monthly allowance, they would charge me £1,500 instead of the £18 I currently pay. Their emergency rate is over eighty three times more expensive than their standard rate!

Even if I wanted to carry on using the internet at that rate, they wouldn’t let me. They allow an emergency use of 200MB (at a cost of £20) before they cut off the account completely until the next billing date.

I used the extortionately priced additional data by mid afternoon the following day – yesterday – so for the first time for as long as I can remember, I was completely cut off from the virtual world I’ve spent years creating.

I didn’t fully understand quite how much I rely on the internet.

I use the web for checking the weather, the news, what’s on television and to more or less instantly find out in depth information about any subject that interests me. I store my photo’s online, I constantly back up my laptop’s documents to my online storage, I use an online To Do list and calendar. I’ve moved much of my life online and, boy, do I miss it when I can’t get at it.

Waiting over a week until my next data allowance cycle wasn’t an option so at 10am today I was in Leamington Spa waiting for the store to open. I purchased a PAYG SIM with 3GB data to get me through the next week until my monthly allowance resumes.

15GB is the biggest data package that Three offer, and Three is widely acknowledged as being the best provider for internet loving boat owners. 15GB is more than enough for a month’s general browsing but if you your laptop for watching TV or video or for regular large file uploads and downloads, you’ll soon use it up.

I hope that the tale of my misfortune will encourage you to think carefully about your mobile broadband options if you plan to spend long periods on your boat and you value a constant internet connection as much as I do. I haven’t enjoyed the problems I’ve had recently, but I’ve learned from them. As far as my internet connection’s concerned, I now have a backup in case of emergencies. Maybe you should too.

This story is really a long winded way of saying sorry for a content poor newsletter this week. I’ve spent so much time trying to sort out the problems I just haven’t had a spare moment to work on the site. I promise to try harder next week.

Read this forum thread for plenty more information about mobile broadband on narrowboats.

Online Moorings Available

I received an email ten days ago but forgot to mention it in last week’s newsletter. It’s from online mooring operator Peter Oakley…

“I’m a linear moorings operator on the Middlewich branch of the Shroppy at bridge 25.  With the pump out toilets, i encourage the (long term) moorers with a  pump  out,  to buy a Patay pump (normally off e-bay) and lay flat pipe.  If they are lucky  they can get it all for £50.    As we are farmers  we have a septic tank for our house  waste. Which is a 100mtr cruise into the next field along.   I ask the moorers to pump their waste into there as it is approximately 30 metres in from the cut.  4 pump outs and they’re saving £££££££.   I have checked with the Environment Agency .  As long as the owner of the vessel does it themselves it’s  acceptable.  If i were to do it for the boater I would need to apply for the relevant waste carrying licenses. I hope this helps a few boaters  in trying to save a few quid here and there.”

Peter went on to say that he has two fully serviced long term moorings (metred water and electricity hook up) available from 2nd September this year. If you are interested in an online mooring in a beautiful part of the country, you need to contact him quickly. Long term online moorings are like hens’ teeth and Peter has just placed an advert in Towpath Talk. Please contact Peter directly.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 04 07 Newsletter – Narrowboat Security

Living on a Narrowboat News 7th April 2013

I “celebrated” my 53rd birthday last Tuesday. How did I celebrate? A relaxing day on the boat? A fancy meal out? A fancy meal in? No. I worked during the day and then returned to the boat at the end of the day to discover that my online identity had been stolen.

I still don’t know how it happened, other than my laptop was hacked into, keystrokes logged, passwords recorded, all of the important web sites I’m registered with accessed, and passwords changed so I couldn’t get into them.

I had my main bank account contact details changed to an address and phone number in Bristol and an iPad ordered through my mobile phone account. My bank account has subsequently been frozen, soon to be shut down, so I now need to open a new account and go through the painful process of setting up a complete new list of payees. Because the new account won’t be live for another seven days, I am unable to pay bills, receive payments, or withdraw cash.

The account I use to receive payments for sales from the site was suspended. They still allowed money into the account, but I’m still not allowed to take any out. The bank was particularly concerned when they discovered that the hacker had stolen a copy of my passport from my hard drive to upload to their site to prove that they were me. When I phoned, they were in the process of restoring the account to fuull functionality which would have allowed the hacker to transfer some or all of the money out of the account.

I spent a fruitless hour reporting the crime to the police. They showed very little interest, even when I told them that I had the bogus address and mobile phone number that had been added to my bank account. They told me that they receive many hundreds of phone calls from people like me and that, unless they can spot a recurring trend in the reported hacking attempts, I’m unlikely to hear from them. The guy I spoke to even told me that assuming my identity isn’t actually a crime. They have to wait until the person assuming the identity attempts to defraud a company or individual before they can act.

One or two techies I’ve spoken to have heard that devices are being interfered with prior to them being purchased which may explain why the laptop’s pre installed anti virus software, Norton, didn’t pick this up.

I’ve now restored my new laptop to its factory settings to remove the offending code. All I need to do now is spend a couple of days reinstalling the software that took me a couple of days to install last week.

And then I have to wait for the best part of a week before I have a bank account again, and then set up all standing orders and direct debits, change my bank details with everyone I deal with online.

I used to be an angry young man. I’m much calmer these days, especially after moving onto James. However, I would love to spend just five minutes alone with the hacker so that I could explain, very clearly, just how displeased I am with him.

Narrowboat Security

On the subject of crime, my ex wife emailed me yesterday to let me know that her house, my old home, has been burgled for the second time in three months. The thieves escaped with the usual electronics; laptops, mobile phones, a X Box and a Play Station. They were in and out of the house in minutes and caused a considerable amount of physical and a huge amount of emotional damage.

Boats can be burgled too. I’m delighted to say that James hasn’t been burgled. In fact, to my knowledge, none of the boats here at Calcutt have been burgled. The marinas here are too risky for thieves. The main entrance is via a half mile private drive with closed electric gates outside of trading hours. The marinas are difficult for thieves to access from the canal too. We’re on the canal “offside”, the opposite side from the towpath, so anyone wanting to come onto the site from the canal either needs to do so by boat, or by walking over the lock gates.

If you’re going to take on a permanent mooring, from a security point of view, choose one which is on the canal offside. Thieves want easy access and exit. They tend to steer clear of moorings that they can’t sneak up on. There’s one marina in particular nearby where a quiet country lane runs close to the towpath. The thieves can park their vehicle next to towpath and quickly walk to the open gate to the marina next to the canal completely bypassing the marina’s electric gates. I don’t know how many of their boats are broken into, but I know they are.

Of course, the reason you’ve purchased a narrowboat is so that you can use it to cruise some or all of the network. You will be spending  as much time as possible away from your home mooring so you need to be aware of security measures when you’re on the move.

Apply the same common sense that you would to the security of either your home or your car. If you’re away from your care, make sure it’s locked and that the locks on your doors and hatches are secure. Consider fitting a steel locking bar to the bulkhead either side of your front and rear doors and fit a decent security padlock.

Consider storing items from your roof inside your boat including poles. planks and boat hooks. Always remove your tiller bar when you are away from your boat. Shiny brass is irresistible to towpath toerags. Consider carrying a spare tiller bar on the boat. If you don’t think the additional expense is worthwhile, try steering your boat for a while without one. Remember, your tiller bar can be dropped in the water as well as stolen.

Keep your valuables out of site. Close your curtains and hide laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

Consider fitting a timer to a LED lamp inside your boat to give the impression there’s someone on the boat.

Here’s a thread from the forum with some very useful security information for you. Please read it. I know from bitter personal experience what it’s like to be burgled. Prevention is always better than cure. Make sure you take action before it’s too late.

Canalside Dining

Sally and I enjoy the occasional meal out, but we’re often very disappointed. We leave the restaurant feeling that we could have prepared better food for a hell of a lot less if we stayed on the boat. Friday night was an exception.

We took Charlie and Daisy for a walk along the Grand Union at Braunston on Friday afternoon. We stopped for a brief comfort break at the Admiral Nelson on the Braunston flight between locks three and four. We used the loo, bought drinks and crisps and browsed their menu as we sat on a bench outside with the dogs. We liked what we saw both on the menu and in the restaurant area of the bar so booked a table for the evening. It’s a good job we booked.

We returned to the pub just after six wearing a little less mud to find it heaving with both diners and Braunston boatyard workers. One poor girl was running between bar and tables to keep everyone happy and we had to wait longer than we would have liked before we were served. We had to wait a while before our food order was taken and then served but, oh boy, was it worth the wait.

The pub’s steak of choice is Scottish Black Gold 28 matured and unbelievably tasty. The ribeye was served with balsamic roasted vine tomatoes, fondant shallots, Moreton Pinckney portabella mushroom, chunky chips served in an individual dinky deep fat fryer and balsamic dressed watercress. It was so good neither Sally nor I spoke throughout the meal. At £20 a steak it wasn’t cheap but we’ll definitely eat there again.

NB Doublefracture Case Study

Mick and Marlene are committed to their life afloat. They burned their bridges and sold their house to fund the purchase of their liveaboard narrowboat Doublefracture. Weird name, lovely boat! Here’s their story.

I apologise for the shortage of new information this week. I don’t have a great deal of time to spare at the best of times but having to find an extra twenty hours to deal with my identity theft last week has left me just a   little stressed. I’m going to relieve the stress in a minute by spending the day working on my lovely boat. It’s (finally) a beautiful spring day. I’m going to spend the next eight hours washing painting and polishing. I have two bottles of the best boat wax on the market. James if going to get a very serious buffing.

I know that Easter week is a holiday week for many people. If you were one of them, and didn’t have access to your email, you may have missed last week’s newsletter. Here it is.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 03 31 Newsletter – No More Excuses

Living on a Narrowboat News 31st March 2013

It’s Easter at last. A time for sitting outside with your face turned to the early spring sunshine, happy in the knowledge that the winter is behind you. Dream on! It’s minus five at the moment, there’s a layer of ice on the marina and a decidedly chilly forecast for the week to come.

The cruising season has begun for our hire fleet. We had our first trickle of hardy holiday hirers last week. For the first time in the three and a half years I’ve worked here, we had to shovel the snow off the hire boats before we cleaned them. It wouldn’t be my first choice for cruising conditions but the groups hiring our boats don’t have the choice. They book their week or two week escape from “normal” life months in advance. While the liveaboard boaters steer clear of wet, windy or exceptionally cold cruising days, holiday hirers have to crack on regardless. We had one ambitious family complete the Warwick Ring, all 106 miles and 115 locks. They had a week to do it so had to cruise for eight hours every day.

For those of you who don’t have boats yet, the four day Easter break is the perfect time to move forward with your plans to get one.  As ever, Apolloduck is a great place to browse online for boats. This morning there were 415 cruiser stern, 307 trad sterns, 153 semi trads, 116 widebeams, 28 tugs and 13 butties; 1,032 canal craft for you to choose from.

Maybe you don’t want a previously enjoyed boat though. Maybe your sights are set on having a brand new boat built to your own specification. Maybe the idea appeals to you but you don’t know where to start. Maybe I can help you.

 A New Narrowboat Guide: Are you interested?

For the last year I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a new narrowboat guide. It will document the  construction of a liveaboard narrowboat from the initial concept and design, through the hull construction, ballasting, fitting out and painting. The pros and cons of different designs and levels of equipment will be discussed and commented upon. I’ll post updates on the forum as the build progresses and invite comments from current liveaboard boaters.

I’ll also include advice on how to choose a narrowboat builder, how much you need to pay and when you need to pay it, how to spot an unscrupulous builder, and how to choose a good one, and input from the owner of the new boat throughout the build.

As with the two previous guides I’ve published, there’s a huge amount of work involved in research and actually sitting down to write it. I want to make sure that there’s enough interest before I invest a considerable amount of time and energy. Do you think that you would find it useful? As usual there’s a very short survey for you to vote one way or the other. Here it is.

Case Study Of Widebeam Liveaboard Antioch

I am in awe of Sarah. She’s a lady who can do stuff with her hands (as opposed to me, a man, who struggles to change a plug.). She lives on board a widebeam with two of her three children on the Leeds/Liverpool canal. If you like the idea of living afloat, but not cruising very much, a widebeam may be a better option for you than a narrowboat. Here’s Sarah’s story.

GRP Cruiser For Sale

Last week I received an email which I’ve copied onto a page I’ve just created It was a plea for help to sell a GRP cruiser. I offered to mention the boat in my next newsletter and asked Norah to send me additional information. I know it’s not a narrowboat. In fact, it’s the first time in three years that a GRP cruiser has appeared anywhere on the site. It’s not suitable for living on board, although some people do. The letter and the photo’s I received from Norah are reproduced here.

I don’t know anything at all about cruisers, but maybe you do or someone you know does. If you’re interested in what appears to be a pretty good recreational cruiser, please follow this link

Essential Boating Equipment

I told you last week that I had ordered an essential bit of boating kit; a magnet for retrieving items that have been dropped into the water. It’s no ordinary magnet.  It’s called the Maxigrab Magnet and is available here. The magnet arrived last week. It’s tiny, but it’s a beauty. Sally and I have had hours, well, minutes, of fun picking up increasingly heavy steel objects with it in the boat.

Maxigrab Magnet

No More Excuses!

I know. You want to live on a narrowboat. You really do, but there are some important reasons why you can’t at the moment. You’re too young, too old, too inexperienced, nervous, poor, married, single, jobless, ill etc. The list of reasons is endless. The fact remains that if you really want to achive your dream, you can. Here’s some inspiration from someone who’s taken the bull by the horns and realised her dream. I won’t reveal what’s so special about her. You’ll just have to read her post. Please do. You won’t regret it.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

Now that the forum login problems have been resolved, forum posts and visits have seen a dramatic increase. There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the countries most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • The Llangollen canal – Here’s a view that you’re never going to see from your narrowboat.
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

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Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 03 24 Newsletter – Essential Boating Equipment

Living on a Narrowboat News 24th March 2013

Why is the weather such a popular topic in the UK? Because you don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next! Easter is less than a week away and parts of Britain are without power, roads are impassable due to snow drifts and you can’t cruise down the Llangollen canal because of fallen trees.

Providing your boat is up to scratch though, the weather doesn’t really matter. However, It’s very important that you spend time, energy and money to ensure that it’s fit for all seasons. James wasn’t an acceptable winter home when I moved on board. It is now. There’s a cruel east wind blowing snow horizontally across the marina as I write this, but I’m just wearing a polo shirt as I sit and type. I’ve taken the time to understand how everything on board works. If anything on the boat didn’t work effectively, I had it changed. I’m useless at the practicalities myself but one of the many wonderful virtues of the boating community is the willingness to help fellow boaters. I’m never stuck for a helping hand or two.

The importance of understanding your boat, how it works, and why sometimes it doesn’t, was brought home to me by the email I received last week. This new liveaboard boater clearly hasn’t spent any time trying to resolve what are probably fairly simple issues.

“My partner and I moved onto our narrowboat in November. All the possessions we knew we wouldn’t need or be able to squeeze onto the boat were sold. The moving day came and we were so excited.

Its been a serious shock to the system I can tell you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the boat, the people in our marina and the peace. What I don’t like is the rain! We have residential moorings in [removed to protect privacy] and the river and surrounding areas rise rapidly. When will it end? My dreams are steadily being shattered.

Heating is a multi fuel stove which is fine for heating the living room and galley but as the bedroom is 55ft away it’s absolutely freezing! We can only figure out how to use the radiators when the engine is running. I’m sure it can be done just on the gas but I havent been able to understand the huge manual that comes with the Alde yet. The pump out toilet blocked with terrible consequences so a porta loo has to suffice now. The chimney had to be swept etc etc.

Please tell me that this will get better. We want to live the dream. Please tell me this isn’t what every winter is like onboard. Surely the summer will make up for it?”. 

I imagine that the Alde simply isn’t lit. The radiators are being heated by the engine when it’s running but nothing’s heating them when the engine is switched off. Aldes are quite common heating systems. I imagine there will be fellow boaters or marina staff who can offer a quick solution to the problem, or at least confirm whether the Alde is working or not. If it’s not working it needs fixing. There’s no excuse here for remaining cold and uncomfortable on the boat.

The pump out loo blockage is something else which should be fairly easy to resolve, rather than abandoning the system completely and switching to a Porta Potti. As for the chimney, sweeping the flu is a basic part of narrowboat maintenance.

Living on a narrowboat is a great lifestyle but you need to put a little more effort in than you do on dry land and understand what you’re doing. That’s why I created this site, to help you understand the ins and outs of living your floating dream.

An Apology For My Poor Speling!

Last week I was careless. I thought I had run the spell checker before I published the newsletter. Clearly I didn’t. I had a friendly email pointing out the error of my ways and the fact that I had spelled residential three different ways. I’ll be more careful in future but if you do spot any errors, please let me know so that I can correct them.

Essential Boating Equipment

There are some bits of kit that you should have on board at all times; a pole, plank and boat hook, two or three mooring pins or chains, a lump hammer (some boaters prefer a sledge hammer for hard ground in the summer) and, to get you through the locks, a windlass or two. Windlasses have a habit of ending up in the water. They are kicked in after being left on the lock side or fly in after being left on the paddle. It’s a careless and expensive mistake to make, but what can you do once it’s in the water? You can use one of the essential tools in your boat’s emergency kit… a powerful magnet.

The 2013 Equipment and Chandlery Guide in Waterways World’s April magazine features a super powerful magnet available for £26. It’s under two inches tall but is capable of lifting 50lb. You can use it to retrieve your windlasses, mooring pins, keys (most boaters have dropped a key or two into the cut), your prized folding bike and, if you’re feeling particularly public spirited, a shopping trolley or two. It’s called the Maxigrab Magnet and is available here.

The Crick Boat Show

It’s the UK’s number one narrowboat show. Four days of live music and entertainment, a chance to meet thousands of fellow boaters and the opportunity to view the latest masterpieces from the leading narrowboat and widebeam builders in the industry. The New & Used Boat Company have set a record at Crick this year. They will have seven of their boats on display.

This year the show is on from 25th – 27th May. I’ll be there on 27th. The last day of the show is my favourite day. It’s bargain day. Since January I’ve been compiling a list of none essential items tha t I need/want for James. I’ll be there on Monday 27th with my shopping list in one hand and my debit card in the other. Exhibitors don’t want to take stock home with them. If you wait until Monday afternoon, there are some marvelous savings to be made. Midland Chandlers usually have a large amount of stock at the show. There stand is the size of one of their stores. They don’t like to take anything back with them at all so on Monday afternoon they will consider all offers. It’s possible to get up to 40% discount on their list prices.

Tickets for each day are £9 in advance or £12 on the day. Three day tickets are £20 in advance or £26 on the door. You can find out more and buy tickets either by visiting the Crick Boat Show web site or by calling 01283 742962

Stove Fuel Test Update

Two weeks ago I mentioned that, after reading the Waterways World fuel test in the March edition of their magazine, I bought two sample bags of wood briquettes so that I could conduct my own tests on a real liveaboard narrowboat. One bag arrived within a few days but the second, the Ecofire Heat Logs only arrived this week after going missing in the post. Here’s what I thought of both fuels.

Your Own Narrowboat Blog

Last week I offered site users some space on this site so that they could create a blog, a journal, of their own journey from narrowboat dream to actual ownership. Three narrowboat owners have taken me up on the offer so far. I’ve created a new section on the forum so that site visitors can read and comment on the blog posts. I’ve also included some information that may be of interest to you if you would like to start your own blog.

Whilton Marina Boat Sales

I received an email from a site subscriber yesterday. He was responding to one of the regular series of emails I send out with the intention of (hopefully) pointing potential narrowboat owners in the right direction. He suggested that I needed to know more about the way that Whilton Marina boat sales operate before I recommend them as a potential source for their new boat. I’m not saying that the information he provided is accurate but, coincidentally, I was given the same information by a respected boat builder this week. In the spirit of providing you with as much information as possible so that you can make up your own mind, I have copied the email I received on the Whilton Marina page of this site. I’m also more than happy to include a response from anyone at Whilton.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

Now that the forum login problems have been resolved, forum posts and visits have seen a dramatic increase. There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the countries most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • The Llangollen canal – Here’s a view that you’re never going to see from your narrowboat.
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 03 17 Newsletter – Getting Rid Of Unwelcome Visitors

Living on a Narrowboat News 17th March 2013

Yippee! It’s grass cutting time again. On Wednesday last week I cut the site grass for the first time this year. It’s a sign that spring in on the way. The grass doesn’t start to grow in the new year until the weather warms up a bit. I know it’s been cold in the last week with a biting wind and the occasional snow flurry, but the bright sunshine with just a hint of heat has been enough to fool the grass.

At this time of the year, I have to be careful where I cut. Snowdrops and daffodils are everywhere.  It’s the first wave of floral colour at the marina. The first of many. Calcutt is a beautiful place to moor in the spring and early summer. We have three of the richest wildflower meadows in Warwickshire. In fact, they’re so rich in flowers and grasses that they have been designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

Mating SwansI have the pleasure of spending my days riding around on a mower through them all. In a month or so, I’ll be riding through carpets of cowslips and daisies in the beautiful spring sunshine waiting for our resident swans’ babies to arrive. The signets usually hatch in early May. At the moment Mr. & Mrs. Swan are busy romancing each other. It’s beautiful to watch. Unfortunately, there’s a part of their mating that drives me mad.

Removing Problem Geese… The Easy Way

At this time of the year the cob (the male swan) is very territorial. He doesn’t want any competition on his turf which, as far as he’s concerned, is Calcutt’s Meadows marina. He tolerates the mallards, moorhens, coots and grebes, but he truly hates the Canada geese. So do I.

There’s nothing pleasant about Canada geese. They’re noisy, far too numerous and very, very dirty. Each Canada goose eats about four pounds of grass every day. Three pounds of that comes out the other end to make walking along the towpath or riverbank where they congregate quite unpleasant.

When I moved onto James, there were about a dozen resident geese. They were extremely noisy. Continuous honking during the day wasn’t a problem but they were exceptionally annoying at night. There were many nights when I lay awake for hours because of their incessant noise. A dozen geese were bad enough, but they enjoyed it so much they invited their friends. Two hundred of them.

You can imagine the mess that two hundred Canada geese make with each of them dropping 3lb of waste every day. Each weeks they dropped two tons of faeces around the marina.

I tried everything I could think of to get rid of them. I took our work boat, a 50′ narrowboat, for a spin around the marina to chase them off. They just swam out of the way and climbed onto the acre grass and tree covered island in the middle of the marina. I moored the boat on the island and ran like a lunatic through the trees to chase them off. They flew back onto the water. I surged around the marina again with the boat, so they climbed back onto the island. I climbed back onto the island, chased them off and then peppered them with windfall horse chestnuts. They didn’t mind.

I walked around the marina at night, powerful torch in hand, trying to scare them off. I scared off the coots, mallards, moorhens and grebes, but not the geese.

I investigated Canada geese scarers on the internet. I could buy imitation dead geese or a static flashing light that mimicked the eyes of

A Canada goose

their natural predator, the coyote. These bird scarers were horribly expensive though so I didn’t try them. What I did buy from the internet cost me just £20 and worked instantly every time I used it.

It’s breeding season and our resident cob likes to chase Canada geese all day and all night. We have a breeding pair of swans. We also have a breeding pair of Canada geese. I don’t usually have a problem with geese these days, but during the breeding season the breeding pair of geese return to do battle with the cob and with me.

Last night I head the geese’s none stop honking at 2am as the cob chased them. I dressed in warm clothes – it was minus four – grabbed my torch and my secret weapon, and took the dogs for an unexpected but very welcome night time walk. I used the torch to identify the geese and fired my weapon at them.

My ever so effective geese scarer is a military grade green laser. I’m not sure why it works on the geese and not on the other water fowl, but it works incredibly well and what’s more, it doesn’t harm them. One quick flash, an instant collective panicky honking and they all take to the skies.

The laser only works at night when the bright green beam is visible, but it’s at night when I want them off the marina. So last night the dogs enjoyed a walk in the dark and I restored calm to the usually tranquil marina. The mating pair will return tomorrow during the day so I’ll be out again tomorrow night, and the night after, and the one after that…

Know Your Narrowboat Costs

Let’s get this straight. Living on a narrowboat comfortably is not a low cost alternative to a bricks and mortar home. The cost is comparable to living in a three bed semi when you take all of the costs into consideration. If you’re thinking of moving onto a narrowboat just because you can’t afford to get onto the property ladder, don’t do it. Living on a narrowboat is a lifestyle choice, and a wonderful one at that, but it isn’t cheap.

Not so long ago, we had a narrowboat for sale here at Caluctt which could have been turned into an acceptable home if a huge amount of time and money was spent on it. The boat was in a terrible state; the engine needed a major overhaul, the inside was damp and mouldy and the roof leaked. Surprisingly, it was sold within a month of coming to us. The three male purchasers had clubbed together to find the modest asking price. They were quite honest about their intentions. They were going to move on board immediately and use the boat as a floating home “somewhere in Birmingham”. They didn’t have any money for the license, for moorings or for repairs and maintenance. I’m fairly sure that this tired old boat will end up illegally moored, unlicensed and unloved along the towpath somewhere in England’s second city. The boat will undoubtably cost them less to “maintain” than a home on dry land but their lifestyle won’t be legal, pleasant or comfortable.

Maintaining a narrowboat properly isn’t cheap. A narrowboat’s steel exterior needs protecting from the elements. The hull needs painting every three years, the cabin every 7 – 10 years. Even if you’re not going to do much (or any) cruising, the engine needs maintaining so that you can run it daily to charge your batteries. Your batteries will need replacing every 3 – 5 years and your canopies on your front and/or rear decks will need renewing periodically.

Keeping your boat warm is no cheaper than keeping your house warm. Most narrowboats have heating provided by solid fuel stoves, diesel or gas central heating systems, or a combination of both. Contrary to popular opinion, you can’t easily heat your boat for free using wood that you find on your travels. Unless logs are seasoned (left to dry) for a minimum of six months under cover, they use as much energy evaporating the moisture they still hold as they do producing heat. You simply don’t have the space inside your narrowboat to store enough wood.

Before you spend any more time or energy on your narrowboat plans, you need to be absolutely certain that you fully understand the cost of maintaining your dream home. To give you a head start, I’ve written a post detailing the exact expenses I incurred on my own boat during February 2013.

A Place To Search For Moorings

residential moorings are hard to find. You’ll probably spend as much time looking for a mooring, especially a residential mooring, as you will looking for a narrowboat. Very few marinas have official residential moorings but some unofficially allow liveaboards. I was told today that Mercia marina “has no problem with liveaboards” although their web site doesn’t give any indication that they offer official residential moorings.

The majority of residential moorings on the canal network are linear moorings along the canal, usually on the “offside” on the opposite side from the towpath. You’ll have to do a bit of work to find available online moorings. You’ll see them sometimes advertised in the waterways magazines, and sometimes advertised here on Apolloduck. You need to sort the wheat from the chaff or, in this case, the coastal from the inland moorings, but there are some interesting ones there.

A New Service For Potential Narrowboat Owners

Last week, I introduced an idea I had to help potential narrowboat owners decipher the terminology they’re faced with when they through a narrowboat’s advert. I though it was a good idea, but there aren’t many site visitors who agree. I asked readers of last week’s newsletter to let me know if they thought the idea would help them. Only 0.5% of newsletter recipients completed the two question survey so, at the moment, I’m not going to spend any more time creating the service. I’ve copied the introduction to the idea below as well as the link to the survey. If you are seriously thinking about buying a narrowboat, please just take a minute to cast your vote.

I’m thinking about adding a new section to the forum. If you’re a potential narrowboat owner and you’ve reached the stage where you’re seriously looking at boats for sale, you can use this section to introduce yourself and let other site users know what you want to use your boat for. You can say whether you want to use your boat for limited recreational cruising or as a full time home on either a static mooring or for continually cruising the network. You can provide a link to the boat advert you’re interested in and ask current boat owners to offer the benefit of their experience.

There are hundreds of boat owners are now registered on the site. Some of them are very active on the forum. I will add observations about the boat for sale based on the information provided in the advert. I will ask other boat owning forum members to do the same. By reading the response to both your own posts and posts by other soon-to-be boat owners, you’ll be able to build up a pretty good knowledge of the terminology and the specifications to look for in a narrowboat advert.

What do you think? Is it a feature that you think you would use? I’m more than happy to set it up if there are enough people interested. It’s up to you to let me know one way or the other. I’ve created a very quick two question survey here. It will take you less than a minute to cast your vote.

Your Own Narrowboat Blog On Livingonanarrowboat.co.uk

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’ve probably read about my transition from bricks and mortar to steel and water and the challenges I’ve faced since I moved on board. Although the story of my life afloat will have given you some idea of life in a floating home, I feel that this site could offer a far more comprehensive and rounded view of the liveaboard lifestyle.narrowboat blogging

I moor in a marina. I’m very lucky. Everything I need is close at hand. I have an unlimited water supply (which is never frozen) and access to 230v electrickery on the pier. I can buy coal and gas at reception whenever I need it, and transport it easily to the boat. I have a choice of two Elsan points where I can empty my cassette, and a choice of two manned pump outs if I had a pump out toilet. I’m very lucky to be able to moor here because most marinas don’t allow liveaboards. They aren’t allowed here either. I’m only allowed to live on board because I work here.

Your situation will almost certainly be different. You’ll either have to consider the life of a continuous cruiser, find a canal or riverside residential mooring or, heaven forbid, take your chances on the canal without an official mooring.

I want this site to reflect all aspects of liveaboard life, so I’ve had an idea.

If you are in the process of selling your worldly goods and investing the proceeds in a narrowboat, I would like to offer you your own blog on this site. You’ll have your blog address, something like http://livingonanarrowboat.co.uk/NBWillow and a ready made audience to read what you’ve written. This site is currently number five in the waterways site rankings and enjoys in excess of 7,000 weekly visits.

Please let me know if you’re interested. All that I ask is that you can write reasonably well and that you’re committed to your dream of owning and maybe living on your narrowboat. I particularly want to hear from you if you’re going to be a continuous cruiser. I don’t get the chance to cruise very often because I still need to work. I want this site to include content from boat owners as they cruise the length and breadth of our wonderful canal network, complete with the adventures they’ve had along the way. Please email me if you’re interested.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

Now that the forum login problems have been resolved, forum posts and visits have seen a dramatic increase. There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • The Llangollen canal – Here’s a view that you’re never going to see from your narrowboat.
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

Useful Information
Entertainment
Summary

2013 03 11 Newsletter – Fitting Solar Panels

Living on a Narrowboat News 11th March 2013

Nothing’s ever as easy or straightforward as it should be. It’s so frustrating.

I’ve just had a Sterling Pure Sine Wave 1600w inverter fitted. It’s more than enough to run the smaller electrical appliances I have on board. It will run my laptop, iPad, two mobile phones and the television.  I could switch to a 12v television but as the one I have is perfectly serviceable and is fixed to the wall using a bracket designed for that particular television, I’m not going to change it. The inverter will also run a small vacuum cleaner if necessary. While the inverter is perfect for what I want, unfortunately the mains wiring I have in James is not. It needs replacing before the next BSS test if James is to pass.

rotten flooringAdded to the rewiring headache, I also need to get part of the original floor boards replaced. On Thursday we had a local flooring company arrive to remove the existing carpet and replace it with imitation light oak plastic planks. They don’t sound very attractive the way I’ve described them, but they look great and what’s more, they’re practical. They’re easy to clean and they’re waterproof. The proper name is Colonia English Oak.

All of the original ply flooring appears to be in very good shape considering the age of the boat and considering that it spent over a decade neglected on a mooring. but a section of flooring has suffered from the neglect. In the centre of the boat, aft of the galley there are side and roof hatches on both port and starboard. James originally had a wooden cabin with wooden hatches. The roof hatches perished during the decade of neglect and allowed water to drip onto the ply beneath.

There’s a section about two feet square which needs replacing. Of course, the replacement isn’t straightforward. When James was built, as with all boats, the flooring was laid before the fitted furniture in the cabin. Full eight by four feet ply sheets were fitted in place over the boat’s bearers. The section that’s damaged is between two bearers so if the section is cut out, there’s nothing to support the new piece. The solution is to fit a new section of ply over the damaged part and secure it to the surrounding undamaged ply. This repair will of course raise the level of the flooring by the thickness of the new ply. It’s not going to be a quick job to ensure that the repair doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb.

It’s a job for another day. In the meantime, Mark from Floors 4 Less has laid all the flooring apart from this one small area. He’ll come back to fit the small section once the remedial work has been done. He’s done a wonderful job and has justified his £250 fitting fee for a full day’s work. He was with us from 8.30am until 6.00pm and worked none stop throughout the day. Fitted Colonia flooringWe are very pleased with the work and at £640 including the fitting, it’s not a bad price.

Just to make sure that we didn’t have any peace and quiet on Friday, we also arranged for Tim Davis from Onboard Solar to fit his ever so popular 300w solar panel system for us. Tim has been professionally fitting solar panels on narrowboats now for just over a year. He did a huge amount of research before deciding on the configuration he uses now. His services have proven very popular. He’s fitted 150 systems so far with more and more orders coming in every day, and for very good reason. They work extremely well.

If you’re considering spending long periods away from a static mooring, solar panels offer you enormous benefits. We don’t live in the sunniest place in the world but, with recent technological advances, solar panels can provide you with free electricity even on dull winter days. Solar panels allow you to moor in a spot that takes your fancy for a few days without having to run your engine to top up your batteries. They should save me a fortune on marina electricity charges as I currently pay 20p a unit when I have my shoreline plugged in.

I had high expectations of Tim, and I’m delighted to say that he was a real pleasure to work with. In an industry where shoddy Tim Davis fitting solar panels on narrowboat Jamesworkmanship and poor standards are all too common, Tim provided an excellent service. He phoned me on Thursday to tell me that he was coming and at what time. He arrived on time, was polite and ever so friendly, worked exceptionally hard and fitted three 100w solar panels and the associated electrics in about three hours. And that included getting the wiring from the roof, through two cabins and into the engine room. James’ original cabin has been overplated with steel, so Tim had to drill though the steel, through the two inch polystyrene filled gap, through the original wooden cabin and into the engine room. There was a little good humoured muttering as he threaded the wiring through the cabin tops, but it didn’t take him long.

The solar panels are now installed and look quite attractive on the boat roof, but they’re not there to look pretty. They’re there to provide me with free power courtesy of the sun. How are they doing?

It’s early days yet but the signs are very good. I haven’t seen any sunshine since Tim installed them. On Friday the weather was about as dull as it’s possible to get with thick cloud and fog. However, the panels still produced something. 1.6 amps is better than nothing. Today, there’s still no sun but the day is brighter than when Tim was here. I’ve just checked and I’m getting 3.2 amps. Actually, I’ve just been outside and tilted the panels into where the sun would be if it was out, and now I’m getting 4.7 amps. It’s enough to power my fridge. Yippee!

While he was with me, Tim also reconnected the rev counter and the engine temperature gauges that are set into the pigeon box just in front of Tim in the photo. They were disconnected when the pigeon box was removed during the cabin overplating. Unfortunately the wiring wasn’t labelled when it was disconnected so Tim had to spend some time experimenting. He cracked it in the end though. I knew he would.

I also took advantage of Tim’s mechanical knowledge while he was here. I have a problem with my engine or rather, with my gearbox. When the boat’s moving the propeller is turning intermittently. One possible cause is low oil in the gearbox. I know it’s not that though because I’ve recently had it topped up.

Tim thinks that it is the gearbox clutch plate. He told me that if it’s the clutch plate that’s the problem, the symptoms will probably disappear when the engine warms up. I tried it. He’s right. All I need to do now is get a reconditioned gearbox fitted. Remember the B.O.A.T. acronym? Bet On Another Thousand. Don’t you just love boating?

A New Service For Potential Narrowboat Owners

I’ve had an idea. I hope you like it.

I regularly receive emails from potential boat owners. They’ve done their research. They’ve trawled the internet looking for information, subscribed to canal magazines and bought books. They’re ready to start looking at boats for sale in earnest… and they’re confused.

There are over 1,000 narrowboats for sale at any one time. Most of them are advertised somewhere on the internet, often on the excellent Apolloduck site. The prices range from less than £10,000 to well over £100,000. You can buy a boat that’s so new that the paint’s barely dry or one that’s so old that the paint is all that’s holding it together. There are boats with bedrooms at the front, bedrooms at the back and no bedroom at all, boats with cruiser, semi trad or trad sterns, boats with vintage engines or modern engines, boats with fitted furniture, free standing furniture or no furniture at all. There are even empty boats that you can finish yourself.

The adverts for the boats often include plenty of information. Too much information sometimes for those new to boating…

As I said, I’ve had an idea. Here it is.

I’m thinking about adding a new section to the forum. If you’re a potential narrowboat owner and you’ve reached the stage where you’re seriously looking at boats for sale, you can use this section to introduce yourself and let other site users know what you want to use your boat for. You can say whether you want to use your boat for limited recreational cruising or as a full time home on either a static mooring or for continually cruising the network. You can provide a link to the boat advert you’re interested in and ask current boat owners to offer the benefit of their experience.

There are hundreds of boat owners are now registered on the site. Some of them are very active on the forum. I will add observations about the boat for sale based on the information provided in the advert. I will ask other boat owning forum members to do the same. By reading the response to both your own posts and posts by other soon-to-be boat owners, you’ll be able to build up a pretty good knowledge of the terminology and the specifications to look for in a narrowboat advert.

What do you think? Is it a feature that you think you would use? I’m more than happy to set it up if there are enough people interested. It’s up to you to let me know one way or the other. I’ve created a very quick two question survey here. It will take you less than a minute to cast your vote.

 

Waterways World Stove Fuel Test

Morso Squirrel Multi Fuel StoveSince last week’s newsletter and the article about stove fuel, a number of site users have emailed me with additional information. I’ve created a dedicated post for the stove fuel test and additional comments. You can read it here.

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

C & RT Tighten Up On Illegal Moorers

Historically “bridge hopping” – the practice of constantly moving a liveaboard narrowboat backwards and forwards between two points in the same area – has been largely ignored by the authorities. It’s against the rules but British Waterways didn’t have the resources, or the inclination, to tackle the problem.

Continuous cruisers don’t have to pay for a home mooring. As many moorings, even none residential moorings, cost in excess of £2,000p.a. it’s quite a saving but continuous cruisers have an obligation to cruise continually. They must move their boat, as part of a progressive journey, every fourteen days.

Bogus continuous cruisers often over extend their stay on short term visitor moorings, on water points and on the bollards reserved for boaters entering and leaving locks. We had one very annoying example at Calcutt last week. A “continuous cruiser”, complete with a roof overflowing with coal, logs, planters full of weeds, bikes and a wheelbarrow, chained and padlocked his boat to one of the bollards at the entrance to Calcutt Bottom Lock. (He clearly wasn’t the brightest of buttons. The chain was secured by a heavy duty padlock to the bollard at one end, but simply tied on to the boat with a rope at the other end). His boat prevented easy access to the lock for five days. His attitude demonstrated a complete disregard for other boaters.

The Trust recognises that it’s a nuisance caused by a minority group of boaters which causes problems for the majority of law abiding boat owners. They are taking steps to tackle the problem. Here’s the latest information from Damien Kemp in the Trust’s latest edition of the Boaters’ Update, and here’s the Trust’s interpretation of BW’s Continuous Cruising rules.

Popular Forum Posts

Now that the forum login problems have been resolved, forum posts and visits have seen a dramatic increase. There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

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