Learn about life afloat the easy way

Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.

Find out more

I have a list of paranoias

I have a list of paranoia’s or are they just worries…the weed hatch paranoia, the lack of water one, the water in the boat one, the flat battery one, the misfiring engine one, the was I ripped off when I bought it one and is the Morso too close to the bed one…, the am I doing it properly one and the did I close the paddles on the previous lock one and/or the one before it…and then there’s the usual, did I turn the gas off on the oven and have I turned all the lights off.

Such is the worry of the single handed boater. I seem to have lost a day somewhere and the associated pictures but then again not much to report on the journey from the ugly Trafford centre to Plank Lane, not far and not too much to say. But I managed to fill up with diesel for the second time and since Nantwich I have now put 90 litres in the tank…not bad thinks me for such a distance and so many hours, certainly more than 90 cruisng hours and now into my fifth week of living on a narrowboat.

I made it to Wigan basin but noticed the bottom of the canal scraping the underside as I entered the basin. The water level seemed very low as I turned to head towards the Wigan flight around mid-morning I could feel the bottom of the canal. As soon as I tried to get close enough to moor the boat to go and sort the lock the boat grounded still about 6 feet from the bank.

I tried to back it off but no joy so I used my trusty pole and managed to get it back to deeper water and I tried somewhere else and the same thing happened and then I tried another spot and so on until thoroughly exhausted I gave up grounded some 5 feet from the mooring, switched off the engine and phoned the C&RT people who promptly sent someone to Leeds to assist me despite I had explained I was in Wigan.

After a bit of messing about the Wigan office got in touch and were very supportive but by then the day had moved on and they had to get a crew to come from Burnley and traffic being what it is it all added another couple of hours to my wait.

Whilst sitting there in the rain pondering my best move and realizing I would have to moor in Wigan overnight I spotted this:

spot the wabbit win a lollipop

…and suddenly it was all worthwhile although it has to be said they looked like Wigan wabbits…I mean rabbits, something quite untidy about them and a certain scrawnyness. All the Wigan people who stopped to chat were very friendly I should say, not in the least bit scrawny nor untidy…I am just speaking about the Wigan rabbits here and all my fears of mooring in Wigan were unfounded for that particular night although the ambulances wailed and screamed through the night.

The C&RT trust chaps turned up and basically did the lock for me so I could get up one lock and moor just before the Britania bridge. I had one youthful voice call to me in the night…can we live on your boat with you please and that was all. I ignored the voice and it went away I was thinking it might have been one of the rabbits or both perhaps, did we all spot the other wabbit children, there’s another lollipop…

Wigan morring 1And so I had me a relatively quiet night in Wigan, Fred arrived in the morning and we set off up the Wigan Flight. At first progress seemed very slow especially as a rope on a brick slammed into the prop and the rope wrapped itself around the propeller and the brick wedged tightly between the back of the prop and the back of the boat. It distorted the prop slightly, there was a gurgling sound and suddenly the bilge pumped kicked in and started dumping water.

I was very worried at this point and thought I should boil water or call a doctor or run around in a madness wailing like an ambulance. Fred was great and said let the bilge pump get on with it while we set to releasing the brick, several shifts of cold hands and arms later it was free and the rope unwound. Fred turned the greasing screw a few times and the water stopped…he went on to tell me we could have tightened the stern gland if necessary but the extra grease seemed to sort it out.

After a stop of about 45 mins we commenced with the climb up the flight.

Not much more to report on that trip really…and 7 hours later we were at the top lock and had a very disappointing pint at the pub with an equally disappointing dinner of Fish and Chips…then Fred went off to his boat in Droylesden and I went to bed.WF 1

WF 2





WF 3

Useful Information

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