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.

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In the beginning

I sit here full of everything to write and can find few words to say, few words to put down on paper…I hardly want to think or say I might have made a mistake. I might have forked out 27.5k on a boat that is totally unready and just not in the least but suitable for my needs. perhaps I should have spent a bit more and bought a better boat, or looked for longer until I found the exact one for me, maybe I should have had the full survey done at a bit more money, perhaps I should have insisted that the owner pay more towards the work that the surveyor sited as essential – my head is so full of worry and fear that I have bought a lemon and made a seriously expensive mistake.reflections

Strong in my mind in the day of mopping up the water in the under boat compartments, my back is killing me from awkward positions to access the water under the floor and I am tired, weary to the bone.

Rachmaninov Vocalise calls to me and sets me free…if only briefly and I am caused to look back over the 7 days it took me to bring the boat from Nantwich Venetian Marina to Manchester…7 days of utter exhaustion and complete freedom, topped with solitude and nightly silence save the wild life, gentle meanders and a peaceful calm I have not felt for many years.

single handed 1

A bit of the Shropshire Union and a shave of the Middlewich Branch turning right due to stoppages onto the Trent and Mersey heading south before heading up the Macclesfield canal towards Manchester. Heartbreak Hill didn’t break my heart or my spirit and with the help of a dog walker called Buff (Bough or Buth) I conquered and endured and was lifted by her enthusiasm, her energy and downright determination to enjoy every moment. Come with me I said…I don’t think my husband would approve says she…bring him I say and so we laugh at the notion.

is she winking at me

Then the Bosley 12 and the Marple 16 just drift by and walkers without dogs notably Andy and two young lads from a local college in Marple all assist me to make my way with only the merest disturbance from grumpy (not-so) old men and so I make my way. Each evening exhausted from climbing ladders up and down, roping, mooring, turning reluctant and troublesome paddles being one of very few boats to pass these locks at this time of year.

All these strenuous and tiring boating activities punctuated with shopping for supplies, the odd pub visit and daily I unknowingly pump my shower water into the boat rather than out of it setting me up for a bigger job before i can go much further.


peace. Then the engine cuts out under load but idles happily and after this has happened several times I resort to Canal Boat Rescue who are just fantastic and the man who comes to assist shows me what to do to de-foul the prop which involves rolling my sleeves up a long way and doing a bit of a James Herriot only with my boat instead of a a calving cow, how to access the weed-hatch and safely secure it again afterwards he allows me to pick his brain and is very informative.

Later at his Marina we drink tea and he talks about water in the diesel and microbes in the water and Marine 16. I fill up to drive out condensation from the tank finding i have used but 50 liters which worked out at about 1 litre per hour of engine. My learning curve eases off for a few moments as we examine what I already know and how I can help myself much more than I realized from the outset.

keen to get on 1





Eventually I moor in Droylesden which never looked so good and meet a group of very nice people moored there. All helpful and supportive, friendly and positive in outlook, keen to know me and where i intend to go.

20140310_073858I leave after 2 days and take someone with me to do the locks…and together we climb down the Ashton canal into Manchester with every intention of continuing on the Rochdale which we find is closed at the top…despite the website saying nothing about it. The lass i speak to at the Canal and River trust couldn’t be less concerned but the person who does phone back Mark couldn’t be more informative and understanding and so I’ve been stuck in Manchester this past week itching to get away and finding issue after issue that keeps me stuck here.

view from a bridge 1I might have made an error with the boat being a novice and dependent on other people most of whom despite payment have let me down badly I think but that’s what people who sell things for a living do…profit, profit, profit. But I most certainly have not made an error with the lifestyle and long to get going and back on my journey which now looks like Friday at the earliest…all assuming i am able to fix the pump when the parts arrive.

I have so much i want to say but i am dog tired tonight with another day of pump fixing and parts ordering etc tomorrow and despite it being just 9pm I must go to bed.

whats left behind water in the boat



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.