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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Living With Children On A Narrowboat

Is it possible to live on a narrowboat with young children? Aren’t there too many risks living on the water? Here are some suggestions if you are considering a family life afloat.

Here’s some advice from Peggy Melmoth who lives on board her 70′ narrowboat with two children.

“My children were born on the boat and have lived on a boat all of their lives, but if you are thinking of making the transition from land to boat what sort of things do you need to consider?

living on a narrowboat with children

living on a narrowboat with children

The first questions people often ask me are about safety. However, we’re probably less worried about the dangers of the water than non-boating parents. We keep the doors locked shut, and in the summer we put play pen barriers around the front deck. Locks can be particularly dangerous places because of the depth of the water and the currents caused by open paddles. Beside a lock we have a
strict rule of no running and our youngest must always hold hands with a grown up. When travelling our eldest knows to sit very still on the roof, and the youngest is secured safely with toddler reins.

During the winter we take a winter mooring but during the summer we are continuously cruising. This can mean a lot of commuting with the children which can be challenging. It’s a good idea to take a few books and small toys for long bus and train journeys.

Living aboard is not necessarily a low-cost option for a family. It depends on the size of your boat loan repayments and the cost of your mooring. However, it does mean that we can own our home, more easily than if we had to buy property. It’s lovely to be able to live so close to nature; the children enjoy towpath walks and blackberry picking.

The other obvious challenge is space. Our boat is 70 foot long which means we have the space for two bedrooms but storage of toys, clothes and books is an ongoing problem. We have to continually review our possessions and de-clutter. The other challenges are limited electricity, running out of water, and engine trouble. When you live aboard with children it is very important to make sure you can afford to maintain everything in good working order, so that your home comforts are not upset too often.

It can be very hard work but when I see my children feeding swans from the front deck or running down the towpath on a sunny day I remember that this is the rural childhood that I dreamed of for them.”

Peggy Melmoth is a writer, business blogger and virtual assistant. She offers social media services and writes guest posts and articles on the topics of parenting, hypnotherapy, narrowboating and living aboard.


Useful Information
Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.

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