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Sunday,10 June, 2012
10:56 am
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Hello and WELCOME to the forum. Please use this section to let other forum users know a little more about you and what you want to get out of this forum. You don’t have to write an essay (but if you do, try to make it interesting). Just a few details about your current circumstances and future ambitions is more than enough. 

For example; Are you just figuratively dipping your toe into the canal? Do you spend much of your time sitting at your desk dreaming about a nomadic lifestyle cruising without a care along tranquil waterways? Are you a seasoned narrowboat owner who just wants to spend some time online with like minded people, or are you somewhere in the middle.

Maybe I can encourage your fingers to move across the keyboard if I start first.

My name is Paul Smith. That’s my avatar, my online graphic representation, on the left hand side. I’ve been living on narrowboat James for the last two years. I have to say, I haven’t regretted a single minute of it.

I was married and living with my wife and three boys in our very comfortable house about two miles away from where I am moored now. My wife and I simply couldn’t get on, so I moved out. I had just been through a disaster with my cleaning business. To cut a long story short, I tried to franchise a small but profitable local business, ran out of money and ended up bankrupt.

After the bankruptcy, I found a little part time job looking after the grounds at Calcutt Boats on the Grand Union canal four miles east of Southam in Warwickshire. The intention was to get back into the business world as soon as I had finished feeling sorry for myself. Best laid plans…

I loved the work at the marina. I was spending all my time outdoors where I love to be, and experiencing a whole new watery world that I didn’t know existed. The marina owners, Roger and Rosemary Preen (lovely people) had a narrowboat moored in their new Meadows marina that they did’t use. Quite frankly, it had seen better days. The cabin was masonite (oil treated) ply which had decayed to the point where an umbrella was really needed indoors during rainy spells. 

The back cabin floor was under a couple of inches of water which was a shame because the hundreds of spiders that inhabited the rest of the boat didn’t like it. I could see the potential though. It was love at first sight.

I arranged to buy the boat (James) from Roger and Rosemary, left my marrital home and moved on board. I didn’t know where the drinking water came from, where the gas and electricity supply was and I didn’t realise how horribly cold a narrowboat can be in the winter if it isn’t heated properly. On one particularly cold night I recorded a temperature of minus eighteen and quarter of an inch of frost on the inside of the engine room in the morning.

I searched for information online to answer the questions I had Although there were some excellent forums around, I found it really difficult to extract the wheat from the chaff. To keep my mind active (although I love my job, there’s not a lot of thought involved when I’m cutting grass or pruning trees) I created this web site, and published what I hoped would be helpful articles about life on a narrowboat.

Two years after I moved on board, I have overplated the existing masonite with steel, sandwiched an additional layer of insulation between the masonite and the steel, blacked the hull and added five coats of paint to everything else. The inside is much improved but there’s still plenty to do. Although James is much, much warmer now, the floor is still cold. The carpet is old and thin so has virtually no insulating properties. I’ve had a quote for carpeting but it was ridiculously expensive and I’m not sure that it’s the best way to go anyway.

I have two dogs now. Two spaniels, Daisy and Charlie. One cocker, one springer, both daft as brushes. It’s because of the dogs that I’m not sure of the carpet. Dogs aren’t very good at wiping their feet so they can trail a lot of mud through the boat. On other hand, carpet absorbs the click, click, click of little doggy claws as they walk up and down the boat. So they jury’s still out on that one.

So here I am, happy as can be. Two and a half years after a catastrophic business failure and an emotional marriage break up I’m living a simple life close to nature. I’ve just looked up from typing this post. Do you know what I can see? Gently swaying reeds, a mallard mother with her eight children, two proud swans with six cygnets, and Charlie the springer spaniel sitting on the bank with a smile on his face. He loves it here too.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Thursday,2 August, 2012
8:53 pm
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Hello Paul. You must be close to my boat, Beatrice moored at Napton Narrowboats because I often see the WiFi ‘James’ when searching. I can see that Calcutt Boats is close. You spoke of carpets.I have just had the whole boat done with part carpet and part vinyl by Mike Jerome of Southam. The boat is a 46 feet trad. The whole thing was about £460 and the job was just fantastic. Not sure if you think this is too expensive but it looks a very intricate job. All of the vinyl has been properly siliconed in. I am just so happy with it.

 

We actually live in Dorset but I (luckily) just sold my business and now work three days for the same company so have a four day weekend every weekend. Manage to get up every few weeks and just love it. I have only had the boat just over a year are planning a 2-3 week trip in September. If you see us, wave and me likewise.

 

Rob

Thursday,2 August, 2012
9:13 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Hi Rob,

Sorry to disappoint you but the WiFi you’re picking up isn’t mine. I’m in Calcutt Boats’ Meadows marina which is at least half a mile from you. I don’t know of any WiFi which would reach that far. And anyway, my WiFi isn’t as well named as that. It’s called something utterly unpronounceable.

What a coincidence on the carpet front. Mike Jerome quoted for my carpets too. Yes, I believe his work is very good but I couldn’t afford the £1,200 he quoted for 62′ James 47′ cabin floor and the boat sides up to the gunnels. I’m saving for it now but I’m short of the total by about £1,150!

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Saturday,4 August, 2012
4:32 pm
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Hi Paul

 

Yes, a coincidence indeed. Out of interest, WiFi can travel amazing distances once it get free of internal walls. We do many WiFi bridges in my work. Must be someone around called James.

 

I would go back to Mike Jerome and query the price. I know you boat is longer but a simple calculation would make your boat carpets around £600ish but perhaps the carpet on the side is the main price. Get your old business head on again and mention Beatrice’s carpets price.

 

Regards

 

Rob

Monday,6 August, 2012
7:23 am
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Hello Paul

 

Sorry, forgot to say the other day as I had to end my reply quickly as the phone rang. What I was gong to say is that you would be welcome to have a look at Mike Jerome’s work on my boat. I am only up every few weeks but I need to get up soon as the 5 year boat safety inspection is due!! Should be OK.

 

Your life on the boat looks ideal after the woes you have had. I was just lucky with my business sale. Financially, things were not great but we were into high spec new stuff so the company was bought as a bolt on to another company. It could have gone both ways a year ago.

 

I will try to put some questions and comments on the rest of the forum as it looks very good. I used to look at Canal World forums but some of the people on there get a bit too serious and go off subject too easily. Yours is much better.

 

Cheers for now, Paul

 

Rob

Monday,6 August, 2012
7:43 am
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Hi Rob,

Thanks for the kind comments. Yes, I know what you mean about the other forum. The majority of people there, as in all walks of life, are friendly and very helpful. However, there are one or two who post there who spoil the community spirit and, yes, they can go off topic very easily.

Thanks for the offer to view Mike Jerome’s work. I don’t doubt his workmanship though. He has fitted carpets often here at Calcutt Boats and I know he’s very professional. I’ve just had a look at his original quote. James’ floor area is 24 square metres. The cost of the carpet was £336, underlay £192 and fitting £150. Total £678.

I also asked him to quote for carpeting the sides of the boat up to the gunnels. When I moved onto James the insulation throughout was very poor. I’ve improved the insulation to the top half of the boat by adding extra between the existing Masonite cabin and the new overplated steel that was added last November. I couldn’t do anything about the lower part of the boat though (the part that sits next to three of four inches of ice in the winter). A possible solution (one that has been used effectively on other boats that I know) is to carpet inside the boat from the floor up to the gunnels. The quote for that work was £299 for the carpet and £200 for the fitting. Total £499.

The total for all the carpeting was £1,177. Too much for me at the moment. There’s another factor to consider in my case. Two dogs. Carpet isn’t the easiest flooring to keep clean so I’m not entirely sure yet whether I want to go down that route.

Yes, please ask as many questions on the forum as you like. That’s what it’s here for.

Have a great day!

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Saturday,15 December, 2012
12:53 am
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USA: Virginia, near Washington, DC
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I like your story/introduction. And, your dogs. We like the birds too.

Tuesday,26 February, 2013
3:22 pm
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Hi Paul

I have tried to download your standard Narrobudget guide to have a look with a view to buying the Gold version. I cant seem to download, when I click on the icon I get redirected. As I say i will probably buy the Gold version but want to have a look first. And if I am to daft to download the free version I dont want to be paying £20.

Cheers

Les

 

Tuesday,26 February, 2013
3:45 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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I have emailed your login details Les.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Wednesday,29 October, 2014
12:40 pm
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Hello,

Liked your story description best way to start …

I am new here read a little bit and found interesting ..

Good going :)

Friday,30 January, 2015
12:33 pm
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Hi Paul

Thank you for sharing your information it was very interesting to read. Sounds like you are enjoying life at the moment.Long may it continue

Diane & JeffSmile

Friday,30 January, 2015
12:52 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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diddlyidi said
Hi Paul

Thank you for sharing your information it was very interesting to read. Sounds like you are enjoying life at the moment.Long may it continue

Diane & JeffSmile

Hi Diane & Jeff,

As you can see from the time stamp, I wrote that initial post two and a half years ago. Nearly five years after moving afloat, I’m still moored in the same spot where I work as a groundsman for Calcutt Boats. However, I won’t be here for much longer. In April I will leave my full time job here so that my partner Sally and I can spend much of the year enjoying the exploration of the canals and rivers of England and Wales. Being afloat on a peaceful mooring on beautiful marina has been very enjoyable, but the nomadic lifestyle ahead of us will be so much more fun.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Sunday,28 June, 2015
9:24 pm
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Hi Everyone,

 

This is my first time here and I wanted to briefly introduce myself. Every week I walk down the canal and dream of living in a different way. Got another year to go before I retire but in need of a plan to keep myself going. Considering getting a narrowboat as a viable alternative way of living and am quite excited by the whole idea. Everyone I talk to along the waters edge seem really happy and chilled out, I’d love a piece of that. The key thing for me is community spirit.. Don’t want to live alone but love privacy!  Cheers. Paul

Thursday,2 July, 2015
4:14 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Welcome to the forum Paul. As far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect lifestyle for nature lovers who fancy a quiet life.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Tuesday,27 October, 2015
1:41 pm
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Hi Everyone

My Name is Al and I am hoping by tomorrow I will be the lucky owner of a 56 foot Narrowboat (touch wood!) I am originally from the north of England but for the last 11 years have lived and worked in Australia. One of my dreams has been to leave on a Narrowboat so no time like the present eh!……If all goes well I intend to fly over to the UK next week to pick up the Boat from just north of London. My plan is to make my way North towards manchester and hopefully identify somewhere i can moor up until March. Paul I purchased your info only recently and it is priceless.. Thankyou.

Tuesday,27 October, 2015
2:37 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Hi Alan, welcome to the forum and welcome to life afloat. A word of warning regarding your immediate waterway travel plans. At this time of the year sections of the canal and river network are closed for essential maintenance. If you are coming up the Grand Union you are going to get stuck at the Buckby flight until, I think, mid December. You will possibly find other closures too to thwart your plans to reach the north. You can see all the stoppages on CRT’s site here.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Thursday,29 October, 2015
8:26 pm
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Hi Paul

Thanks for the information. Unfortunately the boat was sold under our feet which means the search begins again. Fortunately the flights hadn’t been booked!!!!

Sunday,1 November, 2015
5:32 pm
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Good luck with your new search Alan. I’m sure there’s a boat out there with your name on it.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Tuesday,12 September, 2017
7:16 pm
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Hi, my name’s Helen and my friend Charlotte and I are starting on our journey to living on a narrowboat. We have been planning it for over a year in earnest and have recently been to see some boat builders with our plans to date. These seem to be evolving…! We recently spent 10 days on The Narrowboat Trust’s working boats and what a time we had. Charlotte’s article about it will be in Canal Boat magazine, while mine will be in The Steerer.

Do any of you reading this have a mini twin tub washing machine? And if so, what make is it? And how would you rate it?

I mistakenly thought there was only one manufacturer – it seems I was wrong! So now am bewildered by all the alternatives. Any info would be gratefully received!

Thanks for reading…Smile

Friday,15 September, 2017
10:42 am
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Hi Helen,

The twin tub I had was sold on Amazon from a company called Neat Ideas. The machine cost £99 at the time, which was one of the advantages. The other main advantage was that it used a fraction of the power used by the more popular Candy and Zanussi washing machines. My twin tub used 150w on the wash cycle and 180w on the spin cycle. I could fit a duvet cover in the wash tub, but it wouldn’t quite go in the spin tub. However, hanging the duvet cover on a rail in my shower cubicle with the heating on, or relying on higher summer temperatures with the heating off, the duvet cover would dry within a few hours.

These machines don’t wash as well as fully automatic machines, but they cost less, weigh less, and use far less power. They are also far more labour intensive, so you have to resign yourself to fiddling with the settings or your laundry ever fifteen minutes.

As ever, there are pros and cons to every choice you make on a boat.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

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