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Our move into a new life.
from bricks and mortar to metal and water.
Tuesday,9 June, 2015
9:02 pm
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Some of you may know me from the introduce yourself forum.

A brief history so far.

The house went on sale last month May 2015. Asking price was agreed and we await the slow process of the solicitors.

We have decided on the Priory Marina in Bedford as our residential mooring, as it is 3 minutes away from work and at the end of the GT. Ouse. only one way to go out of the marina (Left) and on to the Wash or down to Cambridge or Northampton. This is the limit of our possible cruising unless we cross the Wash or take a road trip, this is one for the future.. The first lock is 10’3″ at Cardington. This has made our choice of boat to be a 10′ wide beam. We have choosen the Hanbury Eurocruiser 60′ x 10′ single bedroom from the New and Used Boat Company.

We visited the Crick boat show and found the Eurocruise a well built and thought out boat. We have looked at the specification and wish to improve on some of the items. We will be getting double glazing fitted. Have a cratch cover and pram cover fitted. We will also have fitted 6 x 100w solar panels with advanced MPPT system fitted by Tim Davis of Onboard Solar. £1,590 all inclusive, bargain. 07810 885734 http://www.onboardsolar.co.uk we have decided to increase the 3 supplied leisure batteries to five on the advice of Tim, I’m hoping the batteries are Gel rather than lead acid, so may have them upgraded if not. Should hopefully be able to survive off grid on long weekends out and the odd fortnight holiday!

So hopefully we have done all our homework and now just have to wait until the money comes through before we can order our new boat.

On a positive note, we chased our PPI claims and found we are inline for a £9870.00 pay out. So if any of you are planning on chasing those pesky bankers I would suggest you go for it. We had not realised we had a claim!Smile A nice sum of money we had know idea we were owed.

My intention for this topic is to inform you of the ups and downs of our new purchase and to inform the New and used boat company I am writing about my experience, so you never know, they may just try a little extra hard to ensure all goes smoothly!

All the best to you all.

 

John & Carole

   

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
6:42 am
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Hi John and Carole

Clearly an exciting time for you and hope all goes well with the build.

Just thought I’d touch on your solar panels. We’ve got 3 x195w panels and wouldn’t be without them, in fact if we had the space on the roof we’d go for one more. We are continuous cruisers and out and about for eleven months of the year and therefore very reliant on them and save in the region of £800 in diesel for not having to run the engine just to charge the batteries. We are fairly light cruisers and only clock up about 300 engine hours a year (cruising) and in 2014 we ran the engine for 27 hours whilst moored to top up the batteries/do a wash, this generally being around November/January/February time. We’ve had ours now for two and a half years and they will have paid for themselves come the end of the summer.

I’d just suggest you consider the payback for your outlay, as if your moored up with access to shore power it may not be as great and might pay you to wait until you set off on a life off grid before getting them at which time you will no doubt get more for your money with technological advances. Just one other thought, will you need five batteries whilst sat in a marina and invariably not needing them. We’ve only got 4×110 leisure batteries that cater for our needs off grid for eleven months of the year although I would add that when they need to be replaced (they’re three years old, but seem to be fine) we’d probably go for some larger 135w/160w batteries that would be better for us in the winter months.

I’m certainly one for solar panels and larger battery banks, but maybe not necessarily in every situation.

Hope this helps,

Keith

Enjoying the Dream ( Keith & Nicky http://narrowboatboysontour.bl…..gspot.com/ )

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
6:02 pm
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Thanks Keith,

I’m trying to future proof the boat and will also connect to the land only if need be. Totally agree with all your comments but really want to be off grid as much as possible. I’m planning to be out and about every single minute I can.

I maybe going over board but would rather that than find myself wanting.

Do you think I am going over the top. Your comments are welcome.

 

John & Carole.

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
7:12 pm
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JohnGreenwood said
Thanks Keith,

I’m trying to future proof the boat and will also connect to the land only if need be. Totally agree with all your comments but really want to be off grid as much as possible. I’m planning to be out and about every single minute I can.

I maybe going over board but would rather that than find myself wanting.

Do you think I am going over the top. Your comments are welcome.

 

John & Carole.

You aren’t going over the top if you’re going to spend much or most of your time off grid. Like Keith our solar panels (also provided by Tim Davis) produce all the power we need but we still have to run our engine to heat water. How is water heated on your boat?

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

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
7:30 pm
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Hi Paul,

not sure how water is heated. I think it is by diesel heater. A very good point. I’ll check this out ASAP.

I’m not sure about the solar panel situation, is it best to stay on grid when in the marina or best to utilise the solar system. My only reason for asking is because the boat will be vacant most of the day as we are out to work so very little power will be needed. This means there should be plenty stored in the batteries for the evening. fridge, freezer and TV all 12V.

John & Carole

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
7:37 pm
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Hi Paul,

Does this sound as though the diesel system heats the water.

 

Heating system

Diesel fired central heating system, with timer, running 3 radiators and a heated towel rail through

a twin coil 13 gallon (approx) calorifier, which is also connected to the engine cooling circuit,

meaning that the engine will heat the hot water. A 1kw immersion heater is also fitted to give hot

water from the shore power.

 

My take on the above is the heating system can heat the water via a diesel heater.

 

John & Carole

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
9:12 pm
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Hi John

Regarding being off grid, it really depends how firm you can be with yourself when you could easily just plug in your shore line.

We’re off grid and have no choice but to live within our means (electrically wise in the context of this topic) so to a certain extent we adapt to the conditions and use what the battery bank can provide. In the lower light months, talking November to February, we usually make sure we cruise for an hour a day, charge up whatever needs charging whilst the engine is running, do the washing etc. This caters for our basic needs, lights (make sure you get LED lights as they only use about 10% of the power of normal lighting), water pump, radio, fridge 24/7 (your biggest power draw) and an hour or two of TV in the evening although we do forgo this luxury! sometimes on really bad light days. I’ve just changed from a laptop to a tablet, simply because of the battery life and of course you’ve then got the option of BBC IPlayer etc. If you were off grid but living in a marina, would you be tempted to just plug in and enjoy electricity whenever you want it, I know I would.

Outside of the lower light months,  October and March, life certainly starts getting easier and from April to September, well even we start getting wasteful as our batteries are normally in the absorption phase by late morning and into the float stage by early afternoon. It’s not uncommon at this time of year for the batteries to be on float by lunchtime. Actually thinking about it, I was moored at Stratford-on-Avon at the end of March this year for ten days when my wife went home and I didn’t run the engine once, but it was a good spell of weather. Outside of the lower light months our cruising pattern changes as its not so dictated by power needs and we normally cruise for an hour or two then moor up for a few days and live solely off the panels. Just to correct a point made by Paul, we didn’t get our setup from onboard solar.

I don’t think 600w of solar and five batteries is going over the top, I just thought I’d get you to think whether this was the right time for you.

Feel free to ask anything else if you think I can help in any way.

Regards,

Keith

Enjoying the Dream ( Keith & Nicky http://narrowboatboysontour.bl…..gspot.com/ )

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
9:46 pm
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Hi Keith,

You certainly got me thinking. I thought I was going a little too quickly in to the solar system. However, I think because we are determined to get out and about it would be a good idea to get it all set up right at the start (when we have the money to do it) so we can get use to the off grid situation and learn as much about the life stile before we go for it for real. I’m sure it will be very tempting to just plug in, and I’m sure I will, and live the normal wasteful life that I’m used to.

So as for the right time, I can afford to do it now, I will have good experience of the system when we finally leave the rat race. It’s going to be a steep learning curve, and the longer I have the easier it will hopefully be.

Thanks for making me think. Your help is appreciated.

 

John & CaroleSmile

   

Wednesday,10 June, 2015
11:40 pm
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Hi John and Carole (and everybody else)

 

I have yet to introduce myself in the introductory thread, I only found this forum recently.  But I am also in the midst of selling up and will be moving to life on a boat in the near future.   I have been doing my homework as well learning as much as I possibly can including all the “technical stuff” and have been looking at boats online to get an idea of what I want.  I plan (as soon as the house sale goes through which should be end of the month) to start looking seriously and visiting boat yards. But I am really interested in the new and used boat company and their boats so will be eagerly following this thread to see how you get on, as I think you will probably be getting a boat before me. I don’t plan on moving onto one until early next spring.

 

This is a really great forum by the way Paul, I have picked up so much information from it that is useful and will definitely getting your package of info as soon as I got this house move out the way.

Thursday,11 June, 2015
9:52 pm
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Hi Sallyb,

I will try to inform and part with the experience to the best of my ability. I hope the information will be of use and look forward to a watery future. 

John & Carole 

Sunday,14 June, 2015
7:25 pm
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Just had a reply from The New and Used boat Company. If I were to put a deposit down today I should have my new boat by early November.

It seems like a life time away but I think something like this should not be rushed.

Where can I get best prices for batteries. An extra two lead acid batteries to bring me up to 5 will cost me £250 from the new and used. if I opt for the gel type it will cost £1250.

Sunday,14 June, 2015
8:07 pm
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When in your situation last year we opened every conversation with…  we are NOT putting down deposit on a ‘must do it now’ basis. I fully appreciate the pressure and the desire to get a build slot, but these are double glazing sales tactics … on a massive amount of money!

My hard won experience for you to use as you see fit…

Do you really want a boat delivered in November? If you do (and there is the advantage that you can get used to it over winter) they should make the price very attractive. You will effectively add 6 months mooring fees to your costs?

Given your initial life in a marina I suggest your payback on solar will be poor. Better maybe to have the cables put in and then add the panels when you need them for real. Every year the technology gets better for the price you pay, so when you do CC you might find things have moved on significantly.

Yes the heating you should have been quoted (unless you paid for something more) is a webasto unit and twin coil calorifier. You should also have a 1KW immersion that is useful if you are on shore power. So three ways to heat water. Get the builder to add a simple gate valve to the flow circuit to the rads so you can isolate them in the summer and only heat the hot water tank… cheap and very useful.

Without crossing the Wash your cruising seems very limited. Have you considered somewhere on the GU that is still close to work?? Eg Milton Keynes.

This is my personal opinion (so I am not liable) … we looked into the claim by some builders that a 60×10 was somehow VAT exempt if it is your sole residence. If you are buying this size and using this exemption please be very careful. The VAT exemption specifically states that the vessel must be designed and built for residential use … it says nothing about sole / primary residence. At 60 x 10 you are below the size required for VAT exemption no matter what (IMO again!!) the use. As VAT is charged to the company (aka Output tax) in theory this is not your problem if they have misunderstood the rules (for whatever reason) … unless they get you to sign some kind of indemnification  / kick back. Be warned this area of tax is a mess at the moment.

I apologise if this is not what you want to read … but buyer beware applies to new builds as well !! 

I hope none of the issues apply to you and you have a simple enjoyable build. Spending this amount of money should be fun !!!

Best wishes for an easy build and wonderful times when she’s launched. We have NO regrets 🙂

PB

Monday,15 June, 2015
10:04 pm
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Thanks PB for your insight.

it goes without saying everything you said is said with the knowledge and expertise I sadly lack. I would just like to say, this is why I am on this site doing what is the best thing I can do. Listen and learn from the experts.

I am of the opinion that when it happens, it happens. So I will try to get things right first time and in good time. when I’m ready to order a boat I will order it, not be dictated too by sales talk . I take on all that you have said and will take a look at the spec on our new boat. Carole and I have started looking at second hand as well, just as an option and to get ideas what others have on their boats.

The VAT situation is a bit of a worry, the New and Used Boat Company have said the 60 x 10 will be VAT exempt. sales talk maybe, but I will have it in writing, and they will be liable if they are wrong or I will not buy the boat. Did you get VAT exemption? and where did you get your boat built.

We looked at three marinas in our area, Priory, Buckden and Milton Kynes. We elected Priory in Bedford for the following reasons.

1. close to our work places.

2. cheaper in the long run

3. proper residential status.

I liked Milton Kynes, I will look into it further. Do you have any experience of the Milton kynes Marina? and can give me some of your experiences of the GU.

So thanks for your input and look forward to more from you.

Regards for now

 

John and Carole

Thursday,18 June, 2015
4:28 pm
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Hi John,

 

The Milton Keynes marina is next to a main MK road and get road noise. Also next door is a pub/restaurant which used to be very busy. I spent one night there when I need to. Charge the batteries on an electric boat, it was a noisy night. The owners also own Willowbridge marina.

 

Thinking about it I did not know MK Marina took wideberths.i

Just checked there site they do take widebeams. Also from the site “There is a Chinese and Indian takeaway, hotel, pub with restaurant onsite.” Edit 

GM

Thursday,18 June, 2015
7:00 pm
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I would call it a pub with restaurant myself. It was the sort of pub that I was glad to moor well away from.

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Thursday,18 June, 2015
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not so sure MK is the one for us. We are looking for a bit of peace and quiet not a hectic social/pub life.

Cheers folks.

Thursday,18 June, 2015
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JohnGreenwood said
not so sure MK is the one for us. We are looking for a bit of peace and quiet not a hectic social/pub life.

Cheers folks.

pearley said
I would call it a pub with restaurant myself. It was the sort of pub that I was glad to moor well away from.

I agree Pete, only time I stopped there was a desperate need for charge. 🙂

Thursday,18 June, 2015
11:51 pm
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Yes we do have experience of MK Marina … we had our 60×10 moored there until recently.

You can’t have everything folks 🙂 It’s a ‘city’ mooring so you are close, especially if you have a car, to shops / supermarkets etc etc. Some people want that. We didn’t find the road noise any problem, but you are near a hospital. The price you pay is that it is not rural, obviously!. The marina is very friendly and has a good number of residential boats there. There is a pub on the far side of the marina, but we never had any noise or other problems at all. It’s a ‘chain’ pub with all that entails … but it is not a problem pub. Ditto the takeway. If you want easy parking, MK access, GU access and a secure pontoon… it’s very good. The downside for us was the enclosed nature so we moved up steam. Easy for us as we are not yet fully residential.

So to VAT…. I looked at my previous communications on this with the ‘other’ boat builder, with whom your are familiar. They insisted that a 60×10 is VAT free if used as a sole residence. They say they have taken full professional advice on this and quote their sources. I am not a tax consultant but as a business man I can read a VAT notice! It is very clear about what qualifies and a 60 x 10 IMHO does not. The key element is the deck height, but the notice clearly states (I recall) that on a NB this is the gunwale level and NOT the cabin roof. This was the firm opinion of our chosen builder and we agreed with them. If a boat builder takes the responsibility and there is no claw back to you … who cares, it’s not then your problem. Happy days. For us it just did not pass the sniff test, eg there is no requirement for a boat to be your residence, it MUST be designed as a residence and not a leisure craft. So if you have a galley, bathroom, cabin etc you are in the ‘residence’ category, but too small to meet the 15 tonnes rule.

If you are looking to live aboard as a floating flat and have little interest in cruising then where you moor is probably about location. But if you do want to move then you need to be connected to the main routes, especially in a widebeam where the network is more limited. 

In the end what we did was use good old google and worked our way up and down the GU to find marina’s and then zoomed in to see if they could take a widebeam.

Originally we were going to be at Oundle. I am very glad we did not do that. The restrictions for cruising would have driven us mad!

I’m trying hard not to sound like I am preaching … but if you have a boat my guess and my own experience is that you will get the wanderlust and want to experience the wider waterways. For us it is summer on the Thames and the canals that feed off it … priceless.

I hope this is helpful … that is 100% my intention. Mistakes in boating tend to be expensive. I have paid a significant penalty moving moorings and a bit more care / luck may have got me here on the first attempt. It really depends on what you want. What I have found is that with a widebeam you have to dig past the first response and do your home work. Our current mooring is perfect for us but initially the response was ‘no sorry we don’t have any widebeam spaces’. Keep digging !!

All the best

PB

Wednesday,12 August, 2015
8:59 pm
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It’s been a few weeks since I have posted anything. Working away and a holiday in France put pay to my visiting and leaving updates.

All is well, house completes Friday so will be homeless. Time to really get going on the planned boat build. I will be going to the new and used boat builders this weekend to order the 10 x 60 stren cruiser. I was hoping to go with the wife but it ends up Carole’s dad, sister, brother in-law, nephew and one of our daughters are going to.

I’ll keep you up to date with what happens.

John & Carole.

Sunday,23 August, 2015
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We have been to the New and Used boat company and ordered our 60 x 10 stern cruiser. Had a good day at the yard and felt very comfortable with Marc the representative of New and Used. We managed to sort out all of our requirements on the day and now look forward to ‘The Paul Greenwood’ being built and floated sometime early November.

So far so good. I await an actual date for the completion but am in no hurry to get it if it compromises the build. I chose the colours on the outside and Carole did all the soft furnishing. Lets hope she gets it right as it will probably be my fault if it’s wrong!!!!! I have ask for the cabling to be put in for the future solar panel installation and Marc has done this FOC. Probably not a massive cost to him but a nice gesture all the same.

I visited the Bedford Priory Marina Last Wednesday and paid out for our 1st years mooring fees upfront. Our mooring starts on the 1st of November. Donna at the marina fortunately reserved our place before we got lost it. When I went to pay, there was a waiting list for residentials. So a massive thanks to Donna, your a life saver. 

John & Carole

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