Why is the weather such a popular topic in the UK? Because you don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next! Easter is less than a week away and parts of Britain are without power, roads are impassable due to snow drifts and you can’t cruise down the Llangollen canal because of fallen trees.
Providing your boat is up to scratch though, the weather doesn’t really matter. However, It’s very important that you spend time, energy and money to ensure that it’s fit for all seasons. James wasn’t an acceptable winter home when I moved on board. It is now. There’s a cruel east wind blowing snow horizontally across the marina as I write this, but I’m just wearing a polo shirt as I sit and type. I’ve taken the time to understand how everything on board works. If anything on the boat didn’t work effectively, I had it changed. I’m useless at the practicalities myself but one of the many wonderful virtues of the boating community is the willingness to help fellow boaters. I’m never stuck for a helping hand or two.
The importance of understanding your boat, how it works, and why sometimes it doesn’t, was brought home to me by the email I received last week. This new liveaboard boater clearly hasn’t spent any time trying to resolve what are probably fairly simple issues.
“My partner and I moved onto our narrowboat in November. All the possessions we knew we wouldn’t need or be able to squeeze onto the boat were sold. The moving day came and we were so excited.
Its been a serious shock to the system I can tell you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the boat, the people in our marina and the peace. What I don’t like is the rain! We have residential moorings in [removed to protect privacy] and the river and surrounding areas rise rapidly. When will it end? My dreams are steadily being shattered.
Heating is a multi fuel stove which is fine for heating the living room and galley but as the bedroom is 55ft away it’s absolutely freezing! We can only figure out how to use the radiators when the engine is running. I’m sure it can be done just on the gas but I havent been able to understand the huge manual that comes with the Alde yet. The pump out toilet blocked with terrible consequences so a porta loo has to suffice now. The chimney had to be swept etc etc.
Please tell me that this will get better. We want to live the dream. Please tell me this isn’t what every winter is like onboard. Surely the summer will make up for it?”.
I imagine that the Alde simply isn’t lit. The radiators are being heated by the engine when it’s running but nothing’s heating them when the engine is switched off. Aldes are quite common heating systems. I imagine there will be fellow boaters or marina staff who can offer a quick solution to the problem, or at least confirm whether the Alde is working or not. If it’s not working it needs fixing. There’s no excuse here for remaining cold and uncomfortable on the boat.
The pump out loo blockage is something else which should be fairly easy to resolve, rather than abandoning the system completely and switching to a Porta Potti. As for the chimney, sweeping the flu is a basic part of narrowboat maintenance.
Living on a narrowboat is a great lifestyle but you need to put a little more effort in than you do on dry land and understand what you’re doing. That’s why I created this site, to help you understand the ins and outs of living your floating dream.
Last week I was careless. I thought I had run the spell checker before I published the newsletter. Clearly I didn’t. I had a friendly email pointing out the error of my ways and the fact that I had spelled residential three different ways. I’ll be more careful in future but if you do spot any errors, please let me know so that I can correct them.
There are some bits of kit that you should have on board at all times; a pole, plank and boat hook, two or three mooring pins or chains, a lump hammer (some boaters prefer a sledge hammer for hard ground in the summer) and, to get you through the locks, a windlass or two. Windlasses have a habit of ending up in the water. They are kicked in after being left on the lock side or fly in after being left on the paddle. It’s a careless and expensive mistake to make, but what can you do once it’s in the water? You can use one of the essential tools in your boat’s emergency kit… a powerful magnet.
The 2013 Equipment and Chandlery Guide in Waterways World’s April magazine features a super powerful magnet available for £26. It’s under two inches tall but is capable of lifting 50lb. You can use it to retrieve your windlasses, mooring pins, keys (most boaters have dropped a key or two into the cut), your prized folding bike and, if you’re feeling particularly public spirited, a shopping trolley or two. It’s called the Maxigrab Magnet and is available here.
It’s the UK’s number one narrowboat show. Four days of live music and entertainment, a chance to meet thousands of fellow boaters and the opportunity to view the latest masterpieces from the leading narrowboat and widebeam builders in the industry. The New & Used Boat Company have set a record at Crick this year. They will have seven of their boats on display.
This year the show is on from 25th – 27th May. I’ll be there on 27th. The last day of the show is my favourite day. It’s bargain day. Since January I’ve been compiling a list of none essential items tha t I need/want for James. I’ll be there on Monday 27th with my shopping list in one hand and my debit card in the other. Exhibitors don’t want to take stock home with them. If you wait until Monday afternoon, there are some marvelous savings to be made. Midland Chandlers usually have a large amount of stock at the show. There stand is the size of one of their stores. They don’t like to take anything back with them at all so on Monday afternoon they will consider all offers. It’s possible to get up to 40% discount on their list prices.
Tickets for each day are £9 in advance or £12 on the day. Three day tickets are £20 in advance or £26 on the door. You can find out more and buy tickets either by visiting the Crick Boat Show web site or by calling 01283 742962
Two weeks ago I mentioned that, after reading the Waterways World fuel test in the March edition of their magazine, I bought two sample bags of wood briquettes so that I could conduct my own tests on a real liveaboard narrowboat. One bag arrived within a few days but the second, the Ecofire Heat Logs only arrived this week after going missing in the post. Here’s what I thought of both fuels.
Last week I offered site users some space on this site so that they could create a blog, a journal, of their own journey from narrowboat dream to actual ownership. Three narrowboat owners have taken me up on the offer so far. I’ve created a new section on the forum so that site visitors can read and comment on the blog posts. I’ve also included some information that may be of interest to you if you would like to start your own blog.
I received an email from a site subscriber yesterday. He was responding to one of the regular series of emails I send out with the intention of (hopefully) pointing potential narrowboat owners in the right direction. He suggested that I needed to know more about the way that Whilton Marina boat sales operate before I recommend them as a potential source for their new boat. I’m not saying that the information he provided is accurate but, coincidentally, I was given the same information by a respected boat builder this week. In the spirit of providing you with as much information as possible so that you can make up your own mind, I have copied the email I received on the Whilton Marina page of this site. I’m also more than happy to include a response from anyone at Whilton.
There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.
Now that the forum login problems have been resolved, forum posts and visits have seen a dramatic increase. There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.
Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.
Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”
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