Doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday I was looking at the first spring flowers and anticipating the long hot summer ahead. Now here we are, approaching the middle of August, darker evenings and early morning grass wet with dew.
I’ve just taken Charlie and Daisy out for a run. They run, not me.
There’s a hundred metre long, forty metre wide patch of grass next to our car parking bay studded with horse chestnut, ash and field maple saplings. In twenty years’ time the ash will provide a roadside canopy forty feet high but, for now, it’s a marvellous place to exercise the dogs.
Ten minutes with a ball thrower and three heavy duty unchewable rubber balls and the dogs had had enough and were very wet after sprinting and rolling in the wet grass. For the first time this summer I’ve had to towel them down before letting them into the boat.
James is now dog friendly. We have durable plastic deck mats covering the front deck and a large door mat over the plastic mats in front of the front doors. The front deck is protected by a cratch cover so when the weather isn’t too pleasant, Sally and I can stand in the dry to towel down the dogs. We have oak effect laminate flooring inside the boat so even if the dogs’ paws are still wet or dirty it’s seconds work with a mop to clean up after them.
Firstly, please let me apologise if you’ve subscribed to the newsletter list within the last week. You may have done so as a result of my offer of a free eBook, Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. If you did, you may be wondering where it is. I have a confession to make. Technology has beaten me again. You should have received an email containing the download link. It wasn’t working properly but I think I’ve beaten the gremlins now. This time you should be OK.
If you’ve been visiting the site regularly, you will have read much of the information contained in this latest guide. It’s a distillation of the thousands of hours I’ve spent over the last three years researching content, writing content and developing the site.
I’ve included all of the articles from the site, links to all of the popular forum posts and an index of all the regular newsletters since I began sending them out in January 2011. It’s a bit rough around the edges at the moment. I need to spend a few hours formatting the guide and generally tidying it up.
Because the guide isn’t quite as polished as I would like it to be, it’s yours completely free of charge. There may be a cost in the future once I’ve spent some more time on it but, for now, it’s yours to download at the click of a button.
Click here to download the guide. You’ll need to add your email address to the form in order to receive the download link. If you use the email address this newsletter is sent to, you will only receive an email from me telling you how to download the guide. If you use a different email address, you’ll also receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. If you click on the link in the confirmation email, you’ll be added to the newsletter list again and you’ll receive two copies of the newsletter every Sunday. Much as I want you to receive my regular newsletters, I don’t think there’s any point in you getting it twice so, if you’re already a subscriber, please ignore the confirmation email.
There’s a huge amount of information in the guide. At over 53,000 words it’s as long as your average paperback but, not only is the guide packed with helpful articles, but it also links to hundreds of other site articles and forum posts. It’s a wonderful – and free – initiation into all things narrowboat. If you know anyone else who might find the guide and the information it contains of some use, please forward this email to them. They’ll thank you for it, and so will I.
Mark Meopham emailed me with a suggestion. He asked whether I had ever considered a helpful hints section somewhere on the site. I think it’s a marvellous idea (even if I can’t think of a location for it at the moment. Mark has contributed a couple of hints to start us off. Here they are…
“Great site, thanks for making the effort. Have you ever considered a helpfull hints topic for us, be good to share ideas, if so candle wax on the sliding hatch runners does wonders, and baby oil brings back bloomed paint work, even if only for a few weeks, but a lot less than a re paint.”
I think we’re off to a great start but I know there are many boat owning site visitors who can help make this another really useful resource. Here are a few tips from me:
Buy yourself a recovery magnet. It will pay for itself in no time at all. I have a pocket sized Maxigrab magnet which I attach to a very useful 100m reel of parachute cord I keep in the engine room. I the last six months I’ve used it to recover a padlock, two shackles, a mooring pin (pulled out by a fast passing boat) and a coal shovel (twice) we use as a poop scoop. The magnet is work its weight in cold, and it’s fun to use too.
Getting rid of troublesome geese. Canada geese are a nuisance. They’re dirty, extremely noisy and there are millions of them in the UK. Their constant annoying honking can easily ruin a good night’s sleep. I’ve tried many different tactics to get rid of them both from the marina – we had two hundred land a couple of years ago – and from near my own mooring. By far the most effective method is the none harmful use of a laser pen. Mine is a military grade green laser. It came with a rechargeable battery and charger. I haven’t had to use the charger yet. The battery has lasted eighteen months so far.
It’s easy to use and is effective within seconds. Just shine it on the annoying geese at night, wait for the panicky mass honk, furious flapping and the delightful sound of them flying away to bother someone else. It’s magic.
Make sure your boat has a centre line. It’s arguably the most important rope on the boat buy I constantly see boats cruising without them. A centre rope is essential if you’re going to cruise single handed, but it’s also a very important item of boating equipment if you have a full crew. I see no end of inexperienced crews trying to hold a boat to the bank with a bow or a stern line at locks, and then trying to retrieve the end of the boat which they aren’t holding when it drifts out into the canal.
I’m going to have to stop there. I’ve run out of time but I can think of dozens of other useful tips. If you’re a boat owner I’m sure you can think of dozens more. Why don’t you share your knowledge with the site’s soon-to-be boat owners? You can either email me the tips so I can add them to the site for you or post them on the forum here.
If you’ve browsed through the threads on the forum you will already know that it’s a great source of information on the liveaboard narrowboat lifestyle. One subject which is never far from people’s minds is what it’s going to cost them. Here’s a question posed on the forum a few days ago…
“Hi this is a difficult one to get answers for I know but here goes. As a potential C/C next year I was wondering what other C/Cs budget for, either a month or the year. I know there will be unexpected costs ie mechanical faults ect but i wonder what costs are incurred in general day to day living, How far do you travel, how long for, how do you find Tesco’s, Sainsburys on the canal is there an app for phones you use.
The reason I ask is we are intending to take a gap year or two ( bit late in life 52) for a gap year with the intention of after that time becoming proper live-aboarders with moorings.
Any advice will be very much appreciated”
I wrote about this forum thread last week but since then forum user and continuous cruiser Bikeshed has added some fascinating information. He explains how it’s possible to live a stress free life on his narrowboat on an income of £96 a week. His expenditure may not suit everyone but he demonstrates that a very low cost lifestyle is possible Here’s the forum thread.
I’m sorry it’s such a short newsletter this week. I’ve spent most of my time finishing off the new guide, uploading it to the server and creating the download section. There’s more than enough information in the guide to keep you going though. You can download it here.
I created the site just over three years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time. The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far. I’ve managed to reach the end of 2012. I’ll add the rest next week.
Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners
Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter
The first four narrowboat case studies published
I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study
Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study
Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study
Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.
Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.
Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat
eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)
Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat
A review of Debdale Wharf marina
The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments
Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.
As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.
Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips
Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all
Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats
DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports
DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and
Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly
How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.
Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke
Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)
Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels
Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans
Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson
I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.
VAT on narrowboat sales
The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners
Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs
Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home
I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date
An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways
Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else
The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application
First tests and reviews of the budgeting application
The best aerial for a narrowboat television
Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat
Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer
Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat
Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis
Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer
Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis
I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.
Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.
Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27′ GRP cruiser to a 50′ narrowboat
The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.
Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test
Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.
Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.
Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013
James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring
Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start
Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution
Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013
Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.
Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.
Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.
Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.
Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.
Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.
Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article
Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.
The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.
The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?
Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop
RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivelent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?
Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.
Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold
Meet one of your legless canal side companions
The canal network’s largest floating hotel
An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network
An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings
My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.
Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.
Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.
Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.
Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story
An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list
I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.
The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt
Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours
Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.
23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?
Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.
Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.
Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.
Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.
Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.
Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.
Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.
The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.
The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?
The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?
11th August 2013
A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles
Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners
The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring
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.
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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