The countdown continues. By the time you read this there will be just 143 days to go before the Grand Cruise. One hundred and forty three days is just a hop, skip and a jump away, but I’m not sure I’ll make it. I nearly finished myself and the dogs off on Wednesday evening.
As is usual these days, I came back from work just after 5,30, tired and very hungry. Sally had a steaming wok full of adobo waiting on the dinette table. Adobo is a popular Philippines dish consisting of meat, in this case chicken, marinated in soy sauce, garlic and vinegar, and in our case three chopped chillies to give it a little something extra, then simmered in the marinade. It’s delicious. After the spicy dish, served with rice and asparagus, Sally showered and changed into her work uniform while I put some more fuel on the fire in anticipation of a cold night.
Normally I would just add a dozen coal briquettes from the coal box next to the stove, open the stove’s bottom vent and within half and hour relax in the welcoming waves of warm air from the flickering flames dancing above the glowing coals. On Wednesday evening though I took advantage of some free fuel.
We had a sample bag of heat logs in our reception area. I’m not sure where they came from but the half empty bag was shared between office based Douglas and myself. My share was just two dozen compressed “logs”, each slightly smaller than a tennis ball and the same shape as the machine rolled hay bales you see in fields at the end of summer.
Heat logs are usually a waste of time. They burn too quickly, cost too much and expand uselessly to about three times their normal size if they get wet but, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I threw half of them on the fire just as Sally left for work.
Heat logs normally burst into flames almost immediately if added to an already hot fire. These didn’t. They smouldered and smoked for fifteen minutes before finally limping to life. They burned in a very half hearted fashion for about half an hour before smouldering and smoking again. Just to get them out of the way, I threw the remaining dozen pieces on the fire expecting the same result.
The new logs smoked and smouldered with much more enthusiasm than the first batch. In fact they smoked so much that thick grey clounds billowed out from the stove door’s top edge into the cabin filling the space with a choking haze. I couldn’t remove the glowing and crumbly logs from the fire because of the likelihood of dropping them and burning me, the boat or both.
I opened all the cabin windows, turned on the kitchen extractor fan, threw the front doors open and rolled up both sides of the cratch cover to allow the now frigid marina breeze to clear the smoke inside the boat.
The heat logs carried on smoking for a further two hours. All I could do was sit and wait. I couldn’t go to bed and leave the fire as it wasn’t a certainty that the dogs or I would wake up in the morning.
When I could finally open the stove door without filling the boat completely with smoke, I tried to work out why the normally very effective flu hadn’t drawn the smoke out of the boat. The cause of the problem was obvious. An inch high layer of thick ash from the logs had settled on the plate above the fire and just beneath the flue effectively stopping smoke from leaving the stove.
I cleaned out the crud before putting some briquettes in the fire and normal service was resumed. I then spent twenty minutes the following morning cleaning the thick black layer of soot off my normally clear stove door glass, and a further quarter of an hour standing on the gunwale on Thursday morning rattling a length of heavy chain inside the flu to make sure that there was nothing else blocking it.
Douglas took his share of heat logs back to his house in the original bag so I can’t warn you about the particular brand but there’s still a lesson to be learned. It’s important to test new fuel in a controlled environment. I hate to think what would have happened if I had thrown the heat logs into the stove and then left the dense smoke to fill up the boat for a couple of hours.
Apart from the excitement inside the boat on Wednesday, my week has been as gentle and relaxing as usual. I had a rest on Monday after three consecutive discovery days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I spent the day on my Husqvarna mower cutting the grass for about the third “last time” of the year. The very mild October temperatures and frequent showers have kept the grass growing at the normal summer rate. I’m pretty sure that’s it now though. We’ve had a couple of frosts this week so that should have finished the grass off for the season.
On Tuesday the highlight of the day was taking a couple of boats from the wharf down to the marina. The hire season has finished so we have our own fleet of twelve boats moored on the wharf as well as four narrowboat which we look after for the Royal Navy. They offer them to all staff at a subsidised rate. All four boats are out most of the time during the season but like our own fleet they’re finished now.
All of the boats will have some work done on them before the new season starts next April. Some of them will be repainted completely. First in line this year were two of the navy’s boats. Rob and I took them from the wharf, put them into the middle lock and roped them both together. Roping them together allowed Rob to set the locks while I took the two boats from the middle to the bottom lock.
Once the bottom lock was drained and I had slowly brought the pair outside the lock gates so that Rob could close them behind me, we untied both boats so that we could get them through the marina entrance one at a time, then tied them both onto the rusting dump barge we use for mooring our hire fleet over the winter.
It’s wonderful getting paid to take boats for a cruise.
On Wednesday I was back in the cottage garden next to Calcutt Top Lock. It’s a wonderful place to work surrounded by healthy fruit trees and close enough to the canal to watch passing traffic and to have the occasional shouted conversation.
The garden orchard, a mix of apple, pear, walnut and damson has been somewhat neglected in recent years. The solitary pear tree was far too high. I cut a little off it last year which sparked the first pear production for a few years but the fruit was till too high to be picked.
The orchard’s dominant tree was an unproductive damson which overshadowed the garden’s best producing apple tree. Both the damson and the pear needed cutting down to size. Pat held the ladder for me while I spent a couple of hours lopping off branches.
The end result is a much tidier orchard and one which should be far more productive in the years to come. I won’t be working at the marina when the next crop ripens, but I’ll be able to see them from the towpath when I return every six to eight weeks to run my discovery days.
Talking of discovery days, the response since inception has been wonderful. Every date since late June has been booked and the post event feedback has been fantastic.
The season is now drawing to a close. I’ll be running the days up until late December and then taking a three month break before starting again at the beginning of April. I’ve decided not to take bookings for the first three months of the year purely because of the potential for disruption.
The two most likely causes for disruption are winter stoppages and ice.
Stoppages are both scheduled and unscheduled work to sections of the canal network. The scheduled stoppages are carried out during the winter months when there is less traffic on the canals. For example, the three lock flights closest to the marina here are all going to be closed at some stage over this coming winter.
The Napton flight will be closed for a month and a half to carry out a range of repairs and improvements including the repair of a collapsed lock approach wall which caused a bit of a traffic jam in the middle of the season this year when a substantial section of the wall tumbled into the water narrowly missing a passing boat.
The Braunston flight will close for a month early in the new year to repair leaking gates and the structure of several locks and the Stockton flight will be closed for two weeks in March to repair leaking gates.
The stoppage section of the Canal & River Trust’s site gives full details and the estimated stoppage period so boaters can at least make cruising plans around these delays. What boaters can’t plan for is the weather.
Cruising in torrential rain is possible. In fact it’s very enjoyable if you have a decent set of waterproofs and the right attitude. Cruising is strong wind is a bit of a challenge but the wind’s strength doesn’t often prevent a determined boater from getting from A to B. A frozen canal on the other hand isn’t something you should play around with.
Last year was very mild indeed. We only had slightly sub zero temperatures on three nights during the winter months and no ice on the canal at all. The year before was pretty good too but the first year I moved on board was a different kettle of fish.
From the last week in November to the first week in January the canal was impassible. Four to six inches of ice locked boats into their moorings for a month and a half. In theory, it’s possible to move your boat along the canal even if it’s covered with an inch or more of ice. It’s possible, but not advisable. Even a relatively thin layer of ice will scour away the hull’s protective paint and the ice will remove most of the paint from the waterline which is the area of your boat most at risk from rust. So you can take your boat cruising through the ice… as long as you don’t mind paying five or six hundred pounds to have it blacked again when you return.
Because of the uncertainty of the weather and stoppages I won’t do any discovery days between the end of December and the beginning of April but there’s still a chance to book one before then.
There are currently four places still available for single boaters (I’m afraid that all of the slots for couples and exclusive singles are taken). The free dates are Friday 14th, Sunday 16th and Friday 28th November and Sunday 14th December. Find out more and book a date here.
I’ve noticed that as the temperature drops and the days get shorter potential attendees are more reluctant to book a date. I can understand the appeal of a lazy day on the still waters of a reed fringed canal drenched in summer sun and a relaxing midday break sitting in a comfortable canal-side camp chair watching streams of happy boaters float by. It’s a wonderful way to spend the day, but a day spent out on the canal at this time of the year is actually far more productive.
In the autumn it’s often fairly windy. Wind is the enemy of narrowboat owners. The combination of a flat bottom – the boat, not you – and extensive near vertical sides creating substantial wind resistance mean that you have to employ a completely new set of skills to control your floating home.
Three weeks ago I had the pleasure of Ian Hopkinson’s company for the day. Ian owns a 70′ narrowboat but he wanted a few pointers to help him control his craft. Our day out on the water was, shall we say, a little blowy. Here’s what Ian had to say about his experience…
“The day turned out to be tailor-made for my needs. I did state that I required help and guidance with single handed narrowboating and that’s exactly what you gave me. The’ icing on the cake’, as it turned out, were the very windy conditions, which really put me on my metal! Several hours of battling difficult conditions, has seared a lasting impression on my memory!
Thanks Paul for the cool,calm way you corrected my mistakes, considering it was your boat, your home and livelihood that you had trusted me with!
I was given a shed load of very helpful tips throughout the day, on boat handling, particularly with regard to bridge holes,bends and locks. All questions were answered in detail.
By the end of the day I was tired but elated,having completed the day without any major mishaps and my confidence level boosted by 100 % !
I am now looking forward to handling my own boat and putting into use everything I have learnt.
I would recommend the Discovery day to anyone new to narrowboating. You give an excellent grounding on which to build upon future experiences. The Discovery day also gives anyone new to living on a narrowboat the chance to avoid some potentially expensive mistakes and help with the pros and cons of choosing the type of boat.”
If I had taken Ian out on a calm day in the middle of summer, I’m sure that he would still have had a very pleasant day and would have picked up some very valuable tips. However, the adverse weather conditions we encountered allowed me to demonstrate the necessary techniques to keep a boat out of harms way, especially when approaching narrow bridge holes in a cross wind.
A windy day in autumn is a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. I took another soon-to-be boat owner out on a windy day yesterday. Davie McLachlan is my furthest travelled discovery day attendee to date. He drove down from Inverness to visit relatives on the Wirral peninsula then joined me for a day of wet and windy boating. We had a great time.
Inappropriate clothing rather than bad weather is what usually spoils the day. Both Dave and I were kitted out for the worst the day could throw at as but despite forecast torrential rain all day we spent the afternoon cruising in dry but blustery conditions. Dave booked an exclusive discovery so he had the boat to himself for the six hour cruise up through the Caluctt flight of three locks then six often narrow, winding and windswept miles to Braunston where we turned in the entrance to Braunston marina behind the Gongoozler’s Rest cafe.
We didn’t pass a huge number of moving boats while we were out but out of the intrepid few, we saw three which were pinned against the towpath by the wind and one at Braunston junction trying repeatedly to turn against the wind from the north Oxford onto the combined Grand Union and Oxford canals heading towards Napton On The Hill.
Yesterday was Dave’s first taste of narrowboat helmsmanship but within a couple of hours he was confidently negotiating tight bends in a strong cross wind, anticipating the boat’s drift and maintaining his line. He arrived in the morning quite nervous about handling the boat but left in the afternoon supremely confident in his ability to handle a 62′ narrowboat on his own.
The autumn is a fantastic time of the year to hone your narrow driving skills so if you are seriously considering investing a considerable sum in a floating home, here’s the perfect opportunity to experience a day afloat before the end of the year. Click here to find out more or to book one of the four remaining dates.
In February 2012 I published this article about fake adverts detailing narrowboats for sale on eBay. The adverts were, and are, quite common. They show well specified and comfortable looking boats being sold at prices which sound too good to be true. The prices are too good to be true because they aren’t true. They’re scams perpetrated by individuals whose first language doesn’t appear to be English.
I know I’ve covered the subject before but it’s worth mentioning again. Many aspiring boat owners dreams are thwarted by the high costs of boats. These bogus adverts offer an affordable if scarcely believable solution to the problem.
I received the following email from Jess a few weeks ago. Jess has asked me not to publish her surname to save her embarrassment. She realises now that her heart ruled her head. If the person behind the scam had been a little smarter, they would have been able to con Jess out of a £500 deposit for the bargain boat.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photo’s of the boat, nor can I find any now because the listing has been removed. However, anyone who has done a little research to get the feel for narrowboat prices by simply browsing the 1,000 plus narrowboat listings on Apolloduck would realise that an asking price of £30,000 would have been far more realistic than the non negotiable £5,500 requested by this seller.
It seems as though my partner and I have almost been victim to the Ebay boat scam- I now know has circulated in the past thanks to googling it- and funnily enough an article of yours came up from a few years ago.
My incident is very similar to the one you described, it was a beautiful boat and all seemed too good to be true- luckily enough we said we weren’t going ahead- to which I recieved a very robot like response, and after being very disappointed at having to say no (the logistics weren’t right for us) as I’ve come round to realise it was a scam, I feel very relieved.
I think its really important to let the rest of the boating community know- let me know if you’d like more information so you can include it in a newsletter.
It came with a very detailed back story, and we came scarily close to going ahead with it. It would have been our first boat, and all of my savings! It would be great to share my story and make the rest of the boat community aware so it doesn’t happen to them!
Jess forwarded all of the emails too and from the seller. Here’s the first response from the seller “Ana Katherine Palmer” after Jess’s initial enquiry;
Jess noted that the seller hadn’t addressed her by name in the email but didn’t pick up the reference to needing a driving license for the boat. Here’s Jess’s reply;
“Hi Katherine- I completely agree- what a beauty she is. Very sorry to hear of your husbands passing- you can certainly tell all of his hard work and care that went into it. I’m ready to buy it now if you could send the link please? Desperately scared someone else is going to buy it- I’m at work today so will respond as soon as I can.
And then when Jess didn’t hear from the seller she sent another email;
“Hi again Katherine,
As I’m at work today and need to transfer some money in to my account in order to make the full payment to you. I was wondering if you could possibly reserve the boat for me? I can pay you a deposit of £500 this afternoon and any additional costs it may have spent you to take it down from eBay. The full payment would be with you this evening.”
Jess then received the following template reply without any reference to her suggested deposit but which mentioned the seller’s reluctance to allow potential buyers to see the boat, something which Jess hadn’t mentioned in her email. The seller also advised Jess of the boat’s location. The location was hundred’s of miles from Bedford which was on the original listing.
At this stage, even though Jess was still keen to buy the boat at this price, because she had thought about the logistics of getting the boat off the back of a lorry into the water and the costs involved, she reluctantly sent the following;
I am very grateful to Jess for sending me her correspondence. In hindsight she knows she was very naive to believe the authenticity of either the initial advert or any of the subsequent emails but she said that she was “blinded by the boat” and no doubt the thought of living a tranquil life afloat.
If you are currently considering buying your own boat, always remember the old adage, if an offer seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.
Can you let me know what you would like to read in the future? Are there any areas of narrowboat life you don’t think I’ve covered enough or areas which I’ve missed completely? Please let me know what you want to read about. Thanks for your help.
I created the site just over four 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.
Narrowboat CO2 emissions – Is living on a boat a green alternative to a home on dry land? You’ll have to read this newsletter to find out.
Finding reliable tradesmen on the cut – They are out there but it’s not always easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s a new service on the site which is going to make the job much easier for you.
Anti social behaviour on the cut – How common are the unpleasant incidents you sometimes hear about on the canal network and who are the worst offenders? You’ll probably be surprised.
The pros and cons of buying an ex hire boat to live on – How suitable are ex hire boats for living on board full time?
I ran short of time during this week and couldn’t think of much to write about anyway, so I just detailed an idyllic week we spent away from the marina, pottering about for a few days in Braunston and then finishing off the week on the south Oxford canal down as far as Fenny Compton. Six months before the start of our continuous cruising lifestyle, it was just what we needed to whet our appetites.
Emergency food on board – Some of the most pleasant places to moor are a long way from the nearest supermarket. Here are some suggestions to ensure that you’re never short of a tasty meal on your idyllic canal-side retreat.
Cruising in adverse weather conditions part two – A continuation of the previous week’s newsletter.
Cruising in adverse weather conditions – Steering a narrowboat over the glassy surface of a placid canal on windless day in the middle of summer is child’s play. Here’s what you need to do on a “normal” day’s cruise.
Following your dream – Is your goal to some day spend a life of leisure out on the canal network? This article might encourage you to make a move sooner rather than later.
Route finding for narrowboat owners – Here are the popular paper and digital route finders to help make navigating the network child’s play
Long term narrowboat hire – Is hiring a boat long term a realistic alternative to buying one?
living on board in the winter, the cost of living afloat generally and where you can moor your floating home are all subjects which are misunderstood by many aspiring narrowboat owners. Here’s what you need to know.
Narrowboat heating, electrics and engine specifications – How is the perfect live aboard narrowboat configured? Here are a few suggestions
Essential boating equipment – Here’s the stuff every boater should carry on board
The pros and cons of a wide beam boat – More and more wannabe boaters are considering more spacious wide beams rather than narrowboat. There is clearly more living space on board but how practical are wide beam boats on the inland waterways?
The dreaded weed hatch – Sooner or later your engine will start to overheat, you’ll lose propulsion and you’ll know that you need to dive down your weed hatch to free an obstacle or two from the propeller. Here’s how to do it properly and a list of the tools you’ll need.
Digital aids for narrowboat owners – Digital applications and maps for inland waterways boaters
Practical experience for lone boaters. Here’s an account of a day’s cruise with a nervous single boater. He wanted enough confidence to deal with locks on his own. I spent the day with him, designed a route to include twenty six locks and spent ten hours helping him hone his locking skills.
Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks
Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names
Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?
Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.
Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges
Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.
Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.
How to avoid common narrowboat accidents. They happen far more often than you might think. Here’s what you need to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
If you want to live on your boat and don’t want to, or can’t, cruise full time, you must have a residential mooring. Here’s how to find one.
What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment
A cautionary tale if you are considering buying a wide beam boat to live on.
A further update to the site content index.
The A -Z of everything narrowboat – With over 5,500 posts and pages on the site now, quickly finding exactly what you want can sometimes be a problem. For this newsletter I started creating and A-Z index of all the site content.
How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?
Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.
Paying for a narrowboat – What practical steps can you take to ensure you’ve established legal ownership and how do you deal with the transfer of monies between buyer and seller?
Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.
Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.
Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou
Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.
I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.
Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.
Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.
Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.
Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?
If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)
Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.
The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?
Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.
Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.
Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?
Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.
Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel
Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.
Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content
Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.
Winter fuel allowance – Do you qualify for one if you live on a boat?
Case Study – NB Progress. Kim Wainwright recorded her journey on the forum from nervous anticipation to current liveaboard boat owner. Here’s her story.
Narrowboat central heating – I don’t have any. All that is about to change. Here’s the system I’m going to install and why I’ve chosen it.
Narrowboat running costs – I compare my own running costs to those of a prominent YouTube video blogger and detail my exact costs for October 2013
Popular narrowboat terminology – Hundreds or words or phrases used to describe parts of boats and the waterways they cruise through.
The wind chill factor – How strong the wind is blowing and which direction it’s coming from can determine how difficult it is to heat your boat. Here’s what you need to know.
Case study – Another couple from down under living the dream on the inland waterways.
20th October 2013Condensation. It’s a common problem on boats. Here are a few suggestions how to keep your boat’s interior dry.
A new organisation for liveaboard boaters
On demand water heater problems – Discover a common fault with these water heaters and what you can do to resolve the problem.
Know your firewood – Not all timber burns well. Find out which is best and which to avoid.
Managing your boat’s water supply. You can use your water supply as and when you need it when you live in a house with all mod cons. You can pretty much do the same when you’re on a marina mooring with a water supply just a hose length away. It’s a different kettle of fish when you’re on an online mooring.
Liveaboard case study – A prime example of mooring without a water supply on tap.
The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free
Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.
A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees
Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site
Managing your water supply
An American blogs about his travels
Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube
All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller
A disaster – I inadvertently deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!
Effective fly killers for boats
The downside to living on a narrowboat
Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.
CART Guide Approval – The waterways’ governing body is now promoting the information packages available from this site. Yippee!
Narrowboat Insurance – A summary of insurance quotes from the major narrowboat insurers
Liveaboard Case Study – Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57? “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network. They’re ridiculously young to retire, and I’m very, very jealous
Downsizing from a 3 bed semi to a narrowboat – What do you do with a lifetime’s accumulated possessions?
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
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?
The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.
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.
Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold
Meet one of your legless canal side companions
The canal network’s largest floating hotel
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.
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 equivalent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?
The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring
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
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.
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
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.
Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis
Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer
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
First tests and reviews of the budgeting application
The best aerial for a narrowboat television
The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application
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
I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date
Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs
Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home
The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners
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
Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans
Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson
Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels
Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)
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
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
DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter
Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners
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.
CRT (Canal & River Trust) maintain the waterways. Here’s their site.
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.
Find out more about narrowboat central heating costs here.
Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”
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