I’ve been feeling sorry for myself this week. I am very lucky. I work outside all of the time, away from often crowded heated work places which breed germs. I’m sometimes cold after a day’s work, often wet but, generally, supremely fit and healthy. My last day sick day off work was Boxing Day 1983. I can’t remember when I last had a cold, but I’ve got one now, and I don’t like it at all.
I’ve been working our larger woodland area for the last few days. The squirrels have been at it again. This spring they chewed the bark off about fifty oak and nearly all the hornbeam we have on site. The oak aren’t too much of a problem. One thousand five hundred were planted fifteen years ago. The trees are now twenty five to thirty feet tall and many are far too close together. The oak, and the seven hundred and fifty ash, want thinning out if the trees are to remain healthy and have enough room to grow. I’ll choose which ash to remove, but the squirrels have chosen the oak.
Removing some bark doesn’t kill the tree, but if it’s removed from the trunk’s full circumference, “ring barked”, nutrients can’t reach the part of the tree above the missing bark, so it dies. If the tree is in an open space, the lower section of the tree will survive as a healthy but visually unappealing bush.
In our densely packed woodland though, the ring barked section becomes brittle, then usually snaps off in the autumn’s high winds. In subsequent years, the neighbouring trees form a canopy over the damaged tree depriving it of light. The overshadowed tree eventually dies.
Many of the damaged trees still look relatively healthy but they will die and are currently taking up valuable space. The crowns have blown out of some but, because of the density of trees, they’ve been left suspended above the woodland footpaths waiting to drop on unsuspecting walkers beneath.
So for much of this week I’ve been cutting down trees while trying to cope manfully with a streaming cold. The lethargy and listlessness is bad enough, even if it does give me an insight into how one of our younger members of staff apparently feels all of the time, but the constantly runny nose is driving me made, especially when I’m using my chainsaw.
When I’m using the saw I have to wear protective clothing which includes safety gloves and a helmet with a perspex visor. If I’m felling a tree I can’t stop to blow my nose and if I can’t blow my constantly running nose when I’m bending down, the inevitable result is most of the contents of my head pouring out of my face on to my visor. It hasn’t been very pleasant. The experience reminded me of looking through a scuba mask when diving at a fluid and rippling landscape… only in this instance with far more trees.
Life hasn’t been much better indoors. I’ve fallen out with Sally again. I don’t really understand why she’s so angry with me.
I don’t like to waste money on hair cuts so for the last three or four years my boat has been a DIY barber shop. Once a month I sit on a stool in the only free space we have on the boat. Unfortunately it’s next to the stove so haircuts in the winter can be quite a warm affair. I sit on the stool while part time hair dresser Sally goes to town on my grey head. She does a very good job.
Recently Sally has been working night shifts and she’s also been working quite a few extra shifts, also at night, to save up for her planned three or four month return to the Philippines in January. She comes back to the boat after a twelve hour shift just after I’ve left for my own nine hour shift at Calcutt Boats. When I get back from work in the evening, we say a quick hello, eat the evening meal together, then she’s off again.
On most of my days off I run discovery days and on what few days off Sally has at the moment, I’m working. There’s very little time for my monthly hair cut.
On Tuesday my regular monthly hair cut was overdue by nearly a month so, as Sally is so short of free time, I thought I would do it myself.
Have you ever tried to cut your own hair?
It’s not easy. I started off with the No 6 attachment. I ran it over my unruly mop until there was a mountain of grey and white hair cascading over the dogs laying at my feet. I had a quick look in a mirror and decided that there was more work to do. I couldn’t see well enough to trim the edges around my ears or the back of my neck so I decided that the best solution was to shorten it a bit, and then a bit more, and then a bit more.
Eventually I achieved the neatness I was after but only for one very simple reason. I had very little hair left. I had become so obsessed with neat edges that I didn’t really focus on which attachments I was using. The fact that I was on my second glass of a very pleasant Australian red, and that I was further distracted by Sean Lock on 8 Out of 10 Cats probably didn’t help. Now I have an all over No 2 and, according to Sally, I look either like a convict or an ardent National Front supporter.
She isn’t very happy.
I spent Wednesday and Thursday felling and logging more damaged oak, ash growing too close to neigbours and a large shallow rooted larch which was about to fall across an often used woodland path, and then I breathed a sigh of relief, brought a copy of December’s Waterways World home with me from work, had dinner, spent an hour on my laptop and then took myself and my magazine to bed.
I don’t usually read for very long. I’m too tired, and the cosy bed plus the sound of the wind and rain lulls me to sleep. The sound of the wind and the rain lulls me to sleep providing the wind isn’t blowing from the east.
An east wind howls across the marina, skirts around the island behind me and then slams into the back of the boat. The wind doesn’t cause any problems. It’s the waves that the wind creates on its trip across the open water. They hit the boat with a rhythmic and rather loud SLAP, SLOP, SLAP, SLOP. It’s not the most relaxing sound in the world.
I didn’t sleep very well on Thursday night. The stiff easterly was still blowing on Friday morning bringing plenty of heavy rain with it. The rain was still bouncing off the roof at 8am when Brent Smith was due to arrive.
The furthest travelled discovery attendee was Davie McLachlan who was with me the previous weekend. Davies drove down from Inverness to see me. OK, he was also visiting relatives on Merseyside but part of the reason for the trip was to come out on James for the day. Five hundred miles was a fair way to travel for a day out on a boat but Brent beat the record by a wide margin. He flew in from Australia.
OK. Again, he didn’t come just to see me. He was over here for five weeks for a variety of reasons, including visiting brokers looking at boats for sale. Friday was his last day in England before the arduous flight back to warmer weather.
At quarter past eight when he still hadn’t arrived I put on my waterproofs and went looking for him. I found him driving through a rain soaked car park on site. I brought him back to my boat, made a coffee and then spent an hour discussing the pros and cons of various aspects of my boat, all the time looking out of the window hoping the rain would ease.
It didn’t and Brent, because he was travelling light, didn’t have any waterproofs with him. As luck would have it, I had some spares on board so we set off with heavy rain being blown into our faces by a chill wind.
We were lucky. By 11am the rain stopped, the wind died, and the sun came out. We enjoyed a very pleasant cruise to Braunston and a bit of a challenging trip back to Calcutt with a low sun dazzling us from a cloudless sky. By the time this newsletter goes out, Brent will be back on the other side of the world with, hopefully, some very pleasant memories of boating in Warwickshire.
“How many miles does it do to the gallon?” It’s a question which is often asked of cars, but rarely of narrowboats. The problem is, miles to the gallon is a difficult figure to work out on a narrowboat. The boat’s diesel tank is often used to supply the central heating system as well as the engine so it’s quite difficult to work out how much is used by the engine and how much is used by the heating system.
There’s another issue too. The boat’s engine is often used for hours at a time to charge the battery bank when the boat is stationary. Some boaters use the engine more for battery charging than they do to move from A to B.
And when the boat engine is used to move the boat, for a varying proportion of the cruising day, the boat can be sitting still is a series of locks so no distance is covered.
Because of these variables, the figure which is usually quoted, if a figure is quoted at all, is the average number of litres an hour that the engine uses when it’s running regardless of whether the engine is being used to move the boat through the water or just to charge the batteries.
I keep accurate records of my expenditure on diesel and the number of litres I put in each time I top up. I also make a note of the boat engine hours running total. I know that when I last topped the tank up just over a week ago the total hours for the year was 332. Unfortunately very little of that was used by me exploring the network.
Sally and I had two weeks out in June and then another at the end of September. We went from the marina to Market Harborough and back in June and then pottered about without going far at all in September. The majority of the diesel I’ve used and the engine hours I’ve run up this year have been on discovery days. The engine’s generally running for six or seven hours on each day, and nearly all of that time the boat is cruising.
Because I have all of this information to hand, I can say with confidence that my boat’s thirty seven year old 38hp Mercedes OM636 uses an average of 1.24 litres of diesel per hour and for most of this time the engine is running at between 1300rpm (passing moored boats) and 1800rpm (top cruising speed without creating breaking wash).
As a completely pointless but, to me, interesting exercise, as I know the average hourly fuel consumption, I’m also able to calculate the fuel consumption in terms which would mean something to a car owner.
Many boaters talk about an average speed of 4mph but they don’t take into consideration delays at locks, passing moored boats, negotiating congested spots, tight bends and bridge holes. I used the excellent CanalPlan route planner to work out the distance and the time taken for two routes; one from Calcutt marina to Llangollen and one from Calcutt marina to Bath. The average speed for both routes was roughly 1.8 miles per hour. I had guessed that my own average was just over two miles an hour but I’m sure the CanalPlan formula is more accurate.
For the sake of this exercise, if I say the average distance travelled by a narrowboat in an hour is two miles, and I know that my boat uses 1.24 litres per hour, I can work out that a gallon of diesel will run my boat for 3.67 hours (1 gallon = 4.55 litres so 4.55/1.24 litres per hour = 3.67 hours).
If a gallon of diesel will run my engine for 3.67 hours and the average distance my boat travels in an hour is two miles, my boat achieves 7.34 miles to the gallon.
Just over seven miles to the gallon is two and a half times as thirsty as my old gas guzzling Nissan Pathfinder. In fact, my lovely floating home gets slightly less miles to the gallon than a Hummer. Mind you, the boat may well use more fuel per mile travelled than the American monstrosity, but I’m pretty sure it’s much more comfortable to live in.
I received the following email earlier in the week from live aboard wide beam owner Trevor Martin concerning single handed locking, and as I spent all Saturday locking single handed (and getting paid for it. It’s not a bad way to earn a living!), I though I would include the email in the newsletter and add a few comments of my own. Trevor mentions in his email that each lock took him forty five minutes. I questioned him on the figure and admitted that three quarters of an hour was the time taken to negotiate the first lock of the day when the flight had completely drained overnight. The flight actually took him just over nine hours in total to complete, which is still a fair day’s work.
“I recently had the “opportunity” to navigate the Caen Hill flight on my own, 29 locks in under 4 miles with the actual flight made up of 16 locks tightly spaced to raise/lower over 200 feet. I was helped going down the flight by the “crew” of a Fat Boat following me but still took 45 minutes per lock on my own, (moor up, fill lock, open, cast off, manoeuvre into the lock, empty, manoeuvre out, moor up, close lock and cast off again).
The best way I found when operating locks single handed is to slowly open one paddle while the boat is inside so that the boat moves forward toward the gates. Use a centre line on the roof to loop around a bollard toward the aft end, and control the boat movement from outside the lock by using the centre line. Only one paddle to be opened, otherwise the rush of water will make the boat move too quickly for some “crew” to handle in this way. Once the lock is emptied, the gates can be opened. I have found at this stage, the best way to proceed is to tie the boat in the lock, run (or walk) to the next lock to fill and fully open the gates. Now, once back on the boat, manoeuvre out of the lock and straight into the next. Tie up inside the lock, run (or walk) back to the previous lock to close it and start the process all over again. It’s much easier with travellers helping but when I had to navigate the flight on my own, it was last week and not many boats going through the locks.
I’m sure this method has been in use for years by seasoned travellers, but being fairly new to canal boating, I seem to learn things by trial and error :-)”
Leaving your boat in a lock while you walk to the next lock to prepare it is a great way to save yourself a lot of effort. Rather than set the lock, get back on to your boat, bring it out of the lock, move over to the towpath, secure the boat, set the next lock, walk back to your boat, untie it and push it away from the side, climb on board and navigate, often from an awkward angle, into the new lock, you can just head pretty much in a straight line from one lock into the next.
There is a problem with this technique though. You can only do it when the canals are quiet. It’s not acceptable to leave your boat in a lock while you prepare the next one if there’s any traffic waiting to use the lock so you’ll find that this technique works best for you either early in the morning or late in the evening or out of season.
What Trevor hasn’t mentioned in his email is how you are supposed to get on and off your boat in an empty lock. You can either use your centre line to pull your boat out of the lock before getting on board, or you can climb onto your boat in the lock.
I made a mistake when I had my solar panels installed. I have three of them taking up much of the space between the centre and the rear of the boat. Much of the remaining space is covered by the pole and plank and the brackets they sit on on the starboard side. Single handed locking is now a bit tricky for me.
If I enter an empty lock, sometimes I can slow the boat almost to a stop as I enter the lock, then step off on the lock landing with the centre line then run up the steps, flick the rope over the balance beam and then tie the boat off on a bollard and bring it to rest. If I can’t use this technique, I have to take the boat in to the lock and then climb out of the lock if I’m going up or climb down into the lock when I’m ready to exit if I’m going down.
Regardless of the direction of my climb I have to carefully negotiate the clutter on the roof. It’s potentially dangerous, especially when the roof is either wet or icy.
The mistake I made was not installing the solar panels on the front section of boat’s roof. It would have meant running a cable the full length of the boat back to the engine room, but at least I would have a clear section of roof to walk on in locks. In the meantime, I’ll just have to practice keeping my balance.
I’ve finally pinned down the availability for next year’s discovery days and updated the calendar. I’ll be holding the days on the first two weekends of every even months plus the week days between those two weekends. For the sake of clarity, here are the dates.
3rd – 12th April
5th – 14th June
31st July – 9th August
2nd – 11th October
4th – 13th December
Of course, if you are one of the many future attendees who believe in forward planning who have already booked a date for next year, even if those dates fall outside of the new schedule, those dates will be honoured. I’ll hot foot it back from wherever I’ve been exploring on the network to meet you.
If you want to book a date, or just want to check the current availability, here’s a link to the calendars for the single, exclusive single and couple discovery days.
If you’re sitting on the fence, not really sure whether a discovery day will be of real use to you, I urge you to read this feedback from people who have already joined me for the day. Without exception, the comments I’ve received have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m trying not to sound as though I’m blowing my own trumpet, but I’m constantly told what a productive and enjoyable day it is.My apologies for the layout of the testimonials page. As usual, I can’t find the time to add all the bells and whistles. Roll on April when I’ll have so much more time on my hands!
If you’re serious about living afloat, and want to combine a day discussing the pros and cons of various boats, the equipment in them and the lifestyle itself with plenty of hands on training along a challenging and beautiful route, then I sincerely hope you’ll pay me a visit.
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.
How to spot bogus narrowboat adverts – Beware narrowboats for sale at bargain basement prices. Here’s a cautionary tale to make you think twice about reaching for your wallet.
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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