I’m on my own. Sally flew to the Philippines on Tuesday. I’m very sad.
She will be away for three months, returning on 2nd April, my 55th birthday and my release from full time employment. The week before she left was a whirlwind of last minute cleaning, preparation for the trip and preparation for me spending my time alone. She appears to have forgotten that I managed to fend for myself, successfully most of the time, for many years before I met her.
I’m fairly sure that she washed everything on the boat that she could fit into our little twin tub washing machine. Every surface was scrubbed, vacuumed, polished or dusted. The dogs had their coats cut and suitcase sized bags of dog biscuits arrived from Amazon along with a mountain of worming tablets and flea powder. I’ve had very detailed instructions on ear cleaning, coat brushing, knot removing and nail clipping. I’ve been told everything I need to know to keep the boat in showroom condition and the dogs ready for Crufts.
Unfortunately I’ve forgotten most of it.
After a hasty farewell in one of the passenger drop off bays at Heathrow’s terminal three, I rejoiced on the way back, thinking of all the things I could do now that I’m on my own for quarter of a year. By the time I pulled up next to the boat though, I realised that I don’t actually want to do anything on my own. My partying days are over so my wildest activities over the next thirteen weeks are likely to be watching the occasional science fiction firm that Sally isn’t keen on. I must be getting old!
Next time I see Sally, I’ll be semi retired and about to begin a marathon run of discovery days. There are ten consecutive sessions in April starting the day after Sally returns. Six out of the ten days are now booked. I’m pretty sure that all of the April places will be taken by the end of the month.
As an experiment I listed my discovery days in the boats and watercraft section on eBay on Wednesday. The listing has been surprisingly successful with several firm bookings already. I also received a “best offer” from one aspiring narrowboat owner. Much as I was grateful for the time the he took to carefully consider the offer and then send it to me, I didn’t think the suggested £1 was quite enough to justify taking the boat out for ten hours, so unfortunately I had to decline.
When we finish this year’s cruising at the end of November, we’ll be returning to Calcutt for the winter. The two marinas at Calcutt Boats are among the very few in the country which are full most of the time. I was discussing where we might be able to moor with the guys in the office when our buyer, Steven Cox, jokingly suggested our “dump barge”.
The dump barge is a rusting steel hulk which, once upon a time, was used to transport silt dredged from the canal. I’m not sure how long it’s been at Calcutt but it’s been a part of the landscape here for many, many years. The barge is moored adjacent to the grassed finger of land to the south of the marina entrance. Actually, “moored” implies that it’s floating. It’s not. It’s sitting on the marina bottom in a foot of silt.
The dump barge has been used in the past to moor some of our hire fleet over the winter to free space on the wharf for passing boats wanting to pull in for gas, diesel, coal or a pump out. As many as half a dozen boats are tied side by side on to the barge until late March when they return to the wharf ready for the coming season.
Our winter mooring may well be tied to the outside of the out of season hire fleet. We may not have power or water on the mooring, and while have to climb over the cruiser sterns of the moored hire boats, but it’s a lovely location.
We’ll have an open view of the marina on one side, and a little visited grassed area up to the marina entrance with an unrestricted view of Calcutt Bottom Lock on the other. It will be perfect for our needs once it’s made safe. Making it safe is what I’ve been doing for much of this week.
The dump barge hasn’t been used at all for many, many years. There was a rotting ply sheet bridging the eight feet gap between the barge and the bank and another equally rotten section of ply covering an opening on the barge’s deck area into the water filled hull. The deck was littered with odd sections of timber and old twenty litre plastic containers. It was a mess and quite tricky getting on and off the barge without injury.
I’ve replaced the access walkway with a spare length of steel pier, replaced the deck hatch with Hexigrip deck board, removed all the rubbish and hacked off as much of the loose rust as possible. The biggest job though has been installing a path to the barge.
The grassy area leading up to the barge, like the rest of the site, is on clay so it holds the water. At this time of the year the grass quickly turns to liquid mud if it’s walked on. We’ll be walking along this section of grass every day so I needed to put something a little more weather resistant in place.
The simplest and most effective solution was to hack out four or five inches of clay, line the clay with hardcore and then top it with road planings. At the beginning of the week the grass was sodden so I spent most of the day trudging along wearing clay caked deep sea diver’s boots. The path’s half finished now so by Tuesday next week we should have a very pleasant and firm walkway to our new home.
Because we won’t have a shore supply accessible from the mooring, a reasonably large and reliable battery bank is an absolute must so the one I have at the moment won’t be much good.
My leisure battery bank failed while we were out on our Christmas cruise. Thanks to my Smartgauge battery monitor I was able to very quickly identify the problem. When the battery bank is holding a charge, the reading first thing in the morning is generally about 85%. I had the gauge’s visual alarm set to trigger at 75%. Half way through our week long break the overnight low was down to 40% on one night and then discharged completely the following night which, thankfully, was our last night out of the marina.
I’ve looked at my records. I seem to have done pretty well out of these batteries really. When I first moved on board, There were just two 110ah leisure batteries and a 110ah starter battery. All three were failing to hold a charge so all three were replaced. The starter battery was still 110ah but I increased the leisure supply to two 135ah batteries. That was April 2010. In January 2013 I replaced the starter battery and added two more 135ah batteries to the leisure bank.
The accepted wisdom is to change all the leisure batteries at the same time to prevent one old battery in the bank from pulling the rest down. That’s what I’m going to do, but I’m not going to do it yet.
We won’t be doing any multi day cruising now until mid April so we won’t be reliant on the charge in the battery bank until then as we’ll have the luxury of plugging in to the shore power supply. There’s no point in replacing the batteries until we’re ready to leave, and the delay will give me a chance to save my pennies.
Rather than replacing the current lead acid batteries with similar batteries, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and go for AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries which should last me much longer than the lead acid type. I’ve spoken to two other boaters here who have an AGM battery bank. One has had the same set of batteries for eight year, the other for ten. As you might expect with longer lasting batteries, the cost is higher. Four 160ah AGM batteries are going to cost the best part of £800. I’ll also need to pay a little extra to our resident marine electrician, Dave Reynolds, to make sure that the charging regime is configured correctly as they have slightly different charging requirements to the lead acid batteries.
Another job which needs doing before we set sail, is to make sure that the engine is serviced. A couple of weeks before Christmas I phoned River Canal Rescue to book a “one to one” engine servicing training session with senior engineer Kerry. Kerry has been out to me twice before, knows my Mercedes engine intimately, and is very helpful indeed. When I called them to book the day, I specifically asked for Kerry.
My experience with RCR has been bitter sweet. I’ve had excellent service from Kerry but the office administration has been very poor. RCR weren’t able to book me in before Christmas as, they said, they didn’t have the staff rota for January so didn’t know when Kerry would be available. They promised to call me back after Christmas with a date. Going on previous experience, I didn’t expect to hear from them so I was very pleasantly surprised to receive a call on Thursday with a proposed date.
The lady suggested a date, which I agreed to. I asked her to email me confirmation as I was standing in the middle of a field at the time so wasn’t able to write the date down. She agreed to email me. She didn’t.
I phoned RCR on Friday to confirm the date and to confirm that Kerry would be doing the work. It was no surprise to discover that they hadn’t scheduled Kerry for my one to one. So now we’re back to square one. I’m waiting for a promised call with a date when Kerry can fit me in.
I’m at a loss to understand why an established company like River Canal Rescue, where scheduling staff is a fundamental part of their daily business, doesn’t use a computerised appointment application. Each time I call, I hear whoever I’m talking to shuffling through piles of paper trying and often failing to find any kind of record of who I am or what I’m calling about. It’s very frustrating!
Talking of frustrating, I was very frustrated a few months ago when we had some carpentry work done. The carpenter did an excellent job of boxing the engine in and soundproofing it. I’m very pleased with the work. I couldn’t be happier. Actually, I could be happier. I would be very happy indeed if he completed all of the work he agreed to do.
In addition to the engine room work, he agreed to alter the rear doors so that they can be locked effectively from the inside and he also agreed to build a bespoke shoe rack and a wine rack. Sadly, he had the opportunity to start a full boat fit out so he abandoned the work he promised to do for me telling me, rather lamely, that he had decided that the travelling was too much for him.
While we would really have liked to have both racks in Sapele to match the rest of the woodwork, we realised that there was no chance of him coming back. We searched t’internet for an off the shelf solution. I think we’ve done rather well.
This shoe rack is perfect for the space we have under the gunnel and the starboard side doors. It’s not as aesthetically appealing as a sapele rack but it’s not really on view where it is and it’s very robust.
The vertical black metal wine rack we’ve chosen is a perfect fit for one of the ply bulkheads which forms our “utility room”. I can fit a dozen bottles in it, eleven bottles of red for me, and a bottle of white in case of guests. The only problem with it is that the bottles rest lightly on two U shaped metal hooks so any sudden movement, like inadvertently bashing into lock gates on windy days, is likely to dislodge them. I think we’ve solved the problem by covering the hooks with rubber hose and securing the neck of each bottle to the rack with a black rubber hair band.
While we’re on the subject of drinking, I went our for a pint or two on Friday night. My boating buddy Bangkok Tim and his fellow boat owning cruising partner Dale moored dangerously close to the Boat House in Braunston and arranged to meet me there for a drink.
The original plan had been for me to take my boat to Braunston so that I could let my hair down for the evening without having to worry about driving. That plan was scuppered by the forecast gale force winds. Dale offered to accommodate me and my two spaniels, Charlie and Daisy, for the evening, so at 5pm on Friday I was in the pub raring to go.
I have no willpower. I’ve said as much before. I don’t go out for a drink very often because (A) I don’t like pub prices and (B) once I’m there enjoying the company of like minded folk, I don’t know when to stop.
We had four or five pints, or maybe it was six or seven, before going back to Dale’s boat and discovering that he had a bottle of red wine which needed drinking. Then, because I can’t control myself, I went back to the pub and bought another. Consequently, I woke up on the bench seat opposite his stove at 6am on Saturday, fully clothed and with a dog sitting on my head, to the sound of the wind howling outside and Dale’s alarm ringing insistently from his rear cabin.
The alarm rang for about quarter of an hour, there was a grunt, the sound of a mobile phone being flung against a cabin wall and then non too gentle snoring. I guessed that the foolishly promised early morning bacon sandwich wasn’t going to appear, so I gathered sleeping bag and dogs and stumbled along a dark, muddy and windswept towpath back to the car.
I rarely drink more than a glass of wine or bottle of beer each evening these days so I’m not very good at recovering from a skinful. The morning was very unpleasant indeed. I was still constructing the path to the dump barge so my days work involved swinging a pick and wielding a spade. Every time I bent down I risked losing my breakfast. I’m never going to go to the pub again.
It’s midday on Sunday morning as I write this, thirty six hours after my last late evening glass of wine, and I still have a hangover. I really need to grow up and learn how to control myself. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to happen though. Anyone fancy a pint?
If you’re new to this site you might not know about the service I launched in June 2014. I host narrowboat experience days on board my own 62′ long narrowboat James No 194. The ten hour days are a combination of discussion about the pros and cons of living on board, narrowboat designs and the best equipment for live aboard boaters, and a six to eight hour helmsmanship training cruise along the Oxford and/or Grand Union Canals.
I’ll be running the discovery days approximately on the first ten days of April, June, August, October and December next year. There are just four dates left for April now (6th, 8th, 9th & 12th) and some of the dates in June are already taken so if you are considering a place next year, please check the diary before it’s too late. I have just started advertising the service on eBay which has significantly increased the volume and frequency of bookings so you will need to act quickly if you want to book a date in the first half of the year.
In the meantime, meet discovery day attendee Max Wall..
“Firstly, Thank you for a fantastic day and every time someone says “mind my chimney” I will think of the Discovery Day (although I cant think of many situations in life where that phrase will be used!!).
Secondly, can you pass my thanks to the lady who gave us the scones. That was such a kind gesture and sums up the lifestyle afloat. Such simple acts of kindness don’t happen anymore on the “High Street”, much the shame, which is why I (and probably the vast majority of like minded folk) move to the “Cut”. (However, next time jam and cream would also be nice).
The communication, via email, was very comprehensive and the drive from “Down South” was very uneventful. The Sat Nav lead me straight to the gates, which unfortunately were locked closed when I arrived, before 0730. Yes, this was my fault as I set of early that morning (0430) from Portsmouth (Sat Nav said about two and a half hours) but I set out early anticipating traffic and coffee/cigarette stops. I think this locked gate may need to be advertised for any other “early birds” as it did give me a momentary “Oh Flip” moment. Fortunately the gates opened at 0730 and the drive to the nominated car park was just as the email stated. I parked the car and was greeted by my Discovery Day partner in crime, “Andy the Fireman”, we were instantly recognisable as boating novices by our mutual look of fear and anticipation on our faces!
Quick introductions made, we then started to look for NB JAMES. The description I decided to look for was the wooden mast as I thought this would be an easy indicator as the marina was quite full of vessels. Off we walked, my new friend for the day and I. Once around the marina and no wooden mast! So off we went to high ground (the bridge at the bottom of the marina) to see if we could spot JAMES from our new high vantage point. That’s when I saw a lone figure walking at the far end of the marina. The man of the day? It had to be Paul? So off we walked hoping it was him, or if not he may know where JAMES was moored. It was Paul! Let the Discovery Day commence!! Paul then guided us to JAMES (Paul had dropped the mast as he was not using the Marina Wi-Fi) Doh!!
A warm welcome (from the dogs) and a “posh coffee” (from Paul). A good start in my books! A guided tour of JAMES and a discussion as to why things were done with regard to the layout of the boat. It was obvious that Paul has done his homework and this is the main reason to attend the Discovery Day. Once things were explained, it is quite obvious for doing the things as Paul suggests. JAMES’ layout is very functional and Paul has optomised the space well, but it still felt homely. A quick chat about what we want to gain from the day then a quick walk to the Marina to “book in” and then we are off. Both Andy and I were interested the single handed boating, so we both were after the same things (which made the day flow well).
Initiation by fire as I was interested in reversing the boat and “winding”, so under Paul’s instructions I took the helm and reversed out of the mooring! Paul’s explanations were easy to follow and he seemed so calm as he handed over his home to a total stranger. He’s a braver man than me, as I wont even let anyone drive my car, let alone drive my home!
Straight into the first Lock at the bottom of the Calcutt flight then off down towards the Oxford canal. It was then that I let out my guilty secret that this was not my first time afloat. I’ve been in the Royal Navy for the past 30 years and I’m more at home at the helm of a 636 foot, 26,000 ton Aircraft Carrier!! One of my last jobs at sea was “Driving” HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, but handling a narrowboat is totally different without the aid of a full crew and four very responsive gas turbine engines, twin propellers and hydrolic rudder controls!! As we approached the junction to turn right onto the Oxford, Paul sounded JAMES’ horn to alert any approaching craft and I foolishly compared it to the twin mighty deafening sirens on board HMS ILLUSTRIOUS. However, JAMES’ “Quack” was more than sufficient to warn of our approach as a narrowboat was patiently waiting for us to make the turn. It just goes to prove that size isnt everything!!!!!
The rest of the day was filled with Locks, winding and beautiful scenery and a herd of water buffalo!! A stop along the way for lunch then back down the Napton Flight before arriving back at Calcutt.
The Discovery Day is just that! With Paul’s insight and knowledge you soon realise if this is the lifestyle for you. Paul tells it how it is without being self righteous. His style of instruction and guidance is spot on.
I’ve not met someone so easy to talk to in a long time. Obviously he suits this lifestyle. The day was over 10 hours long, but the time flew by as we chatted about anything and everything from what we have done in life to where we hope to be in the future, (that’s not us being together in the future!!!) topics from the sublime to the ridiculous – watch out for the narrowboat dating site!!! I felt like I was visiting an old friend rather than meeting someone for the first time. A top day out and very informative too. Well done Paul.”
You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here. Please note that there are just four dates remaining for April now so if you want to spend a spring day out with me you need to book quickly.
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.
More winter cruising – The tail end of my Christmas break afloat
Winter cruising – A narrowboat isn’t just for the summer months. Winter cruising is a joy. Here’s my account of a week on the cut over the Christmas break
Cooking on the cut – Here are some gourmet festive recipes suitable for a narrowboat’s small galley
A Cautionary Tale – Canals and narrowboats offer all the ingredients for some pretty nasty accidents. Here’s one which could have been much worse.
Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.
Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.
London cruising – Every week I receive emails from potential boat owners who want to live on board in London or who want to visit the capital as part of a holiday cruise. This advice from a very experienced boater will be of great interest to you if you’re one of them.
Narrowboat fuel consumption – How many miles to the gallon can you get out of your floating home?
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”
Most Users Ever Online: 298
Currently Browsing this Page:
Paul B: 183
Johny London: 142
Our Nige: 110
Guest Posters: 69
Newest Members:Robert Bullock, selenakc2, WilliamrenJH WilliamrenJH, jk62.jh, KennethidownST KennethidownST, noahschippers, alysaparramore, When, Sara Bibb, shawneeserena2
Administrators: Paul Smith: 1795