Sally has been away now for two and a half weeks. While we suffer ice, sleet and snow with recent overnight lows of minus seven degrees, Sally is “enjoying” thirty five degree daytime highs and not too chilly lows of thirty degrees at night. The temperature is much higher than here, but perhaps too high considering what she’s doing.
She’s on the island of Negros, three hundred miles south east of Manila and six thousand six hundred miles east of here. She flew from Heathrow to Dubai, waited for three hours before boarding a flight to Manila, waited four hours for a connecting flight to Bacolod on Negros island and catching a bus for an hour and a half trip to La Carlota City and finally catching another bus for an hour to Canlaon City at the base of eight thousand feet high Canlaon mountain, the islands towering active volcano.
From Canlaon City, Sally climbed on to a motorised tricycle taxi for twenty or thirty minutes. The length of the tricycle journey depends on the tenacity of the taxi driver. The route becomes progressively more difficult for motorised transport. The taxi can’t reach closer than a mile to her destination so she has to walk the rest.
Her home for three weeks is a fifteen feet square bamboo hut with a thatched roof. The hut has just one room which she will share with ten men and one woman for twenty four hours a day. There’s no running water or electricity. Bottled water has to be carried in by taxi and by foot from Canlaon City.
There’s a small sluggish river about 100m away but they can’t drink the water there because they, and hundreds of other workers in the area, use it as a toilet. Their shower is a spring which bubbles to the surface in the middle of a nearby open field. Because the field is open, anyone wanting to use the shower has to do so fully or partially clothed.
Sally’s job is to cook pretty much constantly during each very long working day. The guys are often up between 3am and 4am, keen to get as much work done before an already hot day becomes unbearable. Their staple diet is rice and vegetables with whatever fish or meat they can get their hands on. Some vegetables and the occasional chicken can be obtained from local farmers but the bulk of their food has to be bought from the market in Canlaon City, transported by taxi to as close to the fields as possible, then carried the rest of the way by hand.
Next to the sugar cane fields are dozens of rice fields. The swampy ground is home to thousands of dinner plate sized frogs. To add a little variety to their diet, they add frogs’ legs when they have the energy to catch them, which isn’t very often given that, following a 4am start, the guys hack away at sugar cane with machetes on and off throughout the day before finishing at 5pm.
What little free time they have in the evening is spent playing cards with a pack Sally bought at a gift shop on the Foxton flight last June. The narrowboat adorned cards must look rather odd in a bamboo hut sandwiched between crops of rice and sugar cane at the base of an active volcano in the middle of a tropical island close to the equator.
We could do with a little of the tropical heat here at the moment. The thermometer is slowly rising from last night’s low of minus five and the marina is frozen again. There’s a pond sized patch in the ice where coots, mallards, Canada geese and a solitary swan are furiously paddling in circles to prevent the cold water from freezing. The bowed reeds next to the boat are frosted white and there are two puzzled looking mallards slipping and sliding their way over the half inch thick ice.
The day looks pretty cold outside, but I don’t care.
The boat is now warmer and more comfortable than it’s ever been. I have finally fitted the plastic secondary double glazing panels I purchased over a year ago. I tried the magnetic tape the panels came with. The panels were too heavy for the tape and fell off almost as soon as I fitted them. Last week I tried screwing the four corners of the panels into the window frame after fitting draught excluder around the panel’s edge. The panel bowed away from the window frame along the longest edge allowing cold air to pour into the boat. I had to try another way of securing them.
I ordered two reels of tape; one reel of hook and one loop tape, both with adhesive backing. I’ve been fitting the panels slowly throughout the week starting at the front of the boat where I spend most time and where I feel the effect of the draughts streaming through the old hopper windows any time we have more than a gentle breeze at the marina, which is pretty much every day.
I was doing very well until I fitted the sixth panel over the port galley window. I developed an effective routine for each window. I removed the wooden rail which keeps the curtains in place, removed the curtains and pole from the two curtain pole clips above each window, thoroughly cleaned both window and window frame, removed the protective film from one side of the plastic panel, stuck the hook tape neatly around the edge of the panel, fitted the eye tape to the hook tape and removed the adhesive backing from the eye tape before carefully pressing the panel to the window frame and finally removing the protective film from the cabin side of the panel.
Perfect… until I came to the last panel.
I must have had a senior moment. I seem to be having more and more of them lately. On autopilot, after effectively fitting the previous five panels, I did my window cleaning, stripped the protective film off, fitted both hook and loop tape strips and then triumphantly stuck the whole lot to the window frame. It was only when I tried to remove the final protective film that I realised I had reverted to my normal incompetent self. I had removed the protective film from the wrong side of the window so had fitted the tape to the side with the protective film still on. Of course, removing the protective film involved unsticking the panel from the frame and then removing the tape strips before I could get at the film. This would only have been a minor inconvenience if I hadn’t used all of the tape. Now I have to pay another £30 for enough tape to finish the job. The additional cost is just another penalty for my eternal ineptitude.
Fitting the panels might have been a long and painful process, but I am absolutely delighted with the result. The panels have transformed the boat. I had always been frustrated with the boat’s inability to retain heat. It thought the problem was down to poor insulation rather than heat escaping through the windows.
In hindsight, the heat loss isn’t surprising. I have ten windows, each with a surface area of 0.45 square metres, so that’s a total of 4.5 square metres of single glazing sucking the heat out of the boat. In addition, the poorly fitted hopper windows have allowed gusts of icy air to penetrate the cabin. Sometimes I’ve noticed Sally’s hair gently rippling in the breeze when we’ve been sitting inside the boat with the hopper windows closed.
Now there isn’t even a hint of a draught inside. The cold air used to cascade through the windows and on to the bench seats beneath. Now the seats are warm and draught free. Last night I sat in comfort by the stove with the wind howling in frustration outside because it couldn’t get in.
If you have draughty windows, I highly recommend fitting some kind of secondary double glazing, even if it’s single-season-use secondary double glazing film. You’ll be amazed by the difference.
Things ran a lot more smoothly on Saturday morning when my new battery bank was fitted. I ordered the batteries from Calcutt Boats a week or so ago. They arrived at the beginning of this week and Dave Reynold, our resident marine electrician, arrived exactly on time to fit them for me.
Dave has a bad back so I offered to swap the batteries over for him. I wasn’t looking forward to the job. The new 160ah AGM batteries are about 3kg heavier than my old 135ah lead acid batteries. At 46kg each they are about the same weight as Sally but not nearly so pleasant to hold.
One of the few problems with my mooring is that access from the closest car parking point is roughly one hundred feet away and up a steep path to climb the fifteen feet high marina embankment. Carrying heavy gas cylinders, coal or a full toilet cassette up and down the path is a bit of a pain. Carrying the batteries to the boat, each weighing roughly the same as two bags of coal, was very hard work.
Carrying the batteries to the boat was hard work, but I expected getting them in to the right place in the engine room to be even more challenging. When I swapped two of my lead acid batteries over two years ago, I was close to tears. I was expecting these heavier batteries to be even more difficult, but Dave Reynolds and his years of experience came to the rescue.
Last time I moved the batteries on my own. I had to lift them down from the rear deck into the engine room and then move them laterally on to the port counter. It was this last part of the lift which nearly gave me a hernia last time. This time, with two of us on the job, the batteries were in place in seconds and with very little effort. Dave attached a six feet long strap to the battery handles then took the battery weight with the strap held over the edge of the hatch. He released his hold on the strap slightly to allow the battery to drop while I gently swung the seven stone dead weight easily in to place.
An hour and a half after Dave arrived, he packed up his tools and left. My new battery bank was installed and working perfectly. Dave tweaked a few settings on the charger and the battery monitor. The battery bank is now maintenance free. The capacity has been increased from 540ah to 640ah. The batteries shouldn’t need replacing now until 2025. In the long term, they should work out far cheaper than lead acid batteries. I’m very happy with them but only time will tell exactly how cost effective they really are.
Talking of costs, I thought you would like to know what I spent on keeping my floating home maintained and fully functioning last month.
As you can see from the pretty pie chart above, I spent £1,027.17 on the boat in December, excluding general living costs such as food and drink, telephone, internet and general household expenses.
Maintenance & Repairs: I’m virtually at the end of my four and a half year maintenance and refurbishment project. I’ve spent almost £20,000 getting the boat to the very comfortable condition it’s in now but £8,000 of that was over plating the original partially rotten wooden cabin and getting the boat there and back by road transport.
Most of the maintenance costs for December were for having the tunnel lamp replaced, the alternator realigned, and the lights rewired for the oil pressure, tachometer and engine temperature gauges in the pigeon box. With the new tunnel light installed and the back lights for the gauges working properly I can now see what I’m doing properly in tunnels, and I can cruise at night.
I also bought a new combination smoke and CO2 alarm, some fixings for my double glazing panels, some more hooks and clips for the engine room and a tin of Toplac paint to test the new colour for the cabin sides which I plan to repaint in April.
Gas: I replaced one of my two 13kg propane cylinders. The last time I bought one was in June just before I had my gas powered instant water heater removed. Up until then I was replacing my gas cylinders every twenty one days but now the gas is used just for cooking, it lasts far, far longer.
Electricity: The electricity at the marina is charged at 20p per unit. Prepaid cards are available at our reception which are then fed in to the meter. My 12v supply is kept topped up by the boat’s 3 x 100w solar panels all of the time in the spring, summer and autumn and most of the time during the winter. The shore supply is used for our mains appliances including two 500w Dimplex Coldwatcher heaters which are turned on at the back of the boat when it’s particularly cold.
I think the bulk of the electricity cost in December was due to Sally preparing for her three months away in the Philippines. She thinks, quite rightly as it happens, that I’m not very good at coping on my own, so she washed, ironed and cleaned everything on the boat at least two or three times before she left. Her plan has kept me in underwear for her first three weeks away without me having to resort to turning them back to front and inside out to make them last longer. Sadly, I’ve run out now so I’ll have to do a little washing, but there’s absolutely NO chance anything’s going to get ironed so I expect the electricity costs will be very much less for the next two months until she returns.
Diesel: I’ve been topping my tank up every two months recently. At three hundred and fifty litres, the tank is far larger than most boats so there’s little fear of me running our. However, I use a fair amount when I’m running my training days. In this case, most of the seventy five hours the engine had been running since the previous time I topped up in October was been for discovery days. I’ve been analysing my diesel consumption over the last year. Historically the engine has been using 1.24l per hour on average but this time the figure shot up to 1.75 litres per hour. I think, at least I hope, the reason is because that Calcutt wharf staff filled the tank for me on other occasions but this time I filled the tank myself and squeezed as much in as I could.
Coal: As is usual for this time of the year, I bought ten bags in the month. When the stove is on twenty four hours a day, a bag lasts me about two and a half days. However, if there are warm days in the months we let the fire go out during the day. We could get away with heating the boat less but wrapping up more when we’re sitting down relaxing but I’m happy to pay a little extra so we can enjoy rather than endure the boat.
Moorings: The second largest expense of the months and, on average, the largest single expense over the year. As far as marina mooring costs are concerned, it’s not a bad price. The annual fee is £2,346 which is on par with many of the other marinas in the area but, as far as I’m concerned, and as far as many of the other moorers here are concerned, the two marinas at Calcutt Boats offer an awful lot more than competitors.
For my money I get a mooring on a site which is very secure indeed. The marina is on the off side of the canal, which is always safer than being on the towpath side, and access by road is up a half mile private drive and electric gates which are closed when the business is closed. In the five years I’ve been here, there haven’t been any problems at all with thefts from boats or damage to them, or with unwelcome guests.
In addition to the security, the site is both beautiful and very spacious. The landscaped part of the site is about forty acres including ten acres of water for the two hundred and fifty boats moored on them, but there is also a further seventy acres of accessible land, including three SSSI wild flower meadows which are stunning in the spring and early summer. There also are seven acres of woodland on site with in excess of fifty species of trees and shrubs.
Because there’s so much space, there’s plenty of wildlife. We have the usual coots, mallards, moorhens, swans and, unfortunately, Canada geese, but we also have some less common birds here. There’s a grey heron or two, both barn and tawny owls, kingfishers, green woodpeckers, and buzzards and sparrow hawks. The feeder I’ve hung from the cockspur thorn tree next to the boat demonstrates the diversity. Looking through my window now I can see eight species in and under the tree. It’s a wonderful sight.
In addition to the birds, we have plenty of room for four legged critters. We have rabbits and, I think, hares, both roe and muncjack deer, squirrels (little shits) and a couple of foxes. They are always a pleasure to see and as much of the land is rarely visited by people, there’s a good chance of seeing something interesting if you go for a walk on your own.
Then there’s the location. Calcutt Boats is at the heart of the Midlands network. Left out of the marina entrance and you’re heading on the Grand Union towards Birmingham. Right out of the entrance, up three locks and a five minute cruise brings you to Napton Junction. A right turn here takes you on to the Oxford canal and a tranquil fifty miles down to Oxford and the Thames. Left at the junction carries you along the joint Grand Union and Oxford canals through peaceful rural Warwickshire to the canal capital of Braunston and the choice of heading towards Leicester or London. Another flight of locks and Braunston tunnel and you have another choice; straight ahead along the Grand Union towards Milton Keynes, or left up the Grand Union Leicester line and one of the most tranquil sections of canal on the network.
And if you want servicing for your boat whether it’s topping up diesel, propane, coal, or having your toilet tank emptied or you want your boat painted, blacked, repaired or serviced, all the facilities are at hand nine hours a day, seven days a week for fifty one weeks of the year.
All in all I think that my mooring offers very good value for money.
There you go. These are my actual costs for the last month of 2014. I hope they are of use to you. Of course, the maintenance and running costs for just one month of the year don’t necessarily show you the full picture. If you want to know the cost of living afloat all year round, and you want to calculate your own specific costs, you need to consider the package I’ve put together here. If you’re seriously considering living afloat, you’ll find it’s a very useful resource.
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 two dates left for April now for couples and exclusive singles (6th & 12th) and three dates for singles (6th, 7th, & 12th). 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. I’m receiving bookings at the rate of one or two each week at the moment so the available dates won’t be there for long.
In the meantime, meet discovery day attendee Natalie Giles.
“I thought it was great. It was great to just get going and cruising. Also I’m very aware that you were dealing with two wildly different people with totally different levels of knowledge and different interests etc. The delivery was fabulous – Paul you have the patience of a saint – and the tactful way you dealt with things was appreciated!
The discovery day is a great chance to get reassured but also to get realistic-not-overly-romantic advice in a very relaxed and lovely manner.”
You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here. Please note that there are limited 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.
An unexpected cruise – A surprise cruise to Braunston, secondary double glazing panel fitting, and why dogs and laminate flooring don’t go well together
Battery Banks – The pros and cons of lead acid and AGM batteries
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”
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