I’ve spent much of the last week clearing ditches. It’s a job which I enjoy despite spending much of my time being raked by blackthorn, hawthorn and bramble and trying to keep my balance on uneven wet clay. The two inch long hawthorn and blackthorn thorns are wicked. During my first winter here in early 2010 a branch flicked into my face allowing a needle tipped thorn to deeply puncture the white of my right eye.
I was lucky. Apart from from scaring anyone who looked at me with a completely red eyeball, a not-so-quick visit to the emergency department at Warwick hospital and a tetanus booster was all I needed in the way of medical care. I hate to think what the end result would have been if the thorn had pierced my iris.
On Monday, I pierced the white of the same eye again. Unlike on the first occasion, this time my face was protected. I had the visor down on my chainsaw helmet, but a thorn tipped branch slipped through the gap between my face and my helmet’s clear plastic visor. I didn’t bother with hospital this time, but I had an uncomfortable night’s sleep on Monday.
After an hour’s fire safety training first thing on Tuesday morning, I had the dubious pleasure of delivering an engine to Welsh Harp Sailing Club. It was a dubious pleasure because of the location rather than the club itself or the people I met there.
The sailing club is on Brent reservoir, also sometimes known as Welsh Harp. The reservoir, owned and managed by CRT, has a historical link to the canal network. Planned in 1803 but not completed until 1835, the reservoir provided much needed water to the Regent’s canal at Paddington. These days the reservoir is better known as a popular haven for boat loving Londeners.
At one hundred and ten acres, the reservoir has eleven times the area of water we have at Caclutt Boats, but I know where I would rather be. The sailing club is minutes away from the southern terminus of the M1 and within sight and earshot of the crawling traffic on the hectic North Circular. Dirty grey houses stand shoulder to shoulder around the reservoir which is protected by locked gates and steel fencing topped with spear sharp points.
As soon as I left the motorway I was reminded why I moved to the country. Impatient horn-hitting motorists cursed and seethed on their frustratingly slow stop-start journey along the packed ring road. It’s not a relaxing place to live.
Fortunately I don’t live there any more. Two years in the late eighties was more than enough, thank you very much. After a phone call to one of the boaters to gain access to the reservoir through the gate in the seven feet high pointed railings protecting the site, I pulled up outside the clubhouse to offload the engine.
I suppose the reservoir offers a degree of tranquility for those living in such a built up area but the constant roar of nearby traffic is a painful reminder of the water’s close proximity to hundreds of thousands of tightly packed houses. After a quick cup of tea I headed north as quickly as possible, back to the peace and quiet of rural Warwickshire.
I’ve been carrying out an experiment over the last few weeks. I’ll tell you about it providing you don’t think any less of me once you’ve read it.
In one of my newsletters, I can’t remember which, I wrote about my water tank and how I had established its capacity by filling the tank then emptying it into an eleven litre capacity washing up bowl, then counting the number of bowls. My water tank holds exactly the same as my diesel tank; three hundred and fifty litres or just under seventy eight gallons.
I said that a tank of water lasts us no more than three or four days. A boater emailed me to say that his tank lasts him for six weeks. At the time, I thought a water tank which was made to last six weeks must surely belong to a boater who, to put it politely, wasn’t too fond of using water.
Sally is away at the moment. She’s due back next week but while she’s been off the boat I thought I would check to see how long the full water tank would last me on my own. I filled the empty tank on Friday for the first time in three weeks. I cut down on my water use to make it last so long. I showered every other day and only washed the dishes once a day.
I’m still a long way away from the month and a half that the guy who emailed me claimed, but for one very good reason; my water tank is half the size of most narrowboats on the cut. If you look at boat brochures on the excellent Rugby Boats web site you’ll see that of the boats which actually state the tank capacity, the vast majority have 150 – 200 gallon tanks. Most boats have tanks at least twice the size of mine so with a similar tank, I too could sit comfortably in one spot without having to top the tank up.
Of course, there boat’s on board water supply is just one factor governing how long you can stay in one spot. My boat’s real Achilles’ heel is the toilet cassette’s capacity. Three or four days is all that’s needed to fill it so unless I make extensive and inappropriate use of the hedgerow, I guess I’m going to have to move every couple of days anyway.
Following my post two weeks ago on the subject of earning a crust afloat, aspiring narrowboat owner and Canadian Chris Gorham sent me the following list produced as a result of a recent recent brainstorming session. He acknowledges that some of his suggestions don’t hold water (see what I did there?) but hopes that his list will provide inspiration for anyone thinking of starting a boat based business.
Here’s his list….
movie theater (and or pop-up screen for multiple boat viewing, like drive-in
meal-planning & prep (for other boat-based families)
articulated narrowboat (see attached)
governance boat (waterways)
court boat. (dealing with waterway issues)
law office boat
investment agency (especially as crowd-funded operations for boat based ventures))
taxation services boat
security office (police) boat
bank boat (atm/teller)
in-canal gantry crane (boat/system)
in-canal dry-dock (boat/system)(sand blasting, painting, blacking, etc)
in-canal dredge (hydrovac)
sewage suction boat
garbage collection boat
training facility boat
royalty boat (lol)
secure persons transport boat (vip)
prison boat (minimum security)
migrant worker farming boat (where boats are moored next to farms seasonally)
medical clinic boat
pregnancy care & pediatrics specialty boats
elder care boats (for seniors plus nursing staff)
laundry boats (maybe with dry cleaning)
mechanical repair boat/engine repair
plumber boat repair (heat trace retrofits, etc)
electrical specialist – boat repair
heating systems specialist for boats services.
fast leak stoppage, prevention, and dry-out service boat
fire & smoke damage rehab repair boat.
furniture upholstery & repair (mainly for other boat based families)
awing fab & repair (cratch, etc)
maintenance services boat
computer services, parts, & repairs boat
refrigerated boats. (related to grocery stores)
warehouse boats. (intermediary storage for stores)
auction/boat sales boats
welding shop/repairs boats
cabinetry shop/repairs boats
(narrowboat lifestyle specific stores)
(electronics store/repairs/camera/film processing)
other businesses that can be run from a boat
blogger/consultant (like Paul)
fine arts artist
fine metals artist
tailoring/seamstress (clothing, curtains, etc.)
other design work (boat designer, architect, CAD)
baby-sitting (for other boat-based families)
pet-sitting (for other boat-based families)
boat-sitting (for other boat-based families)
drug & alcohol rehab facilities
Did you see anything you fancy? I particularly like the idea of the taxation services boat. What I really like is the idea of filling the boat with HMRC inspectors and opening the sea cock. Not that I’m bitter and twisted after the brush with them which resulted in my bankruptcy!
I had the pleasure of Simon Birt’s company on Tuesday night. Simon is currently moored here at Calcutt Boats after buying a boat at the end of last year. At the end of the month he will spend the summer cruising the network before heading south west to a permanent mooring he’s secured on the Kennet & Avon.
The evening was a pleasure; a few glasses of very pleasant red, a bowl of his delicious chilli and a chat about all things boating. These days, that’s all I want from a night out.
Simon told me that he found the boat buying process both painful and a little worrying, especially when the time came to part with his hard earned cash. He’s a thorough chap, so he did a huge amount of in depth research throughout the process and wrote everything down. On Tuesday he kindly promised to send me the article he’s written as a result of his homework.
I’ve reproduced the first half of the article below…
Buying a Narrow Boat
I have messed about in boats all my adult life and have owned a number of boats from a little river cruiser to a sailing boat capable of going anywhere. For the last ten years or so I have hired various boats in the UK and abroad. On the whole hiring was enjoyable and convenient,and there is a lot to be said for simply turning up and sailing away and then returning the boat at the end of the holiday, with somebody else dealing with the cleaning and maintenance. But there are limitations and restrictions when hiring a boat, perhaps the most irksome being the lack of flexibility with start and finish dates and having to return a boat early in the morning. This can rather take the edge off a relaxing week afloat.
What follows is the distillation of my experience of buying a narrow boat. I more or less followed my own advice. I could find little information about the buying process when I needed it, so thought I would write this.
Having hired several narrow boats on different stretches of water over the years the decision was made to own a boat again. We (I have a significant other) were becoming less enamoured with a typical week in a hire boat, having found ourselves looking enviously at all the lovely boats that we saw on our travels that were clearly privately owned. We started to fantasise about what it would be like to have such a boat, to be able to use it all year round, stay a day or two longer, have sharp knives and a frying pan that still had a non stick coating.
Research – what boat will work for you?
Before we started looking for a boat to buy we decided to have one last holiday on a hire boat to help us decide what we wanted. As luck would have it this final week as hirers completely changed our minds as to what type of boat would work for us. If you cast your mind back to the summer of 2014 you will probably remember it as largely warm and sunny, with very little rain and weeks of unbroken sunshine. This was the case, except for a single week in July when the temperature plunged and winter seemed to have retuned. You guessed it, this is the week we chose for our trip on the Shropshire Union. In the event, this was possibly the best thing that could have happened. Having to endure unseasonably low temperatures, wind and rain gave us a good idea of what boating would be like outside the summer months. At the end of the week we had a wish list to help us choose the ideal boat for all seasons. We did enjoy the holiday by the way.
Your ideal boat will doubtless be different to mine, it will be influenced by how you will use the boat: are you going to live aboard, cruise for extended periods, how many berths do you need? One just has to look at huge variety of boats for sale to realise that there is no such thing as a standard boat. The one exception to this is perhaps the ex hire boat, these tend to be built to a more or less standard layout, but more about hire boats later.
A wish list is a valuable tool for focusing the mind and narrowing (no pun intended) the search. Top of the list is probably length, followed by stern type, cruiser, traditional or semi traditional, number and type of berths, pump out or cassette loo, standard or reverse layout. You will doubtless have thoughts on the make and size of engine, heating and electrical system. You may also have a preferred builder, of which there are many. Boats from particular builders can command considerably higher prices on the second hand market. Your wish list is going to be shaped by your budget and this is perhaps the place to start when deciding to buy a boat.
There are a lot of ex hire boats on the system, inevitably these find their way onto the second hand market. They are generally strongly built and will have been well maintained. However, unless you want lots of beds and a small amount of living space, they will need some work to adapt the accommodation. The systems will tend to be quite basic too, inverters will typically be low output and solid fuel stoves are rare. They will also have taken a knock or two and may need quite a lot of TLC.
Set your budget
Having a budget and sticking to it is crucial, spending too much or buying something that needs a lot of expensive corrective work will almost certainly turn the dream of boat ownership into a nightmare. When drawing up a budget, have an overall figure and make sure that you include all the costs of purchase and a provisional sum for the inevitable unforeseen repairs. Make another list, with possible work that may be required together with estimates. This will be very useful when you find a boat that you like but needs some repair or updating to make it work for you. Some things are relatively straightforward and inexpensive to deal with, others are not. For example changing the curtains for something that suits your taste is in these days of online curtain suppliers, is quick and surprisingly inexpensive. Repainting the exterior is not, several thousand pounds for a quality job and you will have to wait for slot with your chosen painter. The table below shows some typical upgrades and repairs together with an estimate of the costs. These are all based on a sixty foot boat and were obtained at the end of 2014.
|Total repaint back to bear metal (top quality job)||£10,000.00|
|Repainting name panels||£2,000.00|
|Sign writing name panels||£1000.00|
|New batteries (each)||£100.00|
|Fitting new stove||£1,600.00|
|Blacking including lifting out||£600.00|
|New cratch cover||£700.00|
|Battery monitor (including fitting)||£300.00|
|New mooring ropes||£100.00|
|New engine (including fitting)||£10000.00|
This may seem counter intuitive, but I believe the best way to buy a boat is to imagine that you have to sell it again. The old adage that the happiest days of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it may not be entirely true, but thinking this way will make you look at your potential purchase without the rose tinted spectacles. You may think that purple and brown with pink coach stripes is a fetching colour scheme, not everybody may share your view and this will dramatically reduce the number of potential buyers. My point is that if the boat has limited appeal because of its colour, layout or whatever then this should have an impact on its price. The great appeal of narrow boats is their individuality. When buying new there is great scope for owners to include a lot of their own personality, this can lead to some rather interesting creations. This may be fine if you share the previous owners taste and will mean that you may get a bargain.
Draw up a shortlist
You have decided on the type of boat you would like and you have a budget. Where do you find one? Most narrow boats are sold through brokers, the broker will have a web site and also advertise in the the trade press. They will probably also list on Apollo Duck, which is to boat buying what rightmove is to house buying. You will find hundreds of narrow boats spread across the country. It is possible to define a search by price style etc, a nice feature of the site is that you are able to set up a watch list. Here you can save a number of boat details, make notes and refer back.
Magazines will give you an idea of what’s on the market, the trouble is that because of the time taken to publish the information may not be current. Most advertisements will include a website address, however experience has shown that often web sites are not always up to date. The only sure way to find out if a boat is still for sale is to pick up the phone and ask.
The phone call to the vendor is your chance to gain a lot of additional information which may not be in the sale details. Some good questions to ask are: How long has the boat been on the market for? Why are you selling it? What is likely to show up as a problem in the survey? It’s surprising what information people will divulge, which can be very useful. Brokers tend to be a little more guarded than private sellers, sometimes they don’t know the answer because they are not well acquainted with the boat or the owner, if so ask them to find out and get back to you.
You will probably end up with several boats on your “short list” perhaps you will be lucky and find that they are all close together and you can view several boats on the same day. The reality is that they will be spread around, even if they are in the same area it takes a surprising amount of time to look over a boat. Be realistic about what can be achieved and consider making it into a two or three day trip. You may find that you want to go back and and look at a boat a second time, easy if you are not too far away.
When viewing a boat, especially with a broker there is often a feeling of pressure to do so as quickly as possible, don’t be rushed, take your time. Photographs are a huge help as a reminder, take lots, its surprising how quickly one forgets detail, combined with a few notes they will really help refine your choice later. Also there should be a file of documents, these will include the Boat Safety Certificate, User Manual (if the boat is relatively new), instruction manuals for the various appliances and systems and engine and gearbox manuals. You can tell a lot about how a boat has been cared for by the way this has been kept. Ask if there is a service record for the engine.
Next week – Making an offer, getting a survey done and parting with your hard earned cash
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. Until two days ago all of the April dates were booked but due to a date being rescheduled for June, there is now space on 11th April for a single person. 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 September 2013 discovery day attendee Justin Parrish.
“I thought the day was splendid. As you know I am planning to buy a canal boat and live on board cruising permanently. Although I have plenty of holidaying on boats experience I had gaps in knowledge and was particularly after information/tips on buying a boat and preferred specs, some explanations on technical aspects and to gain some experience with solo boating.
I thought you covered everything I was after. The walk round your boat explaining systems and talking about relative merits of different types of heating etc was great and will help me greatly with buying a boat. I enjoyed the cruise and was grateful to learn how to solo lock with someone about to help or fish me out of the canal if needed. The way you get information across is very good with your knowledge, patience and enthusiasm for the subject always coming through. I can not think of anything else I needed on the day, I think the merit of your day is that it covers pretty much everything with enough time to still be tailored to the needs of those who attend.
Yes. If anyone is thinking of canal boating and has any doubts in their mind about any aspect then the day is well worthwhile. I’m sure novices and veterans could all learn something and you were great company throughout.
Thanks again Paul for a great day. I enjoyed myself and learned lots, which I know will give me the confidence to make my dream happen. “
You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here. Don’t forget that there’s just one date for a single person 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.
Routine engine servicing – The basic stuff every narrowboat owner should know
Running a boating business – How to earn a living on the cut.
A detailed breakdown of my own narrowboat running costs for December 2014
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”
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