Learn about life afloat the easy way

Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.

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“Taking the ‘Ahhhh!’ out of Agas!” or “Fuel for thought!”

Among the many strains of research I have come across in my desire for life afloat/off grid/independant – or as much as you can get on this crowded and over-regulated island is the matter of stoves.

Most boats have a solid fuel stove of some kind. From the traditional “Boatmans Cabin” to a nice Morso Squirrel in the lounge or sometimes a full Arga or is it Aga or even an AHHHHH GA! When the damned thing went out overnight and would not light in the morning and so there is no heating or hot water! (Cant you just feel the pain?? Oh the memories of childhood!)

Actually, I remember warm mornings, oven bread and a slow cooked stew! So one way and another I want a proper cooking stove type fire in my boat.
But what type?

The problems come down to size, cost and fuel.

There is only so much space available in a boat and if one heats the lounge area with it then it will probably not be big enough to cook on or if you do use it for cooking you get cook smells (not so bad if you are a good cook-like me!) and condensation from boiling water send a greasy layer all over everything (ALWAYS a nuisance).

Of course if you have it in a separate galley then you lose the friendliness/atmosphere of a real fire in the lounge and have a roasting hot kitchen all the time. Not ideal if it has a fridge or freezer in it.

Then the question of fuel. Again effected by space, or rather lack of it, as wood and coal are bulky to store. Of course if your stove is not very efficient you need more fuel.

Then cost. A small boat stove  circa £200 and for an Arga….Well, even if I sold a kidney AND the dog…I still would not get what I want.

Soooo… my various researches have sent me in the direction of a Rocket Stove “RS”, Rocket mass heaters and experimental stoves.

Most, but not all, folks on the various forums are outside the UK which is a pity as there is a common feeling between them and boaters in respect to doing things our way rather than following the herd!

I will put a few links at the bottom for those interested in all things “Rocket Stove”.

But what I like about them is they are 90% efficient at turning fuel into heat. Where as the ordinary solid fuel stove is 30% if you are lucky. This is because the RS burns more efficiently rather than let the calorific gas go up [the chimney] in smoke! They are, once running, smokeless.

They require about a third of the fuel of an ordinary stove. They heat up quickly and will burn safely with no smoke and  almost no ash.

For information on designs try the Woodstove forum.


Or You tube and look for the channels of  “Trying2hard” and “ppotty1”.

I have a design in mind that I have pulled together from a lot of different ideas on stove design that will incorporate a firebox in the lounge, an oven/hob in the kitchen as well as heating my hot water and central heating. I WANT IT ALL!

But to build it will cost me £500! But If  it goes off I should be snug as a bug with  third of the wood needed.

I have also been looking at different types of solid fuel, pellets, bricketts, sawdust and woodchips.

A sawdust fire done properly burns for 8 hours! Pellets are efficient but expensive., bricketts you have to make yourself- but you need the time and space to dry them.  Need to research more on this.

So there you have it another piece of the dream.





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Solicitor by profession. Grumpy old Bugger by experience. Ex-HM Forces, Ex-Firefighter, Ex-perienced in life! Am within a gnats whisker of achieving my dream of living on the cut! Sometimes it seems the Gnat has thicker whiskers than Duck Dynasty!