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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Travels of Joanie M – Life as a Continuous Cruiser – BCN Summary

There will be 4 parts to the BCN bits but I should warn you that the BCN is addictive.

We first travelled on it in 1982, going around the Northern reaches. After a while you will want to cruise every last mile of them, and there are about 100 miles to choose from. Despite being built unashamedly for industrial use there are many parts that are surprisingly rural. You can see signs of previous use all over, bridges carrying the towpath over a now non-existent canal, a length of piling in an otherwise stone faced canal edge, junctions with in-filled branches.

The BCN Society run Explorer Cruise every year where a number of boats accompanied by an experienced BCN-er cruise as a group around the system for a few days. Or, if you feel up to it, there is the BCN Challenge where boats compete to see who can accumulate the most points over a 24 hour period by visiting the lesser used parts. The society has its headquarters in the old pump house at the top of the Titford Locks in Oldbury and hold monthly meetings as well as running the popular annual rally at Pelsall (see the Northern Bits) and the Bonfire Rally in November at the Engine Arm, Smethwick (see the Middle Bits Part 1)

If you want to know where all those arms went to or what business’ occupied the site then try to get a copy of ‘Birmingham Canal Navigations – A Cruising & Walking Guide’ published in 1984 by the IWA. ‘The Other 60 Miles’ by Richard Chester-Brown covers all those parts of the BCN now lost to our use, although one day….

Useful Information

Trained as Engineer with Ford Motor Company. Ran Vehicle Electrics Business in Southampton until 2004. Share in 'Sundowner' from 1999 to 2007. Sold house in 2007 after having 'Joanie M' built to our spec - not that we haven't changed a number of things. Been cruising ever since.