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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2013 01 20 Newsletter – Your Homework for a Cold and Snowy Sunday Afternoon

Living On A Narrowboat News 20th January 2013Living on a narrowboat: The Real Cost of a Life AfloatIf you’re thinking of buying a narrowboat, especially one to live on, you need to know how much the boat is likely to cost you to buy and to maintain. This useful guide details all the costs I’ve incurred during the two and a half years that I’ve lived on my own narrowboat. You’ll discover the hidden costs when you buy a narrowboat, mooring fees, utility costs, propulsion fuel costs, repair and maintenance expenses and much, much more. Download your copy here.

“This is an extremely useful booklet for anyone considering living afloat. The author has covered all of the outlay that you are likely to face in an easy and straight forward manner. I have been considering living on a narrowboat for years but was put off by the unknown. Having read this I am more likely to make the dream come true.” Tigs, Amazon Kindle Review

Most of the time I really enjoy spending all of my working day outside. I haven’t been quite so happy over the last few days. On Friday we had 2-3 inches of snow. It was fun to drive on for the first hour or two before it compacted into a thin layer of lethal ice. The cruel east wind didn’t help either. I’m working on a project in our tip area at the moment. The tip was about of about an acre and was where we stored spare engines, engine parts, aggregate, timber and some old vehicles. We’re disposing of quite a lot of the stuff down there so we can reduce the tip area by about 50% and use the additional space for container storage for our moorers. The work involves using the site digger and dumper to move heavy items around and level the ground ready for the containers. Sitting on a frozen digger seat while exposed to the easterly wind isn’t very pleasant, but it’s such a pleasure to get back to the boat after a day’s work.

The front of the boat incuding the saloon, dining and kitchen area is lovely and warm thanks to the coal fuelled stove. My “office”, about twenty feet back from the stove, is a little chilly. I need a small mains powered Dimplex greenhouse heater to keep the chill off when I’m working. Further away from the stove, the bathroom and bedroom are quite cold. The wind direction makes a big difference to the temperature in different parts of the boat. The boat is moored facing west so the prevailing south westerly scours the port side of the boat, finding every gap in the windows and side hatches. When the wind blows from the east, it hits the back of the boat and finds the gap between the rear hatch and the back doors. Consequently the engine room is freezing when the east wind blows, as is the bedroom just behind it. I’m not bothered though. We’re lovely and warm in bed with a four season duvet and additional blanket.

The weather at the moment is unpleasant to be out in so it’s great weather for staying in and doing a little narrowboat homework. It’s the perfect time for working out how much your new boat is going to cost to buy and maintain. I’ve got thhe perfect tool to help you…

Online Narrowboat Budget Calculator “Narrowbudget”

Narrowbudget DashboardGreat news! Narrowbudget is now live. I’m really pleased with it. Software architect Phil Copper has done a marvellous job. If you have a website and you need it enhancing by someone who is skilled, professional and a pleasure to work with, Phil’s your man. You can contact him via a link on Narrowbudget’s introduction page.

In case you’ve just subscribed to the site, or you’ve not had time to read the newsletters recently, Narrowbudget is a bespoke narrowboat expenses calculator. If you’re considering buying a narrowboat and aren’t sure what costs you’re likely to face, this application will really open your eyes. It’s been developed as a result of my own three years on a narrowboat, extensive research into general narrowboat running costs and feedback from numerous other liveaboards. The image on the left is just one of the charts from the dashboard area where you can see at a glance what the lifestyle’s going to cost you… and whether you can afford it.

The application is available in two versions; the Standard version, which is free to you as a site subscriber, and Narrowbudget Gold. Narrowbudget Gold is a complete solution to the problem is pinning down narrowboat costs. It allows you to save your data, create unlimited workbooks so that you can explore different scenarios, comes with a completed workbook of my own liveaboard expenses for 2012, and both guides that I’ve published to date; Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat and Living on a Narrowboat: 21 Liveaboard Case Studies. Narrowbudget Gold is priced at £19.95 but if you’ve already purchased one or both of the guides, you’ll pay a reduced price. You can find out more about both versions here.

Narrowboat Heating Part 1: Stoves

If you read and enjoyed Tim Davis’s excellent articles on solar power and narrowboat electrics, you’ll love his latest explanation of narrowboat heating systems. Narrowboat heating can be very confusing. Some boaters will tell you that all you need to keep you toasty in the depths of a harsh winter is a solid fuel stove. There’s much more to it than that though. Tim has thoughfully and thoroughly explained all the options from multi fuel stoves to sophisticated central heating systems, and what you need to do to ensure that you have a constant stream of piping hot water for that all important shower after a cold day’s cruising. Here’s part one and all you need to know about narrowboat stoves.

New Guide: Living on a Narrowboat: 21 Liveaboard Case Studies

The last guide I wrote was all about my experiences on my own narrowboat and the costs I incurred. This one will give you a wider view of the experiences of narrowboat owners who live on board. There are actually twenty three case studies. I realised I had added two too many fairly early on but decided to keep the additional case studies in the book to give you a little more information.

I won’t wax lyrical about the guide here. I’ve written about the book and everything it contains on the site. You can read about it here. I believe that it will give you a much clearer picture of what life on a narowboat is really like and will help you choose the best boat and configuration to suit your needs.

New Login Details

In order to effectively manage access to the two guides I’ve published and the Narrowbudget narrowboat budget calculator, I’ve installed a new piece of software on the site. It won’t make any difference to your enjoyment of the site, but you need to how to log in to the new areas.

I will start to add subscribers to the new system tomorrow. There are over 6,500 now so the process will take me a few days. You will know when you’ve been added to the new system because you wil receive an email from me with your login details, and you will then receive a series of daily emails. If you don’t want to receive these information packed emails from me, you can turn them off through the “Manage your subscription” link at the bottom of each email. Please note though that if you turn off the daily emails, you will also stop receiving newsletters from me. If you want to remain on the newsletter mailing list, just delete the daily emails if there’s nothing of interest to you in them.

You will only need your new login details to access the following:

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat
Living on a Narrowboat: 21 Liveaboard Case Studies
Narrowbudget Standard
Narrowbudget Gold

You will receive the login details for the above with your first email from the new system. Your login details will be the email address you used when you registered for the site, and a password, automatically generated when you registered, that you will be able to change through the “Manage your subscription” link.

Please note that if you have been a site subscriber for some time, these details may not log you in to the forum. This is an issue that’s been driving me mad for weeks. I haven’t resolved it yet, but there is a way around if for regular forum posters. You can use your old login details to access the forum if the new details don’t automatically log you in.

New login form – Use your email address and password for this form
Old login form – Only use this form if you can’t log in to the forum using the above form with your email address and password. You will need your username and password for this form

I apologise for the confusion. I’m sure I’ll have the issue sorted out soon but please bear with me until I do.

Popular Forum Posts

Here are some more forum posts for you. If you can’t find an answer to your narrowboat questions on the site or in the forum, please post it on the forum. It’s easy to do. All you have to do is to make sure that you’re logged in before you post. There’s no such thing as a silly question, so go ahead and ask.

  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

If you’re wondering why you are receiving this newsletter it’s because you subscribed to my site (Living On A Narrowboat). I hope that the information I send you from time to time is useful. After all, the site is all about narrowboats and you probably found the site from doing a narrowboat related search through a search engine. However, I don’t want you to receive emails that you really have no interest in. I know from personal experience how annoying they can be. If you really don’t want to receive information about living on a narrowboat and updates on the on-line, offline and marina moorings in England and Wales you can unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this email. I hope you stay. I sincerely hope you find the information useful.

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Paul Smith
 

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.