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 08 Newsletter – Your Waterways Crystal Ball

Living On A Narrowboat News
8th 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

My last newsletter was sent out on Christmas Eve at a time when you should have had something better to do than read a newsletter about narrowboats. Many of you did though, so thank you. I nearly sent you another newsletter on New Year’s eve. I thought better of it. I know you were all out partying. Personally, I don’t like crowds so Sally and I stayed on the boat and had a special meal; Maine lobster, Alaskan wild salmon and a bottle of Wolf Blass. It was the perfect evening for us.

The first week of the new year has flown by. It’s been a very mild start to 2013. I’ve even considered letting the stove go out once or twice. There’s some slightly cooler weather forecast for later on in the week but the winter so far has been a doddle. Long may it continue!

Online Narrowboat Budget Calculator “Narrowbudget”

I’ve talked about it before. You may even be one of the beta testers of the original version, a very sophisticated Excel spreadheet. It did just about everything you could ask a spreadsheet to do… apart from work for almost half of the people who tested it. The spreadsheet didn’t work if the user had a version of Excel earlier than the 2007 release. It also didn’t work for Mac users.  It was virtually useless. The trial was a disaster but it was also a stepping stone to the current version.

I decided to translate the spreadsheet into an application that would work directly from the site so that site visitors would be able to use it regardlress of software or platform. Software architect and site subscriber Phil Copper has put the application together and, I have to say, he was a real pleasure to work with. The application works perfectly. It’s fast and has far more bells and whistles than the original spreadsheet. It’s a truly comprehensive solution to the problem that many potential narrowboat owners have trying to establish exactly how much boat ownership is going to cost them.

I’ll be releasing the application in four or five days. There are just a few cosmetic changes to make behind the scenes. I thought you might like to see some screenshots of it in the meantime and find out exactly what it does. You can read more about it here. I know you’ll love it. (Please note that I’ve intentionally removed the link to the application until it’s ready later this week.)

Narrowboat Electrics Part 2

Last week’s newsletter included the first part of an excellent article about narrowboat electrics written by full time liveaboard and solar panel installer Tim Davis. I’ve now published the second and concluding part of his article. He talks about generators and invertors and what he considers the Holy Grail of onboard electrical systems. Tim is also thinking about writing further articles for the site. If you’ve enjoyed reading the two he’s written so far there’s an option for you to suggest which of several subjects he addresses next.

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.

Film Stars Wanted

Katya, a film producer from the Guardian has posted on the forum. She’s looking for a budding film start for a documentary she’s making about buying a first/new home and wants to explore differing lifestyles. You can read her post here.

New Case Studies

NB Xanadu – Mike is a kindred spirit. He moved onto his boat after his marriage failed although his first floating home was far more of a challenge than mine… a 27ft GRP cruiser. His current 50? widebeam must feel SO spacious after that!

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.

  • 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

What’s Missing?

I want the site to be a comprehensive guide to anyone who is thinking about living on a narrowboat. I’m sure that there’s plenty of stuff missing, so I need your help. In general terms, what do you think is missing from the site? What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of. And, specifically, what can’t you find the answer to? Is there a specific question about life on board that you need answering? I’m not talking about specific technical aspects that will be of use to you, but of no interest to other readers but subjects that will be of use and of interest to the majority of visitors to the site. Please help by completing this very short survey. You don’t have to leave your details so you can say what you like.
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.

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 wandered Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 35' Dutch motor cruiser. However, the pull of England's muddy ditches proved too much for them. Now they're back where they belong, constantly stuck in mud in a beautiful traditional narrowboat.