Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Ghosties

Rachel isn’t your typical liveaboard narrowboat owner but I thought I would include her case study for those of you who are worried about making a sudden switch from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Rachel splits her time between her cottage and her narrowboat on the Thames.

Who are you? (and your significant other and, of course, your dog if you have one)

Rachel ( locally known as The Nice Witch )

Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to live a life afloat

My Mum and Dad lived on a boat for some time, my Grandmother had a boat, my uncle was a Merchant Seaman and I passed my Sea Navigation GCSE at school, I thought that rather qualified me to be afloat. I felt it was in my blood.

When Dad popped his clogs I thought about doing something sensible with my inheritance but bought a 41 year old boat instead. I like a challenge and my target was to spend as much time as I could on the water. I live and work part of the week on land and the other onboard.

What is your boat called and why did you decide on that name?

He was renamed “Ghosties” as soon as I had repainted him. The previous name was personal to the former owners, it had to go. I have been researching parapsychology for around 30 years and it seemed a good name to me, something unusual and it made me smile. The children seem to love it as they walk past.

A ghost on the river

A ghost on the river

Do you have a permenant mooring?

I’m on the river Thames, not too far from Lechlade and I love it. I’ve been on a fair few canals but love the river more. The water is deep, debris rarely clogs your prop and most days it’s very quiet. There is a flip side, if you need a hand you might have to wait a while and there is definitely less sense of being in a community. If I was on the boat all of the time, I’m sure I’d miss seeing people.

Bulk water is only 10 minutes away at the lock and a pump out, refuse facility the next lock down. There is no shore power but I’ve never had a problem in the time I’ve been here. I have an inverter, the only thing it feeds is the TV. Everything else is 12 volt.

What is your boat style and length

42ft 6 inch Stern Cruiser Springer, born 1969

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

June 2009, 3 years almost to the day

How did you finance your boat?

Dad’s inheritance.

How much time do you spend on your boat each year?

About half the week when I’m working, more when I’m not. So about half the year in all seasons.

Are you still working? (If so, what do you do?)

I’m an academic event manager; I organise conferences, seminars, lectures and courses in the UK.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Boat snobbery. We haven’t all got ?80k to spend on the bathtub of our dreams. And being ripped off for substandard work and dodgy diesel.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The chance to be alone on the river, pull up against a bank, then watch the sun go down. Or maybe laying awake while a thunderstorm cracks all around you.

If you could change just one thing about your boat, what would it be?

The windows. They’re hideous, old and will cost me a fortune very soon.

When you are cruising how do you resupply (How do you get to the supermarket without a car)?

I don’t set off without a full cupboard and when I get to Oxford, there are plenty of shops. There’s always Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Asda and they deliver pretty much anywhere.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Hand wash if I need to, Laundry if I’m away.

What type of toilet do you have on board and are you happy with it?

Cassette loo, very happy. Cheap to run and with a spare cassette, I’ve never been caught out.

How do you connect to the internet when you are on your boat and are you happy with the service you receive?

I’m on Vodafone, which copes with email but there’s no 3G signal so YouTube is out but online grocery shopping is possible.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

I love the Thames most of all but Macclesfield was lovely and the Trent and Mersey.

How do you generate electricity when you are cruising and how much do you use?

All I need is provided by my engine. I have 1 starter and 3 leisure batteries. With mostly 12v usage, battery life is very good.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

When the stove is ticking over it’s lovely and cosy, when it’s not it’s cold. Thankfully it’s quite well insulated and keeps in the heat.

 A cosy place to spend a wet winter's eve

A cosy place to spend a wet winter's eve

What advice can you offer someone considering living on a narrowboat?

Look at lots before you buy and take a friend with more knowledge than you. What appeals in the summer may not be as functional in the winter. Make sure there’s plenty of storage for clothes as well as fuel. Consider a basic engine maintenance course if you’re not mechanically minded, at some point you will need to work on the engine – especially if you have an older boat. Work out all costs, it’s cheaper than a house to run but it’s not always cheap.

If you have a long term medical condition, think twice before buying. Being stranded alone is scary and dangerous. I have Crohn’s Disease, although very well controlled I don’t live aboard when it flares. You need to be very organised with drugs and prescriptions but it can work.

You can find out more about Rachel’s interest in parapsychology here.

Are you one of the lucky few who lives the dream on board your own narrowboat full time? Would you like to share your experience with some of the thousands of potential floating home owners who visit this site? If you can spare the time to answer a few simple questions, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know so I can email the questions to you. I’ll create a post like the one above complete with a link back to your own blog or web site.


Living On A Narrowboat Forum Survey: The Results

A huge thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey and tell me why you either wanted or didn’t want a forum on the site. Virtually everyone who completed the surveyoffered constructive comments; even those who said that they didn’t think a forum would be beneficial..And the result was…

You want a forum!


Well, 76.8% of those who responded indicated that they want a forum. There were many positive and encouraging comments posted. There were also many constructive comments posted from those of you who told me why they don’t think a forum is in the site’s best interest. Let me answer some of the more common points made.

“There are enough narrowboat forums already. Another really isn’t needed” I agree that there are a few forums around discussing boats in general and narrowboats in particular. Some contain thousands of topics and tens of thousands of replies, but that’s part of the problem.

I consider myself reasonably proficient with computers. I do a lot of research online so I’m pretty good at searching for information that I need and finding it without too much trouble. I always struggle with forums though. There are often so many topics and threads to plough through that finding the right information is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

I intend to add a little more structure to this site’s forum. I’m going to link forum topics to articles in the site and vice versa. I’m going to extract relevant information from forum conversations and write articles based on that information. I’m going to encourage the use of tags in forum posts to make finding information easier and I’m going to create an index of subjects with links to appropriate posts.

There’s a lot of work involved to keep on top of it all, but the site is my hobby and, as I don’t actually have a social life, I should be OK.

Here’s another constructive comment from the “No” section of the survey;

“There are often cases of cyber bullying on forums from a few established and highly opinionated members” I agree. I’ve seen it often and experienced it myself once or twice. While the forum should be a platform for open debate, there is absolutely no justification for individuals using their online status to intimidate others. I feel very strongly about bullying of any kind. Fortunately I am in a position to do something about it on this site. I simply won’t allow it. I would rather lose a forum member who is a regular contributor than allow other less frequent visitors to be intimidated.

So you now have a forum. I will do everything that I can to ensure that it’s a useful resource for the narrowboat community, but I can’t do it on my own. I need your help. Without it the forum will fail. The forum needs to be used for it to work. It needs to be used by both experienced and inexperienced narrowboat enthusiasts. The forum needs questions posed and questions answered. And they need to be answered in courteous and helpful manner.

It’s time to introduce you to the forum. Click on the following link to go to the forum home page. The page will open in a new window so that you can refer to this post as I show you around. Here it is.

Logging in to the forum

This is the forum home page. You should be logged in already if you’ve followed the link from this post because you need to be logged in to read this post. If you are logged in when you reach the forum home page, you should see your login details and avatar if you’ve selected one in the top left hand corner. You need to be logged in to read and to write posts so if you aren’t logged in already, log in using the link at the top right of the forum window.

Update your profile

Profile Tab

Before you do anything else, why don’t you update your profile. The forum software copied your very basic details from the web site database when the forum was created. This information just consisted of your login details and your name. You can enhance that information here. At the top right hand side of the forum window, you will see a button labelled “Profile”. There are numerous options in this section. The first tab, profile, is where you set your display name, first and last name, location, a short biography, and your signature.

The important ones are display name, location, and signature. These will be displayed on each post you write. The display name needs completing so people who read your posts know what to call you. The location doesn’t have to be completed but, personally, I think it’s really interesting to see where subscribers are located. At the last count, there were subscribers from 32 different countries! If you are a continuous cruiser on your own narrowboat, just add the name of your narrowboat and the fact that you are cruising full time in the location field.

It’s nice to know a little about the people you are talking to, so if you have time please fill in the biography section. You don’t have to write a novel. Just a few words about your situation now, whether you are a boat owner or whether you hope to purchase one in the near future. That’s all you have to put there.

If you have your own blog or website, you can add it here. The more you post on the site, the more your profile will be viewed and the more likely you are to get subscribers from this site visiting your blog.

The signature field is a bit of fun. you can see the signature on the bottom of my posts. It says “loving life afloat”. It sumarises they way I feel at the moment. Be creative!

Do you have an avatar? It’s your online graphic representation. In my case it’s a head and shoulders photo, but you can add whatever image you like to this section. There are just two riders to that;

  1. Keep it clean. Offensive or pornographic images will be removed
  2. You will need to ensure that the image is 50 x 50 pixels if it is to be displayed properly.

The last section on this tab is the account settings. You can change your email address here if you want forum notifications to go to a different address from the one specified. You can also change your password. A word of warning though, if you change your password here, it won’t update your site password. You’ll have to remember two passwords; one for the forum and one for the main site.

There are six other tabs for you to explore but I won’t go into them now. You can change notification settings, define buddies and adversaries (subscribers whose posts you don’t want to read and who you don’t want to send you private messages.

Talking of which, the forum has its own internal email system. You can send private messages to other members whenever you want. Please only use this for topics that are not in the public interest. If you think that others can benefit from the questions you ask and the answers you receive, post a topic on the forum instead.

Forum Rules and Regulations

I’ve never been much of a rule follower but it’s in everyone’s interest that we adhere to one or two. There aren’t many rules but they are important so please read them here.

Introduce Yourself

I want the forum to grow into a friendly and mutually beneficial community, just like the real world boating community. The first step is getting to know each other. This is where you can do that. I’ve started you off. Please read this to find out what encouraged me to leave a very comfortable bricks and mortar home for a relatively claustrophobic steel box.

Post A Topic

It’s time to begin! The majority of you wanted the forum so now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. We’ve passed the theory stage. The forum is ready and waiting. Let’s get posting. I promise you this, if you create a thread, I will respond to it. So if you have a question you would like to ask, please ask it. And if you know the answer to a question that’s been posted, please share that knowledge with other subscribers. It’s time to join the forum!