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Monthly Archives: January 2013

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.

Narrowboat Heating Part 1 – Stoves

By Tim Davis Onboard Solar

As a long term live aboard and ex boat builder I have been involved with many different heating systems over the years. The aim of this article is to look at all the options and to give some insight into the relative advantages and disadvantages of each of the different options.

When we look at heating systems on a  boat we are generally considering two things.

  1.  Heating the cabin space
  2. Heating the domestic water

First, let’s tackle the heating of the cabin. This broadly divides into two common methods.

  1. The solid fuel (or “multi fuel”) stove
  2. Some form of central heating

Part 1 – Solid Fuel Stoves

Let’s start with solid fuel stoves. The first point to make here is that heating using a solid fuel stove is generally the most reliable way of heating the cabin space. The vast majority of boats out there have a stove in the saloon area. Traditional boats with a back cabin will almost certainly have a small cooking range just inside the aft doors on the port side.

In the days of working boats when this was the only accommodation this would have been the source of heat, hot water (via a kettle) and cooking and would have been used 24 hours a day all year round. Many historic boats that have been converted by having extra cabin added over the hold space retain this range as do newer boats built in a replica style to a vintage boat.  This can be an advantage – in my boat for example which is a replica BCN tug, I have a stove in the saloon and a range in the back cabin.

The solid fuel stove is generally the most reliable and effective source of heat in a boat. Once up to temperature the saloon is kept very warm. It is a dry heat too, sucking in any moist air from the cabin and effectively drying it out so and condensation is quickly dispersed. Boat stoves are of the multi fuel variety which means they can burn coal and wood.

For the most effective heat a mix of the two works well. A bed of coal to start with then use logs on top once it has got well under way. Care needs to be taken in the choice of both the coal and the logs though! Coal generally is available as either “house” coal or “smokeless” and within smokeless there are many different makes.

The house coal is traditional coal that has been used for centuries. It lights very easily and quickly and gives a very good heat with lots of flame BUT gives a lot of smoke which, depending on where you moor, might cause problems. This also means that both chimney and fire get quite sooted up and thus need regular brushing and cleaning.

The general feel of using house coal is that it is quite dirty all round.  House coal also does not tend to stay “in” very well – that is, it does not stay alight all night as it’s a much quicker burn.

Smokeless coal however comes in the form of manmade “briquettes” which are smooth in appearance. These take a lot more effort to light so lots of kindling wood and paper or firelighters are needed to get it going. It also takes a lot longer to come up to temperature, once there though it will burn for hours on end.

Normal procedure is to get the fire up to temperature with all the vents open then close the vents right down so the fire just simmers with a red glow. There tends not to be much in the way of flames with smokeless coal but it is very clean burning compared to house coal.

I tend to have both house and smokeless in. I use the house coal to get the fire up quickly and easily, then add smokeless – this is a good mix. To enhance smokeless coal a log or two can be added to a hot fire in the evening to give flames and a rapid boost of heat. Logs of course have the great advantage that you can find them close to the towpath and collect for free. However beware!

It is important that logs are well “seasoned” that is left to dry out all of the liquid sap that was present when the wood was growing or “green”. It takes around a year to season logs but often you will come across trees by the cut that have blown down and may well already be seasoned.

You can soon tell if they are seasoned enough when you saw through them. If they are seasoned the saw will cut trough like butter with very dry sawdust if not then you will feel the saw bind up and have a very damp like sawdust in which case they will need to be kept for next year.

You will also notice the off cut log is very light in weight. Alternatively of course, if this foraging for logs all sounds a bit much, you can buy logs ready seasoned either in net bags or by the load which is cheaper (When short I have looked in news agent windows wherever I am moored – you often see signs for people offering a load of logs for not much money.

Non seasoned logs will burn, but not as well as seasoned logs and they will cause a nasty sticky tar which runs everywhere, often down the inside of the chimney and onto the roof and down the side of the boat! There is a new type of manmade log available now which is made of compressed wood shavings. I tried some this year and they were very good and not too expensive.

Types of Stove

Morso SquirrelThere are many different makes of stove. You may have heard of Arrow, Morso, Torgem, Boatman to name a few. They all work in the same way and usually have two vents on the front, one below the fire which must be fully open to light the fire and one above the glass which acts as an air wash to help clean the glass. Which one is best?

This is a question I am often asked.

In my experience the Morso Squirrel seems to be excellent. It has a good size so can hold a lot of fuel, it has good vents so draws really well which is important when lighting and has two doors the bottom, one of which can be opened to rapidly assist in the lighting process.

Another good one is the Corner Bubble multi fuel. This is an unusual triangular shaped stove that sits neatly in a corner of the boat and again burns very well. At the budget end of the market is the Boatman Stove made by Northern Fabrications. A simple little stove but one that burns really well and takes up a small amount of space.

corner bubble stoveA good tip from old working boatmen is always have a kettle on top of your stove – it means you’ve always got a bit of hot water for tea or washing up – very useful I find.

What about heating the rest of the boat?

A solid fuel stove outputs a lot of heat and will comfortably keep the saloon and immediate area very cosy indeed, but what if you want heat at the other end of the boat where the bedroom typically is?

The first important “must have” accessory is the “Eco Fan” This is a two or three bladed fan that sits on a stand on the top of the stove. It uses technology called a “Peltier” plate which generates electricity from heat to drive a small electric motor that turns the fan. It very effectively directs the heat away from the stove and “spreads” it around the boat. A small boat of say 30 to 40 ft with a stove and eco fan would have no problems heating that entire cabin space.

There is a new stove fan available that uses a tiny heat driven piston engine (a Sterling engine). A friend has one and it is very impressive with the joy of a little engine driven by heat from the fire (I know – boys toys!).

Eco Fan

Back Boiler

Another way of spreading the heat is to have a back boiler on the stove. This is simply a steel tank with an inlet at the bottom and an outlet at the top. The stove is connected into a circuit of radiators – standard household type radiators – and filled with water via a small header tank at the end of the pipe run.

This system can be setup in one of two ways; gravity fed or circulation pump. The gravity fed system required large bore pipe work (28mm typically) and has to be setup very carefully so the hot water leaving the fire from the outlet at the top rises away from the fire and the return to the fire drops via a gentle slope back to the inlet at the bottom of the fire.

There is quite a bit of “science” behind getting a gravity fed system to work well and not boil when the fire is too hot, so it is not for the faint hearted!

More common these days is a pumped system. Here the pipe work can be kept hidden low down with a small 12v pump located close to the inlet of the fire (the bottom) and pumps water towards the fire. These work reliably but have the big downside of consuming power and of course must be switched on the whole time the fire is lit otherwise the water will boil and then explodes out of the header tank (which is normally located in a wardrobe!).

Back boilers are great. On a long boat with many cabins they work very well BUT as a user of them you need to be aware of them potentially boiling. It is possible to rig up a temperature controlled switch that will turn the pump on when the fire is hot enough and turn it off when it cools. I highly recommend this if you have a pumped back boiler system – it makes it much easier to manage!

It’s also important to have a simple bleed valve at the hot water outlet of the fire to make it easy to bleed off any stream that builds up – I use a simple drain cock for this purpose. See diagram showing the layout of a pumped back boiler system.

Back Cabin Ranges

Epping StoveThere is another way to heat the whole boat. Use the stove in the saloon to heat that part of the boat. Then if you have a traditional, vintage or replica type boat, light the range in the back cabin as well! I have this arrangement on my boat and sometimes have both stoves lit but it does get quite expensive running two

The range prefers to run on coal rather than wood (apart from lighting of course) and has the great advantage of a cooking plate and a small oven. On a cold winters day its great standing at the tiller with a range just inches in front of you perhaps with a casserole in the oven! One of the most popular ranges you will see is the Epping.

Oil Stoves

Another alternative to the solid fuel stove is the oil stove. This looks the same from the outside as a solid fuel stove, and they are available with and without a back boiler just like a solid fuel stove.  Popular makes are the Bubble (from Haworth who also make the solid fuel Bubble) and Kabola to name two.

The main difference is these stove run from the same diesel oil that is used to propel the boat. They are often fitted with their own tank separate from the main engine tank and often located in one of the bow lockers. These stoves were very popular for a time around 10 years ago when diesel was very cheap (I recall it was about 19p a litre then – happy days!). They are called a “natural draft” oil burner.

The main problem with diesel oil is it is actually difficult to light  – if you drop a match in diesel it will go out. These diesel stoves work by allowing diesel to drip feed onto a tray inside the stove, this is then lit using either a piece of tissue paper or better still breaking up a fire lighter into small pieces and using a small piece to start the fire. Basically you light the piece of fire lighter and drop it into the stove, drop in a cage called the catalyst which will shape the flame once its lit, then turn the diesel tap on, as the diesel slowly reaches the firelighter it heats and the vapour ignites.

This can be a bit fiddly and there is a definite knack to getting a diesel stove going! Once lit you have a tap allowing you to vary the height of the flame, however care must be taken as a very high yellow flame will cause a lot of sooting up inside the stove.

Compared to a solid fuel stove the heat is less too. In part because of the fiddly lighting process and the need to clean the fire out after use which is quite messy coupled with soaring diesel prices mean this type of stove has become much less popular and many boats have replaced them with solid fuel types which is not difficult as they are physically very similar. Indeed a corner Bubble oil stove could be replaced with the much better corner Bubble solid fuel stove with ease. It’s important to consider the issues with diesel stoves when buying a used boat.

Part 2: Narrowboat central heating systems

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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