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Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Lorien

Julie and Jim love life afloat so much they’ve brought a little person into the world to share the adventure with them. Although they both work they constantly cruise the network, never staying longer than two weeks in the same spot.

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

 My name is Julie and my partner is Jim.  We also have a 7 month old baby. We have lived afloat for nearly 5 years.

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

We were looking for somewhere to buy together, started considering boats, decided to ‘try it’ and here we are 🙂  we lived on our first boat for just over 4 years and completely renovated her.  We are making changes to the new boat (moving the kitchen and adding a bedroom) but nothing as major as the last boat.

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

Narrowboat LorienOur boat is called Lorien, she was already named when we purchased her and we quite like the name.  There are also suspicions that it is unlucky to rename boats….

Do you have a permanent mooring?

We choose to continually cruise as we enjoy moving around and seeing different sights. As continual cruisers we are required to move every two weeks.  There is an option to purchase winter moorings as moving around in the ice can damage your hull.

What is your boat style and length

Lorien is a 62ft traditional narrowboat

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Nearly 5 years.  Our first boat was a 44ft wooden top.  We had to go bigger when our baby arrived.. We have lived on Lorien for 5 months.

How did you finance your boat?

We used our Savings and profit from selling our homes.

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

Every day all year round … We have never looked back.

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

Yes I am an Area Manager for a charity and my partner has his own business.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Holiday boats roaring past and nosey passers by.  People become intrigued and sometimes stare in through the open hatch or the windows, I personally find this quite rude, I would never walk up to a house and gawp in through the window……

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything… The peace and quiet, moving around and seeing different parts of the canal network, the locks, living in close proximity to my family, having a different view out of the window every two weeks …

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

Currently we are re designing and making several changes, part of me wishes this was done and dusted, part of me enjoys the challenge.  We are going to have her repainted soon, so I would probably change her colour.

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

We always have our cars near, we simply moor in places by bridges with spaces to park. Getting out and about has never been a problem.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I bundle it into a big bag, pop it to the laundrette and get the kind lady there to wash, dry and iron it.  I collect it the next day.

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

We have a cassette toilet and are perfectly happy this way.  It is emptied weekly and is easy to manage.

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

I use the iPad and have never suffered from bad signal.  If the phone works, so does the iPad.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

To date the Stratford run or the Shropshire union.  Many left to explore though.

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

We run the engine for power, we also have a wind generator which keeps the batteries topped up when it is windy.  The engine runs for around 1 hour per day, this provides approximately 8/9 hours of power and the hot water.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

We have a stove which has gravity fed central heating connected to it, the boat warms through in approximately 20/30 minutes and remains nice and toasty as long as you keep feeding it. Winter is my favourite time of year.

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

If you like boats and peace and quiet go for it. Never do it purely for financial purposes (thinking it’s cheap)….  it is cheap, especially if you cruise as you have no mooring fees, but this requires you to move every two weeks therefore you must enjoy boating and locking.

If you decide to have a permanent mooring as a live board you will still pay council tax etc.  some mornings are leisure mooring that you are not supposed to live on but I guess you could live on the boat or 10 months and cruise for 2 months….. The choice would be yours.

Consider your purchase carefully, has the boat had a survey? Is the hull ok? ??  Don’t worry about smaller issues you will deal with these as they arise. Your main costs are boat license, insurance, diesel and gas but remember that you should have the hull blacked every 3/4 years so consider this cost as well, you may also wish to allocate money to service the engine as this is the heart of the boat and without it your a bit stuck.  You need a boat safety certificate every 4 years.

Don’t listen to the part time live a boards who only live aboard during mild months!!!!  it is not freezing cold in the winter, a good stove will keep your boat toasty and comfortable. We have lived aboard for the past four winters and I look forward to our 5th… During the winter the canal is so beautiful and there are no hire boats roaring past!!

Consider that you will have to take your rubbish away yourself, empty your toilet (or have. Pump out) and fill your boat with water regularly. Ours needs filling every 6 weeks (ish) and obviously the rubbish is taken away weekly when we empty the toilet.  There are various facilities along the canal for boaters to use.

Other than the above general daily activities are the same as in a house.  We have a full sized gas cooker, a 22″ flat screen tv which runs on 12v with built in freeview and DVD player (always buy a dm log aerial and point it at a satellite, don’t buy a satellite dish, they are tetchy and don’t work if you are moored near high trees), we have 12v chargers for our phones, the iPad for Internet, we have not missed the space of a house to date and our little one explores and scoots around just as any baby does.

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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 website.

 

 

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Lucy Lowther

Alan had a choice to make. He could either do nothing but feel sorry for himself when his wife sadly passed away, or he could seize life with both hands and move ahead with his plans to buy a liveaboard narrowboat. A year later he’s continuously cruising the inland waterways network with his rescue border collie.

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

I am Alan and I live on the boat with my best friend, James – a rescue border collie about a year old, who I have had for 3 months.

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

After my wife died last year I had a choice.  I could sit at home feeling sorry for myself or decide to get on with the rest of my life.  I chose the latter and started my search for a live-aboard boat.  The research, searching for a boat and buying it are what kept me going through the first few months. We had been on many boating holidays and I knew I would love the life.

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

NB Lucy LowtherLucy Lowther, already the name when I bought her. I was going to  rename her after my late wife but, if I take to the boating life, I suspect I will want to upgrade when I sell the house – an extra few feet, a larger shower and maybe not a cross bed.  I will rename the   new boat or this one, if I keep her, when next repainting but in my mind she  will always be “The Lovely Lisa”.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

No mooring, although I have just booked a winter mooring. to enable me to get my house ready for sale next Spring.  I will buy  a  smaller property and may or may not live on the boat in the winter months.

What is your boat style and length

54 ft cruiser.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

I bought the boat in December last year and moved on board in March.

How did you finance your boat?

Mortgage on the house

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

All the time since March, apart from the occasional few days checking on the house.

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

Retired.  Previously in finance, then a village shop and post office.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

The inability to “jump in the car” to pop to the shop for something you need. My worst experience so far was nothing horrendous but the section from Wigan to Burnley  was not enjoyable.  From empty pounds to too much water threatening to  engulf the boat and lots of local youths hanging about, including two  on the stern to snort a line of cocaine (I engaged with them all and  had no problems and several helped with gates).

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Being able to just turn the key and move my home to a new place to explore, with new views and experiences and seeing the country at 3 mph.  That may be three things! I love the scenery, the camaraderie and friendship too.

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

The shower – it is tiny.

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

A shopping trolley, a rucksack and very occasionally the bike.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I have a compact Candy washing machine.  Works great.

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

Dump-through pump out and I would not swap for anything else.  If I live onboard in the winter I may buy a porta-potti or similar as back up in case the canals are iced in.

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

Usually tethering with 3 on my iPhone.  Unlimited download for £18    per month, as well as 2000 minutes and 5000 texts.  Service generally very good.  I have a back-up dongle, also on 3, which I can hang on my 10ft aerial mast if reception is poor but will probably change this to a different provider to avoid the duplicate coverage.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Well, I have not covered them all, by any means.  So far, it has to  be the Leeds & Liverpool. from Foulridge to Skipton.  Oh, and the  Llangollen.  Or perhaps the Weaver.  And what about the Montgomery? Yes, it has to be the Monty but perhaps only because I had some fantastic dawn cruises on there.

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

Obviously mostly from the engine.  But when I am not moving I have   400w of solar panels.  On a sunny day I do not need to start the   engine.  If it is cloudy the panels will supply my needs but not   replace the previous nights use.  I am a heavy electric user.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

The boat did not have a stove when I bought it.  The gas central   heating only just kept the boat warm enough when it was not very cold – and used a bottle every 3 days.  The 4kw stove I had fitted kept the boat plenty warm in a very cold March.

What are the things you miss most compared to living in a house?

The power shower, opening the back door to let the dog out  and being able to walk from one room to another.

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

Do it.  But if you are a couple or a family you have to be sure you can live with each other in close confines with little escape –   maybe try a few weeks in a caravan first.

You can read Alan’s excellent blog here. He updates it regularly and adds plenty of photo’s. It’s well worth a read.

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 website.

 

 

Travels of Joanie M – Life as a Continuous Cruiser – Heading North

I haven’t posted for a while now so I’ll just precis where we’ve been otherwise it will take up too much of Pauls space.

We had to hang around a bit in Birmingham as we were due into the drydock at Hockley Port so we spent the time by going up to Brownhills where we were surprised to see several boats moored. After a few days there we went on round via Longwood Junction to Ocker Hill. There are two visitor mooring spaces here with electricity pillars but C&RT have changed them to the new ‘smart’ metered pillars to which visitors are denied access so presumably this nice new pillar will remain unused until C&RT change their minds. I have £19 of cards which are no longer usable but after several email exchanges with the Trust I no nearer finding out how we get a refund.

So, into the drydock. We always find it strange in a dock. The boat doesn’t move when you walk through and the noise of your footsteps sounds different. It was a very hot week, exacerbated by the sun beating through the poly-tunnel covering the dock. So three coats of blacking and a dent knocked out of the prop, the front lockers kurusted and painted out with Hammerite and the front well and deck repainted.

We left Birmingham by the back door, the Wolverhampton 21 being closed, through Merryhill to Stourbridge where we were awoken by the boat moored behind starting his engine at 11.45 pm. After a shouted exchange he switched it off and we were able to get back to sleep. Onto the Staffs & Worcs and up to Aldersley Junction stopping for a couple of days at a lovely offside mooring above Diningsdale Lock where we repainted the gunwhales. It was good fun sat at the junction watching the boats approaching from both directions all jockeying for position. So many of them just turn into the Shropshire Union without checking if anyone is coming the other way.

We made slow progress down the SU (slow because we only reckon on moving for 2 or 3 hours a day) taking advantage of the many mooring sites provided by the Shropshire Union Canal society. We spent a number of days at Market Drayton, a very nice town, where we had a wine delivery from Ocado and stocked up on filters for the engine and generator from the wholesaler there and some more time at Nantwich.

We are heading for Manchester and Liverpool but are meeting some friends on their shareboat on the Bank Holiday and then my sister and brother-in-law a few days later. Middlewich was very hard work with only one paddle working at each end of the top lock of the three. Consequently boats were coming up faster than they were going down so we had the stupid situation of too many boats waiting in the intermediate pounds and very low water. I received an email telling me a friend had died so we needed to hire a car to go to Southampton so Anderton was convenient for this.

Having returned the car we moved back out into the country to a favourite mooring only to find it full. We continued on the the winding hole and on our return one of the boats was just leaving so we moored. Our friends had phoned to say they were just leaving Middlewich at which point the boat in front left leaving a nice space for them. We were very late getting to bed that night with rather sore heads.

I spent the time moving my two small solar panels to the front of the roof. We had two 80w panels and two 45w panels wired in series and parallel into an MPPT controller. Unfortunately the controller would shut down at times and by a process of elimination I found it was the two small panels which don’t like being wired in series. So I moved them to the front and connected them through a conventional controller to charge the bowthruster battery. I have connected the TV socket to this so, in theory, we shan’t be discharging the main batteries as much. I have another 80w panel coming which I will wire in circuit with the others to give me three 80w.

These are flat panels which are designed to be stuck down which is fine on a fibreglass roof but I’m not sure that the paint wouldn’t lift so I’ve drilled and tapped the roof and bolted them down with security screws. I’m quite impressed with their performance although rigid ones that can be angled to the sun would be much better but we prefer the neater appearance.

2013 08 25 Newsletter – How NOT To Kill Pests On Boats

Living on a Narrowboat News 25th August 2013

I’ve been driven to distraction over the last two weeks. As I sit quietly in my office area, minding my own business, typing and trying to concentrate on what I’m writing trying ever so hard to ignore the distractions around me, two new friends have been clamouring for my attention. They’re flies and they’re threatening my sanity.

I’ve started to twitch and shake and shout and scream, anything to get rid of them. Nothing works. I’ve resorted to an extreme solution. I’ve spent some money.

I bought the best rated fly killer I could find on Amazon… and I’ve completely wasted my hard earned cash.

Executioner Fly SwatterMy super effective fly destroyer arrived a few days ago. The ExecutionerTM Fly Swat Wasp Bug Mosquito Swatter Zapper (they’ve certainly covered all the bases with that catchy little name), is like a badminton racket with electrified strings. Its operation is simple. You swat offending bugs with it and electrocute them. It’s child’s play. Nothing could be easier… unless you live on a narrowboat.

I’ve written extensively about the lack of space on a narrowboat so why I didn’t consider the practicality of a device such as this is beyond me. I’ll put it down to advancing old age or the fact that I’ve been very tired recently.

I’ve tried it out. Of course, the first thing I did, being male and not terribly bright, was to make sure that the centre of the fly swat really was electrified. I can now assure all and sundry that it is, and I can also assure anyone who is the slightest bit interested that the third degree burn on the end of my finger is getting better, that the damage done to the window frame when the shock hurled me against the side of the boat is repairable and that Sally didn’t actually die laughing despite indications to the contrary.

Sadly, I am the fly swat’s only victim so far. There’s just no room to use it on the boat. I can’t swing my empty arms around let alone with a three foot electrified bat clutched in my hand. Anyway, even if there was room to use it, the flies have now mysteriously disappeared. Maybe they were watching when I tried it out on myself. Maybe just the sight of the OTT fly swatter has scared them off. I suspect that the zapper will eventually find its way into a drawer and never see the light of day again. Either that or Sally will include it in one of her regular giant parcels back to her not so well off relatives in the Philippines. I don’t think they’ll use it either but at least it will keep them entertained for hours talking about the stupid man their Aunty Sally is now living with in far away England.

The Downside Of Living On A Narrowboat

This site is all about living on a narrowboat. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words on the subject and, I’m frequently told, my unbridled enthusiasm for the lifestyle is evident in everything I write. It’s true. I love the lifestyle and genuinely can’t see myself moving back in to a bricks and mortar home. However life on the water, even though I write about it so enthusiastically, isn’t all a bed of roses and certainly isn’t for everyone.

Last year, we had a liveaboard boat in for repair. It was in the spring when the nights were cold and the days were slow to warm up. It was a time of the year when effective heating on board was essential. The couple on the boat were freezing. Their Hurricane diesel central heating wasn’t working and it was the only source of heat they had on the boat (BIG mistake – If you don’t have a solid fuel stove on board in addition to a central heating system, you’re asking for trouble).

The couple weren’t with us for very long. The solution to their problem was quick and simple. The boat had a cruiser stern. The Hurricane heater was under the deck boards in the engine bay. So were many other items the couple couldn’t find room for in the boat. A hose reel they had dropped in to the engine bay next to the Hurricane had caught a switch and turned the heater off. All the engineers had to do was turn it back on again.

As they were about to leave I wished them a pleasant cruise now that their heating problem was cured. She said something like, “How can we have a pleasant trip? We live on a boat. There’s nothing pleasant about it!”

She went on to tell me, all in one breath and at an ever increasing volume, just how unpleasant her life on board really was. She moaned about the lack of space, the cold, the heat, rain, muddy footpaths, inconsiderate boaters, dog poo on towpaths, bikes on towpaths, the problems she has getting to the shops, the bigger problem she has getting back from the shops with a full load of groceries, the disadvantages of having to use a launderette, the bad back her husband suffers after trying to carry coal and gas onto the boat, the frustration she feels when she (often) runs out of water in the middle of nowhere. Her list of complaints was endless.

I tried to cheer her up by pointing out that the summer was almost upon us and that she could enjoy long lazy days on a tranquil canal-side mooring. “You must be joking” she exclaimed, “The boat gets too bloody hot and there’s no way to keep it cool. We have to sleep with the doors and windows open all night which is a real problem because of the thugs that hand around the towpath.”

I tried to stop her from working herself into a frenzy. “Why don’t you moor in the shade of a tree? That will keep your boat cool”. She looked at me as if I had just grown a second head. “Moor under a tree? Are you MAD! It’s hard enough keeping the boat clean as it is without leaves and bird poo dropping all over it. And then there’s the sap from willows staining the paintwork. No, it’s not pleasant at all. I hate living on the boat in the summer, and I hate it even more in the cold, dark winter. I wish we hadn’t sold the house. I hate boats!”

This was a lady who had clearly made a mistake moving on to the water in the first place. The lifestyle didn’t appear to suit her at all. Maybe, as is sometimes the case, her husband was the narrowboat enthusiast and she had reluctantly agreed to his plans. I don’t know how much research either she or her husband did before the two of them decided to burn their bridges and sell their home. I suspect it was very little. It certainly wasn’t enough.

Living on a narrowboat is very different from the convenience you enjoy living in a static home. You have to work quite hard for the pleasure of living close to nature. As far as I’m concerned the hard work is a small price to pay for the pleasure I get from my life on board. I’ve just given my eyes a break from staring at my laptop screen and glanced out of the window.

The reeds are nodding in the early morning breeze. A pair of mallards have just drifted past the boat and now there’s a crested grebe with its spear shaped head searching for a fishy breakfast. One, two, three dives under the water without success and then the fourth time it appears with a small roach flapping frantically in its beak. It’s a wonderful sight and one which never bores me.

I’ve always loved the great outdoors so there was a pretty good chance that this lifestyle was going to suit me. It does, and I’m very happy here on James. In an ideal world Sally and I would cruise full time but, for at least the next couple of years, both of us need to work. A marina mooring doesn’t suit everyone but as far as marina moorings go, my mooring is pretty much unbeatable. The six acre marina is spacious and beautifully landscaped. There are few marina moorings as pretty as this and very few indeed where you can live on your boat. Finding a boat to live on is the easy part. Finding somewhere suitable to live is far more difficult.

The unhappy lady with the Hurricane heater had a residential mooring about ten miles from Calcutt. I think if I was forced to moor she was, I would have been unhappy with living on a boat too. Her boat was on a pier hemmed in by other boats. Her only view from inside was the sides of other narrowboats. They were packed into the marina like sardines. There was no feeling of space and no sense of privacy. Such a mooring would suit some people but it would be my idea of hell.

There are three articles on the site which I think you’ll find very useful if you’re considering the lifestyle. The first is a post I wrote three years ago about the downside of living on a narrowboat. The next is a guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Pauline Roberts. Her post “It’s Not All Roses And Castles” was controversial to say the least. She finished off the article by saying that she enjoyed her life on board but, having just read her article again, I think she must have been talking about a masochistic kind of pleasure. She certainly doesn’t appear to love her life afloat. The third post is the result of a survey I asked boat owning site subscribers to complete. I created the survey to find out how many boaters felt the same about issues Pauline raised in her post. If you’ve read Pauline’s article and now think that life on a narrowboat is some kind of living hell, the survey will reassure you that all is not doom and gloom in narrowboat world. Here’s the survey.

New Liveaboard Case Study

Richard Varnes and wife Valerie have sold their home in Colarado to fund a very different floating home on the inland waterways of England and Wales. Professional photographer Valerie takes photo’s to add to Richard’s written account of their travels. Richard has kindly supplied a few of his articles for me to use on the site. You’ll find links to them at the bottom of his case study. There are just two there at the moment, but there are plenty more to come.

 Newsletter Index

I created the site just over three years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far. I’ve managed to reach the end of 2012. I’ll add the rest next week.

11th January 2011 – 1st Newsletter

Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

8th January 2012

The first four narrowboat case studies published

I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study

Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study

Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study

Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.

22nd January 2012

Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.

4th March 2012

Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat

eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)

Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat

A review of Debdale Wharf marina

18th March 2012

The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments

Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.

 1st April 2012

As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.

15th April 2012

Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips

Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all

Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats

29th April 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports

13th May 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and

Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly

27th  May 2012

How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.

Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke

10th June 2012

Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson

18th September 2012

I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.

VAT on narrowboat sales

30th September 2012

The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners

14th October 2012

Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs

Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home

17th October 2012

I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date

28th October 2012

An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways

Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

2nd December 2012

Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat

Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer

Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

24th December

Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis

I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.

8th January 2013

Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.

Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27′ GRP cruiser to a 50′ narrowboat

20th February 2013

The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.

3rd March 2013

Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test

Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.

Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.

Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013

11th March 2013

James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring

17th March 2013

Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start

Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution

Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013

Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.

24th March 2013

Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.

Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.

Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.

31st March 2013

Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.

Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.

7th April 2013

Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article

Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.

14th April 2013

The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.

21st April 2013

The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?

Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop

RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivelent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

28th April 2013

Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.

5th May 2013

Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold

Meet one of your legless canal side companions

The canal network’s largest floating hotel

12th May 2013

An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network

An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings

19th May 2013

My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.

Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.

Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.

26th May 2013

Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.

Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story

2nd June 2013

An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list

9th June 2013

I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.

16th June 2013

The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt

Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours

Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.

23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?

Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.

Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.

30th June 2013

Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.

Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.

7th July 2013

Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.

14th July 2013

Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.

21st July 2013

Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.

28th July 2013

The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.

4th August 2013

The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?

11th August 2013

A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring

18th August 2013

CART Guide Approval – The waterways’  governing body is now promoting the information packages available from this site. Yippee!

Narrowboat Insurance – A summary of insurance quotes from the major narrowboat insurers

Liveaboard Case Study – Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57? “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network. They’re ridiculously young to retire, and I’m very, very jealous

Downsizing from a 3 bed semi to a narrowboat – What do you do with a lifetime’s accumulated possessions?

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
  • Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
  • Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
  • Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
  • Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
  • The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
  • 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
  • “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
  • Post & Postal Addresses For Continuous Cruisers – You need an address in order to receive post and open bank accounts, register for doctors and hospitals etc. How do continuous cruisers with no fixed abode manage it.
  • Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
  • It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
  • Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
  • VAT On New Narrowboats – Can you knock 20% off the cost of your new narrowboat?
  • Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
  • Narrowboat Burglary – Two boats burgled at the same location. Where is it and what can you do to minimise the risk of theft from your own boat wherever you are?
  • Insuring Your Car When You Live On A Boat – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
  • Remedies For Sooty Stove Glass – For me, one of the great pleasures of living on a narrowboat is a winter evening in front of a flickering fire. Here’s how you can keep your stove glass clear so you can see the fire in all its glory
  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • 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

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
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.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Stardust

Richard Varnes and wife Valerie have sold their home in Colarado to fund a very different floating home on the inland waterways of England and Wales. Professional photographer Valerie takes photo’s to add to Richard’s written account of their travels.

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

Valari and I are “retired” — she having been a professional portrait and wedding photographer and me a telecommunications and TV production person. We both continue our photographic and writing pursuits.

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

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

We are both long-time Anglophiles — even since before we met. I went to school in the UK at Lancaster University during 1969/70.

In May 2012 we had our first canaling hire-baot experience aboard the “Jack” operated by Armada Boats out of Hillmorton

Our insanity was confirmed after taking a 62′ Wyvern boat from Leighton Buzzard to Paddington Basin and back in about two weeks (going down was brutal — coming back we knew we were boaters)

Life is short.

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

Narrowboat Stardust“Stardust” It it what we all came from and to which we will all return.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

No Fixed Abode — we are continuous cruisers since March of this year

What is your boat style and length

64′ ex-Napton hire boat, fitted with diesel heating and pram cover

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

December 2012

How did you finance your boat?

Sold our house in Colorado

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

As much as we can except for visits home and elsewhere

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

Winter on the canal at BraunstonAlways fiddling with something on the boat. Currently undertaking my first serious rust-repair paint job. Hoping to learn bell-ringing this winter.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Boaters speeding by and rattling the dishes

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

It is a living connection between Britain’s past and present

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

bigger galley

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

We walk to towns or use the buses which are a great way to see the country and meet people

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Find a laundry or use marina machines

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

macerator pump-outs by Tecma — fine except tank level gages don’t work well

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

3G mobile hotspot  — always works, often very slow…

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Braunston or Berkhampsted

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

The usual twin starter/domestic alternators  — no idea of usage amount

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Warm!  Hurricane diesel central heat and 6 double rads

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

Try to hire a variety of boat lengths and layouts. Have a back up heat source for winter.

Richard writes about the places he visits and the people he meets on his travels. There are links to a few of his stories below.

[catlist id=15452 orderby=date order=asc numberposts=200 font=tahoma]

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 website.

 

 

Steppin’ Out; Settling in, Fishing and things.

Hi everyone hope the weather is to your liking as there isn’t much we can do about it except enjoy. I find myself being very grateful for how things have and are turning out for me. We have at last been blessed with a decent summer to ease me gently into the boating life.054 A mooring which is very quiet and picturesque with top class facilities and friendly neighbours and a new job which will pay for my new life of luxury.

I don’t have a main theme for this post just a catch up of what I’ve been doing and how things are going as it is now four months since I picked up my boat from Lymm and set sail for Derbyshire. I now am beginning to feel more at home here. I still count myself fortunate but I feel like this is where I should be. It is still early days and the winter to come and I’m looking into areas where I might have a problem if we get a harsh winter. 069

I’ve been out cruising upto Burton again. It makes it a good day out with  between 4 and 5 hours worth of cruising and while there is some noise from the A38 it can be put up with.  It is a lovely stretch of canal with open fields and an aqueduct over the river Dove.

We get some wonderful skies around here. Hopefully you have the pleasure of big skies where you are. Notice that this picture shows that we have a slight down hill to our marina which makes it very popular for people taking up water skiing as the can take their first gentle “steps” with out having to be towed at a fast speed.

Amongst my many boring interests is a love of clouds and I will now promote a website which I came across a couple of years ago. The Cloud Appreciation Society which has over 33,000 members. There’s some weird folks out there folks. The cloud formations around here are wonderful and ever changing and with the pace of life it gives me chance to take in more of the things that I find beautiful and amazing.093 Talking of amazing, do I or do I not know how to spend an amazing Saturday night when not at work. Never mind clubbing I sat all night the other week, when we had torrential rain and thunderstorms, with a glass of whisky and watched it rain. I loved every minute. I do wonder about myself sometimes.

I bought a fishing license about 4 weeks ago and have at last got round to doing a spot of fishing over the last three days. A couple of hours of an evening. The first night nothing at all but did catch about 10 small roach on the second night and a bream about 5 or 6 ozs. I was well chuffed as they were the first fish I’d caught in about 35 years or so. Then this evening I caught another 10 or so little roach and bream and a 5 or 6 oz perch so another good couple of hours. Loads of missed bites and quite a few times where they were on the hook briefly but escaped. Little buggers.

Looking forward to the end of September when I shall be off work for a week or so and will venture out on a holiday jaunt to somewhere exotic like the Ashby canal or the Caldon canal or upto Great Haywood and turn left and set off for the edge of world. I do hope the summer lasts till the end of September but I’ll enjoy whatever I do and wherever I go.

God bless you all and have fun.

Our Nige

2013 08 18 Newsletter – Narrowboat Insurance

Living on a Narrowboat News 18th August 2013

In the last week I’ve spent my time either tearing my hair out or considering putting the fire on.

The thermometer has dropped particularly low over the past week but it’s been cool enough to be not quite comfortable on the boat early mornings and evenings. The problem I have is that my main source of heating, indeed my only source, is my solid fuel stove. The stove takes an hour to heat the boat up, by which time I don’t need it for long if at all.

I have two 500w greenhouse heaters which are great for taking the chill out of an autumnal evening but the inverter and my battery bank don’t like them at all. I’m trying very hard at the moment to live “off grid”( i.e. produce all my electrical power on board rather than plugging in the shore line). The only really effective solution is to have a central heating system fitted.

I have a very ineffective system at the moment which is very expensive to run. I have a gas fire in the rear cabin and a gas fired space heater in the centre of the boat. When I first moved on to the boat I used the gas heating but the cost was prohibitive. I was using a 13kg propane cylinder about every four or five days at a cost of £27 each.

In an ideal world I would have a diesel central heating system fitted in addition to the solid fuel stove, but the cost is a bridge too far at the moment. Calcutt’s own Hurricane heating system would cost about £3,500 fitted and maybe the cost of a full set of radiators and their fitting if my current radiators aren’t up to the job.

I don’t think I’m going to have central heating fitted any time soon. When and if we’re ready to cruise the network full time and leave the convenience of the marina, we’ll have to think about the issue again. In the meantime my little greenhouse heaters plugged in to the shore supply – charged at the extortionate rate of 20p per unit – will have to do.

I’ve been tearing my hair out because of my ongoing battle with technology.

This site uses the world’s most popular web site content management system, WordPress. In fact, as of March 2012, there were 72.4 million web sites using WordPress around the globe. In recent months WordPress sites have been subject to an increasing number of “brute force” attacks where a network of thousands of infected computers collectively try to guess access passwords for individual WordPress sites. Once access is achieved, the attackers create a “back door” to the site so that they can gain access regardless of passwords. The infected site is then added to the attacker’s network of computers.

In order to prevent authorised access to the web sites they maintain, hosting companies have done all that they can to increase security. One such security measure is to initiate an IP address white list rule whereby access to a site is only allowed by computers which have had their IP address manually added to the safe list.

My host initiated this rule for livingonanarrowboat.co.uk last week. They didn’t tell me. I couldn’t log in to the site. Nor could many site users. You may have been one of them.

This white list rule is OK if the site owner is the the only person or one of very few people who log in to the site. However with this site with users logging in on a daily basis to both the forum and the narrowboat budgeting software (there are currently over 7,000 registered users) adding each user’s IP address to the white list clearly won’t work.

If you couldn’t log in to the site last week, please accept my apologies. My host has now removed the rule so we’re back to normal. I’m looking at a number of alternative methods of restricting unauthorised access, but they shouldn’t affect you.

I’ve also been tearing out what little hair I have left because of my internet connection.

I use Three to connect to the internet. I’ve used their service for the last three years here at the marina and when I’ve been out cruising. I’ve been very pleased with their service generally but recently they “improved” their service. They upgraded from 3G to 3.9G which meant that I should have enjoyed much faster download speeds. Unfortunately I’ve enjoyed quite the reverse.

Over the last two weeks there have been days when for hours at a time I’ve had no internet connection at all and then, when I finally managed to get on line, there was virtually no signal worth talking about. It’s been very frustrating when I need to spend virtually all my free time on the internet working on the site.

Fortunately I now have another string to my bow. Calcutt Boats have finally upgraded their WiFi access. For years it’s only been available fairly close to the office. I understand the problems they’ve had. The grounds here are more extensive than many inland marinas offering WiFi access to their moorers. My mooring is over a quarter of a mile as the crow flies from the office.

The company has now overcome the problem by adding a repeater on a high mast on the peninsula next to James. If Three isn’t working I can now connect to Calcutt’s WiFi at a very acceptable 4.0 mb/s completely free of charge. I’m a very happy bunny.

Canal & River Trust Guide Approval

I have another reason to be happy this week… apart from living with a loving and considerate partner in the boat of my dreams on a tranquil mooring in an idyllic setting

The Canal & River Trust are now recommending this site, its guides and the budgeting software in the boating section of their own web site. I’ve been talking to them about a mutually beneficial relationship for the last six month and, oh boy, have there been a lot of hoops to jump through. They are very, very thorough.

The end result is that they officially approve of my guides Living On A Narrowboat: The REAL Cost Of A Life Afloat and Living On A Narrowboat: 21 Liveaboard Case Studies and my package Narrowbudget Gold (Best value). I’ve also agreed to share the revenue with them from any sales made as a result of referrals from their site. So, if you want an excellent source of information about narrowboats and the cost of buying and maintaining them and you want to make a worthwhile contribution to the organisation which looks after our beautiful waterways, you know what to do!

Narrowboat Insurance

Regular site visitor and forum poster Monzie has gone and done it. She’s bought herself a narrowboat to live on… and it’s a long way away from her home in South Africa. With a little help from her English friends, she’s found the perfect boat, secured a mooring here at Calcutt to use before she heads off on her travels and now she’s ploughing through all the other logistical issues of getting her boat ready to live on.

One of her tasks is to find the right insurance cover for her boat. She’s researched the subject well and has asked for quotes from the major narrowboat insurers. She’s very kindly added the results of her enquiries to a post on the forum. There’s some very useful information here if you’re in the market for insurance for your boat.

New Liveaboard Case Study – NB Badger SettNicky at the helm of Badger Sett Isn't she too young to retire?

Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57? “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network. They’re ridiculously young to retire, and I’m very, very jealous. Here’s their case study.

Free Guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

I introduced the new guide to you in last week’s newsletter. It’s a free download and it’s packed with useful articles. There’s an in depth look at both narrowboat electrical and heating systems, the best fuel to use in your solid fuel stove, solar power, what to look for if you’re considering buying a narrowboat to live on, what to look for if you’re considering a marina mooring, the ins and outs of narrowboat toilets, the pros and cons of living a life afloat, how to continuously cruise the canal network and much, much more, The guide also includes a full index of all the newsletters I’ve written over the last two years and another index of the most useful forum posts.

Last week I told you that, because the I hadn’t found the time to properly format the guide and give it the polished look you would expect from an eBook with a price attached to it, the guide was available to download free of charge. Well, I finally managed to find the time to spruce it up. The guide is now looking pretty enough to offer it for sale, but I’m not going to just yet.

For the next couple of days I’m going to leave it as a free download. This is the spruced up version and I’ve added more content to it. The guide now contains just over 65,000 words, or about the same as an average paperback, so there’s plenty of bed-time reading for you. The guide will only be available for the next 48 hours before I repackage it slightly and offer it for sale. If you want to take advantage of an opportunity to download a huge amount of narrowboat information completely free of charge, you need to click on the link below PDQ!

Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat ArticlesClick here to download the guide. You’ll need to add your email address to the form in order to receive the download link. If you use the email address this newsletter is sent to, you will only receive an email from me telling you how to download the guide. If you use a different email address, you’ll also receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. If you click on the link in the confirmation email, you’ll be added to the newsletter list again and you’ll receive two copies of the newsletter every Sunday. Much as I want you to receive my regular newsletters, I don’t think there’s any point in you getting it twice so, if you’re already a subscriber, please ignore the confirmation email.

Downsizing From A House To A Narrowboat

Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the logistics of moving your life from a relatively spacious house to a floating cigar tube. No matter how tidy and organised you are you simply can’t fit a lifetime of accumulated household possessions on a boat. The temptation, rather than selling everything you’ve worked so hard for to buy, and selling it at a fraction of the purchase cost, is to put everything into storage.

That’s exactly what Sally and I did when Sally moved her life on board narrowboat James just over thirteen months ago. Sally had been living pretty much full time on the boat for at least six months before that, but she hadn’t burned her bridges. She still had her house to go back to when she felt like a change or when she wanted a break from either me or my boat.

After six months afloat she acknowledged that she loved the boat, as did her two spaniels Charlie and Daisy, she agreed that she could tolerate me full time so she decided to put tenants into her house, move all of her possessions out of the property and move in with me full time.

Although James is, for a narrowboat, perfect for living aboard with more cupboards and drawers than you can shake a stick at, there’s no room for most of the contents of the smallest of houses. Sally didn’t want to sell or give away her household items. I can understand that. We hired a 20′ long x 10′ wide “half” container for £70PCM in the village of Napton two miles away from the marina.

I wrote the post before we’d made the decision to put everything into storage. I didn’t know whether it was a good idea at the time. I didn’t know whether we’d actually use the storage unit or whether the furniture, tools and equipment would just gather dust as we threw £840 a year down the drain.

Last week I updated the post. If you’re considering downsizing and you have a removal van full of stuff you don’t know what to do with, you’ll find this post interesting reading.

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over three years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far. I’ve managed to reach the end of 2012. I’ll add the rest next week.

11th January 2011 – 1st Newsletter

Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

8th January 2012

The first four narrowboat case studies published

I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study

Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study

Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study

Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.

22nd January 2012

Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.

4th March 2012

Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat

eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)

Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat

A review of Debdale Wharf marina

18th March 2012

The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments

Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.

 1st April 2012

As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.

15th April 2012

Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips

Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all

Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats

29th April 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports

13th May 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and

Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly

27th  May 2012

How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.

Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke

10th June 2012

Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson

18th September 2012

I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.

VAT on narrowboat sales

30th September 2012

The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners

14th October 2012

Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs

Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home

17th October 2012

I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date

28th October 2012

An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways

Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

2nd December 2012

Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat

Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer

Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

24th December

Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis

I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.

8th January 2013

Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.

Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27′ GRP cruiser to a 50′ narrowboat

20th February 2013

The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.

3rd March 2013

Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test

Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.

Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.

Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013

11th March 2013

James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring

17th March 2013

Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start

Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution

Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013

Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.

24th March 2013

Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.

Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.

Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.

31st March 2013

Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.

Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.

7th April 2013

Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article

Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.

14th April 2013

The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.

21st April 2013

The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?

Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop

RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivelent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

28th April 2013

Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.

5th May 2013

Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold

Meet one of your legless canal side companions

The canal network’s largest floating hotel

12th May 2013

An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network

An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings

19th May 2013

My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.

Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.

Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.

26th May 2013

Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.

Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story

2nd June 2013

An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list

9th June 2013

I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.

16th June 2013

The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt

Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours

Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.

23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?

Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.

Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.

30th June 2013

Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.

Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.

7th July 2013

Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.

14th July 2013

Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.

21st July 2013

Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.

28th July 2013

The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.

4th August 2013

The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?

11th August 2013

A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
  • Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
  • Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
  • Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
  • Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
  • The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
  • 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
  • “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
  • Post & Postal Addresses For Continuous Cruisers – You need an address in order to receive post and open bank accounts, register for doctors and hospitals etc. How do continuous cruisers with no fixed abode manage it.
  • Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
  • It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
  • Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
  • VAT On New Narrowboats – Can you knock 20% off the cost of your new narrowboat?
  • Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
  • Narrowboat Burglary – Two boats burgled at the same location. Where is it and what can you do to minimise the risk of theft from your own boat wherever you are?
  • Insuring Your Car When You Live On A Boat – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
  • Remedies For Sooty Stove Glass – For me, one of the great pleasures of living on a narrowboat is a winter evening in front of a flickering fire. Here’s how you can keep your stove glass clear so you can see the fire in all its glory
  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • 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

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
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.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Badger Sett

Keith and Nicky downsized their property in Jersey, used the released capital to buy their 57′ “go anywhere” narrowboat and now live on their boat full time while they continuously cruise the canal network.

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

Happily retired KeithWe’re Keith and Nicky from Jersey and live on our narrowboat with our two Hungarian Vizsla’s called Binks and Benji.

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

Over the years we’d talked about retiring before fifty, but it was more a ‘what if’ sort of dream. Changes at work though, that also happened to coincide with our sons leaving home, caused us to bring our dream out of the cupboard and dust it off. We’ve also enjoyed a number of boating holidays over the years (only one on a narrowboat though) and the two elements merged.

So at 48 and 46 we retired, moved aboard and haven’t regretted it for a second.

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

The narrowboat we brought was called Badger Sett and liked it along with its picture so kept it the same.

Do you have a permanent mooring?

No, we plan to continuously cruise the network and so are of ‘no fixed abode’.

What is your boat style and length

It is a 57’ cruiser stern.

57’ because we want to get around as much of the network as possible. That said though, I believe it is possible for slightly longer boatsNB Badger Sett to make it although this may require taking off front and rear fenders, going into locks diagonally and getting a bit wet if you’re hard up against the cill in the lock and all seems to be a bit of hassle.

A cruiser stern so we’ve got somewhere ‘comfortable’ to sit outside with proper chairs in the summer (!) whilst having the ease and privacy of being off the tow path.

Our choice won’t necessarily suit everyone, but it suits us and that’s what matters.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Eighteen months, ten of which we’ve been living aboard and six months as actual continuous cruisers.

How did you finance your boat?

Downsized our property and used some of the money.

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

Last year it was just holiday’s so about six weeks or so, now we are aboard full time.

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

No, we are retired.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Nothing yet, but I’m sure if we try really really hard, we might manage to come up with something !

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The flexibility and benefits of being continuous cruisers.

Nicky at the helm of Badger SettIf you could change just one thing about your boat, what would it be?

Nothing, it really does suit us perfectly.

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

We look out for / plan around main supermarkets and get the shop back to the boat using rucksacks. Can be a bit of a trudge sometimes, 45 minutes each way has been the worst yet so far, but we still lived to tell the tale.

We’ve done a couple of shops using Tesco and Sainsbury Online when main supermarkets have not been convenient to our location or travel plans and found them to be very useful in these cases.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We were thinking of getting a washing machine, but decided to see how we got on using launderettes and so far we’re getting on okay. It’s one of those trade off’s and considering the power usage, water usage and the space it would take up we were planning to stay as we are. We recently spoke to someone who had a small twin tub though and they were very pleased with it so we’re thinking of this as an option.

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

We’d initially decided that a pump out would be our preference, but changed our minds whilst looking at boats and now have a cassette toilet. We also brought two spare cassettes so our cruising wouldn’t be dictated by having to get to an Elsan point. The other huge benefit we’ve found is that not having a waste tank under the bed provides for a lot of extra storage space.

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

Initially with a Three dongle and balancing the laptop on a pile of books by the window or hanging the dongle out the window when the signal wasn’t good. Ended up getting a Three Mi-Fi and found that it works very well, even inside the boat. If the signal is a bit poor then it goes out in the cratch. The other benefit is that you can then use the laptop, plus other WiFi devices, where you want in the boat without consideration to the signal.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Early days for us, but The Langollen has to take pride of place so far.

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

We had some solar panels fitted in December ( 3 x 195w ) and since the beginning of February we haven’t run the engine other than for travelling. We very rarely travel every day, normally every other day and in February we only clocked up 26 hours on the engine. We’ve recently stayed put in the same place for four weeks (June) and only ran the engine for one hour during that time to move the boat to comply with mooring/cruising regulations.

We are considerate about the power we use though and have fitted LED lights throughout, had some 12v plug sockets and car charger sockets installed and use these for power whenever possible. Even came across a car charger with just a USB socket in the end of it and brought ourselves a USB cable and selection of adaptors. We leave the inverter switched off and when we do have to turn it on, we try and do so when we’re travelling.

The darker months of November, December and January will be the telling time for us though and we’ll no doubt have to scale back our power usage or give consideration to running the engine, but we’ll cross that bridge (or travel that canal) when we get there.

NB Badger Sett on the cutHow warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Warmest house we’ve ever lived in.

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

Be ready to make compromises as you’ll need to adapt your lifestyle to the boat and not the other way round.

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 website.

 

 

2013 08 11 Newsletter – A Free Narrowboat Guide For You

Living on a Narrowboat News 11th August 2013

 Doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday I was looking at the first spring flowers and anticipating the long hot summer ahead. Now here we are, approaching the middle of August, darker evenings and early morning grass wet with dew.

I’ve just taken Charlie and Daisy out for a run. They run, not me.

There’s a hundred metre long, forty metre wide patch of grass next to our car parking bay studded with horse chestnut, ash and field maple saplings. In twenty years’ time the ash will provide a roadside canopy forty feet high but, for now, it’s a marvellous place to exercise the dogs.

Ten minutes with a ball thrower and three heavy duty unchewable rubber balls and the dogs had had enough and were very wet after sprinting and rolling in the wet grass. For the first time this summer I’ve had to towel them down before letting them into the boat.

James is now dog friendly. We have durable plastic deck mats covering the front deck and a large door mat over the plastic mats in front of the front doors. The front deck is protected by a cratch cover so when the weather isn’t too pleasant, Sally and I can stand in the dry to towel down the dogs. We have oak effect laminate flooring inside the boat so even if the dogs’ paws are still wet or dirty it’s seconds work with a mop to clean up after them.

Free Guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

Firstly, please let me apologise if you’ve subscribed to the newsletter list within the last week. You may have done so as a result of my offer of a free eBook, Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. If you did, you may be wondering where it is. I have a confession to make. Technology has beaten me again. You should have received an email containing the download link. It wasn’t working properly but I think I’ve beaten the gremlins now. This time you should be OK.

If you’ve been visiting the site regularly, you will have read much of the information contained in this latest guide. It’s a distillation of the thousands of hours I’ve spent over the last three years researching content, writing content and developing the site.

I’ve included all of the articles from the site, links to all of the popular forum posts and an index of all the regular newsletters since  I began sending them out in January 2011. It’s a bit rough around the edges at the moment. I need to spend a few hours formatting the guide and generally tidying it up.

Because the guide isn’t quite as polished as I would like it to be, it’s yours completely free of charge. There may be a cost in the future once I’ve spent some more time on it but, for now, it’s yours to download at the click of a button.

Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat ArticlesClick here to download the guide. You’ll need to add your email address to the form in order to receive the download link. If you use the email address this newsletter is sent to, you will only receive an email from me telling you how to download the guide. If you use a different email address, you’ll also receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. If you click on the link in the confirmation email, you’ll be added to the newsletter list again and you’ll receive two copies of the newsletter every Sunday. Much as I want you to receive my regular newsletters, I don’t think there’s any point in you getting it twice so, if you’re already a subscriber, please ignore the confirmation email.

Do You Know Anyone Else Interested In Narrowboats?

There’s a huge amount of information in the guide. At over 53,000 words it’s as long as your average paperback but, not only is the guide packed with helpful articles, but it also links to hundreds of other site articles and forum posts. It’s a wonderful – and free – initiation into all things narrowboat. If you know anyone else who might find the guide and the information it contains of some use, please forward this email to them. They’ll thank you for it, and so will I.

Helpful Hints

Mark Meopham emailed me with a suggestion. He asked whether I had ever considered a helpful hints section somewhere on the site. I think it’s a marvellous idea (even if I can’t think of a location for it at the moment. Mark has contributed a couple of hints to start us off. Here they are…

“Great site, thanks for making the effort. Have you ever considered a helpfull hints topic for us, be good to share ideas, if so candle wax on the sliding hatch runners does wonders, and baby oil brings back bloomed paint work, even if only for a few weeks, but a lot less than a re paint.”

I think we’re off to a great start but I know there are many boat owning site visitors who can help make this another really useful resource. Here are a few tips from me:

Tip One

Buy yourself a recovery magnet. It will pay for itself in no time at all. I have a pocket sized Maxigrab magnet which I attach to a very useful 100m reel of parachute cord I keep in the engine room. I the last six months I’ve used it to recover a padlock, two shackles, a mooring pin (pulled out by a fast passing boat) and a coal shovel (twice) we use as a poop scoop. The magnet is work its weight in cold, and it’s fun to use too.

Tip Two

Getting rid of troublesome geese. Canada geese are a nuisance. They’re dirty, extremely noisy and there are millions of them in the UK. Their constant annoying honking can easily ruin a good night’s sleep. I’ve tried many different tactics to get rid of them both from the marina – we had two hundred land a couple of years ago – and from near my own mooring. By far the most effective method is the none harmful use of a laser pen. Mine is a military grade green laser. It came with a rechargeable battery and charger. I haven’t had to use the charger yet. The battery has lasted eighteen months so far.

It’s easy to use and is effective within seconds. Just shine it on the annoying geese at night, wait for the panicky mass honk, furious flapping and the delightful sound of them flying away to bother someone else. It’s magic.

Tip Three

Make sure your boat has a centre line. It’s arguably the most important rope on the boat buy I constantly see boats cruising without them. A centre rope is essential if you’re going to cruise single handed, but it’s also a very important item of boating equipment if you have a full crew. I see no end of inexperienced crews trying to hold a boat to the bank with a bow or a stern line at locks, and then trying to retrieve the end of the boat which they aren’t holding when it drifts out into the canal.

I’m going to have to stop there. I’ve run out of time but I can think of dozens of other useful tips. If you’re a boat owner I’m sure you can think of dozens more. Why don’t you share your knowledge with the site’s soon-to-be boat owners? You can either email me the tips so I can add them to the site for you or post them on the forum here.

 The Cost Of  A Continuous Cruising Lifestyle

If you’ve browsed through the threads on the forum you will already know that it’s a great source of information on the liveaboard narrowboat lifestyle. One subject which is never far from people’s minds is what it’s going to cost them. Here’s a question posed on the forum a few days ago…

“Hi this is a difficult one to get answers for I know but here goes. As a potential C/C next year I was wondering what other C/Cs budget for, either a month or the year. I know there will be unexpected costs ie mechanical faults ect but i wonder what costs are incurred in general day to day living, How far do you travel, how long for, how do you find Tesco’s, Sainsburys on the canal is there an app for phones you use. 

The reason I ask is we are intending to take a gap year or two ( bit late in life 52) for a gap year with the intention of after that time becoming proper live-aboarders with moorings.

Any advice will be very much appreciated”

I wrote about this forum thread last week but since then forum user and continuous cruiser Bikeshed has added some fascinating information. He explains how it’s possible to live a stress free life on his narrowboat on an income of £96 a week. His expenditure may not suit everyone but he demonstrates that a very low cost lifestyle is possible Here’s the forum thread.

I’m sorry it’s such a short newsletter this week. I’ve spent most of my time finishing off the new guide, uploading it to the server and creating the download section. There’s more than enough information in the guide to keep you going though. You can download it here.

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over three years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far. I’ve managed to reach the end of 2012. I’ll add the rest next week.

11th January 2011 – 1st Newsletter

Dealing with the coldest winter on record
Digital reading – A detailed review of the Kindle, the perfect solution for book loving boat owners

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

8th January 2012

The first four narrowboat case studies published

I’ll start with myself; Paul Smith, living on my own, moored in a marina and working full time. Narrowboat James case study

Meet Peggy. She has a husband and two small children, works full time and cruises the network during the summer months. Narrowboat Violet Mae case study

Fancy spending your retirement cruising the waterways of England and Wales? Meet Barry and Sue Horne. They’re living the dream! Narrowboat Adagio Case Study

Here are another working couple. Lina and Warren cruise the cut with their two cats.Narrowboat Olive Rose case study.

22nd January 2012

Two more case studies. One of them waxed lyrical about life on the waterways and enjoyed every minute of her life afloat. Now (April 2013) she’s selling up to follow another dream in Spain.

4th March 2012

Reviewed: The Liveaboard Guide by Tony Jones. A great guide to living afloat

eBay Narrowboat scam (and a little bit of flack for me from another forum)

Case Study: Author Toby Jones on his own liveaboard narrowboat

A review of Debdale Wharf marina

18th March 2012

The downside of living on a narrowboat – This was a very controversial post. Liveaboard Pauline Roberts wrote about the less pleasant aspects of life afloat… and attracted a storm of comments

Case study: The Woodsman – Pauline Roberts again giving an insight into the life that you may think she doesn’t like.

 1st April 2012

As a result of the article about the downside of living on a narrowboat published in the 18th March newsletter, I asked liveaboard narrowboat owners to complete a survey to give a balanced view of the issues raised by Pauline. Here are the survey results and a much more positive article by liveaboard narrowboat owner and frequent forum contributer Peter Early.

15th April 2012

Life on the river Cam – A guest article on the pleasures of river life by wide beam liveaboard Luther Phillips

Case Study – Freelance writer Anne and her South African farmer partner John reveal all

Case Study – Toni cruises constantly with ex husband Allan. They cruise together but they live apart… on separate boats

29th April 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I spent three weeks in April painting my boat. Here’s the first of my progress reports

13th May 2012

DIY narrowboat painting – I’ve broken down the complete cost of painting your own boat and

Dealing with wind on the river – A guest article from liveaboard narrowboat owner Alan Cazaly

27th  May 2012

How to clean your stove glass – One of the real pleasures of a living fire is watching the flames on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you can actually see the fire.

Smoking on board – An alternative to smelly smoke

10th June 2012

Survey – Do you want a forum on the site? (You already know the answer to that!)

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

Posh boats – My personal favourite: S.M. Hudson

18th September 2012

I published my guide Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat. When this newsletter was published it was only available as a Kindle edition. Now it’s available in both Kindle and PDF format and is bundled with Narrowbudget, the site’s bespoke narrowboat budgeting application.

VAT on narrowboat sales

30th September 2012

The best tip for a wannabe narrowboat owner – Advice from existing boat owners

14th October 2012

Practical flooring for narrowboat dogs

Case study – Mike and Mags use a double redundancy payment to pay for their new floating home

17th October 2012

I started to develop the narrowboat budgeting software. This newsletter detailed the concept and the progress to date

28th October 2012

An unscheduled dip in the marina prompted me to write about safety on the waterways

Living on a narrowboat – Through the eyes of a young lady who would clearly prefer to be somewhere else

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

2nd December 2012

Low cost narrowboat ownership – A low cost solution to the problem of funding your first narrowboat

Solar power – All you need to know about installing solar panels on your boat. Written by the inland waterways most popular solar system installer

Case Study – Mr. Solar Panel Tim Davis writes about life on board his own narrowboat

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

24th December

Narrowboat electrics part 2 – The concluding article from Tim Davis

I asked newsletter subscribers to send me detailed breakdowns of their bricks and mortar expenses so I could compare them with the cost of running a narrowboat. Quite a few subscribers obliged. I added the breakdowns to my narrowboat costs guide and the budgeting application.

8th January 2013

Case Studies – I put together 21 of the best case studies and analysed and summarised the data in this low cost guide. If you want ton save yourself hundreds of hours of research and costly mistakes, you need to read this guide.

Case Study – Mike’s circumstances are similar to my own. He moved onto his boat after a failed marriage. He’s upgraded from a 27′ GRP cruiser to a 50′ narrowboat

20th February 2013

The real cost of going cheap. An in depth look at the cost of my 36 year old boat, and how much I spent (and still need to spend) before it will be a comfortable full time cruising boat.

3rd March 2013

Stove fuel test – What works best; coal, wood, briquettes or something else entirely – Here’s my own take on a Waterways World test

Essential stove maintenance – Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your stove always performs well.

Internet connectivity – I use the internet four or more hours every day. This is the setup I have on my boat to make sure that I’m always connected.

Detailed running costs for my own boat for January 2013

11th March 2013

James’ upgrade – Adding solar panels and replacing carpets with oak effect laminate flooring

17th March 2013

Where can you find residential moorings? Here’s a great place to start

Getting rid of unwelcome visitors – Geese used to regularly disturb a peaceful night’s sleep where I moor. Not any more. Here’s my solution

Know your narrowboat costs – Detailed costs for my own boat for February 2013

Half a dozen boaters now have access to their own blog section on the site. You can too. Here’s how.

24th March 2013

Here’s an example of what happens when you really don’t understand how your narrowboat works.

Essential boating equipment – Here’s a low cost item which has paid for itself over and over again.

Whilton marina boat sales – Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. This alleged fact about the boat sales at Whilton has come to me from several different sources.

31st March 2013

Case study – Sarah lives on wide beam Antioch on the Leeds Liverpool canal. She can do man things with her hands. Here’s her story.

Be inspired – There are always reasons why you don’t make the move from bricks and mortar to steel and water. Here’s an anecdote which demonstrates once and for all that there really aren’t any worthwhile excuses.

7th April 2013

Narrowboat security – A spate of burglaries from boats and a break in at my former family home encouraged me to write this article

Case study – You need to committed to sell your home to fund the purchase of your narrowboat. That’s what Mick and Marlene have done.

14th April 2013

The perils of exceeding your monthly broadband data allowance. Learn from my mistakes.

21st April 2013

The Trust target illegal moorers but just what does the Trust consider to an illegal mooring?

Identity theft – The ongoing saga of my hacked laptop

RCR engine servicing – River Canal Rescue (RCR) are well known as the waterways equivelent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

28th April 2013

Narrowboat blogs – My own first cruise, Our Nige takes his new home on its maiden voyage and a chance for you to have your very own blog section on this site.

5th May 2013

Narrowboat fuel tanks – How much do they hold

Meet one of your legless canal side companions

The canal network’s largest floating hotel

12th May 2013

An encounter with a wide beam boat and why they aren’t suitable for much of the canal network

An interview with the Trust’s head of boating. Sally Ash talks about the Trust’s approach to the thorny issue of residential moorings

19th May 2013

My comments about an encounter on the Oxford/GU section between Napton and Braunston sparked a debate about the pros and cons of wide beams on the cut.

Keeping dry – You don’t really need to limit your cruising to sunny summer days. There’s something very special about standing on the back deck in the pouring ran protected by a set of bomb proof waterproofs.

Do you really need a car? Living on a narrowboat is all about enjoying a simple and stress free life. Sally and I had a car each. Mine cost £2,000 to run in the previous 12 months so I decided to get rid of mine to see if I could manage without one.

26th May 2013

Laptop hacking – An update on the problems I encountered after buying a brand new laptop which I suspect was tampered with before I bought it.

Diary of a new narrowboat owner – Frequent forum poster “Our Nige” finally moved on to his new floating home. Here’s his story

2nd June 2013

An encounter with two poorly prepared holiday boaters and my own impending two week cruise encouraged me to put together a pre cruise check list

9th June 2013

I was on holiday for the first two weeks of June. Sally and I cruised from Calcutt to Braunston, north along the north Oxford where we joined the Coventry canal briefly before taking a very sharp right turn onto the Ashby canal. Here’s a daily report of the first week of our holiday.

16th June 2013

The Ashby canal cruise part two – We spent a bit more time on the Ashby before heading south again, joining the Coventry canal, this time following it into Coventry’s rather depressing and disappointing city centre, then retracing our steps back to Calcutt

Most popular narrowboat names – Here’s the definitive list of the top 200 most popular narrowboat names and a resource you can use to find out if any other boat has the same name as yours

Considerate boating – An article prompted after a near head on collision with another boat trying to avoid a fallen oak.

23rd June 2013 – The cost of a two week cruise. If you live on your own boat, what’s the real cost of taking it away for a two week break?

Case Study – Mary Anne swapped dry land home rental for floating home ownership. Now she loves life afloat and works from home.

Life as a continuous cruiser – The Holy Grail of narrowboat ownership. The ability to travel where and when you like. Peter Early tells all.

30th June 2013

Keeping your stove glass clean – Maybe you think it’s an odd subject for the summer but you can’t trust the English weather. Late June and the stove was still on now and again. At least now I have a crystal clear view of the fire I shouldn’t need to light.

Traffic chaos caused by Braunston’s historic boat rally – On a day with high winds and a canal full of working boats returning home after the rally, I had the pleasure of taking some very nervous hirers out on the cut.

7th July 2013

Anticipating winter weather – You may well be enjoying unusually warm winter weather but the winter will be with us all too soon. Now is the time that you need to plan for the cold weather ahead.

14th July 2013

Fenland river cruising – Another boater’s maiden voyage to whet your appetite.

21st July 2013

Hire boat expectations – Fully understanding what facilities will be available to you is essential if you’re going to enjoy a narrowboat holiday. Here’s what not to do.

28th July 2013

The cost of living on a narrowboat – An article in the Daily Mail… and why most boaters disagree with what they said.

4th August 2013

The perfect narrowboat washing machine? – It’s low cost and doesn’t need plumbing in, but does it actually clean clothes?

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How much does living the life of a water gypsy really cost?

11th August 2013

A free download – Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles

Narrowboat tips – Handy hints from experienced narrowboat owners

The cost of a continuous cruising lifestyle – How one liveaboard boater manages on a shoestring

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
  • The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
  • 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
  • “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
  • Post & Postal Addresses For Continuous Cruisers – You need an address in order to receive post and open bank accounts, register for doctors and hospitals etc. How do continuous cruisers with no fixed abode manage it.
  • Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
  • It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
  • Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
  • VAT On New Narrowboats – Can you knock 20% off the cost of your new narrowboat?
  • Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
  • Narrowboat Burglary – Two boats burgled at the same location. Where is it and what can you do to minimise the risk of theft from your own boat wherever you are?
  • Insuring Your Car When You Live On A Boat – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
  • Remedies For Sooty Stove Glass – For me, one of the great pleasures of living on a narrowboat is a winter evening in front of a flickering fire. Here’s how you can keep your stove glass clear so you can see the fire in all its glory
  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • 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

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
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.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

 

Travels of Joanie M – Life as a Continuous Cruiser – BCN – The Northern Reaches

The Northern parts of the BCN consist of the Wyrley & Essington, Walsall, Daw End, Rushall and Tame Valley Canals and can be a bit of a challenge to boaters. These are all remainder canals but even so a great part of them have been dredged in recent years.

Most boaters enter the Wyrley & Essington from Horsley Field Junction at Wolverhampton. You immediately pass through the remains of the original stop lock, dating from the time that the W & E was a separate entity from the Birmingham Canal. They amalgamated in 1840 to become the Birmingham Canal Navigations. The W & E, known as the Curly Wyrley, being a contour canal, heads for Wednesfield and you shortly arrive at the junction with the Bentley Canal. All that now remains is a short stub as moorings alongside Bentley Retail Park. All the retail outlets you could want are here together with cinema and bowling and The Nickelodeon Pub – but no real ale when I last went in!

The Bentley descended by several locks from this junction with a splendid lock house by the top lock. The locks and lock house were still in being when I first passed this way in 1982 but the scene is difficult to imagine today. In fact the land has now been built up to such an extent that the ground is now level with the main canal. From things I have read the cost of infilling the canal and making good the drainage far exceeded what the likely cost of restoration.

The canal twists and turns to Lane Head where you pass the old loading basin for Hollyhead Colliery. The water in the basin is deep enough to moor easily and the grass seems to be cut regularly. There are secure gated moorings at Lane Head Bridge with two pubs facing each other across the canal.

You now pass through an area of wood and grass land called Rough Wood before passing under the M6. Looking to your right the land drops away to give you views towards Walsall about a mile away. It will be about 3 miles by canal! At Sneyd Junction it is obvious that the canal used to go straight on through the locks whose remains you can see. This became the Wyrley Branch leading to a reservoir and several collieries. We need to turn sharp right however passing the old maintenance yard, now residential moorings. There is a sanitary station here and you may be able to moor overnight if you talk to the warden nicely.

Otherwise we wend our way to Birchills Junction. Go right here and you pass a Sainsbury’s with its own, shallow moorings to arrive at the top of the 8 locks that drop you down to Walsall. There is another secure mooring here with sanitary station and on the towpath are an old toll office and the Birchills Boatmen’s Rest. This listed building was for many years a small museum but funding cuts have made their presence felt and now the building is at risk. The boatyard opposite was once the home of Ernie Thomas, a well-known BCN carrier. The Sainsbury’s is built on the site of Birchills Power Station, the recipient of much of the coal mined in the area.

Continuing on the main line, the observant will see the remains of a few wooden boats lying amongst the reeds on the offside. These are from Peter Keays boatyard which operated by the next bridge. Keays was the last wooden boat builder in the area. After passing through the housing of Bloxwich you now pas extensive green spaces on your right with the remains of Goscote Copper Works on your left.

The housing gives way to some farm land and then you pass through Pelsall Common. It is difficult to imagine that this green space was once a hive of activity with coalmines and iron works, including a blast furnace. The Cannock Extension Canal goes off to the left, straight as an arrow with a vista of several bridges spanning it. The canal used to pass several collieries before descending the flight of 16 locks at Churchbridge to join the Staffs & Worcs Canal at Hatherton Junction. Subsidence took its toll and most of the canal was closed in the ‘60s. It terminates now at Watling Street. It is possible to turn at the end but you may have to ask the boatyard to move a boat or two. Just before the end are two old colliery loading basins that are now used for mooring.

As the canal leaves the common you have The Fingerpost Pub with moorings outside. The canal twists and turns a bit more before arriving at Brownhills. I have to admit a soft spot for Brownhills. A sanitary station, extensive moorings and 24 hour Tesco. But no nearby pub! There used to be a huge outdoor market here but it closed a few years ago due, I am told, to the amount of counterfeit product that was being sold. Cross the canal to the Clayhanger Country Park to exercise your dog, or yourself, where you may be lucky to spot the small herd of deer that frequent the area.

At Catshill Junction the W & E goes off to the left and to Anglesey Basin at the bottom of Chasewater Reservoir. Another great area for walking and exploring the immediate area. Until the mid ‘60s there was a gantry across the canal here to load coal for delivery to the local power stations. For a good description of the operation read Tom Foxons ‘No. 1’. The water here is crystal clear and is a good place to examine your boat hull below the waterline! You will have seen Ogley Junction that the canal went off to the right. This was the main line dropping down through several locks to join the Coventry Canal at Huddlesford. This is currently undergoing restoration and will eventually make a back door entry to the BCN.

Going the other way at Catshill takes you onto the Daw End Branch. Again, it is difficult to imagine that when built this contour canal was level with the surrounding land. Subsidence means that the canal is often several feet above now. You will see that some of the bridges were designed to be easily raised with simple steel girders with alcoves beneath where jacks could be inserted. Look at the brickwork edging the canal and see the lines of mortar as they disappear at an angle into the water. Just before Aldridge is a huge hole in the ground on the towpath side where clay is mined for the nearby brick and pipe works. There is a small boatyard at Aldridge with another gated mooring just beyond.

The W & E was dredged in 2010 up to this point and it will feel as if you run into a brick wall. The first time I felt this I immediately went down the weed hatch but now I just throttle down and plug on with it. Never the less, deep draughted boats can still continue with no problems as long as they don’t want to moor. The Manor Arms is now in sight by the towpath. This pub is a jewel and must be visited. It has no bar with drinks being dispensed from faucets in the wall. Visit in the winter and it is like sitting in someone’s front room. If you don’t fancy mooring outside a few hundred yards on is the Park Lime Pits Country Park.

Another mile or so and you arrive at Longwood Junction. The old canal went off to the left to a quarry that is now a nature reserve with the arm being used as moorings. There is another sanitary station here but the elsan is one of the most un-sanitary on the canals.

Straight in front of you is the first lock of the Rushall Canal. This is one of the newest of the BCN canals, being built in 1847. When the BCN was formed in 1840 this was one of three new canals specified in the act of union but the BCN declined to build it as they could see no economic benefit. However, as they had borrowed money for this, and would have to repay it, the canal was eventually built, dropping in a straight line through 9 locks. These are not the easiest locks with a small crew, having double bottom gates with no over bridges and anti-vandal locks on virtually every paddle. The first two are close together but the bottom gates on Lock 2 refuse to stay open. The trick is to take your boat hook with you and jam one gate open whilst you lean against the other. There is a long pound to Lock 3 then all the rest of the flight are grouped together. You may find one or more of the pounds low so get used to running water down. When you get to the bottom, take satisfaction that you have just been through the most underused locks in the country with just 250 movements recorded in 2012.

Arriving at Rushall Junction you can turn left or right onto the Tame Valley Canal. The Tame Valley was the M6 Toll of its day, being built to allow boats to bypass the busy Aston & Farmers Bridge locks. Built by James Walker in 1844, it follows the same methods as Telfords New Main Line being straight with twin towpaths, deep cuttings and lofty embankments.

Turning left you soon come to the first of these embankments with views across the rooftops to the Dudley hills beyond. The cuttings are spanned by high bridges. 13 locks grouped as 7, 4 and 2 drop you down to Salford Junction which lies under the shadow of Spaghetti Junction. You can go straight on to Fazeley, sharp right to Birmingham or not so sharp right to Warwick. You may notice several canalside buildings with strange names such as ‘Reflux Valve No. 2’. These were part of a back pumping system.

Going right at Rushall Junction you find yourself running alongside the M5 motorway and then crossing it on an aqueduct. This has narrows each side designed to test your steering skills as nothing is in line. Passing through the cutting under Crankhall Bridge you will suddenly pick up speed. The canal from here on was dredged as recently as winter 2012 and is a pleasure to cruise. Passing under several more bridges you arrive at the junction with the Walsall Canal at Ocker Hill.

The Walsall Canal officially starts at the top of Ryders Green Locks but for our purposes we’ll start from Pudding Green Junction with the New Main Line. The canal is quite industrial at first. You arrive at Ryders Green top lock where the Ridgeacre Branch (technically the Wednesbury Old Canal) goes off to your right. This used to go to Swan Bridge for the Gas Works and the Balls Hill Branch and some railway interchange basins and were navigable up to the 90s. Then to the shame of British Waterways they allowed the Black Country Spine Road to be built on the level across the canal and blocking it for ever. Boats are discouraged from travelling on what is left due to the amount of toxic silt that can be dragged up from the bottom.

Ryders Green locks are easy to work despite the anti-vandal locks and you drop swiftly through the first 7 locks to the longer pound at Great Bridge. Great Bridge Street used to have some hefty steel girders supporting it meaning the steerer had to duck down at the last minute to avoid a nasty knock. The bridge has now been rebuilt. There is another new bridge joining Great Bridge to the Asda store opposite. You are advised to knock the boat out of gear and float under this. The local sport is seeing how many Asda trolleys can be dropped into the canal here. Shortly after the 8th lock you arrive at Ocker Hill and the junction with the Tame valley Canal. There is a short arm here with residential moorings and space for a couple of visiting boats, plus the usual elsan, water and pumpout. The building here was the West Midlands regional office for a few years but has been empty for at least the last 3.

Passing the office block you are now on the least used canal in the Black Country. Shallow, weedy and rubbish strewn. Why would you ‘cruise’it? Because the next time you are in the pub you can say ‘I’ve been to Walsall, have you?’
The housing on the left here is built on the site of Ocker Hill Power Station, another recipient of all that coal mined on Cannock chase and as you go on you will see evidence of old arms and branch canals going off on either side. At Darlaston you pass through a section that has been narrowed by steel girders built out into the water. This used to be an electric lift bridge joining two factory sites. You nosed up to the bridge, pressed the button and the bridge deck rose automatically in the air. After you passed through you pressed the second button and down it went. When it was no longer used the Wey & Arun Canal Trust purchased it for later use.

The canal runs straight now on a weedy embankment towards the M6 (you can see it easily from the road just before you pass the Showcase Cinema) Immediately after the M6 the canal went under an office block but this was demolished in 2009 and is now another derelict site. On the bright side the canal always seems to be a bit deeper from here on and you shortly arrive at the bottom of the 8 Walsall Locks.

Before ascending them and joining the W & E at Birchills Junction you must go right to the end of the Town Arm. This was derelict for many years but is now slowly being regenerated. The basin was opened out with a new Art Gallery, a wharfside bar called, imaginatively ‘The Wharf’, a hotel and restaurant and a lot of housing. The Art Gallery is a must to visit and make sure you go to the top for the viewing platform where you can not only see across the Black Country but you can look down onto your boat and admire it from afar!

There are secure moorings on a pontoon at the beginning of the Town Arm but I’ve always moored on the pontoons in the basin itself. Unfortunately there are no facilities in the basin itself but I am assured by the Trust that there will be in the near future.

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