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Monthly Archives: October 2013

2013 10 27 Narrowboat Newsletter – Feeling The Effects Of Excess Wind

Living on a Narrowboat News 27th October 2013

It’s half past two on a bright an breezy Sunday morning. I’ve just taken Charlie and Daisy out for a run (them, not me. I’m pleased to say that I gave up what I considered to be very tedious long distance running twenty five years ago. These days the only runs I experience are the frustrating kind when I’m painting James).

I’m sitting in my office after just having completed an exercise in an Open University creative writing course module. “Close your eyes,” it asked “and think of the space around you. Open your eyes now and write your thoughts down without looking at the space you’ve just imagined.”

It’s easy for them to ask me to do that from noise free room where the module was written. They don’t have the distractions I have around me. I closed my eyes and imagined… very little actually. My mind couldn’t get past the sound of a racing steam train that is Charlie after an over enthusiastic twenty minutes chasing a solid bright orange plastic ball over the recently cut grass. Or the sound of the gusting October wind as it rocks the boat under me. Or the incessant honking of an ever growing flock of Canada geese on the choppy marina water.

And then when I opened my eyes to look at the room which I failed to imagine, all I could focus on was the “stuff” I’ve accumulated over the last three years since I moved on board.

There isn’t much space on a narrowboat at the best of times so we really need to stop buying gadgets we don’t actually need. There’s a set of bunk beds behind me. In the top left hand corner of the upper bunk is a Magic Bullet blender which promises to “Make Life In The Kitchen… Easy!”

No it doesn’t.

I agree that it’s well made, does an incredible and almost instant job of liquidising and blending, and comes with more attachments than you can shake a stick at, but the speed with which it blends it counterbalanced by the time we have to spend washing the attachments afterwards. Especially if, as happened on one particularly memorable sunny summer’s eve, the fresh fruit blending is done next to a recently cleaned kitchen window with a poorly secured and very aerodynamic plastic lid. Oh, how Sally laughed when her nutritious smoothie liberally coated the walls!

So the now unused Magic Bullet blender now sits next to the equally unused George Foreman grill. “We can use it to make healthy snacks,”  Sally Suggested sincerely. No we didn’t. We used it to make endless calorie loaded cheese and onion toasties until we were both fed up with the sight of cheddar and neither of us could do up our jeans. We would have stopped using it for those reasons alone even if it hadn’t been responsible for the near demise of the inverter after the grill was plugged in at the same time as one of our 500w Dimplex greenhouse heaters.

On the same bunk but at the opposite end sits another unused and unwanted gadget. This one was all my fault. It’s the tennis racket Executioner battery operated fly swat. I mentioned it a couple of months ago. The most damage it’s done so far is to a finger, foolishly poked into the electrified metal lattice to see if the device was working. It was, and boy did it hurt.

I took one half-hearted swing at a wasp shortly after nearly electrocuting myself. There was a very satisfying electrical CRACK!  and a puff of smoke when I hit the wasp with it. The wasp fell to the floor but very quickly dusted itself off and launched itself into the air in my direction so I made a hasty strategic retreat outside the boat to take the dogs for a walk. There has been no sign of either the wasp or the Executioner since then.

The gadgets aren’t just on the bunk. They’re on the desk I’m working on too.

There’s a Photosmart 5524 all singing, all dancing printer/scanner/copier/tea maker (I lied about the tea maker). We chose this one in particular because it offered high quality photo printing in addition to the usual document printing we need now and then. We bought a pack of high quality and ridiculously expensive photo paper to go with it, and an additional set of print cartridges.

After rushing back to the boat from PC World we quickly set the printer up and sent my favourite photo of Charlie to print. It was rubbish. After an hour’s investigation on the web I discovered that the printer needs a memory upgrade in order to print high quality images. I haven’t had the time or the energy to upgrade it so the printer sits next to my laptop gathering dust.

The printer sits next to a Snowball iCE Microphone which produces studio quality sound. I bought it for creating voice overs for YouTube videos. It actually works very well. I spent hours creating the videos, writing a compelling script and uploading them to YouTube’s server. Then I spent more time researching ways to increase the ranking of my YouTube videos. I found a company with a good reputation who would “provide enough completely natural views, likes and comments to ensure first page ranking”. Ever gullible, I parted with my hard earned cash and left the company to do their stuff. Within a week one of my videos achieved first page ranking with the aid of 10,000 “natural” views. Two days later, YouTube deleted the video and closed my account for trying to increase the video’s ranking with “unnatural and manufactured views, likes and comments. I haven’t yet had the time or the energy to open another YouTube account and upload the video.

So here I am, surrounded by expensive and unnecessary gadgets, offering you advice on how to shed your material possessions to live a simple uncluttered life on board a narrowboat. I must try harder to be less of a hypocrite.

Anyway, back to the newsletter.

It’s Sunday morning and, if the media is to be believed, much of England will be blown over to France tomorrow. The weather forecast is dire. Hurricane strength winds not seen since Michael Fish’s famous gaff in 1987 are set to devastate towns, villages and cities from the south coast as far north as the Midlands. Wind speeds of up to 80mph have been predicted as well as up to an inch and a half of rain over a twenty four hour period.

That’s the national forecast. I always treat the televised forecasts with a pinch of salt. I always use the excellent service provided by Weatherspark. The weather is forecast for the following ten days for the local area. The ten day forecast is rarely accurate for the one and two day forecast is usually pretty good. You can see from the Weatherspark graph below that the wind will be at its strongest at 8am tomorrow but its strongest will be just 30mph. It’s still going to be very breezy though so I don’t expect to see any boats moving on the cut tomorrow (part from one or two desperate-to-carry-on-whatever-happens hirers).

Weatherspark Graph

In addition to the temperature, I find the rainfall/snowfall and the wind speed and direction very handy for planning trips out on the boat. I also find the wind direction very handy at work. We burn collected tree branches and offcuts of timber in our tip area. We have to make sure that the wind is blowing from the east so that smoke from the fire doesn’t blow across the site. As the prevailing wind is south westerly, we have to keep a close eye on the wind direction for a rare opportunity to light the fire.

The wind direction and wind speed also dictates to a certain degree how warm or how cold the boat is. The wind’s influence was particularly evident last Sunday evening.

We returned from Nottingham quite late. We don’t often spend time away from the boat so we’re used to coming back to a warm and cosy home with the stove still alight and producing waves of pleasant heat. That’s not what we returned to on Sunday. I’ve heard boaters talking about their fantastic stoves and how they can keep them alight for extended periods without having to add any fuel. After hearing them wax lyrical about their ability to keep their fire going you could be excused for thinking that using a stove to heat your boat was almost as easy as using central heating in a house.

It isn’t.

The longest we can manage to keep it alight without adding fuel is about ten hours and even then it’s sometimes a struggle to get it going again. Last Saturday when we left the boat the fire was on. We didn’t bank it (top it up with coal and minimize the ventilation to prolong burning time) because we knew it wouldn’t last until we returned.

We were away for twenty eight hours but even after such a short period and on a warmer than usual autumn day and night, the cabin was cold and damp. I didn’t light the fire on Sunday night because it was already 11pm. In the time I would take to light the fire, make sure it was burning steadily, top the coal up and turn the ventilation down, I could have an extra hour’s sleep.

Consequently the boat was decidedly chilly when I fell out of bed at 6am on Tuesday morning.

The nighttime temperature had been a particularly mild twelve degrees but there had been quite a gusty wind blowing all night. The wind, as usual was south westerly. James is moored bow in facing west. The mooring is particularly exposed to the wind so the prevailing wind scours the boat’s port side. The effect the wind and the rain has on the outside of the boat was particularly noticeable when I first moved on board. Curling ribbons of paint hung from frequent bald patches on the port side, but not on the starboard side.

The wind wouldn’t be a problem if the wind couldn’t find its way into James. Unfortunately it can.

I was generally very pleased with the quality of workmanship when the new steel cabin was added to the boat in November 2011. I wasn’t at all happy with the way the front and back door and side hatches were fitted. There are gaps between the front and rear doors and their surrounding bulkheads that I can almost poke a finger through. The gaps between the side door and the hatches aren’t quite as bad but they’re still plenty big enough to allow the wind to whistle though and into the boat.

The gaps around the front doors aren’t so much of a problem because the front of the boat is protected by the cratch cover. The rear gap at the top of the rear doors are only a problem when an east wind is blowing which hits the back of the boat, a wind which also drives waves against the boat stern. The waves hitting the stern often keep us awake on the rare occasions a strong east wind is blowing.

The prevailing wind’s effect on the port side of the boat is our biggest problem. The wind chills the whole of the port side, testing the effectiveness of the polystyrene insulation. The wind also gusts through the gap between the port side doors and the hatch above. We’ve found that we can very effectively eliminate this draught by padding the door edges with foam offcuts. We’ll be doing that in the next week or two.

We also have slight draughts coming through the top hopper windows. I don’t know whether the windows are original. I suspect they are so they’re thirty six years old and have been removed from the frames at least once to my knowledge. I don’t think there’s much we can do about the draught from them without replacing the windows but, at just over £1,000 for the windows without the cost of having them fitted, the draught isn’t bad enough to incur the expense.

It’s the relatively mild south westerly which always causes us a problem. An east wind, laden with cold air from frigid Russian plains, is not so much a problem because it hits the back of the boat and although the engine room and the bedroom in front of it are noticeably more chilly in an east wind, the rest of the boat is unaffected.

A north wind carrying icy Arctic air is also less of a problem for us. James is protected from a north wind by the boats moored on our starboard side. When a cold north wind blows we are completely unaffected.

Tomorrow promises us a cheek-reddening breeze here in the Midlands rather than the destructive hurricane forecast for the south. The wind here is picking up already. The wind is moaning around my rooftop internet aerial and the coat hangers next to the port side hatch rattle together when the boat is hit by a powerful gust.

Although there’s a bit of a breeze filtering through doors and windows, it’s not really cold. I’ll finish this newsletter shortly, make myself a cup of coffee and sit by the fire or two while I pretend to read. What I’ll really be doing is listening to the wind and the occasional patter of rain against the windows, watch the stove’s flickering flames and quite contentedly nod off for half an hour.

Two Organisations For Liveaboard Boaters

Firstly let me apologise for the above title. I included it in last week’s newsletter above an article about the newly formed Association of Continuous Cruisers. I meant to add some information about the the Residential Boat Owner’s Association. The RBOA was established in 1963 to represent liveaboard boaters in the UK.

I emailed chairman Allan Wildman two days before the newsletter went out asking for some information which I could pass on to you. He replied very quickly. He promised that “I will see this is dealt with as a matter of urgency.” Nine days later I still haven’t heard from either Allan or anyone else from the RBOA. If this is their idea of dealing with something as a matter of urgency, I’m not overwhelmed with confidence in their organisation.

So I’m sorry I still don’t have any information about the organisation. Maybe if you are already a member you can give someone a gentle prod.

Another Liveaboard Case Study

It’s always a pleasure to discover an Aussie or two who have found the UK more attractive than their Antipodean home – especially when both my parents and my brother were so keen to escape the UK to settle there. Retired Aussie couple Peter & Meagan O’Sullivan have spent the last two and a half years continuously cruising the canals and rivers of England and Wales in their Cat Stevens named narrowboat. Here’s their story.

Suggestions Please!

I’ve been writing regular newsletters for a couple of years now. During the first year they were every two weeks or so. To be honest, the frequency was a bit hit and miss. My New Year’s resolution, and one that I’m delighted to say that I’ve kept, was to send out a newsletter every Sunday, rain or shine. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

Can you let me know what you would like to read in the future? Are there any areas of narrowboat life you don’t think I’ve covered enough or areas which I’ve missed completely? Please let me know what you want to read about. Thanks for your help.

New Kindle Narrowboat Guide

In the last few newsletters I’ve mentioned my new guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. It’s a free download as a PDF here. It’s also no available on Amazon as a Kindle download. I’ve tried to make it available free of charge but I can’t work out how to do it so it’s been published at the lowest price setting of £1.99. The Kindle edition is 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

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?

25th August 2013

Effective fly killers for boats

The downside to living on a narrowboat

Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.

1st September 2013

Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube

All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller

8th September

A disaster – I inadvertantly deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!

15th September 2013

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

22nd September 2013

A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees

Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site

29th September 2013

The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free

Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.

6th October 2013

Managing your boat’s water supply. You can use your water supply as and when you need it when you live in a house with all mod cons. You can pretty much do the same when you’re on a marina mooring with a water supply just a hose length away. It’s a different kettle of fish when you’re on an online mooring.

Liveaboard case study – A prime example of mooring without a water supply on tap.

13th October 2013

On demand water heater problems – Discover a common fault with these water heaters and what you can do to resolve the problem.

Know your firewood – Not all timber burns well. Find out which is best and which to avoid.

20th October 2013

Condensation. It’s a common problem on boats. Here are a few suggestions how to keep your boat’s interior dry.

A new organisation for liveaboard boaters

 

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.

  • GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
  • Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
  • Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
  • Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
  • Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
  • A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
  • Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
  • 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 Moon Shadow

Retired Aussie couple Peter & Meagan O’Sullivan have spent the last two and a half years continuously cruising the canals and rivers of England and Wales. Here’s their story.

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

Peter & Meagan O’Sullivan

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

Liveaboard narrowboat Moon ShadowRetired Aussie couple in early 60’s who did a trip on the Ashby in 1992 and in Burgundy in 1996. Always thought it would be a great lifestyle. Thanks to my last employer, they gave me a chance to finish work on favourable terms and we grabbed the chance to buy our boat in June 2011 after having come over in Feb 2011 to research the market for a week ( a lot of driving in a very short timeframe but certainly gave us an idea of requirements/ wants)

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

Moon Shadow…..love at first sight for Meagan, a devout Cat Stevens fan ( we marched down the aisle nearly 40 years ago to ‘Morning had broken’)

Do you have a permanent mooring?

Have continuous cruised since the beginning with Winter layovers at Sherborne Wharf, Birmingham ( 2011 – we went back for a few drinks last night) and Lyme View Marina, 2012 ( recommended by some fellow boaters/ now good friends). About to take up a permanent annual mooring at Penkridge from November 1 as we travel a fair bit with cheap airfares available and feel this will be more secure over time.

What is your boat style and length

57′ reverse layout.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

2 years 9 months

How did you finance your boat?

Mr. C Ash

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

Continuous cruiser and loving it even as it cools down.

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

Retired…..let those who have been less fortunate get the jobs! Not easy when you are of a certain age…..

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Power/poo/water/garbage management with CRT facilities sometimes appearing random and poorly spaced.

Mediocre 3G coverage at times.

Loosing hours of my life trying to orient my satellite dish…why is there always a tree between where I moor and the satellite?

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The view out of the kitchen window is always changing. The banter with fellow boaters.

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

Not a fan of the ‘swallowtail’ stern. Have had major issues with our pram cover sticking out resulting in bending/ breakage of support frame ( aluminium tubing)

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

Generally by foot or fold up bike. Always rely on Pearsons who provide clear position of supermarkets. Also, keep eye out for market days to get Narrowboat Moon Shadowbetter quality fruit/ veg.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

3.5kg twin tub that cost £99 on Amazon delivered canalside to the Trading Post on the Macclesfield ( good fella, Andy). Fits neatly in our shower enclosure (Quadrant ) on wash day and under end of dinette table .Previously had a small 1kg twin tub but parts became an issue after a spin dryer timer died. Larger machine better / quicker. Use a Dry Buddy (1.5 kw motor )from Argos £59 to dry when weather does not permit. Does the job within 3/4 hours (cruising generally)and dissembles nicely to fit under dinette bench. Cheap but effective and we didn’t want to lose rear stairwell cupboard space (used for wet weather gear) for a full washing machine.

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

We have both. A small Kampa 10 litre cassette which lasts a couple of days and a pumpout for emergencies or when we have guests aboard. Being continuous cruisers, a £15/18 pumpout every 10/14 days is not economically viable and would start to compete with diesel expense.

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

use 3g through 3 using 3g Ipad 2 normally. Has proven generally brilliant compared to initial dongle and Netbook. Occasionally use MiFi for other hardware but is dongle-based and fairly slow. iPad generally wins most of the time

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Would be a toss up between Llangollen, Leeds and Liverpool (especially through God’s country, Yorkshire!). Also River Soar but there are highlights on every canal we have cruised so far.

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

Principally reliant on main diesel supplemented by 80 watt solar cell ( kept batteries charged over last winter nicely).

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm. Have fitted a couple of computer fans venting from back of solid fuel stove behind shower bulkhead to blow into bedroom. Seems to be effective in moving air albeit a little slow. Walk through bathroom hinders circulation of air into bedroom so this is my solution. Will have to wait until it gets a little colder to ascertain whether this is a fully satisfactory solution but better than nothing.

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

Research before you commit. Subscribe to a good magazine such as WW or Canal Boat for 12 months before buying. Research the web for sites like livingonanarrowboat.co.uk and owner blogs.

If you don’t like camping, don’t do it!

If you don’t like getting wet and cold, think again.

It can be expensive if you are not practical and able to do simple handyman tasks. It’s a lifestyle, not a holiday but has many rewards if you embrace it.

_____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

 

12v sockets. Something I’m hoping to resolve pdq.

2013 10 20 Newsletter – Dealing With Condensation On Boats

Living on a Narrowboat News 20th October 2013

I’m in Nottingham this morning. I have a hangover. I can’t understand why. I had two small cans of Foster’s last night. That’s all. I don’t ever enjoy a hangover but I can at least accept one when there’s good reason. I’m drinking less and less these days. I suppose my reluctance to swallow large quantities of mood altering liquid has something to do with the fact that, thanks to my lifestyle, I’m more than happy with my state of mind most of the time.

Maybe it’s not a hangover. Maybe I’m just suffering because neither Sally nor I slept very well last night.

There was no gentle quacking from nearby mallards or screeches from chaotic coots, no swish as the wind brushed the bowing bull rushes against the boat, no quiet squeak from the rubber fenders caught between the boat’s hull and the wooden jetty. And no soothing rocking enticing us closer to our dreams.

Nothing. Just a regular sized bed – a very large bed by boating standards – in a room isolated from the much loved sounds of nature by very effective double glazing. Double glazing with windows we couldn’t open because they were locked and our hosts had gone to bed.

The unpleasant heat didn’t help achieve a restful night either. Sally and I are used to sleeping in the coldest part of the boat. We’re quite happy, and very comfortable, with a temperature of twelve or thirteen degrees. The radiator in our room last night was on all night. We couldn’t turn it off.

Much as I love the company of Sally’s daughter Maricar and her partner Ollie, I’ll be glad to get back to our beloved boat tonight. Occasionally, and very briefly, I think that this boating lark is too much like hard work. But on the rare nights when we are away from James I can’t wait to get back to tranquillity.

My head’s clearing a bit now – I think it was just lack of much needed fresh air in the bedroom – so on with the important stuff.

I’ve been receiving an increasing number of emails with suggestions for newsletter content. They’re all very welcome. I’ll gladly consider all the suggestions you want to throw at me so if there’s something about narrowboat life you want to know, and you think it worthy of a mention in the newsletter, please let me know.

A rather appropriate suggestion for this time of the year was for some pointers on dealing with the problem faced by all boat owners, condensation. It was a great suggestion. Here you are…

Dealing With Condensation On Boats

I had more than my share of condensation issues when I first moved on to James. The boat had been moored in the marina since 1997 when it was bought from the original owner by my boss, Roger Preen. He used it very little. In 2006 he moved James from Calcutt’s Locks marina to the boat’s new berth in the brand new Meadows marina.

The new location offered a better view on a more spacious mooring. The mooring also offered full exposure to the prevailing south westerly and the rain it carried over the four years before I moved on board. The wind and the rain scoured the port side until the paint hung off the boat in ribbons showing the Masonite underneath. Maronite is a fibreboard and because it’s fibreboard it doesn’t react very well to exposure to the elements. The sheet joins had started to swell and curl allowing water through the joints in the roof and on the port side which bore the full brunt of the prevailing wind.

In anything heavier than a light shower I had to empty the kitchen cupboards of pots and pans to place under the drips through the ceiling. There was water damage to the Parana pine cladding in both the dining and bedroom areas. The curtains were mouldy as were the bench seat covers and the mattress.

Rain found other ways into the boat too.

There’s a hinged steel hatch in my small trad stern deck to allow access to weed hatch. There’s a drain to catch any rain which finds its way through the hatch edges. The drain was blocked so years of rain falling onto the back deck had overflowed the drain channel into the engine bay. The water had then passed through a hole in the bulkhead between the engine room and bedroom soaking the underside of the wooden flooring in the bedroom.

When I moved on board the boat was very damp indeed.

I bought a Dehumidifier DD122FW-Mk4. For the first month on board I had it on every minute of every day. It soaked up gallons and gallons of water. Unfortunately I didn’t realise then that I was wasting my time. The dehumidifier was fighting a losing battle trying to deal with the constant inflow of water from the engine room. I didn’t realise at the time how much the dehumidifier cost to run either.

I’ve cured the leak in the engine room now so I’ll be very interested to see how much moisture the dehumidifier collects this winter. We haven’t used it yet, but we will before the month is out. We try to use it sparingly because it isn’t cheap to run. At 500w it’s too much of a drain on the batteries, so we power it via the shore line. Electricity at Calcutt is charged at £0.20 per kwh so the dehumidifier costs 10p per hour to run. The month I had it on full time in 2010 my electricity bill for the dehumidifier alone was £72.

Now we tend to have it on for just a couple of hours a day in the winter. I was going to tell you that we haven’t started using it yet this year but while I was writing the newsletter Sally brought the dehumidifier back from our storage unit.  I had it running for ten hours yesterday in our bedroom with all the doors and the windows closed so that only moisture from the room itself was removed. The dehumidifier removed a very impressive and slightly worrying 1.9 litres.

The cost of extracting nearly half a gallon of unwanted water was £1.00 and was money very well spent. The duvet, mattress and pillow cases are now noticeably lighter and drier. The room feels warmer and more cosy. The damp has crept up on us over the summer months. I’ll need to run it now at least a week until the spring.

The dehumidifier didn’t totally cure the damp problems in the bedroom. We had an ongoing problem with our mattress (and no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve reached a certain age). The underside was constantly damp. Actually it was more wet than damp. I had read that drilling holes in the bed base to allow air to circulate would cure the problem. Our bed base already had holes in it so we had to look for another solution.

We found the cure in an online nautical mattress store. ShipShape Bedding sell a very effective and rather expensive anti condensation layer you cut to shape and lay between your mattress and the bed base. The company claim that the results are astonishing. They’re right. It works. Our mattress is far, far dryer now than it’s ever been.

The first step in curing the damp of course had to be making sure that the boat was watertight. I did that by sending James away to have the Masonite cabin over plated with steel. When the boat returned two weeks later I had my first in-at-the-deep-end experience of narrowboat painting. The aesthetic result was passable but my main goal of ensuring that James was completely protected from the weather was achieved.

Once we knew that no more rain was going to further damage the interior, we bought a new mattress, had all the seats recovered and Sally spent a week hunched over her sewing machine to knock up eleven pairs of curtains.

We now have a dry and mostly warm boat. I say mostly warm because the only heat source is the stove which is on the starboard side about three feet from the front of a forty seven feet long cabin with doors across the boat to section off the bathroom (and to also ensure that virtually no heat reaches the back end of the boat).

There’s a radiator in the bedroom fed by the stove’s back boiler but as the radiator is gravity fed, and as the pipe that runs between the stove and the radiator forty feet away, the water is lukewarm at best. Consequently the bedroom is really the only part of the boat which now needs a blast with the dehumidifier every now and then.

A final aid to minimise moisture build up is ensuring that we have roof and door vents open at all times, even in the depths of winter, and the windows open when and where practical.

Just to finish off, here’s a comment on the subject by Waterway’s World technical editor Mark Langley I’ve copied from their web site.

 “Good levels of ventilation is the key! If you are living aboard, then plenty of high and low level vents are very important. If the moisture has nowhere to go, it will condense out, causing mould, woodwork distortion, etc.

Another important point is keeping the air warm, preferably with a source of dry heat (like solid fuel stoves, or radiators). Gas cookers produce large amounts of moisture, as does washing, showering, or even just breathing! You need to be achieving total air changes of greater than 4 times the internal volume, per hour.

Solar vents can be useful, but better on unattended craft.

Anhydrous calcium chloride crystals will only absorb around 1 litre of water per 500g crystals. Considering that the 230V mains dehumidifier (which consumes 200W from the land line) can easily, in winter, extract 5 litres of moisture per 24hours, the crystal ones are next to useless on boats!

If you live aboard in winter, seriously consider a mains dehumidifier. If you don’t stay aboard, leave a couple of windows open and ensure that your ventilation is up to scratch!

As for double glazing on boats, it works. The other alternative is to ensure good sealing (varnish, etc) of the wood, and regularly wash and dry your curtains! The latter is a good long-term solution!”

Two Organisations For Liveaboard Boaters

This is another suggestion sent in to me. The Association of Continuous Cruisers is less than a month old but they already claim to have secured cheaper winter moorings for continuous cruisers. I emailed John Sloan asking for more information. He’s kindly sent me their press release. I also asked him how many members they currently have and how many they hope to attract in the fullness of time. I haven’t received an answer from him. At just £10 for a year’s membership it’s certainly worth looking into.

I’ve reproduced the press release below along with John’s email address if you want more information.

The Association of Continuous Cruisers is a newly-formed independent organisation, officially launching on the 27th September 2013. As well as providing support and advice to its members, the Association intends to advocate for the interests of all its members.

Britain’s 5,000 continuous cruisers enjoy a lifestyle that is distinctive due to both the benefits and restrictions that accompany boating without a designated home mooring, which is protected and regulated by Section 17 of the British Waterways Act 1995. The Association of Continuous Cruisers feels that many of the issues that continuous cruisers face (such as access to medical treatment, and the provision of winter moorings) are unique to continuous cruisers, and the Association intends to provide advocacy and support to its members in tackling these and other day-to-day issues.

One of the core tenets of the Association of Continuous Cruisers’ mission is to represent the interests of its members and ensure that the Canal & River Trust hear their voices, by building a positive working relationship with the Trust in perpetuity.

A number of continuous cruisers successfully negotiated with the Canal & River Trust earlier in 2013 to change the allocation process and pricing structure for online winter moorings, resulting in lower-priced winter moorings being available to all continuous cruisers for the winter of 2013/2014.

Lesley Jordan, founder member of the Association of Continuous Cruisers said: “Continuous cruisers make up a small but significant demographic of boaters. Up until now, there has been no formal organisation with the sole purpose of advocating for continuous cruisers, a situation that has weakened the voice and negotiating power of individual continuous cruisers when dealing with the Canal & River Trust and other organisations.”

One of the main aims of the Association of Continuous Cruisers is to raise awareness of the positive role that continuous cruisers play within the wider waterways community, and challenge negative perceptions about the reality of the role of the continuous cruiser.

Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “Continuous cruisers make an important contribution to the life and vibrancy of our waterways and so the creation of the Association of Continuous Cruisers is a positive step forward which we very much welcome. We hope the new Association will help improve communications and mutual understanding between continuous cruisers, the Trust and other boating groups. The more we all work together the more we can improve the waterways we all care for.”

Regular meetings for Association of Continuous Cruisers members will be held across the waterways system, with members and potential members encouraged to keep in touch online, and by spreading the word to other boaters that they meet on their travels. Roving traders such as coal boats and other cruising businesses that cover large parts of the network will also be used to spread the word and keep the Association’s members up to date.

The official launch of the newly-formed Association of Continuous Cruisers on the 27th September 2013 will coincide with the Birmingham Floating Market event on the same date, which is organised by continuous cruisers to highlight the contribution that roving traders make to the canal system.

Anyone wishing further information should contact John Sloan on 07759207846 or send him an email

New Google Search

This site has been created using the web’s most popular content management software, WordPress. It’s the web’s most popular management software because it’s not only very good at what it does but it’s also free to use. WordPress excels in many, many areas but it lets the side down a bit when it comes to its default site search facility. Quite frankly, it’s rubbish.

I’ve always been frustrated with the very poor results it returns but I’ve been too busy to do anything about it… until last week.

I’ve taken the bull by the horns and installed Google Custom Search Engine (CSE). Google CSE makes a huge difference to finding information on what is now quite a large site. With over 500 posts and pages on the main part of the site and 3,500 posts on the forum, you could spend hours trawling through the various categories and indexes.

All that has changed now. The Google site search engine does its job very well indeed. I spent half an hour playing around with it yesterday and found stuff I had forgotten I’d written.

The new search engine is in the same place as the old one at the top of the right hand column on the main part of the site. You can’t see it when you’re on the forum, But if you click on the “Home” link just below the forum search box you’ll be taken to the site’s home page where you’ll see the search box at the top on the right. Use the search facility on the home page from now on rather than the search box on the forum page. The forum search only searches though the forum posts but the Google search box searches the main part of the site and the forum.

Enjoy your searching!

Speeding On The (Virtual) Waterways

One of the many pleasures of traveling the UK’s canal and river network is the ability to take life as slowly as you like. Dawdling is encouraged rather than criticised. Taking it easy is the name of the game and it’s a game we all want to play. We all want to take it easy… until we switch to the virtual waterways network online. Then we want everything in front of us as quickly as possible. Browser dawdling is not tolerated.

I launched this site on 19th February 2010. As I’ve mentioned, the site has been developed using the WordPress content management system. It’s a wonderful tool which allows users with no web design experience (me) to put together functional and aesthetically pleasing sites. And because WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, thousands of skilled developers have written blocks of code which plug in to WordPress to enhance its functionality. These blocks of code (they’re called plugins) are free to download and install on a WordPress website and they can enhance a site in a bewildering number of ways.

They can also cause a site considerable problems.

Over the last three and a half years I’ve read about and installed many plugins which have taken my fancy. The forum itself is a very sophisticated plugin. The software which controls users access to paid products is another. The site has been enhanced in many different ways.

Each plugin usually, but not always, works well in isolation, but sometimes conflicts with other plugins on the site. Even if there are no conflicts on the site, the more plugins you have, the more resources they use and the slower the site runs. I had far too many plugins and, as a direct result, the site was starting to run more and more slowly.

I slow site is no good for you when you’re browsing, and it’s no good for me when I’m clicking from page to page and post to post when I’m adding content. With that in mind, I’ve had an early and very thorough spring clean. I’ve deactivated 75% of the plugins on the site. The site is now loading three times faster than it was when you received the last newsletter so browsing for both you and I should be far easier from now on.

To be honest, I don’t know what some of the plugins actually did. I’ve had a quick look around the site. Everything which should be working appears to be doing its job properly but I would appreciate a second opinion if you have the time. Please let me know if you notice anything either missing or not working. Just send me a quick email to let me know. Thank you.

An Even More Comprehensive Source Of Information Than Livingonanarrowboat.co.uk

If only it didnt rustI know it’s hard to believe. After all, this site now has over 4,000 posts and pages so I think it’s fair to say that it offers you a comprehensive resource when you want to find information about narrowboats and life afloat. But I have to say, there’s another larger and more detailed resource available to you.

Waterway’s World is the UK’s most popular inland waterways magazine. You probably know that. But I bet you didn’t know that if you subscribe to the magazine you get unlimited and free access to articles from every issue over the last ten years? I think my subscription cost me £37 for 12 issues, plus a free Waterways World annual and the third edition of The Narrowboat Builder’s Book.

Once subscribed you get unlimited access to every edition since 2004. It’s an incredible resource. For example, if I wanted to know more about rust on narrowboats (I did) I could do a quick search on the WW site and find a very detailed report written by Graham Booth in February 2005 (left). I would be able to discover everything I wanted to know about steel and how it corrodes and, more importantly, how to prevent it from doing so. I would also find an equally detailed five page article from 2010 about dealing with rust and painting your beloved boat.

If you are already a Waterway’s World reader it’s an absolute no brainer to elect to take out an annual subscription, save money on each issue’s cover price, have each publication delivered to your door before it appears in the shops, get a couple of narrowboat books for free and get access to every article written in the magazine over the last decade.

You’ll see offers for annual subscription in every edition of Waterway’s World. Make sure you take up their very generous offer next month.

Suggestions Please!

I’ve been writing regular newsletters for a couple of years now. During the first year they were every two weeks or so. To be honest, the frequency was a bit hit and miss. My New Year’s resolution, and one that I’m delighted to say that I’ve kept, was to send out a newsletter every Sunday, rain or shine. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

Can you let me know what you would like to read in the future? Are there any areas of narrowboat life you don’t think I’ve covered enough or areas which I’ve missed completely? Please let me know what you want to read about. Thanks for your help.

New Kindle Narrowboat Guide

In the last few newsletters I’ve mentioned my new guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. It’s a free download as a PDF here. It’s also no available on Amazon as a Kindle download. I’ve tried to make it available free of charge but I can’t work out how to do it so it’s been published at the lowest price setting of £1.99. The Kindle edition is 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

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?

25th August 2013

Effective fly killers for boats

The downside to living on a narrowboat

Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.

1st September 2013

Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube

All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller

8th September

A disaster – I inadvertantly deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!

15th September

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

22nd September

A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees

Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site

29th September

The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free

Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.

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.

  • GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
  • Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
  • Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
  • Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
  • Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
  • A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
  • Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
  • 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.

 

 

JetMeg1 – the beginning of a new life.

In the Steel yard

In the Steel yard

 

IMG_1167I was reading a blog about a couple who had sold their house & bought a liveaboard, following the husband’s brush with cancer. I could have written it myself!

In February 2011, Chris had (we were told later) 48 hours before a tumour on his spine severed his spinal chord, which would have led to his demise. It seemed so unfair; after fighting rheumatoid arthritis for a number of years, he was finally in remission – only to be hit by the big C. It’s true what everyone says. Surviving something like this is a life changing experience. We were living in a lovely country cottage.. but on the top of the Pennines.. & it was built over 4 floors. Too much for Chris. When we bought the house in 1993 we had a choice between that & a narrowboat. So we just reverted to Plan B.

After 2 years of angst selling the house, our boat – JetMeg1 (named after our 2 late border collies) – is currently in the build stage & hopefully we will be able to move onto her early December. She is 58′ x 13′, & you can see the hull in the attached photo. We are living in a caravan at the moment & can’t wait to start our new life.

 We looked at used boats & decided that, as this was going to be our home, we wanted our own build. We visited a few boat builders & Burscough Boats offered us what we wanted. “It’s your boat – you tell us what you want”!
So here’s the technical bit:
JetMeg1 will have hydraulic steering,  provision for tiller;  bow & stern bow thrusters; the jury is still out on whether we have Vetus 65 or Barrus Shire 70 . .. the latter has more torque at tickover, but the Vetus would use slightly more revs (better for the engine); both engines have ample power for the boat when on rivers. She will have a 3KW Victron inverter, 4 1×35 amp leisure batteries, 1 starter battery & bow thruster batteries. Pump out toilet, 1 bedroom, Morrso Squirrel stove, & Webatso diesel heating; Kingspan insulation, Dog Box & she will be  reverse layout.

Also still under consideration is Sonos wireless stereo system & Gomax satellite system. If anyone has experience of these, we would be very interested in your comments. After reading other boater’s blogs on here, we have plumped for 3MiFi.. & in the caravan it is currently working brilliantly, where TMobile & o2 dongles were useless.

Initially we will moor at Scarisbrick Marina, & intend from Spring 2014 to cruise wherever we fancy, whilst we can, & when we want. We are open to advice, help, support & more importantly – making new friends………

Chris & Vivien H

2013 10 13 Newsletter – On Demand Water Heater Problems

Living on a Narrowboat News 13th October 2013

Over the last week I’ve been working hard on my latest obsession; building up a store of firewood to use in my stove to help me cut down on my astronomical heating bill. Between August 2012 and July 2013 I spent £889 on coal and on heat logs to get the fire started. By using logs I won’t be able to eliminate the cost of coal completely. I’ll still need to bank the fire with coal overnight and for extended periods away from the boat but I’ll use logs for all other occasions.

I am very lucky. I have the job of thinning out our fledgeling woodland area – in addition to removing the diseased oak and ash – and of disposing of the cut timber. Much of it is going into marina owner Roger Preen’s own wood store at his home six miles away from the marina. Fair enough. It’s his land and his wood. However, he allows me to take enough for my own use. So taking enough wood for my own use is what I’ve been doing this week.

In the last month I’ve felled about seventy diseased oak and coppiced about fifty willow. The goat, white and crack willow have been coppiced so that they’re (A) more aesthetically pleasing but mainly (B) so that they do a better job of soaking up the water around our reed bed filtration system.

I have the usable wood from all one hundred and twenty trees piled next to our reed beds. Over the last week I’ve been processing the trunks and larger branches. I’ve cut a couple of tonnes into large logs for Roger’s wood burner and another couple of tonnes into smaller logs for my own stove.

Willow log pile

The wood in the photo above is a small part of the felled willow. The large wooden article in the foreground is me. Please excuse the shorts. It’s Sally’s idea of dressing me up ready to go out to a party. I’m weak willed so I always do as I’m told. Willow isn’t the best fuel in the world but it’s free, there’s plenty of it and I’ll be able to use it much sooner than the oak.

I now have about two tonnes of firewood stored on pallets. I’ll leave the oak alone now for the next two years to allow it to season. I should be able to use the willow next winter. Over the next year I’ll add to my stock, mostly with oak from thinning out the trees in the woods but also with ash sometime next year after we’ve been able to assess which are afflicted with sudden ash dieback.

Seasoning wood is a science. If you’re going to use wood as a fuel on your boat you need to get to grips with it otherwise you may suffer unpleasant winters using poor fuel in an otherwise perfectly adequate stove. Here are a few pointers for you.

Know Your Firewood

Correct seasoning is by far the most important factor when determining how efficient the wood be as a fuel. You’ll get nearly twice as much heat from dry (seasoned) logs as you will from freshly cut (unseasoned) wood.

Correct seasoning is the most important factor but the type of wood you use is also important. Here’s a poem to help you choose the right logs for your stove. It was written during the coal strike of 1926 and first published in Punch magazine in that year.

Logs to burn; logs to burn;
Logs to save the coal a turn.

Here’s a word to make you wise
when you hear the woodman’s cries;
Never heed his usual tale
That he’s splendid logs for sale
But read these lines & really learn
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well,
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pinewoods smell
But the sparks will fly.
Beech logs for Christmas time;
Yew logs heat well;
Scotch‘ logs it is a crime
For anyone to sell.
Birch logs will burn too fast;
Chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn logs are good to last
If cut in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax,
You should burn them green;
Elm logs like smouldering flax,
No flame to be seen.
Pear logs and apple logs,
They will scent your room;
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom,
But ash logs all smooth and grey
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in gold.

The poem suggests that ash can be used as firewood as soon as it’s been cut. I’ve heard that before but after a little more digging I’ve discovered that ash isn’t quite the stove’s quick fuel fix that everyone thinks (and hopes for). Although ash has a fairly low moisture content, it’s still usually about 35% when it’s cut. A seasoned log needs to have a moisture content of 20% or less if it’s to perform well as a heating fuel.

As an aside, you may be wondering how you can tell whether logs are seasoned or not. You can buy seasoned timber but I assume that, if you’re going to use logs in your stove, you’re more likely to try to find or cut your own. Even if you do buy “seasoned” logs from a supplier, there’s no guarantee that they have been seasoned or at all.

There are some indicators that the logs have been seasoned; cracks in the ends of the logs, bark which comes off quite easily and a lighter than normal weight (something you wouldn’t know unless you were used to handling that type of wood when it was first cut). By far the easiest way though is to use a moisture meter. I’ve just ordered a Stihl Wood Moisture Meter from Amazon. It’s about the size of a box of matches and at £17 for something which can take the mystery out of selecting the right logs for the fire, for me it’s a must have gadget.

The poem doesn’t mention willow, a common species in England and one which grows very quickly. We have hundreds of willow on site – goat, crack, white and weeping – which regularly have to be cut back from the roads, paths and car parks. I haven’t given much thought to them as a firewood before but now I’m obsessed with the subject, I’ve done a little research.

Willow is being used increasingly as a firewood. Because it grows so quickly, it isn’t as dense as the far more popular oak or ash so burns far more quickly. It produces a reasonable heat though as long as it’s seasoned for at least a year so it’s worth adding to your firewood mix.

On Demand Water Heater Problems

Sometimes I think Sally is very unreasonable. She makes a fuss for the silliest of reasons. Let me give you an example.

On Wednesday evening she returned from work as usual at about 8.15pm. As usual she jumped straight into the shower straight away to wash the day’s work away. It was then that her routine differed from normal. She doesn’t usually emit a high pitched scream, leap through the shower curtain and accuse me of trying to kill her.

Apparently Sally doesn’t enjoy showering in boiling water.

We have an “on demand” gas fed water heater on James. It’s very old. In fact, it’s as old as the boat. The Vaillant water heater was installed when James was built in 1977.

The heater has done very well to last this long although I don’t know how much use it’s seen and how often it’s been serviced. James was used up until 1997 for recreational cruising, mainly in the summer, before being moored at Calcutt marina until now. During the time the boat was at Calcutt it was pretty much unused until early 2010 when I moved on board.

The heater has done well to last this long, but it now either needs a thorough servicing or replacing with something more modern. The cause of Sally’s anguish wasn’t the heater though. I hate to admit it, but it was all my fault.

I have 3 x 100w solar panels which, for the last five months have provided us with nearly all the electricity we need. I’ve become used to leaving the shore line turned off and using just the solar panels to power the batteries.

The few days prior to the shower incident where dreary and overcast. The solar panels weren’t providing enough power to keep the batteries topped up so by Wednesday evening when Sally jumped into the shower they were pretty flat.

There was still enough charge in them to power the LED lights we have throughout the boat, and to power the water pump… after a fashion. The water pump was the cause of the problem.

Although the pump was running, it wasn’t working in its normal efficient fashion. Because it wasn’t pumping water around the system as quickly as usual, the water was passing through the water heater’s burner far slower than it should so the heated water was far hotter than expected.

The simple and immediate solution was to switch over to the land line to charge the batteries and get the water pump back up to speed. Too late for Sally and her reddened shoulders (and my reddened ears) but a valuable lesson learned all the same.

Back to the heater itself. I have two issues with it. One might by a quick and inexpensive fix. The other definitely won’t be.

The first problem is that it’s very difficult – impossible actually – to get the shower to run at a constant temperature. One minute it’s hot, the next freezing cold. I understand that the problem is probably that the diaphragm needs replacing. I understand that the diaphragm controls the gas flow and therefore the rate at which the water is heated. A perished diaphragm means inconsistent heating.

I have a problem. Calcutt Boats think they have a diaphragm in stock which will fit my rather old Vaillant heater but the only way to check is to take the heater apart and remove the existing diaphragm. The problem lies in not knowing how perished my diaphragm is. That won’t be a problem if the one that Calcutt have in stock will fit my heater. I’ll have a major problem though if the heater is taken apart, the removed diaphragm falls to pieces, and the Calcutt stock diaphragm won’t fit.

I’ll then be stuck without a water heater on the boat.

The second problem is that my water heater, like most others on the market, needs to have a constantly lit pilot light. I understand that the pilot light, because it’s burning twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, uses a fair amount of gas.

Many boaters simply turn their water heaters off and keep them turned off until they need them. They say – although I have no hard evidence to back it up – that their gas supply lasts twice as long this way.

Adopting this policy isn’t something that will really suit Sally and I. Our Vaillant is in quite a tight space so the pilot light is difficult to reach and once the pilot light is lit we have to wait about five minutes before the burner will kick in.

The alternative is to fit a new water heater and splash out on one which doesn’t require the pilot light to be on all of the time. The downside of a pilot light free heater, apart from the higher cost, is that the burner takes a little while to kick in so too much water is wasted.

I suppose I’ll have to go down the diaphragm repair route and just hope that the one which is in stock at Calcutt actually fits my Valliant. I don’t want to be days, or weeks, without hot water until I could get a new water heater fitted. At least I wouldn’t have the problem of a screaming and scalded Sally flapping about the boat.

 More Tales From The American Among Us

I’ve just added another article written by our roving American friend. Richard writes eloquently about his encounter with an Englishman in a lock whose command of the English language wasn’t quite so well developed. If you’ve ever taken your boat through a lock where a fellow boater was less than helpful, you’ll be able to relate to this story.

Richard doesn’t just write about the canals he cruises on. He also writes about the people he meets on his travels. I think his articles are fascinating. I hope you do too. You’ll find links to his stories, including his latest episode “Me Missus”, at the bottom of his case study here.

Suggestions Please!

I’ve been writing regular newsletters for a couple of years now. During the first year they were every two weeks or so. To be honest, the frequency was a bit hit and miss. My New Year’s resolution, and one that I’m delighted to say that I’ve kept, was to send out a newsletter every Sunday, rain or shine. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

Can you let me know what you would like to read in the future? Are there any areas of narrowboat life you don’t think I’ve covered enough or areas which I’ve missed completely? Please let me know what you want to read about. Thanks for your help.

New Kindle Narrowboat Guide

In the last few newsletters I’ve mentioned my new guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. It’s a free download as a PDF here. It’s also no available on Amazon as a Kindle download. I’ve tried to make it available free of charge but I can’t work out how to do it so it’s been published at the lowest price setting of £1.99. The Kindle edition is 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

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?

25th August 2013

Effective fly killers for boats

The downside to living on a narrowboat

Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.

1st September 2013

Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube

All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller

8th September

A disaster – I inadvertantly deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!

15th September

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

22nd September

A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees

Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site

29th September

The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free

Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.

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.

  • GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
  • Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
  • Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
  • Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
  • Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
  • A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
  • Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
  • 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.

 

 

The Room Of Kindness

The room was filled with kindness itself.

As we walked into Aldin’s Tea Rooms, a long, slender arm was quickly extended upward to me in greeting and I shook and held the smooth unresponsive hand of an older man who smiled back at me and silently pointed to his prominent lapel button. I leaned in for a closer look: “Ah — Her Majesty’s 60th Jubilee — very good!”  I exclaimed. Someone else at the large round table of disabled customers and their caregivers asked: “Another pal of yours Charlie?”

We spotted the last vacant table across the room and made our way among the dozen or so other customers — sitting down with a view toward the corner entrance and, through large windows flanking either side, back into the street. But, for the next few minutes, no one entered or left the café.

The simple, almost cream-colored room was bright and alive with conversation and greetings between tables; small talk passed between the old woman next to us and the caregiver of a gentlemen in a blue jumper smiling unceasingly from his wheelchair — an open-mouthed smile framed by the small wooden pickets on either side that were the last of his teeth.

At the larger table, loud scrawking came from a tall gangly woman who then turned and looked me in the eye, and, making a stroking motion down her chin, gave a cheery, “thumbs up” approval of my beard.

The Room Of KindnessPhotography was out of the question in the same way it would be in the midst of communal prayer. Somehow, everyone in the room, including us, was aware and interacting with all the others. We were not invisible observers as often happens, but immediately became part of the moment; bathed in that special pleasure a friend once described by saying “it’s good to be among friends – even if they are not your friends…”

And, it was good, indeed.

For a little while, all things weary in mind or body were set free.  We knew each other and were joined together by a look or a smile; a few words or a gesture.  Forbearance and patience, hard-learned lessons and loneliness, healthy and crippled minds, ruined speech and broken bodies, laughter and  silence — all rose up and made the air radiant with the everyday tenderness of simply being human together.

The woman next to us, her curled auburn hair thinning and wispy, watched quietly and acknowledged occasional “hellos” until she was served an impressive portion of beans on toast that, immediately, for me, will forever define the dish itself.  Immediately she fell to, eating with earnest purpose and focus — her fork clutched from the left and knife unvarying from the right in proper British fashion. As the party on their morning outing from assisted living began to mobilize and depart, she stopped, looked up straight ahead and said quietly: “We must remember to be grateful.”

With the day-trip group leaving, we decided to move on as well. But I stopped briefly at her table to thank her for speaking of gratitude. Her name was Ann, and she replied: “Well!  Some countries don’t take care of their people —  do they now?”  and then talked quickly on with clarity and softness of her sister who had had two “normal” children and two “disabled” children – all within 5 years of each other. “Both were blind. The poor dears had to wear helmets because they would hurt themselves. It was terrible to see how they frightened the other children whose parents did not help them understand. Chrissie died when she was nine, Robert I think so too…”

I asked Ann if the group before us came here often and she said they did, but they also went other places:  “to give the people a variety of outings. I think there is a home or places nearby where they live…”

By this time additional wheelchairs had been retrieved, everyone accounted for and safely maneuvered out the door or guided along with a loving hand carefully threaded through the unsteady arm.

Just as we moved to the door, a small, round-faced  and perfectly dressed finch-like woman came in, sat down primly close to the entrance and the character of the shop and the associations of all present began taking a new form. By the time we were out again under the low grey sky of Market Harborough, “our” Aldin’s was a different place and time altogether.

The luminous moment now remains only in my heart — but for that moment I am, mindful of Ann’s words, very grateful.

The Best And Sweetest Apples

Today we happened upon a small cafe-type restaurant in    Atherstone, Staffordshire called “The Larder” — a simple store-front converted into a restaurant with an unusual theme: the life of sacrifice (that included food) experienced by most of the British during WWII. The walls are covered with old food and petrol ration cards, original and reproduced propaganda posters about Victory Gardens and so forth — while in the background play speeches by Neville Chamberlain, and then Churchill, mixed with “In the Mood” and other period songs.  The two female servers dress in period costume as well – one in tan work overalls and the other in a ruffled frock that somehow reminded me of my mother.    The menu included, but was not limited to, wartime “dishes” such as Spam Fritters and Beans – which I immediately ordered — only to find, alas, that they had run out of Spam and I had to settle for local “Bangers in a Bun”.

PeterSo, it is probably understandable that, initially, we mistook the eye-popping entrance of a nattily dressed older man as the arrival of some additional member of the staff. But it turned out that “Peter” was just one of the regulars at The Larder – but a regular loved by all it was clear.  He was dressed to perfection in a grey hat, striped jacket, blue trousers with turquoise socks and a well-knotted tie and handkerchief of matching color, finished off by perfect accents in his pale blue shirt. Valari got to the camera first and began quietly shooting as he fiddled with his half-hunter pocket watch and ordered a coffee.

Peter was visual richness itself – the clothes notwithstanding, there was a true sparkle in his eyes that seemed to radiate life and intelligence and that; a gleam that somehow made sense of the large but subtle diamond ring and the aging tattoos on his wrists and above the second knuckle of each finger.

It wasn’t long before he called out in our direction: “Do I detect a trans-Atlantic accent…?” and so began a long conversation,  first across the restaurant — then I took my tea over to his table and we really started in. I commented that my wife and I are both photographers and so immediately had noticed his exuberant taste in clothes — to which he responded: “It is deliberate and in a little while I will tell you in what manner it is deliberate” indicating his hat and tie.

Then began the warp and woof of a lifetime of stories including: the first anniversary of the death of his wife of 30 years and his real loss of her to Alzheimer’s over four years ago; stories about Peter’s past (born in Canada, son of an aristocrat who had run off with his mother — a domestic servant on the family estate); the British Army in Malaysia at age 18; continuing “work” in places such as Australia, South Africa, Egypt and South Yemen. “Work” that, he quietly implies, remains largely shrouded in the Official Secrets Act.

But, always the emerging narrative pattern circles back to accounts of the real and present joy in Peter’s life at age 83. “You know what happens when you dress like this? he asked. “Women notice you. In fact, they are positively enchanted by you. Therefore, I dress like this because it attracts interest — and besides it helps me do things that would get a younger chap slapped silly”.

“Such as…?” I query, genuinely almost scandalized.

“Well”, says Peter, “Let’s say that I am charmed by a young lady sales clerk who concludes our business by asking if there is anything else I would like? And I say “only your phone number”. And you know, more often than not, I get it! Then, perhaps she and I have coffee and perhaps I ask the lady if we can meet again and she says “yes” and so I suggest a short train ride, just 25 miles or so, to a town with a very fine Italian restaurant where she and I could have panna cotta – how can she resist?

I remarked that old-fashioned manners and respect appeared to also be part of his charm and success.

Peter 2“Of course. When I was young and learning “the facts of life” my mother told me: “Peter, when you go looking for a lady friend or a wife, remember that what women most want, whether they will tell you or not, is kindness.”

“And, I find this approach does very well with women in the range of 19 to 46.”  Peter is speaking specifically here because his current “friends” include 19 year-old in Leicester and a 46 year-old in Birmingham. “Yes”, he mused “very attractive women at that…”

“And that is why the way I dress is deliberate. After all,” Peter concluded: If you’re going back into the orchard at my age — why on earth would you not pick the very best and sweetest of the apples…?”

With that, Peter graciously paid for all our lunches, picked up his silver topped cane and stepped back onto the high street.

RSV

2013 10 06 Newsletter – Water, Water Everywhere… And Not A Drop To Drink

Living on a Narrowboat News 6th October 2013

Last week I told you that I had taken one of our hire boats to Braunston and moored it there ready to tow a broken down boat back to Calcutt. I set off for Braunston on Sunday as soon as I finished the newsletter. It wasn’t the best of days for towing a flat bottomed boat six miles along a narrow, winding canal with plenty of traffic on it. There was a stiff easterly breeze blowing which made traveling slowly and keeping in a straight line quite a challenge.

Going too slowly with a strong wind blowing was a recipe for disaster as we were blown towards the moored boats so, as usual when it’s a bit breezy, I cruised past moored craft slightly faster than I would have liked to. It’s always a fine balance on days like this between upsetting owners of moored boats by passing them too quickly, and upsetting them even more by passing them too slowly in the wind and being blown into them.

I didn’t hit any moored boats but I did “jackknife” the two boats on two occasions. I’m sure to an experienced working boatman towing an unpowered butty, negotiating ninety degree bends without the butty pushing the boat in front in a direction it doesn’t want to go is no problem at all but, on two occasions it was beyond me.

There was no harm done though. I managed to stop both boats before we hit anything and then just had to spend five minutes poling the lead boat until it was pointing in the right direction again.

Apart from these two brief mishaps the journey was uneventful and very pleasant. We took about half an hour longer than the journey normally takes, including the time it took to untie the two boats, breast them up through Calcutt Top Lock, then reverse the harnessed pair onto our wharf. I was back on my boat by 3.30pm enjoying a cup of coffee and congratulating myself on a job almost well done.

Liveaboard Case Study – Miss George

It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around and all kinds of people with their varying likes and dislikes to make the inland waterways such an interesting place. One person’s ideal mooring is another person’s idea of hell. After testing the lifestyle by taking a narrowboat holiday in the depths of winter, Jaks and Andy have now lived on their own narrowboat for four years on a rustic farm mooring on the cut with no facilities. Here’s their case study. Read on to find out why their perfect mooring would be my personal nightmare.

Managing Your Water Supply In The Winter

The idea of a tranquil online mooring attached to a farm on the quiet and peaceful Ashby canal really appeals to me. However, what really doesn’t appeal to me is having to work but not having any facilities on the mooring. Jaks and Andy don’t have either water or electricity where they moor. The electricity isn’t so much of a problem. They just have to be very organised with their charging regime. Their water management is more difficult.

There are two major hurdles to overcome if you need to work full time and have a mooring with no access to water. Firstly, you need to monitor your water usage and plan when to top it up. Topping up involves moving your boat from your mooring to the nearest water point, waiting for half an hour or more while the water tank fills, then returning to your mooring. Of course you will need to be able to turn your boat around both at or close to your mooring and at or close to the water point. Turning your boat will often involve cruising past both mooring and water point to the nearest winding hole (turning point).

Jaks and Andy are on the Ashby canal so they don’t have any locks to contend with. Locks are another significant consumer of time if they are between your mooring and the nearest water supply.

In total, topping up your water at a nearby water point could take you several hours of your very valuable free time at the end of a hard day’s work – a job which can be even more painful if the weather is less than perfect.

Imagine coming home from work after a long and hard day at work. It’s good to be back on your warm and cosy boat. You slip off your shoes, glance out of your window, watch the mallards fussing about in the shallows and the bull rushes dancing in the breeze, and you start to unwind. The first thing you reach for is the kettle to make your self a glad-to-be-back cup of coffee. Cough… splutter… spit….

You’ve run out of water. You can’t have a coffee, a shower to wash the day’s dirt off and you can’t wash your dishes. It’s a Monday. Both you and your other half have another four days to work before a well earned weekend break. You’ve no choice. You have to take your boat to the water point and your whole evening has been ruined.

Your other half doesn’t get back from work for another hour so you call her to let her know that you’ve run out of water… again. She’s not going to be happy. She’s always a bit irritable when she’s tired, and she’s always tired when she gets back from an eight hour shift at the factory. And she always has a shower the minute she gets back.

You pull out your mobile to tell her the bad news. More bad news. You don’t have a signal. You’re on a mooring in the middle of nowhere and you always struggle to get a signal for your phone. Today is no different. You have a difficult decision to make. It’s 6pm. Julie isn’t due back until 7pm. You can wait until she gets back to the boat before you set off, ensuring that she doesn’t arrive at where the boat should be moored but isn’t. You won’t incur her immediate wrath, but you will delay her much needed shower and your much needed coffee by an hour. The alternative is to leave a note on your car, hope she sees it and doesn’t mind sitting in her car until you return, and set off for the water point immediately.

You decide on the latter. One hastily scribbled note later, two untied ropes, and you’re on your way…

You would be on your way if you could get off your mooring. There hasn’t been much rain recently so the water level is about six inches lower than normal. There isn’t much water on your mooring at the best of times. Now your boat is resting on the mud. You jump off your boat onto the bank leaving the boat in gear and rock furiously from side to side to help unstick it.

After fifteen minutes of frustrating and exhausting work, your boat reluctantly slides backwards into the deeper water in the middle of the canal. You’re off! But, of course, you’re off in the wrong direction. You have to cruise for a mile to the nearest winding hole before you can turn and head back up the canal to the water point.

At the winding hole you try to turn your boat, but there’s a stiff breeze coming from behind you so the bow just won’t come round. A simple three point turn becomes an exercise in frustration as you slide the full length of the winding hole at an angle of forty five degrees. In the end, you force your bow into the bank to anchor the boat so you can swing it round.

After half an hour’s cruising you arrive back at your mooring but thankfully now heading towards the water point. Another fifteen minutes and the water point’s in sight. Damn! There’s another boat on it. The owner has only just arrived and hasn’t even started to fill up yet.

Your shoulders slump as you nose your boat into position behind him. Julie will be arriving back at the mooring any minute now. You still can’t get a  signal on your phone so you have to hope that she will find your note. Even if she finds it, you know you’re not going to be back at your mooring for at least another hour. Julie will have to sit in her car and wait. The sky’s an ominous grey and fat drops of cold rain are splattering against your upturned and rather unhappy face. Tonight is not going to be a shining example of matrimonial bliss. Julie will be very unhappy.

Twenty minutes later, the boat in front has moved off, you’ve moved forward and you can finally start to fill your water tank.

After another twenty minutes your tank is full so you’re ready to head back to your mooring. Off you go, again in the wrong direction. You have to cruise another half mile to the next winding hole before you can turn your boat again.

It’s now half past seven. Julie is very punctual. You know she will have been waiting for you now for thirty minutes. You also know that she’s not the most patient person in the world and you know she’s going to remind you, very vocally and at great length, just how often she’s told you how unhappy she is mooring so far away from a water point.

Just to compound your misery, the rain is now bouncing off your roof and running in rivers down your neck. You arrive back at your mooring cold, wet and miserable but, by the look of Julie’s face, dimly seen through a misted up car windscreen where’s she’s now been parked and has been waiting for quite some time, you’re not as miserable as you will be in about ten minutes time… IF you can get your boat back on the mud flat which passes for a mooring.

Of course, I’ve painted a particularly miserable picture, the worst case scenario and one which probably wouldn’t apply to you. But it might, and it might actually be more difficult than the picture I’ve painted.

Forty Litre AquarollPeggy Melmouth, narrowboat blogger and ex liveaboard, wrote about the difficulty she faced trying to keep her water topped up during a particularly hard winter. Nearly every year the canals freeze solid at least for a day or two. During my first winter on board the canals were frozen under four or five inches of ice from the last week in November until the first week in January. Nighttime temperatures dropped to a decidedly chilly minus eighteen. On two consecutive days we had highs of minus six.

Nothing moved on the canals for a month and a half.

Peggy had an online mooring without any facilities. That winter she couldn’t move her boat to the water point for six weeks. It’s possible to plough your way through an inch or more of ice but you can do serious damage to your boat (one coal boat that year nearly sunk ploughing through ice to reach customers) and if you push your way through even a thin layer of ice you can kiss goodbye to the hull’s protective paint around the waterline.

Peggy couldn’t take her boat to the water, so she had to bring water to the boat.  She used an Aquaroll. An Aquaroll is a rolling water carrier designed for caravanners to easily transport a 40l drum of water from a water point on a caravan site back to the caravan. It’s a great idea. one litre of water weighs 1kg so a 40l drum, excluding the weigh of the drum, weighs 40kg or 88lb (just over six stone). Rolling is much, much easier than carrying. However, there’s a big difference between rolling the drum a hundred metres or so along the well kept ground of a camp site and taking the drum for a walk a mile or more along an overgrown towpath. That’s what Peggy had to do.

After walking  over a mile to the water point with her Aquaroll in tow, Peggy had a rather unpleasant surprise. The tap at the water point was frozen solid. If your boat is near a frozen water point it’s an easy enough task to unfreeze it with a kettle full of boiling water. Peggy didn’t have her boat with her though. It was frozen into the ice. She had no way of thawing the tap so had to return to her boat with her empty Aquaroll.

Not that forty litres of water would have lasted very long.

I have a small water tank on James but my small water tank is still 350 litres – nearly nine times the size of Peggy’s rolling water supply. With normal use, our 350 litre tank lasts us four or five days at the most or between seventy and ninety litres a day. Forty litres doesn’t last long at all. An average five minute shower uses sixty litres. Our washing up bowl holds eleven litres.

At a push we could make 40 litres last a day without resorting to ridiculous measures like going without showers for a couple of days at a time or compromising on the water we use to wash dishes or clothes. We could do it, but we wouldn’t want to. Where we moor we don’t have to but three years ago during my first winter on board I heard many tales of boats without water and the lengths the liveaboard owners had to go to just to survive.

They didn’t (couldn’t) shower on their boat so they had to resort to using public facilities or relying on the hospitality of friends or relatives. They transported ridiculously heavy but completely inadequate supplies of water along the towpath. They used shop bought bottled water when they couldn’t get any from water points.

That winter was exceptionally cold. The coldest on record in fact. Most winters aren’t nearly as cold. Most of the time the canals are free of ice. And even in the worse conditions there are many, many places you can moor where a constant supply of running water isn’t a problem. Most boaters didn’t have a problem that winter or any other winter. But they, more by design than by accident, where in the right place when the Arctic weather struck.

As I said earlier a rural mooring without at least a water supply, no matter how tranquil and idyllic, just wouldn’t suit me at all. I know how much the regular ordeal of simply topping up my water tank would bother me. It would cause me far too much stress and inconvenience. Maybe you’re much more laid back than I am so the prospect of a twice weekly jaunt to the nearest water point in all weathers, and maybe even in the dark during the short winter days, would fill you with joy.

I enjoy living on a narrowboat because it’s a more basic way of life living closer to nature. I don’t mind basic, but I don’t want it to be too painful.

 More Tales From The American Among Us

I’ve just added another article written by our roving American friend. Richard writes eloquently about his encounter with an Englishman in a lock whose command of the English language wasn’t quite so well developed. If you’ve ever taken your boat through a lock where a fellow boater was less than helpful, you’ll be able to relate to this story.

Richard doesn’t just write about the canals he cruises on. He also writes about the people he meets on his travels. I think his articles are fascinating. I hope you do too. You’ll find links to his stories, including his latest episode “Me Missus”, at the bottom of his case study here.

Suggestions Please!

I’ve been writing regular newsletters for a couple of years now. During the first year they were every two weeks or so. To be honest, the frequency was a bit hit and miss. My New Year’s resolution, and one that I’m delighted to say that I’ve kept, was to send out a newsletter every Sunday, rain or shine. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

Can you let me know what you would like to read in the future? Are there any areas of narrowboat life you don’t think I’ve covered enough or areas which I’ve missed completely? Please let me know what you want to read about. Thanks for your help.

New Kindle Narrowboat Guide

In the last few newsletters I’ve mentioned my new guide Living On A Narrowboat: 101 Essential Narrowboat Articles. It’s a free download as a PDF here. It’s also no available on Amazon as a Kindle download. I’ve tried to make it available free of charge but I can’t work out how to do it so it’s been published at the lowest price setting of £1.99. The Kindle edition is 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 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?

25th August 2013

Effective fly killers for boats

The downside to living on a narrowboat

Liveaboard Case Study – American Richard Varnes has taken a year out from work to cruise the canal network and write about his adventure. Here’s his case study and a few stories from his journey so far.

1st September 2013

Solving engine room leaks – A simple solution to a dripping stern tube

All about the weed hatch – Removing debris from your propeller

8th September

A disaster – I inadvertantly deleted this week’s newsletter and there wasn’t a backup on the server. What a shame. It was all about the damage you can do to your boat if you don’t watch what you’re doing in a lock. You would have loved it!

15th September

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

22nd September

A tragedy at Calcutt. Sudden Oak Dieback hits our 1,500 twenty year old oak trees

Forum private messaging – Now you can email other forum users from within the site

29th September

The folly of using unseasoned wood as a fuel – Here’s essential information if you plan to use logs you find to heat your boat for free

Creating lasting memories of your cruises – Slightly off topic, but please bear with me. You’ll have some wonderful adventures as you travel throughout the network. They’ll be adventures worth remembering but will you remember them? I have a very poor memory but instant and total recall of all my cruises is just a click away.

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.

  • GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
  • Battery Monitors – Replacing your leisure batteries is one of your more expensive maintenance costs. Here’s some detailed information about a device for looking after your batteries
  • Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
  • Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
  • Engine size and performance – Most engines are suitable for pottering about on the canal but what size engine do you need if you plan to cruise on rivers?
  • A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
  • Who Owns Your Boat? – How do you find out if there’s still finance attached to your boat when you buy it.
  • 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 Miss George

After testing the lifestyle by taking a narrowboat holiday in the depths of winter, Jaks and Andy have now lived on their own narrowboat for four years on a rustic farm mooring on the cut with no facilities.

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

Jaks & Andy , with Bruno 9 and Freddie 4, the 2 mad staffies who bark at most boats who cruise past our mooring on the Ashby.

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

We were caravaners to start with, then had a boating holiday in February cheap off ebay. It was cold with cat ice on the cut but we loved it, a few years later we found Miss George on eBay not far from our house and with the kids doing there own thing we did it.

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

George on the north OxfordShe was called Miss George when we bought her, we would like to know why!

Do you have a permanent mooring?

A farm non towpath linear mooring which came with the boat. we have no facilities.

What is your boat style and length

A 1984 62 ft Peter Nichols trad, with a very unusual offside engine with lots of pulleys to the prop. we would love to know more about her!

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

4 years

How did you finance your boat?

A loan

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

More than we do in a house

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

Both work for a agency have done so for a year, but planning to cruise some of the network next year!(we work 6 days 6am- 2pm) in a warehouse, we go to bed early which saves on electric!

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

This year has quite bad our engine ceased and we had to buy and fit a second hand one, the gear box coupling is broken at the minute,which Andy is hopefully going to fix next week as we are on holiday. condensation in the winter, no long lingering hot baths.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The out doors and simple life,  the boating community take you back to a time gone by when you could leave your back door open and borrow a cup of sugar!

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

Nothing really, we are easy to please and have a cosy cottage style boat!

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

Plan ahead, walk you are never far away from a shop.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a full size washing machine, as we have a generator, powered by the engine.

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

Pump out with macerator, and back up Porta Potti.

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

Orange dongle, yes and no, would like better.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Anywhere. when we not a work, home is nice.

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

When be bought the boat it had been upgraded by rose narrowboats, we have 4 leisure batteries,inverter, mastervolt charger, and a on board generator, we are sensible we only use high power equipment when the engine is running,we plug in phones laptop etc only when we put engine on, we try and be organised with rechargeable stuff. we do have 2 old small solar panels and are planning to upgrade. we also have some led lights which help.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

In the last few very cold winters we were warmer than in our house, and it was cheaper as we burn anything and everything.

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

Try before you buy in cold weather, go to boating pubs or chat to boaters

_____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

 

12v sockets. Something I’m hoping to resolve pdq.

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