2013 12 22 Newsletter – Narrowboat Storage Space

I love it when a plan comes together. Over the last two years I’ve been working hard to improve a key area of the site here and one which spoiled an otherwise beautiful marina. Calcutt Boats own 110 acres in total. Seventy acres are accessible agricultural land but the main part of the site is a very impressive forty acres including ten acres of water for two hundred and fifty moored boats.

The largest of the two marinas, Meadows marina, was completed in 2006. To reach the moorings you turn off a very quiet lane about a mile south Napton village and drive sedately up a half mile long private drive with stables on either side before reaching the entrance to Calcutt Boats and our three stunning wild flower meadows. The road then bears left past an avenue of disease resistant elms and into the main car park which serves the west side of Locks marina and the east side of Meadows marina.

Until recently, just before you reached the car park, you also had to pass our “storage area” (or tip to use a far more accurate term) on the left hand side.

The storage area was home to a huge range of dilapidated machinery and engine parts including three redundant earth movers which were used in the construction of Locks marina. You can see one of them here in this post from March 2011. The road past the tip was lined with dozens of unused metal piers, hundreds of steel pilings and several old trailers. The edge of the car park was also used to store our stock of road planings and crushed brick which we needed to frequently repair the potholes in marina road before it was tarmaced. The site’s road roller, dumper and small excavator were also parked there.

The area was a mess.

Since March 2011 I’ve been slowly improving the area so it’s more in keeping with the rest of the site. The three large yellow machines, several scrap vehicles, three disused trailers and a selection of old machinery has been taken off site, our stock of old engines has been hidden from sight along with the unused piers and pilings, trees have been planted to hide what remains of the tip from public view, a six feet high earth bank has been created to hide the tip from the car park, several hundred tonnes of hardcore have been brought in to provide a level and stable surface to the now cleared front half acre of the tip area and, a couple of weeks ago, the first five of a planned couple of dozen storage containers arrived.

Over the last few days I’ve been doing the final landscaping to help hide the new tip area from the container storage area. I’ve planted two hundred mixed hawthorn, quickthorn, blackthorn, spindle, hazel and field maple to form a aesthetically pleasing screen in years to come. I’m looking forward to watching it grow.

Living On A Narrowboat Video Update

Right! We’re up and running. I’ve overcome my stage fright, taken the bull by the horns and started recording. My first proper video on the subject of living afloat is narrowboat storage space (see below) which I recorded during my lunch break on a rather dismal Monday.

I was quite happy with the result so I processed the video, uploaded it to YouTube and proudly showed Sally when she came home from work. She wasn’t quite as happy as me.

She wanted to know why I hadn’t “tidied up” before shooting the video. Sally’s idea of tidying up and mine are poles apart. I think I’m pretty clean and tidy but Sally takes tidy to a whole new level. I tried my best. I made sure that there were no dirty dishes in the sink, hid my work clothes under the lower bunk behind my office desk and only popped briefly into our bedroom with the camera because the bed was in a state of disarray due to our ongoing attempts to find a solution to the damp between the mattress and the boat’s port side.

My attempts weren’t good enough. Sally feels I’ve let the side down so, on behalf of Sally, I apologise for showing you a scruffy boat. The things I do for a quiet life! (Please don’t tell Sally I said that).

I’ve also uploaded two further videos. One is a very short clip as an introduction to the new YouTube channel. You can see it here. You’ll only be able to see the video if you haven’t yet subscribed to the YouTube channel as it’s a trailer for the videos I’m adding there.

The other, a five minute clip, is now on the site’s home page and is an introduction to me, my boat and livingonanarrowboat.co.uk. I recorded it on Friday during a lull in the rather strong wind we’ve had over the last week. Unfortunately the wind was still strong enough to sound like a gale on video, but it’s a start. At least you can get a feel for the space I enjoy even though I’m moored in a marina.

I’ll be replacing this video next April or early May when the peninsula next to James will be covered with flowers and the trees will be under a heavy cloak of spring blossom. Until then, you’ll have to make do with this one.

Please note that all of the videos are HD so they are suitable for watching full screen without any loss of quality. If you want to watch them full screen, just click on the right hand icon on the video tool bar, the one which looks like four brackets.

I would love to hear what you think about the video’s so far. Are they too long, short or boring? Are they a useful addition to the written articles on the site? Would you like to see more of them and, if so, what subjects would you like to see. Please let me know.

Narrowboat Storage Space

In preparation for recording this video I searched the site to see what I’ve written in the past on the subject. It’s an important issue. I thought I had covered it in detail but I haven’t as far as I can tell. There are over 4,500 posts and pages on the site now so I may have missed a dedicated post on the subject but I don’t think so.

It’s very important to give proper consideration to narrowboat storage space before you start to look for a boat in earnest. There’s very little space in which to store all your worldly possessions when you make the move from a bricks and mortar home to a narrowboat.

My own boat James is 62′ long but only 48′ of that is internal living space, and that internal living space includes the engine room. James is a traditional (trad) stern narrowboat which means that the engine is housed inside the boat. A semi traditional or cruiser stern narrowboat has a large back deck with the engine under the deck boards. Semi trads and cruiser sterns offer space for a number of people to stand and chat to the helmsman while traveling but the internal storage space is lost.

I use the engine room to store wet weather gear, tools, boat cleaning equipment and any other odds and ends which I don’t want inside the rest of the boat. My engine room is currently unheated (which causes damp problems in the bedroom just in front of the engine room, but when I have my central heating system put in early next year, there will also be a heated towel rail to help dry damp clothing. Damp clothing is a big part of life afloat so the ability to dry wet and sometimes dirty clothing away from the boat’s clean interior is a big bonus.

My living space is forty eight feet long but the external width of the boat is only 6’10”. The internal width is a foot less. For ease of calculation though I’ll call the internal width 6′ which means that I have a total of 288 square feet of living space.

To put that into perspective, just the lounge in my old marital home was 324 square feet. My lounge contained just a three piece suite and a television cabinet. My boat, with just 88% of the space I had in the area which I used to use just to sit mindlessly and stare at a box in the corner of the room, has to house everything both Sally and I plus two spaniels need to live in comfort.

There are over 1,000 narrowboats for sale at any one time. Many are described as perfect for living aboard, but beware of boats which are described as either spacious or open plan. These boats simply don’t have any or have very little built in furniture or storage space. Here’s an example.

Open Plan liveaboard NarrowboatThis boat was advertised on eBay. It was advertised as “designed for those wanting to live aboard”. The boat didn’t actually have a bad specification for a liveaboard boat but as far as I’m concerned the storage space was woefully inadequate.

The boat was priced at £40,000 which, given that it was 70′ long and had a decent amount of equipment on board, wasn’t a bad price. It wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t bad. However, boat builders can offer boats like this for less money because they haven’t had to incur the time or the money involved in fully fitting it out.

Look at the photo. This shows what is probably half of the internal living space. How many cupboards, drawers or shelves can you see? There’s just the few in the galley area in the foreground and absolutely nothing else. And where do you sit and eat on this boat? There’s no fixed dinette with handy storage underneath like I have on James. You would have to either use a free standing dining table or eat off your lap on the leather sofa.

In the same area on James I have a set of three shelves either side of the front doors we use to store books and DVDs. Each set of shelves has a spacious two or three shelf cupboard underneath. one is used for dog toys, grooming equipment, leads etc and the other is used for storing firelighters, kindling and a three or four day supply of logs.

Next to the cupboards and opposite the stove are L shaped bench seats. All of them have storage built underneath. One is used to house the (over used) vacuum cleaner and an anchor, chain and rope. I know it’s a strange combination but it works for us. The other is used for storing rucksacks and other bags.

Further back towards the galley is the Pullman dinette, a fixed table with bench seats either side. Each of the seats has storage underneath, accessible via drawers in the end, where we keep crockery and cooking utensils and top opening storage next to the windows where we keep spare duvets in vacuum bags.

In addition to the above, there is a very handy shelf along the starboard side just beneath the gunnel.

In all, there are thirteen shelves, four under seat top opening storage compartments and five end of seat drawers in the front section of James compared to none at all in the “spacious open plan” boat in the photograph.

Which do you think is more practical?

James has plenty more storage in the back half of the boat. The galley, tiny as it is, has cupboards and drawers under the sink and small work surface then behind the galley we have what Sally refers to as her utility room. This area is home to the set of side doors and hatches either side of the boat. There are two ply bulkheads separating the galley from the bunk/office area. Each bulkhead used to have a folding door fitted but the doors stopped the heat from the stove reaching any further back than the galley so I took them off. Now there’s just an alcove either side of the boat next to the hatches.

These alcoves offer really handy additional storage space. We have the twin tub washing machine on a raised platform on the port side. Under the washing machine there’s space for plastic boxes for washing powder and conditioner and a couple of dozen tins of dog food. On the starboard side is another plastic box large enough to hold the contents of a 15kg dog biscuit bag, dog drinking and eating bowls, mops and brushes and a small stock of wine (Apparently the three dozen bottles of red I used to keep here before I met Sally is an unnecessarily large supply).

Just above head height in both of the alcoves is a rail for hanging drying washing.

In the office/bunk area there is an abundance of storage space. There are three bunks here, but I’ve taken the mattress off the one on the port side and have it set up permanently as a desk to house my laptop, printer, files… and my new gourmet coffee machine. Thank you Sally, but I’m drinking so much of the stuff now that I’m in a permanent state of over excitement.

The two bunks on the starboard side are used for storage. It’s the only area of the boat which looks a little untidy. We want to keep the bunks for guests (which we never have) so we don’t want to change the area into more aesthetically appealing permanent storage space. In this area there are also two five drawer chests.

Behind the bunk area is our tiny walk through bathroom. It’s just four feet long and the width of the boat. More storage space has been built into every spare inch of space. There’s a shower cubicle on the port side with shelves to one side. On the starboard side is  our Porta Potti Elegance toilet, a hand basin with storage underneath and a medicine cabinet.

Behind the bathroom is our bedroom. Again, every spare inch has been used. There’s a small double bed – 6’3″ x 4’0″ – with six drawers accessible from the side and a further storage space accessible via a hatch in the bed base once the mattress is lifted. There’s also a wardrobe. a shelf on the port side, another on the starboard side and a third on the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom.

That’s it. LOADS of storage space. Oh, I nearly forgot. There’s still more storage space on the front deck.

When I moved on board James the cratch cover looked very sorry for itself and didn’t do a very effective job of protecting the front deck. I had a new cover fitted plus a cratch board to give the cover support in addition to the existing side rails. I also bought plastic mats for the deck and cut them to shape. We now have a very handy additional twenty square feet of storage space before we go inside the boat.

We keep a hose and reel in this area plus a storage box full of coal, another full of logs and muddy shoes and boots. We also keep a towel or two here for drying the underside of wet dogs when they’ve been out for a run on wet days.

There’s an additional feature on the front deck which is very handy for the summer months. There’s a bracket just beneath the cratch board where we can fit a table top with fold down legs when we fancy an al fresco meal. The table top is stored clipped vertically to the starboard side inside the boat next to the stove.

The cratch cover not only provides additional storage space but also helps prevent draughts through the front doors. It’s a very handy addition to the boat.

That’s James for you. I didn’t choose the internal layout but there’s very little about it I would change if I were to have a boat built from scratch. I think that all I would do would be to have my office at the very back of the boat in a traditional boatman’s cabin where I could shut myself off and work without distraction but I wouldn’t change the storage.

Maybe, out of necessity, I would reduce the storage slightly. We currently have a cassette toilet. This type has its advantages but there are significant disadvantages too. One of them is that, with a waste holding tank of just twenty one litres, the tank needs to be manually carried to a waste disposal tank every two or three days. A full tank weight slightly less than a bag of coal. It’s hard work carrying it through the boat from the bathroom, lifting it onto the pier then carrying it down a hill to where the car is parked and then driving it to the disposal point.

A pump out toilet would be much easier to manage. A pump out toilet has a much larger waste tank. Tanks of three hundred litres or more are not unusual so the period between essential emptying can be extended to weeks rather than days. However, additional space would need to be allocated for the much bigger tank. You often find that the toilet waste tank extends from underneath the toilet in the bathroom to underneath the fixed bed in the bedroom. What you think are waves sloshing against the outside of the boat may be waves of an entirely different kind underneath you.

I’ve been on a few liveaboard boats where there hasn’t been adequate storage space and, to be quite frank, they look a mess. They certainly don’t look either comfortable or homely. There’s clothes and equipment piled in corners and on, around and under free standing furniture. The boat owners quite often have to resort to storing stuff they can’t fit inside the boat on the boat’s roof.

The large expanse of flat roof is possibly an obvious place to store surplus possessions but you have to think carefully about what you can reasonably store here. The more weight you add to your roof, the higher the boat’s centre of gravity and the more unstable it becomes. There’s an excellent explanation of why this is such a problem here on the forum. Another possible problem you’ll encounter if you have things piled too high on the roof is negotiating low bridges and tunnels.

Adequate storage is essential if you’re going to live comfortably on your boat. Sally and I haven’t quite got the balance right yet. To be honest, I think we buy too many gadgets that we don’t really need. Many of them are used for a little while and then taken to our storage container out of the way until we want to use them again (which we never do).

We’ve had a storage container now for a year and a half. The twenty foot long container costs us £70 a month. Sally has been slowly but surely emptying it. I’ve left it all up to her because it’s main function is as storage for her house contents. I wrote about the logistics of downsizing from a house to a boat in this post. It’s a useful addition to the information here.

Now I’ve told you how important it is to use your space wisely, let me tell you about the still unfitted secondary double glazing panels which are cluttering up the boat.

Secondary Double Glazing Update

Last week I told you that I fitted polycarbonate panels to four out of the boat’s ten windows. I also told you that one of the panels had fallen off the frame. This week, I rather embarrassed to report, another panel has headed south.

I know the reason. It’s partly because of the varnished and highly polished mahogany window surrounds but also because of the screws holding the surround against the Parana pine cladding. The round headed screws – fourteen to a frame – stand proud of the woodwork so stop the adhesive steel tape which hold the sheets in place from adhering to a flat surface.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday removing all of the screws, countersinking the holes a little deeper then replacing them again. Now all I need to do is lightly sand the varnished mahogany while I wait for the replacement steel tape to arrive.

Earlier in the week I phoned Access Plastics to tell them that they had sent me the wrong colour tape. They agreed to send out three replacement rolls (after they had asked me to check the tape again just to make sure that I knew the difference between brown and white). They also asked me to package the incorrect tape ready for collection on Friday. The wrong tape has now been collected but the right tape has yet to arrive. The replacement tape was promised on Friday morning. I guess the Christmas post is to blame.

Good news! The replacement tape arrived on Tuesday. Bad news! The replacement tape was the same glaring white as the original incorrect tape. Access Plastics also kindly sent me three additional rolls of magnetic tape that I neither need nor want.

I telephoned them on Wednesday to ask why they sent white steel tape again. “We don’t have any brown steel tape”, was the mystifying reply. I reminded him that I had placed an order for brown steel tape to match my brown window frames. “I Know”, he acknowledged, “I was the one who processed your order.” I asked him, if he had remembered taking the order for brown steel tape why the company had dispatched white steel tape TWICE. “Because we don’t have any brown steel tape.”

I told him how unhappy I was with the white tape and that I was considering asking for a refund. “I SUPPOSE I’LL HAVE TO GET SOME IN THEN!”, he shouted. He actually shouted. I had simply asked him to send me the product that I had ordered from him, a product which he advertises on his site, and he shouted at me.

I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with him so I thought of a solution. I offered to source the brown steel tape myself, buy enough to do the job and ask Access Plastics to refund the full amount I have to pay for it. He agreed.

I confirmed the details of our conversation to him via email. He responded saying that they have been having a problem with their brown steel tape supplier for some time now but that he expects to take delivery of an order for the tape at the end of January at the earliest. That won’t help me much during the first month of the year when I want to prevent icy draughts in the boat.

I sent the email to Access Plastics two days ago. I haven’t found an alternate supply yet so I’m beginning to think that there’s another and better solution. Maybe I should fit the polycarbonate panels now using the white steel tape that I already have so I get the benefit of the panels immediately and then switch the tape over when Access Plastics receive their supply.

The whole thing is a bit of a pain in the bum whatever I do but maybe this will be the most practical solution. I had better call Access Plastics again. I’m not looking forward to that.

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.

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.

8th December 2013

Fitting secondary double glazing – Fitting the panels is a simple operation for those with the most basic DIY skills, something which I sadly haven’t developed. As you might expect then, the fitting didn’t go as well as it should.

Narrowboat videos – I launched the Living On A Narrowboat YouTube channel

1st December 2013

Secondary double glazing for your boat – The pros and cons of double glazing on a boat and why secondary double glazing is a much better bet and a fraction of the cost.

Living on a narrowboat vidoes – My first hesitant steps into the world of video production for site content

Can you either live or holiday on a narrowboat if you have a disability? – Here’s what you need to know.

24th November 2013

Winter fuel allowance – Do you qualify for one if you live on a boat?

Case Study – NB Progress. Kim Wainwright recorded her journey on the forum from nervous anticipation to current liveaboard boat owner. Here’s her story.

17th November 2013

Narrowboat central heating – I don’t have any. All that is about to change. Here’s the system I’m going to install and why I’ve chosen it.

10th November 2013

Narrowboat running costs – I compare my own running costs to those of a prominent YouTube video blogger and detail my exact costs for October 2013

3rd November 2013

Popular narrowboat terminology – Hundreds or words or phrases used to describe parts of boats and the waterways they cruise through.

27th October 2013

The wind chill factor – How strong the wind is blowing and which direction it’s coming from can determine how difficult it is to heat your boat. Here’s what you need to know.

Case study – Another couple from down under living the dream on the inland waterways.

20th October 2013Condensation. 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

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.

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.

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.

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

15th September 2013

Managing your water supply

An American blogs about his travels

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 inadvertently 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!

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.

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?

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

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?

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.

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.

14th July 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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 equivalent of the AA but did you know that they will also come to your mooring to service your boat?

14th April 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

11th March 2013

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

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

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.

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

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.

18th December 2012

Understanding narrowboat electrics – Another excellent article from Tim Davis

Satellite television for narrowboats – Information from a system installer

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

21st November 2012

First tests and reviews of the budgeting application

The best aerial for a narrowboat television

6th November 2012

The first release of the new spreadsheet based narrowboat budgeting application

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

17th October 2012

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

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

30th September 2012

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

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

20th July 2012

Dealing with pests on a narrowboat – spiders and swans

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

7th July 2012

Repeat prescriptions, diesel heating systems and solar panels

10th June 2012

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

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

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

29th April 2012

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

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

 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

2nd February 2011

Article – Living on a narrowboat in winter

1th 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

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.

  • Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
  • CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
  • Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
  • 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.
CRT (Canal & River Trust) maintain the waterways. Here’s their site.
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.
Find out more about narrowboat central heating costs here.