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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Well, we finally made it! Almost ….

Greenberfield LocksBingley 5 RiseHaving launched in Liverpool Marina in December, having Christmas in Salthouse Dock & wintering at Scarisbrick Marina, we left at the end of March on our way back to Yorkshire (having left in August ’13 to live in a caravan whilst the boat was being made). Our first couple & of nights were spent moored at Burscough Wharf, after battling horrendous cold winds on our short sail from Southport. We had a deadline of 22nd April to get to Lemonroyd Marina, where we had booked the boat in for a week, whilst we visited our son & family. He is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, flying the Hurricane & Spitfires, & the 24th & 25th April were the dates scheduled for their sign off for the season. What that meant was that a few invited guests (ie US) & the Big Whigs who were assessing the displays were privileged to watch 2 hours of glorious WW11 precious aircraft – perform just for them! It was imperative we hit this deadline.

Just as we left Scarisbrick Lock 55 at Blackburn was shut down for repair. For 3 weeks. We (sadly) enjoyed the Wigan Flight – but how many times can a woman look around the shopping centre which is Botany Bay??? We liaised regularly with C&RT who were very helpful, & gave us April 11th (lunchtime!) as date for reopening Lock 55. We thought it would be like Whacky Races on the 11th, but in the event there were only 3 boats ahead of us for the ascend… unfortunately we grounded a few times due to low water levels, but did make it through.

Onwards to Skipton, our next destination. I hated both Gannow & Foulridge Tunnels, & have now decided I am certainly claustrophobic. Chris was at the helm, I was below stairs with a large glass of Pinot G.

We had heard horror stories of some of the locks & swing bridges along route, but apart from one day, when we came through the spectacular Aire Valley & I had 10 farmers bridges to open, we were fine.

We made it from Red Rose to White Rose County on 13th April. Bliss. The clouds rolled back, the sun was warm & bright, & the beer in the Old Swan in Gargrave excellent. We had well over a week to get to Lemonroyd. So Easter Sunday we found a lovely mooring near Rodley, by The Railway Inn (getting the drift now?). In the night we heard some horrendous explosions…. we heard there had been a big fire at a chemical warehouse in Leeds. Forever the optimists we set off on a lovely Easter Monday morning… to be met by C&RT staff at Newlay Locks. You guessed it, the canal was closed lower down, due to the fire as the water was polluted & Env Agency advised draining the system, clearing out the dead fish & rewatering; it was going to take “a few days”. We turned around, found a mooring in Rodley & had a fabulous time watching the BBMF fly.

But – disappointed that, as new live-aboards, on our maiden voyage, we failed to traverse the whole 127 miles of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. We missed out by about 3 miles. Still, what an achievement I think….

2014 04 27 Newsletter – My Perfect Live Aboard Narrowboat

The bank holiday weekend is behind us so many of our hire boats are back on the wharf. One of the boats which should have been back on Tuesday didn’t return on time. It wasn’t very well.

The engine seized in the middle of Braunston tunnel as the crew were on the final leg of their cruise. As part of the handover instruction they are told how important the job of topping up the header tank is every morning. They are also told to keep an eye on the temperature gauge regularly as they cruise and to stop immediately and call the office if they notice the rise above seventy degrees.

The fact that they were twenty minutes into the tunnel probably meant that they were unable to see the temperature gauge and/or the steam billowing out of the wet locker where the header tank is. The result was a broken engine at the worst possible point on their route.

Fortunately, out of the eight crew on board, three were strapping males so with the aid of the boat’s pole, a bit of legging, and a mop handle, they were able to push the sixty feet long boat out of the tunnel and moor up on the towpath close to the tunnel mouth. Without going into detail (because I wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about), it’s often possible for one of our engineers to get the engine working again relatively easily. This wasn’t one of those occasions.

An engineer was with them for six hours trying increasingly complicated solutions until at 5pm he finally acknowledged that he wouldn’t be able to get the boat running in time for the crew to return to Calcutt Boats in the light.

Marina owner Roger Preen and I went to see them. Roger went to make sure that the crew were as happy with the situation as possible given that they had spent the last day of their half week break standing near, and occasionally in, the Admiral Nelson half way up the Braunston flight. Roger didn’t really have any apologising to do as it was difficult to establish how the breakdown occurred and therefore whose fault it was. The problem may have been caused by the crew not topping up the header tank each morning, but we’ll never know. Roger went to mollify the crew. I had the important jobs of carrying their luggage down the flight from the boat to where Roger was waiting with his car to take some of the crew back to Calcutt.

The hirers were very philosophical about the breakdown, or maybe just relieved that we didn’t question them more about their morning maintenance regime, so we bid them a fond farewell before returning to Calcutt at 7pm.

The following day our foreman engineer returned to Braunston where he spent two hours identifying and fixing the problem. I was hijacked from my day’s mowing and dropped off at Braunston to bring the boat back. Every cloud has a silver lining. In this case a serious breakdown resulted in me being paid to take a boat for a two and a half hour cruise along a beautiful stretch of the Grand Union/Oxford canal.

The Admiral Nelson is half way up the flight of six locks at Braunston. Our boat had been breasted up to a working boat at the top of the flight and left in the pound just below the pub so I only had two locks to negotiate. As luck would have it, two volunteer lock keepers were on duty. One helped me down through lock two. By the time I reached lock one, the other lock keeper had the lock prepared and the gate open for me and because he was psychic and knew that I hadn’t had a cup of coffee for a couple of hours, he had the kettle boiling by the time I tied the boat up inside the lock. By the time the lock had emptied, he had filled the Calcutt Boats mug I offered him with a scalding hot brew. Now that is what I call effective public relations!

I managed to get stuck behind the slowest narrowboat in the world on the stretch between the bottom of the flight and the junction. I know you’re supposed to take it easy on narrowboat cruises but I’ve seen grass grow faster than this boat was moving.

We inched past the masses of moored boats on this stretch, stopping for long enough by each one to join them for dinner, until we thankfully reached the junction where Mr. Slowcoach went straight ahead on the North Oxford (he should reach Hawkesbury Junction before the winter stoppages) and I turned left towards Calcutt.

The cruise was a delightful hour and forty five minutes back from the junction along a mostly empty canal. At about the half way point I met a hire boat. I noticed the helmsman doing his very best cat-on-a-h0t-tin-roof impression. I saw why when he drew level with me. An irate and very swiftly moving male mute swan was stabbing at the hire boat’s rear fender with his beak and coming dangerously close to the helmsman’s ankles.

I turned away and smiled to myself. I had seen this swan the previous week when I was out on my own boat. His mate had a nest in the reeds on the side of the canal. Boats were a threat to his family and savaging the rear fender was his way of dealing with it. I was still smiling to myself when the same bird nearly gave me a heart attack. The hire boat had moved far enough away from the nest to let it go. My boat, on the other hand, was moving closer to his good lady and their unborn children. Because of the distance I was away from him he couldn’t reach me by swimming, so he flew at me.

I turned at the sound of furious, very close and very loud flapping to find him at head height about five feet away from me. Have you ever seen  a swan in flight from that distance? It’s rather large.

Fortunately he was after the fender rather than me. He tugged at it for twenty seconds before turning back to the nest. I breathed a sigh of relief and considered checking my pockets to see if I had brought a spare pare of underpants with me.

At lower Shuckburgh I met Mr. Slowcoach’s brother. He was going so slowly that I actually had to take my boat out of gear to prevent myself from running into him. Both he and his good lady glanced behind frequently so clearly knew I was there but failed to make any attempt to pull over.

I managed to pass them on a straight stretch, turned right at the junction for Calcutt and pulled up to set the lock. I was just opening the gate when Mr. Slowcoach chugged sedately around the corner. Seeing that the lock gate was open he steamed straight into the lock, ignored me completely, then pulled his boat over behind the closed door, then both he and his wife stood on the boat waiting for me to close the upstream gate and open the paddles at the other end. Incredible!

Other than the two barely moving boats and the barmy bird, the journey was uneventful. The repaired engine performed admirably with the engine temperature deviating just two or three degrees during the trip.

The following day, Thursday, I had some cleaning to do. Sally was due back after three weeks away. She doesn’t do dirt, which is always something of a challenge on a narrowboat with two dogs and a solid fuel stove.

I spent a very industrious couple of hours with the vacuum cleaner, a duster and some polish. I was pleased with the end result but at the back of my mind I knew I was wasting my time. Sally can see dirt which is invisible to a normal human eye. The boat always looks absolutely spotless but I can never see the point of such intensive cleaning.

After a painful two hours down to Heathrow (one lane closed at High Wycombe), one and a half hours at the airport (an hour to get through baggage reclaim) and three hours back to Calcutt (an overturned lorry, again at High Wycombe) we stepped back onto the boat in the pouring rain. Welcome back to England Sally!

As expected, the following day Sally spent ten hours cleaning the boat. I’m afraid that I suggested to her near the end of her marathon cleaning session, as she took apart the desk on which I was trying to work, that her cleaning was verging on obsessive.

We aren’t talking at the moment.

Back to work on Saturday and the ongoing battle against grass that grows faster than it can be cut. At this time of the year with plenty of sunshine and plenty of showers, the grass grows at a phenomenal rate. The flat areas of grass around the site take about a day and a half to cut with our little ride-on mower and the whole site needs to be cut about every five days. It’s a struggle to keep up with the grounds maintenance when there are two of us at it but Pat has been on holiday for the last week and I have been dragged away from my normal activities because of two emergencies. The first was helping deal with the broken down boat. The other problem was a boat which sunk in the marina.

This is the second boat which has sunk here in the last four years. As with the first boat, this one was spotted before it submerged completely but it was waterlogged enough to prevent the engine from starting so it had to be poled across the marina to where the trolley was waiting to receive it and drag it onto the slipway.

Inside was a mess. The water in the cabin was about a foot deep so everything sitting on the floor was submerged. The owner is fond of carpet, lots of carpet, layers upon layers of carpet offcuts. All of it was saturated. All of it had to be taken out of the boat but the water needed removing first.

A powerful pump was set up on the rear deck where it sucked dirty water out of the boat and over the side onto the slipway below. The boat had been pulled onto the slipway then raised at the front so that the water inside the cabin drained towards the rear where it could be pumped out easily.

The office had phoned to owner who was going to visit the following day. He asked for any items which could be dried to be left on the boat roof and rear deck until he arrived. The boat was soon festooned with strips of carpet, bed sheets and blankets, shoes and bags.

Once the pump had removed the bulk of the water, I used a wet vac to remove more and then pulled a shore line from the slipway into the boat to power a dehumidifier which we planned to use to dry out the boat while the cause of the water ingress was identified and cured.

There was a powerful dehumidifier already inside the boat so, because I’m sometimes particularly stupid, I plugged it in. Once I had picked myself up off the floor I realised that the dehumidifier had been on the boat when it flooded so had been almost completely submerged until the water was pumped out.

I collected a working dehumidifier from one of our workshops, turned it on and left it draining in the boat’s galley sink overnight.

The problem was soon identified. There was a hole the size of a ten pence piece in the particularly thin hull of the old boat. We had surveyed the hull for the owner earlier in the year and recommended that it should be replated as soon as possible but he hadn’t yet arranged for the work to be done.

The hole was patched and the boat was launched then returned to its pier still covered with ribbons of damp carpet. The owner has been on the boat now for a couple of days, drying what he can on the boat roof between heavy April showers. He’ll be able to use his boat again shortly now that we’ve repaired or replaced a number of water damaged items inside the boat. The boat still needs comprehensively replating. Whether the owner decides to have it done or not is another matter.

The Perfect Narrowboat For Living On Full Time

James Ellis emailed me last week asking if I would like to add an article  to the site he’s written about the perfect live aboard narrowboat. I thought it was an excellent idea, so here it is complete with my own comments. James is the owner of a narrowboat he uses for leisure cruising. He hopes to sell his boat and buy a narrowboat to live on when he retires. I have lived on board a narrowboat for four years now so I thought my own comments on the subject would be of value too. My comments are in italics.

Here’s James’ perfect boat…

We have owned a 38ft narrowboat, Odin, for 4 years and now, as we will soon both be retired, we want to purchase a liveaboard. After much deliberation, discussion, observation, inspection and persuasion, our perfect liveaboard is likely to have the following attributes:

Age, Structure and Cost:

We are probably looking at a boat which is 10/6/4 construction, hopefully with a draft of no more than 22”, about 10 years old and about £50k, though we are not going to be inflexible on any of these details. Stainless tanks, a Jabsco water pump and “clever” propeller would all be valued, though a bow thruster would be considered totally unnecessary.

There are certainly plenty of boats about for this price and a £50,000 budget should buy a boat which has been well looked after and which has a decent specification. I agree with James about the bow thruster. Although bow thrusters come in very handy I have seen many narrowboat owners use them almost continuously for unnecessary tasks like pushing the boat away from the side. Bow thrusters are just another piece of equipment to go wrong and another set of batteries to charge and periodically replace.

Length & Style:

Between 54ft and 59ft in length (smaller would not have enough room – longer would not navigate the whole system). Cruiser stern (we just like the space for outdoor storage, lounging and engine access). Needless to say, we would want to include as much cupboard space as possible below and above decks but without compromising air draft.

James is a 62′ long traditional stern narrowboat. I have taken both traditional and cruiser stern narrowboats on multi day cruises. I prefer traditional sterns for a number of reasons.

With a traditional stern the engine is enclosed within the cabin so the space around it can be used for additional storage and for housing, in my case, an inverter, MPPT controller for the solar panels, charger, battery bank and soon to be fitted burner for the central heating system. When the central heating system is installed, I will also have a heated towel rail fitted where we can dry wet clothing but keep it separate from the rest of the boat.

The engine room also houses windlasses, piling chains, mooring pins, lump hammers, recovery magnet, torches, binoculars, spare paint, varnish and brushes, waterways guides, wet weather gear, a chainsaw and protective clothing and a range of tools, some of which I know how to use.

With a cruiser stern you either have to store all of this equipment inside the cabin, somewhere inside the engine bay (not really practical) or in a stern locker. However, most of the lockers I’ve seen on cruiser stern narrowboats haven’t been either secure or watertight.

Another benefit of a trad stern narrowboat is that it’s a far warmer place to stand and steer on a cold day. You tend to stand inside the hatch with your lower half being warmed by the heat from the engine. On a cruiser stern you have acres of space to stand and steer, which is great is you have guests on board, but I feel divorced from the boat and quite uncomfortable.

Although there isn’t much room for anyone other than the helmsman to stand at the rear of a trad stern narrowboat, there is space for a couple more people if they’re careful. They can stand on the gunnel on either side of the steerer. It’s not a perfect solution but it does work.

The last benefit of a trad rather than a cruiser stern as far as I am concerned is that the cabin roof just in front of the helmsman can be used as a handy table top for the paraphernalia you tend to accumulate on a cruise. I normally end up with a waterways guide, usually Pearson’s, notebook and pen, binoculars, camera and a mug of coffee on or just inside the hatch. I’ve been very frustrated in this respect on a cruiser stern. The cabin roof is always out of reach so if anything is left on the cabin roof, reaching it requires the assistance of another person on the rear deck or letting go of the tiller to dash across the open space to fetch whatever you need. Neither of these options are practical.

Interior Layout:

Cottage style, conventional layout. We like to look out from the saloon and see what is ahead. There must be space for a couple of swivel recliners (no settees as they are too uncomfortable) and a dinette which acts as dining table, chart table, office desk, knitting base station, scrabble table and spare double bed. The Pullman style of dinette makes best use of space. A U-shaped or central-corridor galley (or cross-over) would be followed aft by the bathroom and bedroom.

I love James’ layout as it is. There is very little I would change about it. We have L shaped bench seating at the front of the boat next to the front bulkhead which is fitted from floor to ceiling with cupboards and shelves. In front of the seating is the stove. Just behind the lounge area is the dinette. Both lounge and dinette seating have storage built under it.

I agree that bench seating isn’t as comfortable as swivel chairs but it’s comfortable enough the way Sally and I use them. We have a rectangular coal box next to the stove which just happens to be the same height as the bench seating base. We slide that across the boat and position it so that is it parallel with the long leg of the L then lay one of the seats from the dinette on it to form a “bed”. We place half a dozen cushions at the head of the bed to form a backrest and then lay on it side by side to watch television. It’s very comfortable, takes seconds to set up and allows us to keep the masses of storage under the seats.

 

Bathroom:

A full-size shower is preferable to a half-size bath and will be emptied by a Whale Gulper. The toilet will be pump-out, not cassette, to avoid the too-frequent journeys to sanitary stations (though a small porta-potty will be kept in reserve). There will be a really roomy bathroom cabinet.

Our bathroom is walk through and is very small. It’s the width of the boat and just four feet from end to end. On one side of the corridor through the centre is the shower cubicle and on the other is the sink in a cabinet with storage under and then next to it is the Porta Potti. In an ideal world we would have a pump out toilet but we manage well enough with the cassette.

Emptying the cassette is always a bit of a chore and something you want to think carefully about if you are unable to or are unwilling to lift heavy weights. Our cassette when full weights as much as a bag of coal. I leave emptying it until it’s full because I would rather make half the number of trips to the Elsan point with a heavier weight than the other way around.

We have considered fitting a pump out toilet but it would mean taking apart and possibly destroying a five drawer chest on the starboard side and losing some of the storage space to accommodate the waste tank. Even if we had a pump out toilet fitted we would still want to keep a Porta Potti in reserve for emergencies so we might as well just carry on with the cassette.

Bedroom:

It’s very cramped in a 4ft bed if you’ve been used to a king-size. On a narrowboat there appear to be 4 solutions: a full-size bed forward, a cross-over bed or extendable bed aft, or two separate single beds. Given that we want to stay together but with enough space (!) and we don’t for a minute consider reverse layout, we think that a cross-over or extendable bed in the aft bedroom will be best. Our current boat has a make-up king-size in the aft cabin and that has been very acceptable.

I am impressed with the hydraulic-strut storage beds displayed in some of the bedding shops and will try to engineer a similar storage solution.

Beds are always a consideration on boats for the tall or amply proportioned, not that I’m suggesting for a moment that either James or his wife fall into the latter category.

Our bed is four feet wide by six feet three inches long. It’s OK for us as Sally just tops five feet and I am shorter than average at five feet ten inches tall. Both of us are of slim build. Even with our slight builds I find the bed length a little constricting at times. There is a wardrobe against the end of the bed on Sally’s side so I have to make sure my feet are always on my side of the bed to prevent them from jamming against the side of the wardrobe.

Once again with our boat, maximum use has been made of every inch of space. There are six drawers built into the side of the bed and more storage around the calorifier accessible by removing the mattress.

Heating:

A good multi-fuel stove (eg: Morso Squirrel) is essential in the saloon but we would not want the complication of a back-boiler. Central heating (either gas or diesel) will ensure the rear of the boat receives sufficient heat and will provide occasional, moderated heat when the fiercer log-burner isn’t justified. Whatever (silent) system is in place must combine
with the engine to heat a calorifier, have an immersion for use with land-line attachment and, importantly, provide instant hot water for sink and shower when one, both or none of the other systems are ensuring hot water.

The boat’s Torgem stove is thirty seven years old and still going strong. It has a back boiler which feeds three radiators down the boat’s starboard side. The radiators are gravity fed and don’t get very hot. The stove doesn’t do a bad job of heating the lounge, dinette and galley but is hopeless at heating anything further away. My office aft of the centre hatches is usually cold without supplementary heat, as are the bathroom and bedroom behind.

At the moment we use two 500w Dimplex greenhouse heaters to warm these areas a little, which is fine if we are on a land line but unsustainable if we are using the inverter and battery bank.

Next week we hope to have a new central heating system fitted which should put an end to our rear end heating problems. The heater is a Webasto Thermotop C which will be fitted in the engine room where it will draw diesel from the boat’s main fuel tank.

When the heater and new radiators are fitted, the old radiators will be removed, as will the boat’s gas powered water heater. The new Webasto will provide all the hot water we need.

While the fitters are busy making a mess inside the boat I might, finances permitting, ask them to take out the Torgem and fit a Morso Squirrel in its place. The Torgem is not a bad stove but it doesn’t throw out a huge amount of heat and, because it isn’t as deep as a Squirrel stove, you can’t do what many Squirrel owners do and use the top of the stove for heating food and drinks.

Engine:

Because we are likely to be using our boat on rivers and estuaries, we would prefer an engine of perhaps 38hp or slightly more. However, we also value economy for the times we are pottering. Is it necessary to have a larger engine to cope with good electricity generation? Whatever we do choose, I would like it to be modern, simple, mendable by this amateur mechanic, water-cooled, with good spares availability, not in a separate engine room and be well silenced. As to the make, I have had Beta recommended, I like BMC (our current engine) but they are rather long in the tooth, some people swear by Vetus and Mitsubishi sound comfortingly Japanese – the jury is still out on make.

I have an unusual engine. It’s a Mercedes OM636 and like the stove it’s as old as the boat. It’s an old engine but it has plenty of life left in it yet. I believe it’s good for 20,000 hours. In the last thirty seven years it has done just 4,185 hours, an average of 113 hours a year. At the current rate it’ll last another 140 years! I think it will see me through to the end of my boating days.

It wouldn’t be my first choice of engine given that it’s a little unusual so the chances of finding someone who can quickly and easily resolve any issues is that little bit more difficult. Spare parts for it are also quite expensive. I’ve just paid £140 for a new thermostat. I don’t know how much a thermostat is for a more popular engine but I’m lead to believe that this is much, much more.

One of the engine’s features which isn’t ideal is that it is raw water cooled. Raw water cooling involves sucking water in from the canal to use to cool the engine. There’s an inlet on the boat’s port side which is covered with a fine mesh grill. The water then passes through a mud box where more debris is trapped. In order for the system to work the grill needs to be free of obstructions and the mud box needs emptying periodically.

Both operations are difficult. I know roughly where the grill over the water inlet is on the outside of the boat but I can’t see it because of the murky canal water and it’s difficult to reach because of it’s position. If I am to reach it at all I need to make sure that the boat’s port side is against a bank or a pier and reach down with a long handled brush and scrub at the spot where I think the grill is located.

The mud box is just as problematic to service.  It is on the port side at the front of the engine next to the bulkhead between the engine room and the bedroom. There is quite a tight space on the port side of the engine where I can just about crouch so I can reach the bolts on top of the mud box.

In an ideal world I wouldn’t have raw water cooling at all, and I would have a more modern engine which was easier to maintain.  We don’t live in an ideal world though so I make do with an engine which I’m told will be reliable now that I have replaced all of the perished rubber hoses.

Electrics:

The finer points of electricity generation, distribution and use are getting more complex as boats become more sophisticated. I don’t mind what system is installed as long as it is reliable, effective and safe. It will have to cope with a washing-machine, a lot of mains television use, electricity supply for central heating actuation (presumably), months at a time away from mains, full use in frozen winter months, a good vacuum cleaner, steam iron and hair drier, lots of small drains from chargers and laptops – and late night Scrabble! Being able to use an electric blanket for bed pre-warming in Winter would be heavenly. I am presuming that I will need at least one powerful alternator, maybe two, perhaps a separate generator system, a 500AH bank of batteries, a large (2kw?) inverter and mostly (but not all) LED lighting. Vetus seem to have an on-board integral generator which might be the solution. A battery management system seems like a good idea but I have yet to find out if it merely complicates things.

With all my lights now changed to LEDs I don’t have any trouble powering as much illumination as I need. The lights draw very little power. I have a 230v television which means that I have to have the inverter turned on if I’m out cruising and I want to watch television. The inverter itself uses a fair amount of power so when this television set goes to the great big repair shop in the sky I will buy a 12v model.

Using the battery bank to power an electric blanket may not be practical. Anything which heats up – hair dryer, iron, toaster, hair straighteners and electric heaters – usually use too much power for the battery bank to sustain them for very long.

I have a 1600w Sterling pure sine inverter. Pure sine are better than modified sine inverters as some appliances won’t run on modified sine. Consequently the pure sine inverters are much more expensive. Our 1.6kw inverter is man enough to deal with most of the appliances which I think are important on board but not good enough for the appliances which Sally wants to use regularly. It won’t run the vacuum cleaner, iron or hair dryer. I understand that the Henry 1.2kw vacuum cleaner is a very good machine, and one which our inverter could handle, but I’m meeting a certain amount of resistance in that department.

When I first moved onto James the electrics where woefully inadequate. There was a single starter battery and just one battery in the leisure bank. I immediately added another battery to the leisure bank but have since doubled that again to a total of four 135amp leisure batteries.

The batteries need something to charge them of course so I had a charger fitted to keep them topped up when we are plugged in to a land line. The alternator should do that job when we are out cruising but last week I asked if the alternator’s annoying squeal could be fixed, I was told that the simplest solution would be to fit a new alternator as the existing one wasn’t actually charging the batteries anyway. That’s another job scheduled for the next couple of weeks.

Another electrics addition, and one which I am very happy with indeed, is 3 x 100w solar panels and an MPPT controller fitted by Tim Davis of Onboard Solar. The solar panels provide me with nearly all the power I need in the warmer months and a worthwhile amount the rest of the year. Having a decent solar power system on board is wonderful in the summer months when you don’t want the tranquility of a remote mooring spoiled by the need to turn on the engine to charge the batteries.

The final piece in the engine room electrics jigsaw was a Smartgauge battery monitor. A decent battery bank is an expensive consumable. The life of the batteries can be extended significantly if the batteries are kept as full as possible. Until recently the only time I knew the state of charge was often Sally screaming when there wasn’t enough charge in the batteries to push the water through the gas heater quickly enough which resulted in Sally being sprayed with scalding water. One hundred and fifty pounds was a very reasonable price to pay to ensure that I always know when the batteries are fully charged, and when I can expect a brief lapse in our on board domestic bliss if Sally is suffering from 1st degree burns caused by a poor battery charging regime.

An important addition to the rest of the boat interior is a 230v ring main and enough sockets in the places where you need them. Of course the more sockets there are and the more appliances plugged into them the bigger the battery bank you need and the harder you need to work to keep it charged. I have to admit that Sally and I aren’t very good at minimising the electrics we use on board, but we don’t really need to at the moment when we spend most of the time plugged in to a land line. We will need to rethink the way we do that if we are out cruising most of the time. The alternative would be to have a generator fitted.

Monique (Mons) McNaught has done that on her boat Pern. She is currently moored at Calcutt but is about to set off on her grand adventure around the system working as she goes. She needs sufficient power to spend full days siting in front of her computer working when she is off grid. The generator will make sure that she can always earn a crust (subject to her being able to get an internet connection).

I don’t know what power she needs for the work equipment she has on board but I could certainly manage in the summer months with just the power supplied by my solar panels and the odd hour with the engine running. Personally I would rather try and use less power when off grid, by not fitting bow thrusters for example, than add more equipment to the boat so that I can use more.

Equipment:

The washing machine has already been mentioned. A small freezer as well as a fridge would be handy (are the combined units cheaper to run?). Things like a folding (electric?) bike can be added (Oh, that there was room for a motor scooter!) as can a folding wheelbarrow. I will add a 6ft crowbar and a small spade. Some items like a microwave oven, t.v. signal booster and good torches, the usual deck equipment and a good anchor we take for granted. For estuary use we’ll need lifejackets – including one for the dog – and navigation lights plus an appropriate form of radio (I’ve yet to take the course). We are seriously considering something electronic and GPS-based to replace Nicholson’s guides as some of ours go back to 1974! Part of us says that streamed way-mark pictures and metre by metre interactive mapping give us certainty of what comes next – another part of us screams for the thrill of less certain adventure.

I HATE washing machines on board! It’s an entirely subjective point of view and one which won’t be shared by many boaters. I’ve mentioned Sally’s fondness for our twin tub before, but it drives me mad. I’m sure, but I can’t prove it, that she sometimes spends hours washing and drying clothes before putting them straight back in the washing basket so she can have another go at them.

Sally has just spent three weeks away from the boat. She reluctantly left me in charge of the cleaning. She’s been back on the boat for just half a day and she’s already enthusiastically renewed here acquaintance with the twin tub. I have to confess, and I hope Sally doesn’t read this, that I didn’t use it once when she was away. I saved up all the washing until yesterday then threw it all into one of the two washing machines we have on site. An hour and a half later it was all clean, two hours after that it was dry and an hour after that clean sheets were back on the bed and the rest of the clothes were put away. I’m in trouble for not ironing the bed sheets or folding up my underwear in the drawer, but there’s a line over which I’m not prepared to tread. Folding underpants is way beyond the line.

Our washing machine when it’s in use is very boat friendly. It uses 120w when washing and 170w or thereabouts when spinning so the inverter can handle it easily. Whether the battery bank can stand it being used for twelve hours in a row remains to be seen. I think most suitable automatic boat washing machines can run on 1800w or less.

A washing machine and the logistics of keeping it fed with sufficient power and water is something you need to consider when cruising full time. I think that if I was on my own, which I may well be if I keep harping on about Sally’s cleaning, I would make do with a fortnightly service wash at a nearby launderette. The Aylesbury Canal Society sell a comprehensive printed guide of all the launderettes on the system for just £4.50.

With regard to the folding electric scooter, good news James, I know a man with a cruiser stern narrowboat who has one. He’s my recent drinking buddy Bangkok Tim. I can put you in touch with him if you like. Maybe you can offer to buy his from him and save him the embarrassment of looking like a Hell’s Angel on a pushbike.

A folding bike is much more practical in my view. I have one which will fit in the engine room when we are out cruising. I haven’t yet tried cycling down the towpath with a week’s worth of groceries hanging from the little handlebars but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

With regard to electronic guides, I’ve tried a few and although they aren’t bad inside the boat, in direct sunlight they are very difficult to see. I’m very happy with my Pearson’s guides. They are easy to lay flat on the rear hatch and refer to as we cruise.

Exterior Décor:

We want our boat to look cheerful, distinctive and practical but providing the colour is not too garish, anything will be more interesting than the Oxford-Blue-with-white-coachlines livery we currently enjoy. The boat must let in lots of light, so large windows (not little portholes) are essential. One would hope that the window units are double-glazed and aluminium or brass-framed. The roof should be a lightish colour and, like the gunwhale decks, should have a non-slip treatment.

In an ideal world I would buy a new Sea Otter narrowboat and not worry about painting the boat. Their aluminium narrowboats paintwork comes with a fifteen year guarantee and, unlike the normal steel narrowboat which need covering with a good layer of paint top to bottom to keep the rust at bay, the Sea Otters don’t rust so the paintwork is purely decorative.

Again, we don’t live in an ideal world so I can either consider paying roughly £100 a foot for a professional boat painter to do it (£6,200 for James) plus another arm and a leg to have the sign writing done, or I can paint it myself again like I did two years ago. This time I would try to get the coach lines to look less like an oscilloscope reading. I would consider getting the sign writing done professionally to include the site logo and the web address. As the purpose of my perfect live aboard narrowboat would be to carry Sally and I around the system while I earn a living, and as the cleaning vans I used to own picked up an incredible amount of business from the sign writing on them, adding the web address of the site from which I sell my guides for potential narrowboat owners wouldn’t do me any harm.

Double glazed windows is not something I would consider on a narrowboat. I have seen, and heard of, many boats where double glazing seals have failed because of vibration or the boat’s general knocks and scrapes as it moves. I recognise that some form of double glazing on a boat can be very beneficial though so I would have aesthetically pleasing double glazing panels which could be removed quickly and easily when required.

Interior Décor:

Both of us find the over-use of wood claustrophobic. Some is nice and reminds us of tradition: too much is twee, dark or fussy. (Two boats we looked at recently had such a plethora of zig-zag planking on floor, walls and ceiling that we felt we were starring in a Cuprinol advert)! In particular, we find a white ceiling reflects light well and light-coloured upper walls make a boat interior seem roomier. Below the gunwhales seems less critical – carpet seems cosy but so much of that space is likely to be covered with bookshelves and other fixed furniture that I’m not too worried either way. However, the wood that is present needs to be of light to medium hue (light oak, beech, ash). Most of this, of course, is a matter of personal taste, like the engine, hull, equipment and heating priorities. The real argument will occur when soft furnishings are decided: I like abstract, Rosie likes floral. At the end of the argument I’ll say my wife’s right and I’m wrong, as we usually are!

Sorry James, but I like traditional, all wood interiors. I agree that some wood can be dark and make the boat feel claustrophobic but I love the look and feel of polished wood. My perfect live aboard narrowboat would have pretty much the same design as I have now but all the woodwork would be solid light oak. My boat has beautiful Parana pine cladding on the cabin sides from the gunnel upwards and on the roof. Sadly some of it has been stained by water ingress during the decade and a half when the boat was poorly maintained. All of the rest of the woodwork, and there is acres of it, is in teak (I think) faced ply. I don’t enjoy cleaning generally but I get a great deal of pleasure out of polishing wood to a slippery sheen. My idea of heaven would be a narrowboat filled with beautifully crafted solid oak units and enough free time to polish them.

All in a Name:

There are many lovely boats out there with lovely names. However, we have decided that rather than trying to love a name someone else has chosen, we will remove our second-hand “new” boat from the water for its modifications to the spec we want – and relaunch it as “Blissful”. Look out for us in years to come. We’ll be touring the “ideas” stands at the Crick show with renewed purpose this year.

James & Rosie Ellis

I fully intend to keep the boat I’ve got. It’s not the perfect live aboard but I have to be practical about these things. I’ll never be able to afford a boat which fits my perfect specification but the one I have now doesn’t do too badly in most areas. Will I change the name to put my own stamp on the boat? I don’t think so. The boat was well used and cared for during the first twenty years of its life so after a mid life crisis, I expect it to recover its vim and vigour for the next twenty years. I won’t change the name, but I might not display it on the sides. As I mentioned earlier, I might well seize a wonderful marketing opportunity with both hands and display the web site address where the boat’s name would normally appear.

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I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. 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.

20th April 2013

A cautionary tale if you are considering buying a wide beam boat to live on.

13th April 2014

A further update to the site content index.

6th April 2014

The A -Z of everything narrowboat – With over 5,500 posts and pages on the site now, quickly finding exactly what you want can sometimes be a problem. For this newsletter I started creating and A-Z index of all the site content.

30th March 2014

How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?

23rd March 2014

Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.

16th March 2014

Paying for a narrowboat – What practical steps can you take to ensure you’ve established legal ownership and how do you deal with the transfer of monies between buyer and seller?

9th March 2014

Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.

2nd March 2014

Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.

23rd February 2014

Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou

16th February 2014

Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.

I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.

9th February 2014

Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.

2nd February 2014

Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.

26th January 2014

Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.

19th January 2014

Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?

12th January 2014

If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)

5th January 2014

Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.

29th December 2013

The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?

Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.

22nd December 2013

Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.

15th December 2013

Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?

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.

  • Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
  • Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
  • 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.

 

2014 04 20 Newsletter – Wide Beam Mooring Problems

We’ve had another week of glorious weather here in rural Warwickshire. Daytime highs in the mid teens have allowed me to work comfortably in shorts and tee shirt for at least part of every day. I love it!

The nights are still chilly though and a real pain if your only form of heating is a solid fuel stove. I’ve been lighting the fire for the evenings and early mornings but by the time I leave the boat at 7.58am (It’s a two minute “commute” to the office) the temperature is too high in the boat so I need to leave windows to stop the dogs from overheating.

I’ve tried leaving the fire off on a couple of evenings but then it’s been too cold on the boat in the mornings. It’s the time of the year when central heating comes into its own. A quick burst of heat is all that is needed at either end of the day rather than wasting the heat from an established coal or wood fire after I’ve left the boat for the day.

My central heating installation is scheduled for just after Easter so hopefully I will finally be able to get the temperature right on the boat during the spring and autumn months.

On Monday I added seven more twenty year old oak to my growing stockpile of logs. I probably have about four tonnes of recently cut logs seasoning on pallets next to our reed bed filtration plant in the woods close to the boat. Oak takes about two years to dry out enough before it can be used as an effective fuel. I’ll test some of it at the end of this year but I don’t really expect it to be ready.

Since I started felling the damaged oak towards the end of last year I’ve been feeling slightly guilty. For the last twenty years any tree felling at Calcutt has been done by Calcutt’s foreman, Ian. In the four and a half years I’ve been on my boat, Ian has mostly used wood in his boat’s stove. I’ve noticed that his fires are usually very smokey and wondered if he was using unseasoned wood.

Because I felt guilty about taking all of the freshly felled timber for my own fire, I offered him the oak I cut down on Monday. He didn’t want it. He told me that he’s not going to burn wood any more because of the mess it’s made of his roof. He had his boat repainted about six months ago. He had the roof done in cream. Parts of it are still cream but the roof and the sides of the boat close to his chimney are stained brown. The stains are creosote produced as a result of him continually using unseasoned wood in his stove.

He’s tried all of the popular boat cleaners and has tried commercial traffic film remover too which is normally very good at removing even the toughest stains. He say that the problem is that the creosote is not on the paint, it’s in it. The only way he’s going to be able to return the roof to its pristine cream colour is by painting it again.

This is yet another very clear indication of the false economy of using free wood to heat the boat.

After living on board James in the same location for four years I’m familiar with the sounds around me; honking geese, hooting coots, quacking mallards, howling wind and rain rattling against the windows, the slap of waves hitting the back of the boat when an east wind blows, the creak of a rubber fender caught against the jetty when the boat moves, the occasional slurp from the engine room when the bilge pump kicks in and the odd and very unwelcome drone of a passing plane. About a week ago I started to hear a new sound which I couldn’t place.

The sound was similar to a fender rubbing against the boat but I knew a fender wasn’t the cause because the noise was coming from above the boat and I only heard it during the hours of darkness.

I’ve discovered the source now. It’s a lone barn owl looking for a mate. It’s flying above me at the moment. It’s 3.30am on Sunday morning. I’m having one of my sleepless nights so I’ve just been outside to take out my restlessness on the annoying honking geese. I’ve given them a quick blast with my laser pen. They’ve gone now but I know they’ll be back in an hour or so. These are the geese which come here to breed every year. Their breeding instinct is stronger than their desire to flee so they’ll fly over to the reservoir for a while before returning. The geese has gone but the owl has been flying above me somewhere just out of sight, screeching his contact call, hoping for some company. This is what he/she sounds like.

Last year we had a breeding pair on site. As they’re nocturnal we have to make a special effort if we want to see them. If I’m lucky, I’ll see one sitting motionless on a branch at dusk waiting for an unsuspecting woodland creature to scamper across the ground below. Actually, I don’t see the owl on the branch. I see it take flight when the crackling twigs under my great big size nines frighten the bird.

Although the haunting screech is a welcome addition to the natural nighttime sounds I find so comforting, I hope that soon the absence of the call will indicate that the bird has found a mate.

Talking of mates, I met a virtual mate on Friday night in the Folly pub at the bottom of the Napton flight. The mate in question is Tim Wood, or Bangkok Tim as I’ve come to know him. Tim arrived back in the UK in December 2012 after spending fifteen years running a variety of profitable businesses in Thailand. He enjoyed the way of life but missed much about England, including decent pubs serving decent beer.

He purchased a boat after following much of the advice and suggestions offered on this site. He’s been suggesting that we meet up so he could buy me a beer or two since he bought his boat and as The Folly pub is only a hop, skip and a jump from Calcutt and even closer to where Tim was moored beneath the Napton flight, Friday was the perfect opportunity to finally meet up.

I had never met Tim before and didn’t have the faintest idea what he looked like so the six foot plus bearded and leather jacketed biker who stood up and thrust out a welcoming hand as I approached the bar came as a bit of a surprise. Tim had suggested that we meet early because there was a group of farmers celebrating in the bar later in the evening so we met at 6pm. Unfortunately many of the farmers were already there and trying their very hardest to outdo each other with their foghorn impersonations. Luckily, it was a pleasant sunny evening so most of them took their drinks into the huge pub garden to make some more noise which meant that Tim and I could enjoy some quiet conversation over half a dozen very welcome pints.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tim’s company so we’re going for a curry in Southam early next week. Tim suggested that he was going to ride into Southam on his little fold up scooter which he keeps on the rear deck of his cruiser stern narrowboat. Much as I would love to see Tim on a motorised bicycle when he is better suited to a monstrous Harley Davidson, I offered to give him a lift into Southam and join him. I haven’t had a good cholesterol laden artery clogging curry for at least a year. I can’t wait!

Wide Beam Mooring Problems

At the beginning of the week we welcomed two new moorers at Calcutt. Gary and Marie endured a short but rather stressful maiden voyage from Kate Boats on the Grand Union at Stockton to their short term home on Calcutt’s temporary moorings between Calcutt Bottom and Calcutt Middle locks. The journey was stressful because their boat is a bit of a beast.

It’s a 72′ wide beam but it’s not a normal wide beam, it’s a wide wide beam. At 13’6″ wide it’s the maximum size for a boat on even a broad canal like the Grand Union. Handling a new boat can be stressful for even the most seasoned inland waterways user but when the boat in question is as large as theirs, weighs thirty seven tonnes but only draws eighteen inches and there’s a stiff breeze to contend with and the new owner hasn’t steered a flat bottomed steel boat before, the journey was bound to be a challenge.

As an ex marine from the SBS Gary has had experience piloting a wide range of craft both above and below the water but he claimed that he’s never had so much trouble trying and failing to coax one to travel in the right direction.

The journey was made even more stressful by the knowledge that their carefully formulated plan for the future has fallen apart.

Gary and Marie have elected to live on the water in such a large boat because of their daughter Emily. Emily is a happy and loving nineteen year old but is by no means a typical teenager. She is registered blind and isn’t expected to reach adulthood.

Emily was severely shaken by a childminder when she was just one year old. The assault left her with brain damage and detached retinas. The child minder was prosecuted and subsequently received a six month custodial sentence which was later increased to twelve months following an appeal. The childminder regained her freedom a decade and a half ago while Emily, and to a large extent Garry and Marie, still suffer.

Because of Emily’s condition in general, and her almost non existent vision in particular, the boat has been built with her safety in mind. The large rear deck has had railings fitted to prevent her from falling overboard. Emily is fully mobile at the moment but if, as is likely, she will be confined to a wheelchair in the future, the boat has been designed so that ramps and/or lifts can be easily fitted. Inside the boat, the starboard corridor is wide enough for wheelchair access.

Because Emily cannot see, she finds the the sound of water and the noise of the birds who live on it very soothing. She hasn’t visited the boat since it has been on the water but she is very excited by the prospect. Gary and Marie can’t wait to welcome her on board and show her the bedroom which Gary has built for her with her disability in mind. However, once she is on board, they have one final but rather daunting hurdle to overcome. They no longer have a permanent mooring for their new home.

Before they had the boat built they were both fully aware that they needed a residential mooring if they wanted to live on board. Continuous cruising wasn’t an option as they both need to work at least part time, and Emily needs to go to school in Warwick. After a great deal of research they found a marina which could and would take them, paid a deposit and then focused on the logistics of first overseeing the construction of the Colecraft sailaway and then fitting the boat out themselves.

Just days before the boat was due to be craned into the water, they learned that the mooring was no longer available. They were told that the necessary dredging of the mooring in order to accommodate them couldn’t be achieved because of the nature of the marina bottom. Gary couldn’t understand why the dredging was necessary in the first place given that the boat’s draft is only eighteen inches, but the reason was academic. They couldn’t moor the boat there, and that was that.

They thought they had been thrown a very welcome lifeline when the management at Wigram’s Turn marina told them that they could move some boats around and accommodate them for as long as they wanted to stay. Gary and Marie adjusted their plans and began to relax… until Gary, after noticing that the marina entrance looked a bit tight for their very wide boat, measured the width with a laser level. His suspicions were confirmed. The entrance was six inches too narrow for their boat.

Calcutt Boats don’t offer residential moorings. The only boat owners living on either of the two marinas work here. However, Marina owner Roger Preen has allowed them to moor their boat on our temporary moorings for six weeks while they look for a permanent home.

I planned to take my boat out for a spin on Thursday so I invited Gary and Marie along for the ride so that they could look for possible moorings on the GU/Oxford canal between Napton junction and Braunston and on the stretch of the North Oxford canal between Braunston and Hillmorton locks. They can’t go any further than Hillmorton because of the width of their boat and they can’t take it onto the South Oxford for the same reason.

I was expecting Thursday to be a busy day on the water because of Easter week so I met Gary and Marie next to their boat in the pound between Calcutt Bottom and Middle locks at 8am. The day was a little chilly after the warm sunshine earlier in the week but otherwise perfect for cruising. The overcast sky required no squinting into the sun and the gentle breeze meant that we didn’t have to battle against lateral drift. Gary enjoyed hours at the helm marveling at the boat’s responsiveness which he said was a pleasure after the brief experience he’s had steering his own boat which handled “like a tank on a skating rink”.

PCS_1362

Marie took the helm when we reached a long and particularly straight stretch on the North Oxford but I don’t think she enjoyed the experience very much. I took the photograph above as she watched an old working boat powering towards us.

As I suspected, there were precious few suitable moorings anywhere along the route. There’s a very attractive collection of offside moorings between bridges ninety nine and ninety eight on the approach to Braunston. The canal widens at this point so the boats are out of the way of the main channel and can accommodate wide beams. In fact there are a wide beam and a Dutch  barge moored there already. Each of the moorings has its own garden. Most are beautifully kept but some are overgrown and full of rickety sheds, plant pots full of weeds, waist high grass and broken garden furniture. They look out of place compared to the other gardens but are in keeping with the rusting hulks moored in front of them.

There were also a couple of boats moored under the steep embankment on the Braunston side of bridge ninety seven. One of them had a for sale sign on it so there is a chance that the mooring will be vacant when the boat is sold.

I dropped Marie and Gary off on the towpath next to bridge ninety seven so that they could cross the bridge, hopefully find a boat owner and ask for the land owner’s telephone number. They didn’t see anyone so climbed back on my boat. The sound of them closing the gate across the bridge had obviously alerted the mooring’s militia though because seconds later there were two four wheeled drive vehicles cruising up and down the track behind the moored boats with both drivers staring intently at us as we passed. I asked them if they could give us a contact number for the landowner but they claimed they didn’t know who he is or how to contact him. Gary made a note of the contact number displayed on top of the boat for sale hoping that the seller might steer him  in the right direction.

We reached Braunston then turned left up the North Oxford towards Hillmorton. We immediately encountered a potential problem if Gary and Marie try to take their boat up the canal. Pilings have been fitted inside the bridge hole of a bridge soon after the junction to prevent boats heading towards Braunston from hitting the left hand side of the bridge. This isn’t a problem for a 6’10” wide narrowboat but the opening now appears to be too narrow for a 13’6″ wide beam.

The width of the bridge hole is probably academic. We didn’t see anywhere even remotely suitable until we reached the entrance to Barby Moorings. Gary has already enquired at the marina. They can’t take him. We saw an online mooring for sale a hundred metres further on from the entrance but it was far too short.

We turned round at the winding hole next to bridge seventy four. The winding hole is marked as suitable for boats up to seventy feet in length, but I would like to see one try. We struggled to find enough deep water for 62′ James but managed to nose up to the towpath and power round. The maneuver enabled us to face the right direction at the cost of a lost shackle from the front fender.

We stopped briefly at the next suitable mooring spot to demolish a plateful of cold lamb and mustard sandwiches and yet another mug of coffee each before continuing our very pleasant but unproductive cruise back towards Calcutt.

We reached Calcutt Top Lock at 6.30pm after a quick visit to Midland Chandlers at Braunston. Both Gary and Marie enjoyed their cruise on a “little” narrowboat but I think they were quite disappointed. They realised how few moorings are available for boats of any kind along this stretch and the difficulty they now face finding one which is free, which can accommodate their width and which they will be able to live on board.

For now they are enjoying a secure, accessible and very pretty mooring at Calcutt, but their time is running out. They have created  the perfect environment on board for Emily but even after carefully researching moorings before they had the boat built, they now have nowhere to moor. They are both very worried about what the future has in store for them.

If you know the canals in this area and can think of an available and suitable mooring spot, please let me know. The mooring would have to be within easy commute to Warwick where Emily goes to school and Rugby where Gary and Marie work. The boat is 72′ long and 13’6″ wide. I know it’s a long shot asking what we think we already know but at the moment they welcome any help they can get.

Finding Your Way around The Site

I’ve added more to the site content index. It now includes the narrowboat terminology which I published at the beginning of November last year. I just need to add the content from some of my earlier newsletters now to complete the index. I hope you find it useful.

abreast  Alongside; side by side (not to be confused with breasted-up).
adrift  Anything broken away from moorings or fastenings.
Aerials –
Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
aft  (1) Behind (2) (on board): – towards or near the stern.
air draught The overall height of a vessel measured from the water line to the highest fixed part of the superstructure.
Aluminium narrowboats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
anchor  Heavy iron or steel implement for chaining a boat to the sea or river bed, with barbs or partly swiveling flukes that bite into most types of bottom to give a firm purchase.  Narrowboats are extremely weighty and need large heavy anchors when on river navigations.  When dropped, the angle at which anchor presents itself to the bottom is critical for obtaining a swift hold and is governed by the way the cable (q.v.) is constructed.
anchor-hold  The hold of an anchor upon the ground.
Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
anchor-stock  The cross-bar of an anchor which causes one or other of the flukes to turn to the bottom.
anode (or sacrificial anode)  In steel boat terms : –  replaceable, large piece of metal e.g. magnesium, fitted to hull under the waterline, designed to corrode due to electrolysis instead of the hull.  Annual inspection for wastage/possible replacement is usual at which time it is normal to clean the hull and apply blacking.
anti-cavitation plate A plate, usually attached to the weed hatch cover, that is flush, or almost flush, to the uxter plate so that it closes off the underside of the weed-hatch aperture.
antifouling  Paint applied underwater to inhibit weed growth on the hull. Usually applied to river and canal cruisers rather than narrowboats (the steel hulls of which are invariably coated with bitumen paint, which has some antifouling characteristics).
APCO The Association of Pleasure Craft Operators – an organization that represents the narrow boat hire industry. A subsidiary body of BMIF.
aqueduct   (Often pronounced “akkyduck” by old boatmen)  A bridge which carries a waterway over a valley, road, river etc., constructed to avoid the expense of providing inconvenient locks.
arm  A ‘dead-end’ branch off a main canal, built to service a town, quarry, mine etc.
astern   (1) Area (or something) behind (or aft) of the vessel  (2) Of boat:- going backwards; Of engine:- in reverse gear (note, boat may still be going forwards).
AWCC  Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs – organization for the numerous boat clubs of Britain’s inland waterways.
Back Boiler – Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
balance beam  Wooden or metal beam projecting from a lock gate (or lift bridge), to counterbalance the weight of the gate (or bridge) and thus allow leverage for opening and closing it.
ballast  Loose, heavy material (e.g. stone or iron) strategically placed within a hull to increase a boat’s displacement and thus its stability, and also to correct a natural list or poor trim.
bank effect Tendency for stern to swing out from bank when in reverse due to some of the water thrust from propeller rising up between boat and bank and pushing boat away.
barge  Not an alternative word for a narrowboat! Barges are generally much wider commercial inland boats – or leisure boats based on the style of the commercial types. However, some barges (like some Dutch styles) have been copied in narrow-width versions for use on narrow canals
basin  A partly enclosed area of water at the terminus of, or at a point alongside, a canal or other navigation comprising wharves and moorings.
Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
BCN  Initials by which the Birmingham Canal Navigations are often known, an extensive and intricate network in and around Birmingham, reduced from an original 160 miles to a little over a still impressive 100 miles.   Still in substantial commercial use as late as the mid 1960?s.
beam  (1)  The overall width of a boat. (2)  A transverse support for the deck (see cross-beam). (3) ‘On the beam’: – same as abeam
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.
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?
bilge  The line along the hull sides where sides and bottom meet.  Also, the lowest curved section of hull between side and bottom in a round-chined vessel.
bilge pump  A pump for removing water that has collected in the bilges.
bilges  Strictly, the ‘air space’ inside a boat’s hull lying beneath the level of the port and starboard bilge lines but usually applied to the whole region beneath the cabin floor or decking.
blacking  Term for protective coat of, often bitumen based, paint applied to steel hulls to discourage rusting
boat-hook  A light, multi-purpose, shaft normally about 8 feet long and usually made of wood with a metal (or, sometimes, plastic) point and hook at one end. Essential part of a boat’s deck equipment and a legal requirement for licensed passenger boats.  Working boatmen would always carefully place it within arm’s reach on the cabin-top with the hook-end pointing to the stern in order not to damage the paintwork when taking it up. Useful for clearing fouled blades especially if there is no weed-hatch.
boat lift  A mechanical means of lifting a boat vertically from one level of waterway to another, usually with the boat floating in water retained in a chamber, or caisson, e.g. Anderton Boat Lift and Falkirk Wheel. (See also inclined plane).
boatman’s cabin  Originally the after-cabin (approx. 8? long) of a working narrowboat, providing the crew’s living and sleeping accommodation. Often recreated in modem traditional-style narrow boats in addition to the main cabin accommodation.
Boat monitoring – A simple way of keeping a close eye on your boat from afar
Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
Budget Software – The world’s only budget planner for narrowboat owners. All the information you need to calculate the cost of living afloat whether your narrowboat is intended for recreational cruising or as a primary home. Highly recommended. You can find out more here.
Boater’s Code, The  Free illustrated guide published jointly by British Waterways and Environment Agency containing a summary of regulations and good boating practice.
bow thruster  Steering aid transversely mounted in bow section giving, from a small propeller, thrust on demand to either port or starboard.  Powered electrically by battery or alternator, or by hydraulic motor.   Useful on longer boats in close manoeuvres, adverse weather or water conditions or when going astern.  Regarded by some traditionalists as cheating – but then they should go back to hauling open boats by horse!
breach  Burst or collapse of a canal bank or dyke, allowing water to escape, perhaps causing flooding etc.
breasted-up  Two boats, often a motor with a butty or mud hopper etc., tied up fore-and-aft alongside each other but being powered and steered from only one, allowing the steerer of the other vessel, which otherwise would have to be towed behind and steered, to attend to other duties.
bridge hole (pronounced “bridge’ole”)    The narrow water-channel beneath a canal bridge.
broad   The East Anglian term for a lake.
Broads (The)  The connecting system of navigable lakes and rivers in East Anglia.
BSS (Boat Safety Scheme)  The scheme by which British Waterways ensures boats meet minimum safety standards.  A certificate of a boat’s compliance is renewable every 4 years. Mandatory for all private, hire and house boats.  Boats built after 16 June 1998 are covered for the first four years under the RCD.
Building a narrowboat – A very detailed account of how a narrowboat is put together
Buckby/Buckby Can   Common nickname nowadays for decorated water can (q.v.).   The village of Buckby (on the ‘Junction’) was only one of a number of places where these were produced but name now seems to be all embracing.
bulkhead   Upright panels (or ‘walls’) separating a boat into compartments.
bulls-eye  Small round porthole set in the cabin-top fitted with convex glass, for lighting the cabin rather than for seeing through.
butane gas  Bottled gas, usually in blue containers, with a higher calorific value, and delivered to the appliance at a lesser pressure, than propane gas. Not liked by many boaters as it can ‘wax’ and not burn properly during freezing temperatures.
button fender  Cylindrically-shaped rope fender fixed by chains to stem or stern of narrowboat. The fender at stern should be long enough to protect the rudder when held amidships.
butty or butty boat   An unpowered narrowboat, similar to the ones originally towed by horse, now towed by a motor. For efficient steerage it requires a much larger rudder than a motor.  Traditional butty characterized by large, curving, often highly decorated tiller arm, a larger cargo hold and slightly longer boatman’s cabin than a motor (due to absence of engine hole).
BW (British Waterways)   Prior to 2012 the navigation authority for most of Britain’s inland waterways and, particularly, the narrow canals. Succeeded in 2012 by the charitable status Canals & Rivers Trust.
Buying A Boat – The logistics A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be surveyed.
Buying a boat – The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
cabin-top  The cabin roof of a narrowboat.
Cam, living on the river – Live aboard boat owner Luther Phillips talks about the pleasures of living on the river,
Cold weather – Living on a boat in cold weather
Canal network map – There are over 2,000 miles of connected rivers and canals to explore. Here they are.
Canals & Rivers Trust (CRT) The successors in 2012 to British Waterways, responsible for the canals system and many of the navigable rivers.
Car insurance for boat owners – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
Case Studies – For the last couple of years I have been asking boat owners who live on board full time questions about their life on board; who they are and what prompted them to switch from a traditional bricks and mortar home to life on the water, how they funded their purchase, whether they cruise continually or live on a fixed mooring, boating likes and dislikes, how they cope with the logistics of washing clothes, restocking essential provisions and medical supplies, their favourite sections of the network and, last but not least, what advice they would share with a potential live aboard narrowboat owner.
cavitation  Loss of thrust efficiency caused by air being drawn into the propeller.
cavitation plate  In a narrowboat, the underside of the stern counter forming a horizontal plane just under the waterline, that sits over the propeller helping to direct the propeller’s thrust aft, and reducing chances of cavitation.  The bottom plate of a weed-hatch if fitted, forms part of, and aligns with, the larger plate. In other craft, or on outboard motor legs, any plate that performs a similar function.
CBA (Canal Boatbuilders’ Association)   Organization representing the interests of narrowboat builders. A subsidiary
organization of British Marine Industries Federation very helpful to builders on Recreational Craft Directive matters.
centre line  Boat handling or temporary mooring line bent to stud or eye-bolt on cabin-top amidships, invaluable when working single-handedly.  When under way it is usually laid out aft along the cabin-top so steerer can step off stern with line in hand.
“Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
chimney (nearly always pronounced “chimley”)  The removable metal flue on the left side at the rear end of cabin-top, venting the boat’s stove.  Normally painted black and bound with one or more brass bands.  Usually secured by plain or fancy safety chain to cabin-top to prevent loss overboard.  Sometimes fitted with a Coolie or Chinaman’s Hat for rain protection.
Children – More mites, but far more expensive to get rid of than chiggers. Is life really practical with children on board?
Chinaman’s hat  A rain cover placed on top of a chimney that still allows flue to vent.
chine  Where hull bottom and hull sides are flat surfaces (rather than curving gradually from one to the other as in round bilge) the chine is the sharp edge where they meet.
cill  See sill.
cockpit  Open area, usually set lower than surrounding side-decks, used for sitting-out and for storage.
companion  Ladder or stairway.
Composting Toilets – Most narrowboats have either pump out or cassette toilets. Here’s an environmentally friendly alternative
Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
Condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Condensation – My own battle against condensation and a technical explanation
Condensation – Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Continuous cruisers: How to cruise the network continuously – Peter Early sent me this excellent article soon after he joined the site
Continuous Cruisers – Tips – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
Continuous Cruising – The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
contour canal  An artificial navigable channel that follows the same land contour throughout or for much of its course. Early canals were mainly contour ones to avoid the expense and construction difficulties of deep cuttings, high embankments, locks and tunnels (then in their infancy) and the exaggerated winding routes were expected to be more profitable by bringing extra business from the greater number of towns and villages that could be reached. Later, when competition from other canals, and then from the railways, made speed between the major towns and cities more critical, many contour canals underwent  ‘straightening’ programmes (the Oxford canal is a famous example).
coolie hat  A metal cover fitting into top of chimney which gives protection from rain whilst at the same time permitting flue gases to vent.
counter or counter swim The underwater stern section of a motor boat where the beam gradually tapers down to the stern post, allowing water to flow to the propeller.
counter bottom plate  Alternative name for uxter plate.
counter deck  The round or elliptical (looking from above) small stern of a motor forming a ledge projecting over the propeller and shaft.
cratch  Optional assembly over the forewell of a modern pleasure narrowboat. Based on a solid or glazed triangular deckboard (frequently but less properly called a cratch-board) which is supported from the cabin-top by a ‘top plank’. The assembly is completed by a fitted soft cover, usually of vinyl, sometimes of proofed canvas. The result greatly extends the usability of the forewell. Either side of the cover can be rolled up to allow access, and may be fitted with a zipped door/window panel. Early forms of cratches were covers over the fodder stores of horse-drawn narrowboats, the term thought to be derived from the French word ‘crèche’.
cratchboard  The forward ‘bulkhead’ of a cratch assembly.
cross bed   Narrow double bed across the full width of fore-end of boatman’s cabin, formed by opening the bed cupboard. Usually very attractively finished with curtains, lace, pictures etc and frequently left in place by working boatmen when it would be referred to as bed hole.
cruiser stern/style  A style of modern pleasure narrowboat roughly based on the lines of former working boats but adapted to provide a large exposed but more sociable aft deck, protected by taff rails, under which is the engine compartment.
Cruising  – Pre Cruise Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
cut   The name much preferred by the canal community for a canal navigation or any artificial channel.
Damp: Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
Digital Books – A lifetime’s reading in the palm of your hand
Digital maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Digital music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
Diseases- “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
dinette  A table with a bench seat either side, or on 3 sides, which in conjunction with the seats, can also be lowered to form a bed.
displacement  The water displaced by a boat, equal to the boat’s weight.
dodger (or skirt) The detachable cover round a cruiser stern, below the taff rail
dog box A roof skylight/vent on a narrowboat, larger than a pigeon box and with fixed or hinged glazed double pitches attached to an underframe.
dolly  An upright cylindrical metal deck fitting, with either concave sides or a button head, on a motor’s counter to which ropes may be secured for tying up or towing.  See also T-Stud.
Downside to narrowboat life – It’s not all sitting on the towpath drinking gin and tonics as the sun goes down. Here are the less pleasant aspects of life afloat
Downside to narrowboat life: Pauline Roberts – Pauline sent me this article about her life afloat. It proved to be very controversial.
Downsizing – The practicalities and logistics of moving from a house with plenty of storage space to a boat with virtually none.
draught  The maximum underwater depth of a vessel’s hull, normally aft at the skeg.
EA  (Environment Agency)   Government body responsible for monitoring condition of Britain’s natural waterways (in addition to some coastal areas), whether navigable or not..  Also the navigation authority for the river Thames (and some other south-eastern rivers), and for Anglian waterways (excluding The Broads). It acts jointly with BW in harmonizing boat safety standards and navigation byelaws.
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.
Electrics Part 1: Batteries – Ex narrowboat builder Tim Davis explains narrowboat electrics
Electrics Part 2: Generators and Inverters – The concluding part of Tim Davis’ very detailed explanation of narrowboat electrics
electrolysis  Decomposition by electric current, frequently experienced in steel hulls, due to its activity in canal water caused by e.g. electric leakage from own or nearby boats, proximity to steel pilings etc.  Effect reduced by use of sacrificial anodes.
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?
fairlead  Deck fitting to guide ropes and reduce wear, frequently fitted amidships to upstands of cabin sides on modern narrowboats to protect paintwork from centre-line chafing.
fend off  To keep a boat clear of another boat or object, either by hand,  or with boat-hook, portable fender etc.
fender Traditionally, rope, but now often plastic or rubber object, to protect the sides, stem and stern of a boat, different styles depending on location (see pipe fender, button fender, tip-cat)
Finance – Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
Flooring – The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
fluke  One of the barbs or pointed blades of an anchor.
Footwear on board – Your boat floor is often very cold. What can you wear to keep your feet toasty warm?
foul  Not clear or free e.g. a fouled propeller has something wrapped around it or its shaft,
Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
Furniture – Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
Gadgets – Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on 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.
gate  The moveable wooden or steel door or shutter enabling a canal or river lock to operate.  May contain paddles allowing passage of water when gate closed.
gate paddle  A sliding door over a sluice in a gate to allow water to pass through.  When ascending in a lock, the ground paddle(s) should be opened first and the gate paddle not opened fully until the water has risen above it.
Generators – A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
gongoozler  A term of unknown origin for someone who idly stands and stares, particularly at boats and especially at locks.
grab rail  A rail, usually fixed along edges of narrowboat’s cabin-top, to give a secure handhold when moving along the deck or gunwale.
grounding  Striking the bottom or running hard aground – arts well practiced on the canals.  Common place for grounding of deeper-draughted boats in low water conditions can be in bridge holes, not only because of rubbish that tends to accumulate but also the brick invert can form a sill proud of the bottom under water.  This may be overcome by using the old technique of accelerating up to the bridge strongly enough to make the water ‘wobble’, cutting the revs down to tick-over when the fore-end reaches the hole and by the time the stern reaches the channel the, by then, overtaking wake lifts the stern high enough to clear the obstacle.   On the other hand this may dump you on top of the obstruction, leaving you high and dry!
guillotine gate   A lock gate raised and lowered vertically from overhead framework, common as a bottom gate on the Nene navigation.
gunnel   Alternative (phonetic) spelling of gunwale.
gunwale  The wale, or upper edge, of a boat’s hull sides next to the bulwarks, if any. (So called because in fighting ships the upper guns were pointed from it). Pronounced ‘gunnel’.
handspike   A wooden bar used as a lever. On some locks on the Calder & Hebble Navigation a handspike is still needed for working lock paddle gear instead of a windlass. Also used for operating capstans and some types of fire hose and bilge pumps.
hatch  (1) A horizontal opening with a moveable cover, that may slide or hinge open, in the deck or superstructure of a vessel.
Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
Heating – Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Heating Systems Part 1: Stoves – An in depth look at narrowboat heating systems by ex boat builder Tim Davis
Heating Systems Part 2: Central heating – The second and concluding article on narrowboat heating systems
Height – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
Hire boats – Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
hopper window  A form of rectangular window on modern pleasure narrowboats where the whole pane lets down slightly into the cabin for ventilation when required. See also top-hopper window.
hung up  A narrowboat caught on a gate projection within a lock, particularly the rudder or skeg on the sill inside the top gate, so as to stop it descending as the water empties.
Hurricane Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
hydraulic drive  Drive transmitted from motor to propeller through pressurized oil system, obviating need of conventional gearbox and allowing great flexibility in siting of motor.
inboard motor  An engine mounted within a vessel’s hull.
inclined plane  A wheeled system which lifts boats from one level to another without using locks, on a slope fitted with rails, the boats either afloat in a tank (or caisson) e.g. Foxton Inclined Plane, or in a dry cradle.
inspection launch A short narrowboat with a long, covered but open-sided front forewell which contained the wheel steering position and loosely modelled on Victorian Thames launches. Used by canal companies to carry the Directors on their periodic inspections.
Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
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.
inverter   Device, common on modern narrowboats with no onboard AC generator, for taking power stored in the service battery bank and converting it from 12v DC to 240v AC for intermittent use of mains appliances e.g. TV’s, vacuum cleaners etc.  Quality of supply is generally poor making it unsuitable for some sensitive electric motors and electronic equipment.
Inverters – Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
IWA  Inland Waterways Association – a voluntary body set up in 1946 to rescue Britain’s waterways from threatened dereliction. Represents the interests of all waterways users – not just boaters. Its fund campaigning includes several rallies, of which the best known is the National Waterways Festival, held every August.
Josher  Colloquial name for a working boat belonging to carrying company Fellows Morton & Clayton Limited – derived from Joshua Fellows.
keb  A long handle fork with the tines bent through 90 degrees. Used for raking rubbish from behind lock gates, recovering stuff dropped in the water that your magnet won’t get, pulling bodies out.
keel  (1) One or more parallel longitudinal fins on the underside of the hull, strong enough for a boat to sit on when not afloat. Main function is to improve directional stability through water. Not needed in conventional square-sectioned narrowboats because the flat hull sides grip water.  (2) Square-rigged sailing barge.
keel cooling  Method whereby sealed water-coolant system is cooled before return to the engine block by passing in fine tubes through a radiator attached to the inside skin of the hull below the water line.   Avoids the blockage problem inherent in raw water cooling system.
Kindle review – Digital reading for boat owners.
Knots – 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!
Length – The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats.
lift bridge  A movable bridge, the deck of which either swings up around its hinged end or moves vertically upwards.
Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
list  When looking end-on, the angle at which a boat sits from vertical caused by e.g. imbalance of ballast or loading, or through shipping water. (see also heel and trim).
Live aboard narrowboat – 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.
Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
lock  The main means of raising or lowering a boat between changes in water levels, comprising a chamber with gate(s) at its head and tail, and sluices with paddle(s) to raise or lower the water (see also flash lock, pound lock and turf-sided lock).
lock key  See windlass.
Loans on boats – Information about getting a loan for your floating home and how to deal with a cash transaction
Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Mail services – 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?
Maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Marinas – How to choose the right one for you and your boat
Marinas Listing – Here are all of the marinas listed on the site. If you want to filter the results by the waterway you’re interested in, just hover over the “Marinas” label on the menu at the top of any page on the main part of the site, select either rivers or canals and then select the one you want.
Marinas Map – A more or less complete map and listing of the network’s marinas
Mikuni Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Mobile Broadband Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
Mobile Broadband – More information – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
Money – How to continue earning as you cruise the network
moor  To secure a boat against the bank with lines to strapping stumps, mooring pins etc.  A canal boatman never ‘moored’ – he ‘tied up’.
mooring hook  A usually g-shaped metal mooring aid designed to fasten into the top of the metal piling sheets used to repair the towpath bank and then treated as if it were a mooring ring. Much favoured as, unlike stakes, they cannot be pulled out by the action of other boats passing by too quickly.
Mooring in winter – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
Mooring enforecement – CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
Mooring fees – It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
Moorings – Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
mud box  Filter chamber, just inside raw water cooling hull inlet and sea-cock, which traps mud, weed and other debris, stopping it from being drawn into and blocking the finer waterways of the engine.
mushroom vent  A usually brass ventilation fitting on cabin roof looking somewhat mushroom-shaped. Older versions could be hand-screwed down to shut off draughts but not now allowed under BSS regulations.
Music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
narrowboat  (Also known as a monkey boat or long boat).   A commercial, cargo carrying canal boat measuring approximately 70ft to 72ft long by 6? 10? to 7? beam. Used extensively throughout, but not confined to, the Midland narrow canals system. Design and dimensions thought to have evolved from those first used in C18th on the Bridgewater Canal taking coal to Manchester from the Worsley coal-mines.  The original boats were of all wood construction, followed by ‘composites’ (wood bottoms but hull sides made of iron, later of steel), followed by all-steel hulls (iron and steel hulls were much lighter than wood) although some all-wood construction continued right up to mid C20th. There were many, relatively slight, design variations but the first major change came with increased long distance traffic requiring the provision of a boatman’s cabin for living and sleeping accommodation for the steerer and his family. The next significant change came with introduction of steam and then diesel engines, resulting in the motor with its stern counter and capable of towing what previously had been a horse boat but which became known as a butty.  Notwithstanding, some hauling by horse continued commercially right up to the 1960?s in some places, particularly with day boats.  Modern and usually much shorter narrowboats built for leisure purposes roughly retain the ‘motor’ design, but with full-length cabin accommodation, and have either traditional, semi-traditional or cruiser style sterns.
Narrowboat Choice – 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.
Narrowboat hire (long term) – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
narrow canals  Canals, generally those in the English Midlands area, whose locks were built to take narrowboats with a beam of no more than 7 feet.  Why this became the standard is not known but it is thought probable it was to keep down canal construction costs. Without their introduction from the mid C18th onwards, bringing a lightning fast (for the period), reliable, year-round way of carrying raw materials and finished goods throughout inland England, the Industrial Revolution would not have got going until very much later.  The early canals were highly profitable, leading to a canal mania but many of the later ones were doomed to poor returns and even early abandonment through lack of sufficient commercial demand or inadequate water supply.  Canals ruled supreme for some 70 years but the establishment of the railways from mid C 19th onwards and improved road transport in C 20th dealt them blows from which they could not recover. In the 1930?s, the Grand Union Canal Company, in a valiant effort to make the canal system viable for the modern age, tried to encourage all the other canal companies to broaden the locks to 14 feet and, with government aid, famously led the way by widening their canal almost to the centre of Birmingham (they ran out of money).  Unfortunately no one else followed suit. The Second World War temporarily postponed the death sentence, after which the system quickly fell into terminal decline and by the mid 1970?s commercial carrying had finally expired.  Thanks mainly to the efforts of various canal societies and recovery groups, there has been a long term restoration programme bringing derelict canals back into use and there is now a very decent navigable network being enjoyed by leisure boaters.
National Rivers Authority (NRA), now incorporated with Environment Agency (EA).
navigation  A navigable river or canal.
navigation lights  Lights required under IRPCS and by various navigation authorities to be shown at night or when visibility is poor.   White light forward required to be visible through 180º but very few canal boats comply in practice, often relying on their tunnel light (usually a car spot or fog light).   Port (red), starboard (green) and stern (white) lights not yet required on canals but are on most rivers.
off-line mooring  Berthing space away from main line of canal e.g. in marina, side channel or private cut.
on-line mooring  Permitted berthing space alongside towpath or outside bank of main line of canal.
Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
overflow A weir set in the bank of a canal to take away excess water and prevent flooding. Also called storm weir.
Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
Ownership – Determining Proof Of Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
packing  In a greased-type stern gland assembly, the thick tape-like material that circles the prop-shaft and is forced up into the void between the prop-shaft and the stern tube by the follower. When supplemented by water resistant grease from the remote greaser (which also acts as a lubricant for the bearings) the packing forms a water tight seal and stops water from dripping into the bilges.
paddle The sliding door of a lock gate or other sluice, the drawing of which permits water through.
paddle gear A blanket expression for the mechanism that opens and closes a paddle such as a windlass-operated rack and cogwheel device.
Painting – A professional paint job can cost you in excess of £100 a foot. You may want to save money and do the work yourself. Here’s a blow by blow account of my own attempt in April 2010
Paying for a boat – The practicalities of transferring your money to the seller and how to prove he actually owns the boat
Pets – Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
piling  concrete, timber or metal posts or sheets going through water, or non-load bearing or otherwise unstable ground, to a considerable depth to support a structure (e.g. a pier) or to act as a protective or retaining wall (e.g. canal bank).
piling hook  Same as mooring hook.
pitch  (of a propeller) – the distance a propeller would travel during one complete revolution, theoretically calculated from the dimensions and geometry of its blades.
Planning – Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
port  Left-hand side of boat when looking forward. Most narrowboaters prefer to use the much simpler ‘left’.
port to port  The usual manner in which oncoming boats pass each other when in close proximity i.e. each boat moves over to its right (starboard)  and passes the other on its port side, unless the steerers agree otherwise through hand or sound signals. (Custom believed derived from ancient times, before the rudder was developed for sailing ships, when many boats had their steering mechanism – the ‘steer board’ – on the starboard side  making steering to port very difficult and slow, and where passing starboard to starboard would also have exposed the steering gear to possible collision damage. They would also tie up to quay on the side opposite the steering gear hence ‘port-side’).
porthole Circular window in cabin, or hull, side.
Postal services – 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?
pram canopy  Cloth canopy fitted on folding framework allowing it to be easily raised and lowered, fitted to cockpit of cruiser and, infrequently, over a narrowboat’s counter to protect steerer from bad weather.
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.
propane gas  Bottled gas, usually in red or orange containers, with a lower calorific value and delivered at
a higher pressure to the appliances than butane gas. Generally preferred by most narrowboaters as, unlike butane, its performance is relatively unaffected by freezing temperatures.
propeller  (or blades).  Radially assembled, spiral shaped blades which by reason of rotation in water and blade angle of attack, convert the rotary force provided by engine and gearbox into thrust.  A ‘right-handed’ propeller is designed to rotate clockwise (when viewed from astern) – vice versa for ‘left-handed’ prop.    Larger diameter propellers with greater pitch and producing more thrust are usually needed by narrowboats powered by slow-revving traditional engines but at the cost of greater transverse thrust.   Correct choice of propeller, gearbox and engine combination is crucial for optimum performance.
ram’s head  Name given to the large wooden headstock of a butty’s rudder (frequently decorated with fancy ropework or a dead horse’s tail) into which the large wooden tiller was slotted, and also applied on motors to the Z-shaped piece made from steel which is attached to the upper end of the rudder stock and to which the tiller is fitted.
raw water cooling   System of engine cooling constantly taking cold water from canal or river through hull via sea cock and mud box, passing it through either a heat exchanger in a sealed water system or through the engine’s actual waterways – and expelling it warmed via a hull fitting above the waterline.  Beloved by many traditionalists but has disadvantage on inland waters of becoming blocked by mud, weed and rubbish. (As opposed to keel cooling).
RBOA Residential Boat Owners Association – represents the interests of live-aboard boaters.
remote greaser  A metal cylinder fitted close to the stern tube, acting as a reservoir for the frequent supply of grease required for stern gland (or stuffing box).  Grease is forced from cylinder by hand-operated piston, through intermediate tubing into gland.
Replating – Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
River cruising – 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.
Rivers – 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?
Road Transport – 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
Ropes – 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?
roses and castles  Traditional and highly stylized manner, along with simple geometric shapes and playing card suit symbols, of decorating a narrowboat’s cabin exterior and interior, doors, deck equipment etc. Close up the roses seem almost diagrammatic and each should comprise of no more than four? colours.  The castle is the main element of what is called the ‘landscape’.
rubbing strake  A longitudinal steel reinforcing strip welded to the hull of a narrowboat to lessen damage to the sides.
rudder An underwater vertical metal blade at the stern which when angled by the tiller arm against the water thrust by the propeller turns the fore-end of the boat in the same direction.
Running costs (Month) – Living on a narrowboat costs far more than many people imagine. Here’s a detailed breakdown of my own costs for February 2013
Running costs (All) – I’ve put together a package of everything you need to know about the cost of buying and maintaining a narrowboat, whether it’s for occasional recreational cruising or as a full time home. It’s the only information on the site which you have to pay for but the feedback I’ve had from the thousands of people who have invested in my guides is overwhelmingly positive. For the price of a round of drinks you get a very clear picture of the cost of life afloat.
RYA Royal Yachting Association, mainly concerned with coastal cruising, but offers much advice on inland boating abroad and manages Helmsman Certificate courses.
Safety – Keeping yourself out of harm’s way on the cut
scumble Painted graining on cabin wood work or onto steel to make it look like wood – interior or exterior.
scuppers Holes through bulwarks for draining decks or venting gas from gas locker.
sea cock  Valve to shut off a water inlet passing through the hull under waterline for e.g. raw water cooling.   Often combined with a mud box
Self build/Self Fit Out – Are you on a budget and thinking of buying a sailaway to fit out yourself? Here’s someone who has done it and recorded everything along the way
shackle  Metal link with removable bolt, in various shapes such as ‘D’, ‘U’, bow or twisted.
Shaft  A long or short pole, useful for pushing the front or rear of a boat when turning or propelling a boat with no engine. Also used to push a boat when aground. Sometimes applied to a boat hook.
Shared ownership – It’s a cost effective way of enjoying regular canal breaks. Here’s what you need to know.
shell The empty structure of a glass-fibre or steel boat.
sill (of a lock) The bar of masonry often faced with a timber sealing piece below water level, against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed. When descending, care must be taken to avoid the stern gear becoming hung up on the head-gate sill.
Single handed Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own?
Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
skeg  A short piece of metal running fore-and-aft from the bottom plate, beneath the propeller (for which it provides some protection) to the underside of the rudder stock where, in a cup-shaped bearing, it houses the rudder pintle.
skin tank  A steel tank fitted to the internal face of the hull below the waterline, the tank contents being cooled by the canal water via the hull plating, usually used for cooling the engine’s sealed coolant water system (similar to a car’s radiator).
Smoke detectors – Why you need them –
Solar power – The owner of popular narrowboat solar power system installation service, Onboard Solar, explains how they work (and what they cost)
Space – The practicalities of sharing a long corridor with a significant other
speed wheel  Small metal wheel in the steerer’s hatches that opens or reduces the throttle via a system of rod connections to engine. The gearbox can, rarely, be speed wheel controlled but usually this is by a pull/push handle.
Spiders – How to keep the eight legged monsters out of your boat
spike  same as mooring pin.
Springer  Type of pleasure narrowboat, usually of short length, formerly constructed by Springer Engineering of Market Harborough. The first company to build narrowboats along ‘production lines’.
staircase locks  A series of two or more lock chambers each of which leads directly into the next without a pound in between. The bottom gates of one lock thus form the top gates of the one below. Sometimes called a ‘riser’.
starboard  When looking forward, the right-hand side of the boat or the area away from the boat on that side. (Derived from steerboard, being that side of ancient ships on which the steering paddle was situated). “Right” has always been preferred on the canals.
Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
Steel – Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
stern gland An arrangement – usually by means of greased packing in a stuffing box or stern tube – whereby water is prevented from entering a vessel at the point where the propeller shaft passes through the hull. Also usually contains the prop-shaft’s aftermost bearing. Some modern pleasure narrowboats have stern-glands that are lubricated by water drawn by the propeller’s action through the gland by pipe from the weed hatch.
stern line  Rope used for securing boat by stern dolly or T-stud to other things e.g. mooring pin.  Considered unprofessional when seen hanging coiled from tiller pin from where it could slip and foul the propeller when under way or get under the steerer’s feet.   Preference is to remove it from dolly and coil it neatly within reach on the cabin-top ready for possible emergency use – perhaps with a bowline formed at the end.
stern post  Vertical edge of hull or fin, through which prop shaft emerges.
stern rail  An enclosed safety rail around the stern of a vessel.
stern tube  Casing which contains the prop shaft’s aft bearing (where it emerges through stern post). Also contains a waterproof seal at forward end of bearing. See also stern gland.
stop lock  A lock sited at the junction of two canals, originally constructed to prevent loss of water from one company’s canal to another, sometimes with only a small rise in level of an inch or two.  As boats had to stop, it also provided a convenient place for the canal company to gauge boats for tolls.
stoppage  A temporary closure of a waterway necessitated by required repairs or due to water shortage.
Stoppages – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
Stoves – 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?
Stove Fuel Test – Based on a Waterways World test but conducted in the real world on my own boat
Stove Glass Cleaning – 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
Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
Stoves – Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
stud The T-headed pin fitted on bow and sometimes stern of a narrowboat to which mooring or handling lines are attached.
stuffing box Traditional type of seal at forward end of the aft prop-shaft bearing (see stern tube). Uses combination of special rope packing and grease to lubricate bearing and prevent water entering the hull.
Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
Swans – How to deal with the world’s second heaviest flying bird
Swan’s neck  Name for the curved steel bar that connects the top of the rudder to the tiller.
swim  (1) The tapers at forward and aft end of a narrowboat’s hull sides – from full hull width to stem post or to stern post. (2) A boat is said to swim well  or to be a good swimmer  if it answers quickly and positively to the tiller and makes way without causing too much turbulence.
swing bridge A movable bridge which pivots horizontally on some form of turntable. Can be manually pushed, cranked by handle or electrically operated.
table cupboard  Distinctive and often highly decorated cupboard in boatman’s cabin fitted on port side between range and bed cupboard. Has tall door hinged along bottom edge that lets down to become a table top. Sometimes featured in main cabins of modern narrowboats due to its space saving properties.
taff rail  Rail wholly or partly around aft cockpit or counter, usually high enough and wide enough to sit on.
Television aerials – Here’s what I use
Television license – Do you need one on a narrowboat?
Television reception – Which aerial is best?
tiller  Lever against which the steerer pushes to direct the rudder to steer the boat. The bar is often removable in which case it is a courtesy to remove it immediately boat is tied up and not to put it place until immediately before letting go.
Tips – 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.
Toilets – Choosing the best one for your boat
Toilets – 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?
Toilets – Pump Out: 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.
Towing a butty – What’s the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty)
tow (or towing) path  The path by the side of the canal used by horses or men hauling boats.
traditional-style/trad stern  A style of pleasure craft based on the lines of former working narrowboats in which the stern counter, only up to 3ft – 4ft astern of the accommodation, extends over the propeller, and the tiller is arranged so that the steerer stands in the hatches within the aft doors of the cabin.
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
Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
tow (or towing) path  The path by the side of the canal used by horses or men hauling boats.
traditional-style/trad stern  A style of pleasure craft based on the lines of former working narrowboats in which the stern counter, only up to 3ft – 4ft astern of the accommodation, extends over the propeller, and the tiller is arranged so that the steerer stands in the hatches within the aft doors of the cabin.
trim  Angle at which a boat sits in the water, looking from the side. Level trim, with gunwale line parallel to the waterline, is said to be ideal for narrowboats, although invariably gunwale line rises gradually towards the bow, particularly when boat is under way.
T-stud  A metal T-shaped deck fitting to which ropes may be secured.
tug  A generally shorter length boat with no cargo space but with an often powerful engine for towing other boats, hoppers etc. Modern pleasure boat versions have a long open foredeck with the deck level with the gunwale.
tumble home  Angle at which the cabin side of a narrowboat leans in, when seen end-on. Most narrowboat hull sides also tumble home – with slight lean-in from top rubbing strake to the side deck; and from the top rubbing strake down to the chine.
Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
Turk’s Head  Highly decorative knot work frequently seen on ram’s heads, tiller arms, traditional rope fenders etc.
uxter plate  The steel bottom plate of a narrowboat’s stern counter deck where it projects over the propeller. Also known as the counter bottom plate.
VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
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?
wake  The disturbed water astern of a moving boat, caused by propeller action and the fast moving counter current meeting the stationary or slower moving water immediately aft of the hull.
wash  Waves along the bank created by the wake from a boat. On canals, to avoid damage to the banks, boats should keep wash to a minimum at all times but especially if the waves have breaking crests.
Washing Machines – 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
Water damage – Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
weather side  Side from which wind is blowing.
weed-hatch A watertight compartment with a removable lid (and to which an anti-cavitation plate is usually fitted), in the stern of the boat, which provides access from deck level for clearing a fouled propeller. Boatmen of old did not have this luxury, if they could not clear the fouling by using the boat hook from the towpath then they had to get into the water and duck down underneath the counter deck!
Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
Weil’s Disease  – Canals are not the best spots to choose for a cooling dip on a hot day. Here’s why.
weir  An overspill dam placed across a river or alongside a canal or by the sides of locks (in which case they discharge back into the waterway below the locks) for regulating the depth of water.
well deck  The floor of a well or cockpit.
wharf  Structure built of brick, concrete, masonry or timber, for cargo loading or discharge. In some places also known as a staith.
wind To turn a boat around. (Rhymes with tinned).
winding hole  (pronounced win-ding) A triangular bay cut into the outside bank of the canal to provide sufficient room for craft longer than the canal’s width to turn around.
windlass (1). L-shaped handle for operating lock paddles. Has a square socket at one end to fit on the spindle operating the paddle gear.  Also known as a ‘crank’ in some districts. Sometimes called a ‘lock key’  (2). Drum winch with cranked handles or removable hand spikes used for raising an anchor.
Windows Choice – Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
Windows – Condensation – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Winter – Living aboard a boat in cold weather
Winter – A new boat owner’s first winter on board
Winterising – Preparing your boat for the winter
Winter moorings – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?

Is anything wrong or missing from this list? Please let me know.

I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. 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.

13th April 2014

A further update to the site content index

6th April 2014

The A -Z of everything narrowboat – With over 5,500 posts and pages on the site now, quickly finding exactly what you want can sometimes be a problem. For this newsletter I started creating and A-Z index of all the site content.

30th March 2014

How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?

23rd March 2014

Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.

16th March 2014

Paying for a narrowboat – What practical steps can you take to ensure you’ve established legal ownership and how do you deal with the transfer of monies between buyer and seller?

9th March 2014

Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.

2nd March 2014

Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.

23rd February 2014

Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou

16th February 2014

Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.

I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.

9th February 2014

Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.

2nd February 2014

Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.

26th January 2014

Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.

19th January 2014

Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?

12th January 2014

If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)

5th January 2014

Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.

29th December 2013

The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?

Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.

22nd December 2013

Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.

15th December 2013

Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?

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.

  • Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
  • Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
  • 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.

cockpit  Open area, usually set lower than surrounding side-decks, used for sitting-out and for storage.

Josher  Colloquial name for a working boat belonging to carrying company Fellows Morton & Clayton Limited – derived from Joshua Fellows

keb  A long handle fork with the tines bent through 90 degrees. Used for raking rubbish from behind lock gates, recovering stuf dropped in the water that your magnet won’t get, pulling bodies out.

keel  (1) One or more parallel longitudinal fins on the underside of the hull, strong enough for a boat to sit on when not afloat. Main function is to improve directional stability through water. Not needed in conventional square-sectioned narrowboats because the flat hull sides grip water.  (2) Square-rigged sailing barge.

keel cooling  Method whereby sealed water-coolant system is cooled before return to the engine block by passing in fine tubes through a radiator attached to the inside skin of the hull below the water line.   Avoids the blockage problem inherent in raw water cooling system.

2013 11 03 Newsletter – Know Your Narrowboat Terminology

[edit]

Living on a Narrowboat News 3rd November 2013

Were you blown away by last weekend’s storm? We weren’t at Calcutt. The high winds and heavy rain which caused so many problems and four tragic deaths passed us by here in the Midlands.

I received a couple of emails last Sunday wishing me well with the coming storms. I was asked what precautions I take when high winds are forecast. The simple answer is that I don’t need to take any precautions at all.

One of the many wonderful aspects of living on the inland waterways is the fact that it’s generally a very safe and placid environment. It’s a different kettle of fish on the rivers where heavy rain can cause significant problems for boaters due to rising water levels but canal boaters don’t have to worry on that score.

I suppose you could argue that I lead a sheltered existence moored on a marina. I agree, up to a point. The main danger for online moorers during periods of high winds is from falling trees. Many canal moorers are close to  – or under – trees next to the water. The high winds we often experience in October and then again in March are just nature’s way of getting rid of weakened and dying trees and branches. A falling limb from a 150-200 year old beech, ash or oak can cause substantial damage to a boat moored under it.

When we finally start cruising full time, I’ll make sure that I’m always moored a long way away from anything which can fall on the boat in high winds. I’ll also make sure that I can tie up to a strong anchor point. Mooring rings, bollards or Armco will be far more practical in windy and often wet weather than mooring pins, no matter how firmly they are hammered into an often soft and unsuitable canal or river bank.

For the time being though, I’m moored in a marina secured fore and aft to mooring rings on a wooden jetty. Although there are over 8,000 trees on site, none of them are close enough to the boat to cause me any concern. In fact the closest tree to James, an eight year old cockspur thorn wouldn’t cause me too much damage if it was uprooted and used to beat me around the head. It could reach 20m tall when fully grown but I don’t expect to be on the same mooring in fifty year’s time.

Although falling trees don’t present a problem at the marina, the wind makes things a little difficult. Although the moored boats are quite safe, those brave enough to try to cross the marina in high winds, or even turn off the Grand Union into the marina entrance, are asking for trouble.

Although Sunday afternoon’s gale didn’t come anywhere close to the forecast 60mph, we had one or two 35mph gusts. Not many boaters were brave enough to venture out but two which returned to moor on Sunday struggled t0 get on their moorings.

I mentioned the first of them in last week’s newsletter, Sue and Watson on their narrowboat Nell. Although they crossed the marina crab-like, they managed to race up to their mooring bow first at high speed. The second boat came in about an hour later.

Anaconda is a heavy deep draughted seventy footer but she couldn’t cope with the ever strengthening wind. Some boat owners prefer to be reversed into their mooring for a variety of reasons, usually either for a better view or to enable the shore line to reach the pier socket. Anaconda’s owner tried to reverse his boat in. It was never going to work.

Reversing of course involves stopping and then turning the boat, two things you don’t want to be doing in near gale force wind. The inevitable result was that Anaconda was blown at right angles against the moored boats. After much pushing and shoving by the owner’s two sons and a couple of willing fellow moorers the boat’s bow was pushed far enough away from the moored boats and towards the centre of the marina to allow the owner to unstick himself, do another quick circuit of the marina island and have another go at mooring, this time bow first into a nearby empty berth.

Anaconda remained there until the wind died down enough a few days later for one of the marina staff to reverse the boat onto the correct berth.

Yesterday the wind returned without fanfare and without any media attention. If anything, it was stronger than last Sunday. I had the pleasure of taking a family who were interested in one of our boats for sale from our wharf, up through Calcutt top lock, along the Grand Union as far as Napton Junction and back again.

The family owned a GRP cruiser but with two fast growing children they wanted a boat with a bit more living space for their regular canal cruising holidays. They couldn’t have picked a better day to test the difference between the handling capabilities of a keeled cruiser and a flat bottomed narrowboat.

Just after exiting the lock there’s an open 200m stretch overlooking the 30 acre wildlife haven of Napton reservoir. This section also passes half a dozen permanently moored boats, some of them liveaboards. It’s always interesting negotiating this section when you need to both slow down to appease the moored boat owners and travel fast enough to counteract the lateral drift caused by the cross wind.

The boat and the helmsmen performed admirably, even at the forty five degree angle we were cruising at. Just before the junction we passed another dozen boats on residential moorings, again without incident, before executing a swift and none to subtle three point turn in the strengthening wind.

At the wharf I left the family sitting around the boat’s dining table, marveling at the additional space the narrowboat would offer them after their claustrophobic cruiser accommodation, and calculating whether their finances would allow them to buy the boat. Test drives are wonderful tools for vehicle sellers. They increase the likelihood of the potential buyers responding to hearts rather than heads. From the dreamy expressions on the adults’ faces as I left them, I had a feeling that in their minds the boat was theirs already. The deal was done. All they needed to do was hand over the cash.

Jack RussellBack on dry land, I spent an hour in the afternoon logging a mostly dead field maple I cut down last week. With my new moisture meter – I carry it with me everywhere on the site now – I knew that, with a moisture content of 20% in the dead limbs, most of it was ready for burning immediately.

Last night as the wind howled and the rain rattled against the windows, Sally and I sat quietly in front of the stove, basking in the free heat courtesy of the field maple logs, quietly watching the flickering flames as we sipped our wine. It was a tranquil moment somewhat spoiled as both dogs started to growl and stared at the closed front doors.

Not having any confidence in their ability to sense something out of the ordinary, we told them both to shut up so we could resume our fire watching. They wouldn’t and we couldn’t.

A quiet scratching from the front deck sent Sally into a blind panic. She’s been pestering me for a year or more to fix internal locks to the front doors. The doors are open to anyone, welcome or otherwise, until I get around to it. Events like this just reinforce the need in Sally’s mind to beef up security.

A little voice from somewhere far behind me ordered me to go and investigate. I confidently opened the doors expecting nothing more than the cratch cover flapping in the wind. The jack russell bitch sitting trembling on the front deck came as a bit of a shock. We don’t own a jack russell, nor do any of the boat owners moored anywhere near us.

I carried the terrified dog into the boat. Our two placid spaniels Charlie and Daisy came to say hello. The not so placid jack russell told them with a curl of the lip and a low growl to stay away.

We sat with a now happy and smiling little brown and white dog on our laps, Charile and Daisy still trying their hardest to get in on the action while we decided what to do with it. There wasn’t a name tag or an address on the dog’s collar so we couldn’t return it to the owner unless the owners was out searching for their missing mutt on a wild and stormy night.

I left Sally in charge of the three dogs and did a quick circuit of a very windy Meadows marina looking for signs of life.

Fortunately I spotted torch light in the distance after I had been out for ten minutes. The dog belonged to Dale, a long term online moorer who keeps his boat on the canal about half a mile from me just above the top lock. He had been taking his jack russell for a night time walk when it had been spooked by distant fireworks. Our boat’s font deck was the closest refuge it could find.

With Dale reunited with his best friend Sally and I threw another couple of logs on the fire and settled down for another hour’s relaxing fire watching before bed.

Popular Narrowboat terminology

Confused about narrowboat terminology?I’m in the process of putting together another guide. It’s for anyone new to boating in general and narrowboats in particular who is considering buying a boat. There are in excess of 1,000 narrowboats for sale at any one time. You can find adverts for most of them online in one form or another but to the uninitiated the adverts are a mystery.

The most popular place to start is Apolloduck. There are currently 1,113 cruiser, semi-trad and trad stern narrowboats for sale. That’s where the confusion starts for many. What’s the difference between these styles and which is best for the potential buyer’s intended purpose?

Reading through the individual adverts leads to more confusion. What’s a tug style deck, what’s a hydraulic gearbox and why on Earth would you want a large pigeon box on the roof unless you were a flat cap wearing, rollup smoking, bird racing enthusiast from up north?

The range of narrowboat terms is mind boggling to those new to the game. There are steel specifications to consider, layout and equipment levels, toilet type, engine type and power, space considerations, heating and electrical requirements… It’s all too much.

The first stage in my guide writing/compilation has been to put together a comprehensive glossary. Fortunately most of the hard work has been done for me. Enter Tony Ward.

I found his web site when I was researching narrowboat terminology. On his web site he says;

“I’ve been actively interested in the canals since the late 1950?s, for the last 12 years I have been a qualified Boatmaster steering passenger trip & hotel boats in London & the Midlands.
 
Years ago, I started collecting some of the idiosyncratic and colourful old boatmen’s terms and sayings. More recently I have added many more generally used canal boating expressions. Like Topsy it has grown to unexpected proportions so I thought I would make it available on the web so others can dip into it either just out of interest or perhaps to look up something they’ve heard but don’t understand!”

I emailed Tony to ask permission to reproduce some or all of his glossary. He kindly agreed providing I gave him credit for the compilation and included a link back to his site. The abridged glossary is below. I’ve left out many of the old boatmen’s terms which you’re never likely to hear but if you want to see the glossary in all its glory, it’s here.

I haven’t had time to trawl through many of the thousands of online narrowboat adverts, compare them with Tony’s glossary and determine which, if any, terms are missing. Can you help me with that?

If you see any narrowboat terms which aren’t included in the glossary, in particular those related to narrowboat sales, can you please let me know? I’ll then add them to the glossary which will be included in the new guide and also pass them on to Tony to include in his master list.

abreast  Alongside; side by side (not to be confused with breasted-up).

adrift  Anything broken away from moorings or fastenings.

aft  (1) Behind (2) (on board): – towards or near the stern.

air draught The overall height of a vessel measured from the water line to the highest fixed part of the superstructure.

anchor  Heavy iron or steel implement for chaining a boat to the sea or river bed, with barbs or partly swiveling flukes that bite into most types of bottom to give a firm purchase.  Narrowboats are extremely weighty and need large heavy anchors when on river navigations.  When dropped, the angle at which anchor presents itself to the bottom is critical for obtaining a swift hold and is governed by the way the cable (q.v.) is constructed.

anchor-hold  The hold of an anchor upon the ground.

anchor-stock  The cross-bar of an anchor which causes one or other of the flukes to turn to the bottom.

anode (or sacrificial anode)  In steel boat terms : –  replaceable, large piece of metal e.g. magnesium, fitted to hull under the waterline, designed to corrode due to electrolysis instead of the hull.  Annual inspection for wastage/possible replacement is usual at which time it is normal to clean the hull and apply blacking.

anti-cavitation plate A plate, usually attached to the weed hatch cover, that is flush, or almost flush, to the uxter plate so that it closes off the underside of the weed-hatch aperture.

antifouling  Paint applied underwater to inhibit weed growth on the hull. Usually applied to river and canal cruisers rather than narrowboats (the steel hulls of which are invariably coated with bitumen paint, which has some antifouling characteristics).

APCO The Association of Pleasure Craft Operators – an organization that represents the narrow boat hire industry. A subsidiary body of BMIF.

aqueduct   (Often pronounced “akkyduck” by old boatmen)  A bridge which carries a waterway over a valley, road, river etc., constructed to avoid the expense of providing inconvenient locks.

arm  A ‘dead-end’ branch off a main canal, built to service a town, quarry, mine etc.

astern   (1) Area (or something) behind (or aft) of the vessel  (2) Of boat:- going backwards; Of engine:- in reverse gear (note, boat may still be going forwards).

AWCC  Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs – organization for the numerous boat clubs of Britain’s inland waterways.

balance beam  Wooden or metal beam projecting from a lock gate (or lift bridge), to counterbalance the weight of the gate (or bridge) and thus allow leverage for opening and closing it.

ballast  Loose, heavy material (e.g. stone or iron) strategically placed within a hull to increase a boat’s displacement and thus its stability, and also to correct a natural list or poor trim.

bank effect Tendency for stern to swing out from bank when in reverse due to some of the water thrust from propeller rising up between boat and bank and pushing boat away.

barge  Not an alternative word for a narrowboat! Barges are generally much wider commercial inland boats – or leisure boats based on the style of the commercial types. However, some barges (like some Dutch styles) have been copied in narrow-width versions for use on narrow canals
basin  A partly enclosed area of water at the terminus of, or at a point alongside, a canal or other navigation comprising wharves and moorings.

BCN  Initials by which the Birmingham Canal Navigations are often known, an extensive and intricate network in and around Birmingham, reduced from an original 160 miles to a little over a still impressive 100 miles.   Still in substantial commercial use as late as the mid 1960?s.

beam  (1)  The overall width of a boat. (2)  A transverse support for the deck (see cross-beam). (3) ‘On the beam’: – same as abeam
bilge  The line along the hull sides where sides and bottom meet.  Also, the lowest curved section of hull between side and bottom in a round-chined vessel.

bilge pump  A pump for removing water that has collected in the bilges.

bilges  Strictly, the ‘air space’ inside a boat’s hull lying beneath the level of the port and starboard bilge lines but usually applied to the whole region beneath the cabin floor or decking.

blacking  Term for protective coat of, often bitumen based, paint applied to steel hulls to discourage rusting
Boater’s Code, The  Free illustrated guide published jointly by British Waterways and Environment Agency containing a summary of regulations and good boating practice.

boat-hook  A light, multi-purpose, shaft normally about 8 feet long and usually made of wood with a metal (or, sometimes, plastic) point and hook at one end. Essential part of a boat’s deck equipment and a legal requirement for licensed passenger boats.  Working boatmen would always carefully place it within arm’s reach on the cabin-top with the hook-end pointing to the stern in order not to damage the paintwork when taking it up. Useful for clearing fouled blades especially if there is no weed-hatch.

boat lift  A mechanical means of lifting a boat vertically from one level of waterway to another, usually with the boat floating in water retained in a chamber, or caisson, e.g. Anderton Boat Lift and Falkirk Wheel. (See also inclined plane).

boatman’s cabin  Originally the after-cabin (approx. 8? long) of a working narrowboat, providing the crew’s living and sleeping accommodation. Often recreated in modem traditional-style narrow boats in addition to the main cabin accommodation.

bow thruster  Steering aid transversely mounted in bow section giving, from a small propeller, thrust on demand to either port or starboard.  Powered electrically by battery or alternator, or by hydraulic motor.   Useful on longer boats in close manoeuvres, adverse weather or water conditions or when going astern.  Regarded by some traditionalists as cheating – but then they should go back to hauling open boats by horse!

breach  Burst or collapse of a canal bank or dyke, allowing water to escape, perhaps causing flooding etc.

breasted-up  Two boats, often a motor with a butty or mud hopper etc., tied up fore-and-aft alongside each other but being powered and steered from only one, allowing the steerer of the other vessel, which otherwise would have to be towed behind and steered, to attend to other duties.

bridge hole (pronounced “bridge’ole”)    The narrow water-channel beneath a canal bridge.

broad   The East Anglian term for a lake.

Broads (The)  The connecting system of navigable lakes and rivers in East Anglia.

BSS (Boat Safety Scheme)  The scheme by which British Waterways ensures boats meet minimum safety standards.  A certificate of a boat’s compliance is renewable every 4 years. Mandatory for all private, hire and house boats.  Boats built after 16 June 1998 are covered for the first four years under the RCD.

Buckby/Buckby Can   Common nickname nowadays for decorated water can (q.v.).   The village of Buckby (on the ‘Junction’) was only one of a number of places where these were produced but name now seems to be all embracing.

bulkhead   Upright panels (or ‘walls’) separating a boat into compartments.

bulls-eye  Small round porthole set in the cabin-top fitted with convex glass, for lighting the cabin rather than for seeing through.

butane gas  Bottled gas, usually in blue containers, with a higher calorific value, and delivered to the appliance at a lesser pressure, than propane gas. Not liked by many boaters as it can ‘wax’ and not burn properly during freezing temperatures.

button fender  Cylindrically-shaped rope fender fixed by chains to stem or stern of narrowboat. The fender at stern should be long enough to protect the rudder when held amidships.

butty or butty boat   An unpowered narrowboat, similar to the ones originally towed by horse, now towed by a motor. For efficient steerage it requires a much larger rudder than a motor.  Traditional butty characterized by large, curving, often highly decorated tiller arm, a larger cargo hold and slightly longer boatman’s cabin than a motor (due to absence of engine hole).

BW (British Waterways)   Prior to 2012 the navigation authority for most of Britain’s inland waterways and, particularly, the narrow canals. Succeeded in 2012 by the charitable status Canals & Rivers Trust.

cabin-top  The cabin roof of a narrowboat.

CBA (Canal Boatbuilders’ Association)   Organization representing the interests of narrowboat builders. A subsidiary organization of British Marine Industries Federation very helpful to builders on Recreational Craft Directive matters.

Canals & Rivers Trust (CRT) The successors in 2012 to British Waterways, responsible for the canals system and many of the navigable rivers.

cavitation  Loss of thrust efficiency caused by air being drawn into the propeller.

cavitation plate  In a narrowboat, the underside of the stern counter forming a horizontal plane just under the waterline, that sits over the propeller helping to direct the propeller’s thrust aft, and reducing chances of cavitation.  The bottom plate of a weed-hatch if fitted, forms part of, and aligns with, the larger plate. In other craft, or on outboard motor legs, any plate that performs a similar function.

centre line  Boat handling or temporary mooring line bent to stud or eye-bolt on cabin-top amidships, invaluable when working single-handedly.  When under way it is usually laid out aft along the cabin-top so steerer can step off stern with line in hand.

chimney (nearly always pronounced “chimley”)  The removable metal flue on the left side at the rear end of cabin-top, venting the boat’s stove.  Normally painted black and bound with one or more brass bands.  Usually secured by plain or fancy safety chain to cabin-top to prevent loss overboard.  Sometimes fitted with a Coolie or Chinaman’s Hat for rain protection.

Chinaman’s hat  A rain cover placed on top of a chimney that still allows flue to vent.

chine  Where hull bottom and hull sides are flat surfaces (rather than curving gradually from one to the other as in round bilge) the chine is the sharp edge where they meet.

cill  See sill.

cockpit  Open area, usually set lower than surrounding side-decks, used for sitting-out and for storage.

companion  Ladder or stairway.

contour canal  An artificial navigable channel that follows the same land contour throughout or for much of its course. Early canals were mainly contour ones to avoid the expense and construction difficulties of deep cuttings, high embankments, locks and tunnels (then in their infancy) and the exaggerated winding routes were expected to be more profitable by bringing extra business from the greater number of towns and villages that could be reached. Later, when competition from other canals, and then from the railways, made speed between the major towns and cities more critical, many contour canals underwent  ‘straightening’ programmes (the Oxford canal is a famous example).

coolie hat  A metal cover fitting into top of chimney which gives protection from rain whilst at the same time permitting flue gases to vent.

counter or counter swim The underwater stern section of a motor boat where the beam gradually tapers down to the stern post, allowing water to flow to the propeller.

counter bottom plate  Alternative name for uxter plate.

counter deck  The round or elliptical (looking from above) small stern of a motor forming a ledge projecting over the propeller and shaft.

cratch  Optional assembly over the forewell of a modern pleasure narrowboat. Based on a solid or glazed triangular deckboard (frequently but less properly called a cratch-board) which is supported from the cabin-top by a ‘top plank’. The assembly is completed by a fitted soft cover, usually of vinyl, sometimes of proofed canvas. The result greatly extends the usability of the forewell. Either side of the cover can be rolled up to allow access, and may be fitted with a zipped door/window panel. Early forms of cratches were covers over the fodder stores of horse-drawn narrowboats, the term thought to be derived from the French word ‘crèche’.

cratchboard  The forward ‘bulkhead’ of a cratch assembly.

cross bed   Narrow double bed across the full width of fore-end of boatman’s cabin, formed by opening the bed cupboard. Usually very attractively finished with curtains, lace, pictures etc and frequently left in place by working boatmen when it would be referred to as bed hole.

cruiser stern/style  A style of modern pleasure narrowboat roughly based on the lines of former working boats but adapted to provide a large exposed but more sociable aft deck, protected by taff rails, under which is the engine compartment.

cut   The name much preferred by the canal community for a canal navigation or any artificial channel.

dinette  A table with a bench seat either side, or on 3 sides, which in conjunction with the seats, can also be lowered to form a bed.

displacement  The water displaced by a boat, equal to the boat’s weight.

dodger (or skirt) The detachable cover round a cruiser stern, below the taff rail

dog box A roof skylight/vent on a narrowboat, larger than a pigeon box and with fixed or hinged glazed double pitches attached to an underframe.

dolly  An upright cylindrical metal deck fitting, with either concave sides or a button head, on a motor’s counter to which ropes may be secured for tying up or towing.  See also T-Stud.

draught  The maximum underwater depth of a vessel’s hull, normally aft at the skeg.

EA  (Environment Agency)   Government body responsible for monitoring condition of Britain’s natural waterways (in addition to some coastal areas), whether navigable or not..  Also the navigation authority for the river Thames (and some other south-eastern rivers), and for Anglian waterways (excluding The Broads). It acts jointly with BW in harmonizing boat safety standards and navigation byelaws.

electrolysis  Decomposition by electric current, frequently experienced in steel hulls, due to its activity in canal water caused by e.g. electric leakage from own or nearby boats, proximity to steel pilings etc.  Effect reduced by use of sacrificial anodes.

fairlead  Deck fitting to guide ropes and reduce wear, frequently fitted amidships to upstands of cabin sides on modern narrowboats to protect paintwork from centre-line chafing.

fend off  To keep a boat clear of another boat or object, either by hand,  or with boat-hook, portable fender etc.

fender Traditionally, rope, but now often plastic or rubber object, to protect the sides, stem and stern of a boat, different styles depending on location (see pipe fender, button fender, tip-cat),

fluke  One of the barbs or pointed blades of an anchor.

foul  Not clear or free e.g. a fouled propeller has something wrapped around it or its shaft,

gate  The moveable wooden or steel door or shutter enabling a canal or river lock to operate.  May contain paddles allowing passage of water when gate closed.

gate paddle  A sliding door over a sluice in a gate to allow water to pass through.  When ascending in a lock, the ground paddle(s) should be opened first and the gate paddle not opened fully until the water has risen above it.

gongoozler  A term of unknown origin for someone who idly stands and stares, particularly at boats and especially at locks.

grab rail  A rail, usually fixed along edges of narrowboat’s cabin-top, to give a secure handhold when moving along the deck or gunwale.

grounding  Striking the bottom or running hard aground – arts well practiced on the canals.  Common place for grounding of deeper-draughted boats in low water conditions can be in bridge holes, not only because of rubbish that tends to accumulate but also the brick invert can form a sill proud of the bottom under water.  This may be overcome by using the old technique of accelerating up to the bridge strongly enough to make the water ‘wobble’, cutting the revs down to tick-over when the fore-end reaches the hole and by the time the stern reaches the channel the, by then, overtaking wake lifts the stern high enough to clear the obstacle.   On the other hand this may dump you on top of the obstruction, leaving you high and dry!

guillotine gate   A lock gate raised and lowered vertically from overhead framework, common as a bottom gate on the Nene navigation.

gunnel   Alternative (phonetic) spelling of gunwale.

gunwale  The wale, or upper edge, of a boat’s hull sides next to the bulwarks, if any. (So called because in fighting ships the upper guns were pointed from it). Pronounced ‘gunnel’.

handspike   A wooden bar used as a lever. On some locks on the Calder & Hebble Navigation a handspike is still needed for working lock paddle gear instead of a windlass. Also used for operating capstans and some types of fire hose and bilge pumps.

hatch  (1) A horizontal opening with a moveable cover, that may slide or hinge open, in the deck or superstructure of a vessel.

hopper window  A form of rectangular window on modern pleasure narrowboats where the whole pane lets down slightly into the cabin for ventilation when required. See also top-hopper window.

hung up  A narrowboat caught on a gate projection within a lock, particularly the rudder or skeg on the sill inside the top gate, so as to stop it descending as the water empties.

hydraulic drive  Drive transmitted from motor to propeller through pressurized oil system, obviating need of conventional gearbox and allowing great flexibility in siting of motor.

inboard motor  An engine mounted within a vessel’s hull.

inclined plane  A wheeled system which lifts boats from one level to another without using locks, on a slope fitted with rails, the boats either afloat in a tank (or caisson) e.g. Foxton Inclined Plane, or in a dry cradle.

inspection launch A short narrowboat with a long, covered but open-sided front forewell which contained the wheel steering position and loosely modelled on Victorian Thames launches. Used by canal companies to carry the Directors on their periodic inspections.

inverter   Device, common on modern narrowboats with no onboard AC generator, for taking power stored in the service battery bank and converting it from 12v DC to 240v AC for intermittent use of mains appliances e.g. TV’s, vacuum cleaners etc.  Quality of supply is generally poor making it unsuitable for some sensitive electric motors and electronic equipment.

IWA  Inland Waterways Association – a voluntary body set up in 1946 to rescue Britain’s waterways from threatened dereliction. Represents the interests of all waterways users – not just boaters. Its fund campaigning includes several rallies, of which the best known is the National Waterways Festival, held every August,

Josher  Colloquial name for a working boat belonging to carrying company Fellows Morton & Clayton Limited – derived from Joshua Fellows

keb  A long handle fork with the tines bent through 90 degrees. Used for raking rubbish from behind lock gates, recovering stuf dropped in the water that your magnet won’t get, pulling bodies out.

keel  (1) One or more parallel longitudinal fins on the underside of the hull, strong enough for a boat to sit on when not afloat. Main function is to improve directional stability through water. Not needed in conventional square-sectioned narrowboats because the flat hull sides grip water.  (2) Square-rigged sailing barge.

keel cooling  Method whereby sealed water-coolant system is cooled before return to the engine block by passing in fine tubes through a radiator attached to the inside skin of the hull below the water line.   Avoids the blockage problem inherent in raw water cooling system.

lift bridge  A movable bridge, the deck of which either swings up around its hinged end or moves vertically upwards.

list  When looking end-on, the angle at which a boat sits from vertical caused by e.g. imbalance of ballast or loading, or through shipping water. (see also heel and trim).

lock  The main means of raising or lowering a boat between changes in water levels, comprising a chamber with gate(s) at its
lock key  See windlass.

moor  To secure a boat against the bank with lines to strapping stumps, mooring pins etc.  A canal boatman never ‘moored’ – he ‘tied up’.

mooring hook  A usually g-shaped metal mooring aid designed to fasten into the top of the metal piling sheets used to repair the towpath bank and then treated as if it were a mooring ring. Much favoured as, unlike stakes, they cannot be pulled out by the action of other boats passing by too quickly.

mud box  Filter chamber, just inside raw water cooling hull inlet and sea-cock, which traps mud, weed and other debris, stopping it from being drawn into and blocking the finer waterways of the engine.

mushroom vent  A usually brass ventilation fitting on cabin roof looking somewhat mushroom-shaped. Older versions could be hand-screwed down to shut off draughts but not now allowed under BSS regulations.

narrowboat  (Also known as a monkey boat or long boat).   A commercial, cargo carrying canal boat measuring approximately 70ft to 72ft long by 6? 10? to 7? beam. Used extensively throughout, but not confined to, the Midland narrow canals system. Design and dimensions thought to have evolved from those first used in C18th on the Bridgewater Canal taking coal to Manchester from the Worsley coal-mines.  The original boats were of all wood construction, followed by ‘composites’ (wood bottoms but hull sides made of iron, later of steel), followed by all-steel hulls (iron and steel hulls were much lighter than wood) although some all-wood construction continued right up to mid C20th. There were many, relatively slight, design variations but the first major change came with increased long distance traffic requiring the provision of a boatman’s cabin for living and sleeping accommodation for the steerer and his family. The next significant change came with introduction of steam and then diesel engines, resulting in the motor with its stern counter and capable of towing what previously had been a horse boat but which became known as a butty.  Notwithstanding, some hauling by horse continued commercially right up to the 1960?s in some places, particularly with day boats.  Modern and usually much shorter narrowboats built for leisure purposes roughly retain the ‘motor’ design, but with full-length cabin accommodation, and have either traditional, semi-traditional or cruiser style sterns.

narrow canals  Canals, generally those in the English Midlands area, whose locks were built to take narrowboats with a beam of no more than 7 feet.  Why this became the standard is not known but it is thought probable it was to keep down canal construction costs. Without their introduction from the mid C18th onwards, bringing a lightning fast (for the period), reliable, year-round way of carrying raw materials and finished goods throughout inland England, the Industrial Revolution would not have got going until very much later.  The early canals were highly profitable, leading to a canal mania but many of the later ones were doomed to poor returns and even early abandonment through lack of sufficient commercial demand or inadequate water supply.  Canals ruled supreme for some 70 years but the establishment of the railways from mid C 19th onwards and improved road transport in C 20th dealt them blows from which they could not recover. In the 1930?s, the Grand Union Canal Company, in a valiant effort to make the canal system viable for the modern age, tried to encourage all the other canal companies to broaden the locks to 14 feet and, with government aid, famously led the way by widening their canal almost to the centre of Birmingham (they ran out of money).  Unfortunately no one else followed suit. The Second World War temporarily postponed the death sentence, after which the system quickly fell into terminal decline and by the mid 1970?s commercial carrying had finally expired.  Thanks mainly to the efforts of various canal societies and recovery groups, there has been a long term restoration programme bringing derelict canals back into use and there is now a very decent navigable network being enjoyed by leisure boaters.

National Rivers Authority (NRA), now incorporated with Environment Agency (EA).

navigation  A navigable river or canal.

navigation lights  Lights required under IRPCS and by various navigation authorities to be shown at night or when visibility is poor.   White light forward required to be visible through 180º but very few canal boats comply in practice, often relying on their tunnel light (usually a car spot or fog light).   Port (red), starboard (green) and stern (white) lights not yet required on canals but are on most rivers.

off-line mooring  Berthing space away from main line of canal e.g. in marina, side channel or private cut.

on-line mooring  Permitted berthing space alongside towpath or outside bank of main line of canal.

overflow A weir set in the bank of a canal to take away excess water and prevent flooding. Also called storm weir.

packing  In a greased-type stern gland assembly, the thick tape-like material that circles the prop-shaft and is forced up into the void between the prop-shaft and the stern tube by the follower. When supplemented by water resistant grease from the remote greaser (which also acts as a lubricant for the bearings) the packing forms a water tight seal and stops water from dripping into the bilges.

paddle gear A blanket expression for the mechanism that opens and closes a paddle such as a windlass-operated rack and cogwheel device.

paddle The sliding door of a lock gate or other sluice, the drawing of which permits water through.

piling  concrete, timber or metal posts or sheets going through water, or non-load bearing or otherwise unstable ground, to a considerable depth to support a structure (e.g. a pier) or to act as a protective or retaining wall (e.g. canal bank).

piling hook  Same as mooring hook.

pitch  (of a propeller) – the distance a propeller would travel during one complete revolution, theoretically calculated from the dimensions and geometry of its blades.

port  Left-hand side of boat when looking forward. Most narrowboaters prefer to use the much simpler ‘left’.

port to port  The usual manner in which oncoming boats pass each other when in close proximity i.e. each boat moves over to its right (starboard)  and passes the other on its port side, unless the steerers agree otherwise through hand or sound signals. (Custom believed derived from ancient times, before the rudder was developed for sailing ships, when many boats had their steering mechanism – the ‘steer board’ – on the starboard side  making steering to port very difficult and slow, and where passing starboard to starboard would also have exposed the steering gear to possible collision damage. They would also tie up to quay on the side opposite the steering gear hence ‘port-side’).

porthole Circular window in cabin, or hull, side.

pound The stretch of water on a canal between two locks – no matter how far apart.

pram canopy  Cloth canopy fitted on folding framework allowing it to be easily raised and lowered, fitted to cockpit of cruiser and, infrequently, over a narrowboat’s counter to protect steerer from bad weather.

propane gas  Bottled gas, usually in red or orange containers, with a lower calorific value and delivered at
a higher pressure to the appliances than butane gas. Generally preferred by most narrowboaters as, unlike butane, its performance is relatively unaffected by freezing temperatures.

propeller  (or blades).  Radially assembled, spiral shaped blades which by reason of rotation in water and blade angle of attack, convert the rotary force provided by engine and gearbox into thrust.  A ‘right-handed’ propeller is designed to rotate clockwise (when viewed from astern) – vice versa for ‘left-handed’ prop.    Larger diameter propellers with greater pitch and producing more thrust are usually needed by narrowboats powered by slow-revving traditional engines but at the cost of greater transverse thrust.   Correct choice of propeller, gearbox and engine combination is crucial for optimum performance.

ram’s head  Name given to the large wooden headstock of a butty’s rudder (frequently decorated with fancy ropework or a dead horse’s tail) into which the large wooden tiller was slotted, and also applied on motors to the Z-shaped piece made from steel which is attached to the upper end of the rudder stock and to which the tiller is fitted.

raw water cooling   System of engine cooling constantly taking cold water from canal or river through hull via sea cock and mud box, passing it through either a heat exchanger in a sealed water system or through the engine’s actual waterways – and expelling it warmed via a hull fitting above the waterline.  Beloved by many traditionalists but has disadvantage on inland waters of becoming blocked by mud, weed and rubbish. (As opposed to keel cooling).

RBOA Residential Boat Owners Association – represents the interests of live-aboard boaters.

remote greaser  A metal cylinder fitted close to the stern tube, acting as a reservoir for the frequent supply of grease required for stern gland (or stuffing box).  Grease is forced from cylinder by hand-operated piston, through intermediate tubing into gland.

roses and castles  Traditional and highly stylized manner, along with simple geometric shapes and playing card suit symbols, of decorating a narrowboat’s cabin exterior and interior, doors, deck equipment etc. Close up the roses seem almost diagrammatic and each should comprise of no more than four? colours.  The castle is the main element of what is called the ‘landscape’.

rubbing strake  A longitudinal steel reinforcing strip welded to the hull of a narrowboat to lessen damage to the sides.
rudder An underwater vertical metal blade at the stern which when angled by the tiller arm against the water thrust by the propeller turns the fore-end of the boat in the same direction.

RYA Royal Yachting Association, mainly concerned with coastal cruising, but offers much advice on inland boating abroad and manages Helmsman Certificate courses.

scumble Painted graining on cabin wood work or onto steel to make it look like wood – interior or exterior.

scuppers Holes through bulwarks for draining decks or venting gas from gas locker.

sea cock  Valve to shut off a water inlet passing through the hull under waterline for e.g. raw water cooling.   Often combined with a mud box

shackle  Metal link with removable bolt, in various shapes such as ‘D’, ‘U’, bow or twisted.

Shaft  A long or short pole, useful for pushing the front or rear of a boat when turning or propelling a boat with no engine. Also used to push a boat when aground. Sometimes applied to a boat hook.

shell The empty structure of a glass-fibre or steel boat.

sill (of a lock) The bar of masonry often faced with a timber sealing piece below water level, against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed. When descending, care must be taken to avoid the stern gear becoming hung up on the head-gate sill.

sill (of a lock) The bar of masonry often faced with a timber sealing piece below water level, against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed. When descending, care must be taken to avoid the stern gear becoming hung up on the head-gate sill.sill (of a lock) The bar of masonry often faced with a timber sealing piece below water level, against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed. When descending, care must be taken to avoid the stern gear becoming hung up on the head-gate sill.sill (of a lock) The bar of masonry often faced with a timber sealing piece below water level, against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed. When descending, care must be taken to avoid the stern gear becoming hung up on the head-gate sill.

Up and Down the Hillock

I’m grounded at least I feel as if I am grounded. I knew about an appointment at the hosp I have to attend at the end of the month and had planned to get a train to the hosp from wherever I was, then I needed to sort the boat out so I could safely use the Morso, charge the batteries, have a working bilge pump etc so when it turned out I could go no further than Riley Green as lock 55 in Blackburn was down – and who wants to moor in Blackburn – I found myself with every reason to turn back.

I seem to be getting pretty good at winding in narrow areas but I think the boat handles particularly well.

My dreams see me going round in circles…I could have been half-way to Leeds by now but here I am stuck in the Blackburn, Chorley not far from Bolton (where I once resided) area…as if grounded for my sins. So I did what I thought stranded or grounded boaters do or did..

I made bread – sadly not that kind bread but this…well from this to this…

Bread - the beginningBread

20140413_175831

 

 

No big deal I know loads of people make bread, but its my first go and I did it because I’d run out of food more or less. But a good mug of tea and this bread with honey was just wonderful and lifted my grounded spirits back to the heavens once more.

To help pass the time and maintain my levels of fitness I’ve been riding Claud(ia – Butler) – she a right goer when she gets into one of her 24 gears…she resides quietly on the roof of the boat. Other than the boat she has become my main mode of transport though she does make my bum sore…I’m surClaudiae its not supposed to be like that…

…and then there’s the scenery, the sunsets, the people to talk to and the grumpy geese tapping the sides of the boat for some of my nice bread…no chance kiddo…

Johnsons Hillock

 

 

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Ewart and Mockingbird Laddie on Mockingbird There’s a shower etc at the top of Johnson’s Hillock and Top Lock pub which serves nice ale. I do find the bar staff just a bit grumpy but hey the beer is good as is the food.

…and then I think I’m drinking too much so I am going to cut that out if at all possible…I just want to get going again…I feel I am under starters order I  need to see this month through and be off.

I came down Johnson’s Hillock single handed the other day. The locks are close enough together to be able to leave the boat whilst I sorted out the next lock. Annoyingly there are no mooring pins in the basins which for the single handed boater is a proper pain in the neck. Ok, so I could moor up in the basin etc off and use my mooring pins and me hammer etc but that assumes there’s sufficient water in the basin to be able to get close enough to get off the boat…the water level seemed a bit down.

up and down the hillock 1So at each lock I was caused to leave the boat loosely tethered and walk down to the next lock and prepare it ready for me to just drive straight in. I only loosely tethered the boat because the lock gates are constantly leaking and during my absence the water tends to ooze out. One of my biggest concerns is what can happen to the boat if the water drops away when I am off at the other lock preparing it for my arrival and it is tethered too tight. I usually use a rope tethered to the roof of the boat but have in the past used a rope tethered to the side…in such an event potentially capsizing the boat seems a possibility.

I suppose I could drop the boat down first by emptying the lock but this requires two trips up and down the ladders which I think is one of the most dangerous bits, walking on the roof and climbing the sometimes wobbly ladders. Its twice the journey going down to prep the next lock, then coming back completing the lock where the boat is and then taking her out and into the next lock, walking back and closing the gates and then walking down to the next lock etc etc…but hey all the joys of the single handed boater.

I’ve enjoyed some lovely sunset and lately the full-moons in this area. Probably as a constant cruiser I’m hanging about a bit long but just till the end of this month then its back up Johnson’s Hillock again and off up and over towards Leeds.

Have also met some great people, kind and friendly. warm and helpful and feel a certain surety of meeting many more in my coming travels but need to try and create some kind of income to assist me and keep my dream afloat, oddment my income etc.

A mate has bought me a Raptor 38cc Petrol Chainsaw…there are loads of fallen and seemingly abandoned tree-trunks about the place…so I’m going to get some bags and prepare bags of wood that potentially I could sell. I must get a picture of myself with the Raptor and all the safety kit, head visor with face guard, gloves and shin guards…I’ll try and get the picture sorted prior to the point where I cut one of my limbs off…a sort of before and lack of after shot.

Starting in May its back up Johnson’s Hillock and off up and over…and away.

Moon 1Blue Moon

 

2014 04 13 Newsletter – An A to Z of everything narrowboat Part 2

I love the job I do. It’s about as perfect as a job can get. It’s actually the first work as an employee that I’ve had since I ended my twelve year career in pub management in 1990. After that, and until I started working here at Calcutt Boats, I ran my own businesses, mostly fairly successfully until a poorly though out national expansion plan resulted in huge debts and those lovely people at Revenue and Customs leading me non too gently into bankruptcy.

I love the complete absence of pressure I enjoy these day. I have no staff to worry about, no late night financial juggling robbing Peter to pay Paul, no worry about where the next order is coming from and whether it will be enough to satisfy my ever increasing number of creditors, no agonising over whether I can actually afford to pay myself a wage at the end of each month and no worrying about taking a holiday away from the business because of the stress the break causes. And gone are the days when I have to dull my senses through copious and unhealthy quantities of alcohol.

I am completely pressure free, stress free and free from the wish to keep up with the Joneses and spend money that I don’t have. Living afloat is responsible for my stress free life and so is the job I do here at the marina. I love nearly every aspect of the work I do here and the wide variety of tasks I have to complete. I say nearly every aspect because sometimes I have days or parts of days when I can’t honestly say that I’m enjoying myself.

Clearing sewage blockages is one of my least favourite tasks. At least once a month, usually in the summer and usually on a hot day when the smell of human waste is strongest, either Patrick or I get a radio call to alert us to a sewage problem. It usually involves one of the Elsan points and a cap off a cassette toilet. The pipes which carry all of the site sewage, from the office toilets and the public toilets next to them, from the Elsan point and the pump out machine on the wharf, from the shower block toilets and from the Elsan point and the pump out machine in front of the shower block, have just a slightly larger diameter than the plastic caps which some boaters seem to delight in pouring into the Elsan point along with their bodily waste.

Clearing the blockage can take as little as a couple of minutes. The record however is seven hours one very warm day last summer at a particularly difficult area to clear in our tip area which involved a 50m length of rods, a great deal of cursing, and a very smelly pair of overalls by the time I had finished.

Another regular, less smelly, but almost equally unpleasant task at this time of the year is cutting the grass around the car park between our temporary moorings and our older Locks marina. The thirty feet high bank facing the marina is at an angle of about forty five degrees. Cutting the grass in this area involves pulling our antiquated  mower up and down the slope with a rope for about six hours to get it all done. It’s not very pleasant.

Another infrequent but always painful task is any kind of digging. The site sits on Lias clay over a wide plane of Blue Lias which is quarried locally as a raw material for making cement.  The pub on the GU at Stockton is named after it.

I suppose any clay is unpleasant to dig but Lias clay is the only clay I know. It has the consistency of toffee and welds itself instantly to boots, spades ad forks and, on Monday, our hired rotavator.

We had three areas which needed turning over and levelling prior to sowing with grass seed. Although we haven’t had a huge amount of rain in the last few weeks, the clay was still very, very tacky. The 8hp machine just wasn’t up to it. The rotavator didn’t have the power to either turn the clay over or to move forward. Pat and I ended up almost having to drag it across the ground, stopping every two or three minutes when it stalled to try and remove the clay glued to the blades.

We spent six hours doing this, mainly under cloudy skies but sometimes in heavy showers and the occasional hail just to make the day more interesting. It’s all done now, but not done well enough. I feel as though we’ve wasted a whole day. We really need to wait until September when we can be reasonably sure that the ground is dry and that the rotavator has a fighting chance of doing job properly.

Back on the boat, I’ve had some more work done. My office is now neat and tidy thanks to an additional three 230v double sockets which means that I can now dispense with the unsightly multi socket extension lead coiled under my desk which didn’t help Sally’s blood pressure every time she tried to clean around it. It’s another step towards both a completely updated boat and domestic bliss.

However, we’ve taken a step backwards in the engine room. The hoses from the engine thermostat were leaking and the thermostat itself wasn’t working properly so I’ve had the hoses replaced and ordered a new thermostat from Mercedes specialist Westfield 4 x 4  based in Lancaster. I found them when I was searching for information on my vintage engine. Westfield’s web site contains some fascinating information about the engine including the first vehicle the OM636 was used in, the Mercedes 170SD

Of course parts for this engine are difficult to find and are consequently quite expensive so the cost of £114 for next day delivery wasn’t a surprise. The engine is now fully operational but the alternator sadly is not. It’s not putting any charge into the batteries at all so that too is going to be replaced. I’m hoping that the engine will treat me gently after I’ve emptied my wallet into it. Time will tell.

There’s one final expense in the engine room before I put my hard earned cash away. The starter battery has died, possibly as a result of not being charged effectively, or at all, by the alternator for quite a while. I’ve been aware for a few months that the battery wasn’t holding a charge but following the installation of my Smartgauge battery monitor I’ve been able to watch a daily visual display of its demise.

On Friday I said goodbye to my old seat covers. Karl Lassinder from K C Covers came to take them away and to leave me with some temporary seats to use for the ten days before he returns with the eight freshly upholstered seats and backs. In addition to recovering the foam, he’s going to adjust them slightly. The seats’ thickness will be increased by two inches to make them slightly more comfortable and, of course, the sea backs will need to have their width reduced by two inches so that both seats and backs still fit into the same space as the old ones.

The material we’ve chosen should be far more durable than what we have now. To be quite honest, it’s poor quality and an awful shade of light green. Boat seats get a fair amount of use and on James, have had a fair amount of use from me collapsing in an untidy heap after a hard day’s work. Unfortunately when I first moved onto the boat I didn’t have the steadying influence of a good woman, or a bad one for that matter, so I was in the habit of sitting down before I changed out of my work trousers. Consequently the places I regularly sat were quite badly marked. Sally tried to clean the upholstery but because of the quality, cleaning it just resulted in the material stretching and sagging.

We bought the new material from Just Fabrics in Burford. It’s just over forty miles from the marina but it’s a pleasant hour’s drive through the Cotswolds to Burford and both Sally and I had used the shop in our previous married lives. The material we’ve chosen is Arielli Paprika, a rather fetching colour which will go well with the curtains.

Karl has left me with some temporary seats which he’s just removed from another boat. Coincidentally, the seats he’s left me are in a similar colour to the material we’ve chosen. The colour looks wonderful, the seats do not. They’ve obviously come from a much larger space than we have available for the seating on James so, although they’re very comfortable to sit on and are certainly better than nothing, they almost completely block the isle past the lounge area into the rest of the boat so I have to remove the seat if I want to walk through the boat.

Fortunately for me, the work should be completed before Sally comes back from the Philippines so there won’t be two of us trying to get past the too large seats in an already very tight space.

Finding Your Way around The Site

Here’s what I wrote last week…

“There’s a huge amount of information on the site now. Much of it has been added by me over countless late nights and early mornings but much more has been contributed by a wide variety of experienced boaters. There are now four hundred and eighty pages of information on the main part of the site and a further four thousand nine hundred posts on the forum.

Because there’s so much information, finding exactly what you want can sometimes take a while. Your only option until now has been the Google custom search facility which added a few months ago to the top of the right hand column on any of the pages on the main part of the site. It’s really good at finding the information you’re looking for. The problem is, you need to know what you’re looking for before you can search for it.

There’s now another way to find what you want.

I’m in the process of compiling a comprehensive index of all of the information on the site. It’s going to take me a few weeks to complete but here’s the index so far. It’s an alphabetical list of the most popular posts from the forum. I’ve yet to add the articles from the site and all of the content from the newsletter archive. I’ll also include everything from the narrowboat terminology newsletter and links to useful resources on other boating sites.

At any stage if you think something is missing from the index which is either on this site or which you think is worth including from another site, please let me know. It will be a work in progress for a while but I hope you agree that there’s some valuable content here already. here’s the index so far…”

Last week the index was just the more popular forum posts in alphabetical order. In the last seven days I’ve added all of the articles from the site and links to the main subject in just under half of the newsletters from the archive.

Aerials – Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
Aluminium narrowboats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
Back Boiler – Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
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.
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?
Boat monitoring – A simple way of keeping a close eye on your boat from afar
Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
Budget Software –
Building a narrowboat – A very detailed account of how a narrowboat is put together
Buying A Boat – The logistics A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be surveyed.
Buying a boat – The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
Cam, living on the river – Live aboard boat owner Luther Phillips talks about the pleasures of living on the river,
Cold weather – Living on a boat in cold weather
Canal network map – There are over 2,000 miles of connected rivers and canals to explore. Here they are.
Car insurance for boat owners – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
Case Studies – For the last couple of years I have been asking boat owners who live on board full time questions about their life on board; who they are and what prompted them to switch from a traditional bricks and mortar home to life on the water, how they funded their purchase, whether they cruise continually or live on a fixed mooring, boating likes and dislikes, how they cope with the logistics of washing clothes, restocking essential provisions and medical supplies, their favourite sections of the network and, last but not least, what advice they would share with a potential live aboard narrowboat owner MORE HERE
“Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
Children – More mites, but far more expensive to get rid of than chiggers. Is life really practical with children on board?
Composting Toilets – Most narrowboats have either pump out or cassette toilets. Here’s an environmentally friendly alternative
Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
Condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Condensation – My own battle against condensation and a technical explanation
Condensation – Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Continuous cruisers: How to cruise the network continuously – Peter Early sent me this excellent article soon after he joined the site
Continuous Cruisers – Tips – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
Continuous Cruising – The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
Cruising  – Pre Cruise Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
Damp: Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
Digital Books – A lifetime’s reading in the palm of your hand
Digital maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Digital music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
Diseases- “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
Downside to narrowboat life – It’s not all sitting on the towpath drinking gin and tonics as the sun goes down. Here are the less pleasant aspects of life afloat
Downside to narrowboat life: Pauline Roberts – Pauline sent me this article about her life afloat. It proved to be very controversial.
Downsizing – The practicalities and logistics of moving from a house with plenty of storage space to a boat with virtually none.
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.
Electrics Part 1: Batteries – Ex narrowboat builder Tim Davis explains narrowboat electrics
Electrics Part 2: Generators and Inverters – The concluding part of Tim Davis’ very detailed explanation of narrowboat electrics
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?
Finance – Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
Flooring – The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
Footwear on board – Your boat floor is often very cold. What can you wear to keep your feet toasty warm?
Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
Furniture – Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
Gadgets – Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on 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
Generators – A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
Heating – Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Heating Systems Part 1: Stoves – An in depth look at narrowboat heating systems by ex boat builder Tim Davis
Heating Systems Part 2: Central heating – The second and concluding article on narrowboat heating systems
Height – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
Hire boats – Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
Hurricane Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
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.
Inverters – Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
Kindle review – Digital reading for boat owners
Knots – 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!
Length – The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
Live aboard narrowboat – 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.
Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
Loans on boats – Information about getting a loan for your floating home and how to deal with a cash transaction
Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Mail services – 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?
Maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Marinas – How to choose the right one for you and your boat
Marinas Listing – Here are all of the marinas listed on the site. If you want to filter the results by the waterway you’re interested in, just hover over the “Marinas” label on the menu at the top of any page on the main part of the site, select either rivers or canals and then select the one you want.
Marinas Map – A more or less complete map and listing of the network’s marinas
Mikuni Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Mobile Broadband Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
Mobile Broadband – More information – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
Money – How to continue earning as you cruise the network
Mooring in winter – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
Mooring enforecement – CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
Mooring fees – It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
Moorings – Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
Music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Narrowboat Choice – 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.
Narrowboat hire (long term) – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
Ownership – Determining Proof Of Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
Painting – A professional paint job can cost you in excess of £100 a foot. You may want to save money and do the work yourself. Here’s a blow by blow account of my own attempt in April 2010
Paying for a boat – The practicalities of transferring your money to the seller and how to prove he actually owns the boat
Pets – Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
Planning – Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
Postal services – 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?
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.
Replating – Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
River cruising – 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.
Rivers – 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?
Road Transport – 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
Ropes – 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?
Running costs (Month) – Living on a narrowboat costs far more than many people imagine. Here’s a detailed breakdown of my own costs for February 2013
Running costs (All) – I’ve put together a package of everything you need to know about the cost of buying and maintaining a narrowboat, whether it’s for occasional recreational cruising or as a full time home. It’s the only information on the site which you have to pay for but the feedback I’ve had from the thousands of people who have invested in my guides is overwhelmingly positive. For the price of a round of drinks you get a very clear picture of the cost of life afloat.
Safety – Keeping yourself out of harm’s way on the cut
Self build/Self Fit Out – Are you on a budget and thinking of buying a sailaway to fit out yourself? Here’s someone who has done it and recorded everything along the way
Shared ownership – It’s a cost effective way of enjoying regular canal breaks. Here’s what you need to know.
Single handed Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own?
Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
Smoke detectors – Why you need them –
Solar power – The owner of popular narrowboat solar power system installation service, Onboard Solar, explains how they work (and what they cost)
Space – The practicalities of sharing a long corridor with a significant other
Spiders – How to keep the eight legged monsters out of your boat
Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
Steel – Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
Stoppages – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
Stoves – 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?
Stove Fuel Test – Based on a Waterways World test but conducted in the real world on my own boat
Stove Glass Cleaning – 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
Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
Stoves – Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
Swans – How to deal with the world’s second heaviest flying bird
Television aerials – Here’s what I use
Television license – Do you need one on a narrowboat?
Television reception – Which aerial is best?
Tips – 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.
Toilets – Choosing the best one for your boat
Toilets – 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?
Toilets – Pump Out: 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.
Towing a butty – What’s the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty)
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
Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
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?
Washing Machines – 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
Water damage – Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
Weil’s Disease  – Canals are not the best spots to choose for a cooling dip on a hot day. Here’s why.
Windows Choice – Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
Windows – Condensation – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Winter – Living aboard a boat in cold weather
Winter – A new boat owner’s first winter on board
Winterising – Preparing your boat for the winter
Winter moorings – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?

Is anything wrong or missing from this list? Please let me know.

Spam Forum Posts

I keep a close eye on the forum. I am very pleased with the way it has grown over the last eighteen months and I am eternally grateful to those of you who have taken the time to contribute to its success, both by posting comprehensive answers to forum visitors’ questions and by having the courage to ask those questions in the first place. I know that making a post which is going to be read by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of site visitors can be slightly unnerving. I thank you all for your contributions.

I’m very pleased the way the forum has developed, but not all posts are welcome. I sometimes get unwelcome and useless spam posts which have nothing to do with boating and which are nothing but an unwanted distraction. Up until today, identifying the spam posts has been a hit and miss affair. If I see them by chance I delete them instantly, but many have slipped through the net.

I installed some code today which identifies all new posts then presents me with a list of them each time I visit the forum. I will be able to catch all of the spam posts from now on but unfortunately the code doesn’t work retrospectively. It won’t identify any spam posts already somewhere on one of the forums which I have missed. Can you help me with that?

If you see a spam post, a post which has nothing to do with the thread’s subject, can you let me know. The spam post will look something like this…

qzqlzoc
Guest
Post 8 in Topic


32YNAD xymgygljzqqf, xnhqpmuwodvz, [link=http://ewgjsewkppsa.com/]ewgjsewkppsa[/link], http://tdztxuibrisi.com/

Just send me a quick email and include the URL of the offending post. To send me the URL, just copy the address in your browser’s address bar and paste it into the email. Thank you.

I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. 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.

6th April 2014

The A -Z of everything narrowboat – With over 5,500 posts and pages on the site now, quickly finding exactly what you want can sometimes be a problem. For this newsletter I started creating and A-Z index of all the site content.

30th March 2014

How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?

23rd March 2014

Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.

16th March 2014

Paying for a narrowboat – What practical steps can you take to ensure you’ve established legal ownership and how do you deal with the transfer of monies between buyer and seller?

9th March 2014

Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.

2nd March 2014

Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.

23rd February 2014

Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou

16th February 2014

Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.

I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.

9th February 2014

Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.

2nd February 2014

Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.

26th January 2014

Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.

19th January 2014

Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?

12th January 2014

If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)

5th January 2014

Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.

29th December 2013

The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?

Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.

22nd December 2013

Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.

15th December 2013

Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?

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.

  • Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
  • Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
  • 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.

A kick up the proverbial

I am wondering why I bothered with the survey. It cost me £395 and although it did tell me the hull density it excused itself of committing to the density test as the survey only had limited access even though the dry-dock cost £245. It did tell me that the boat was of a good construction and, said the surveyor (though he didn’t write it down) the narrowboat restored his faith in narrowboat owners because the boat was well looked after. Costs for the survey were therefore: £640 including docking.

But – it didn’t tell me that any of the amenities were working such as pumps, this was because (they said) the boat had been winterized and access to water was not available at the time of the survey – would I buy a car without driving it…I think not so why was I prepared to buy this boat without knowing if it worked in the way it should – other than actually floating on the water.

As we now know I proceeded to pump water into my boat because the shower pump-out pump was not properly sealed and was pumping water out of itself and directly into the boat instead of out of the boat.

Wouldn’t a house survey note if the boiler, taps, shower etc were/were not working…why did I accept this useless survey and for the money.

I have since the survey been advised that the Morso is in a dangerous place, fitted dangerously in a confined space in the back cabin and that it has been fitted without a proper fire-board around it. Especially at the back there is no fire proofing – I allowed the (gun-ho) Marine Engineer to lead me in what was required and what was safe…and he extended the bed (at my request) to make it a more appropriate liveaboard but has now left me with a Morso that is in danger of setting the bed alight it is so close – why didn’t he point that out when asked to make the bed a little wider?

The surveyor did point out that the Morso probably would not meet the new requirements for fitting namely; BS 8511 2010 and in his opinion any plan considered to move the Morso forwards was a good idea. Given the latest appraisal regarding a number of aspects including extra work done by the original Marine Engineer (shall remain nameless both engineer and marina until I have taken legal advice) I have had from a local Marine engineer I cannot understand why, for the money the surveyor did not state EMPHATICALLY that the Morso was dangerous and should not be used in its current location – this would have had a direct impact on my decision to go ahead with purchase.

The chimney piping for the Morso is of the wrong diameter and therefore more prone to blocking, there is no fire-board behind it and it is dangerously close to the bed in the first place but since the bed extension it is now dangerous full-stop.

The survey said that the systems and engine were all in excellent condition…what pray are the systems and does this not include the pumps…?

The extra work I had done by the marina included an inverter that apparently does not need an isolator because it has a split charge relay however, I don’t understand why that means I do not have an isolator designed to protect the starter battery from running flat. The starter battery has been running flat (3 occasions to date) all because the Marine engineer wired all the batteries through the same isolator therefore all my batteries including the starter battery are wired in parallel, so when my leisure’s go flat so does the starter battery…they’re all charging the same and all discharging the same…bloody useless.

When I took the boat out at first the sockets fitted by the (so-called) marine engineer failed to work and I had to put up with a very grumpy and rude marine engineer coming out to sort that problem. Now can you believe and I’m sure you can the newly fitted bilge pump doesn’t work either….

Personally I am very upset about the extra work I paid for, the standards of the pretty bloody useless survey I paid for, the limitations for the survey brought on by inadequate docking arrangements and the appalling standards of work applied by the (so called) Marine engineer at the Marina in question.

I intend a strongly worded letter to the Director of this organization supported by the statements of the Marine Engineer where I am having the work a) assessed and rectified and b) upgraded to a safe and acceptable standard.

It feels like an industry in the dark ages like a poor car garage rather than organizations that deal with peoples safety, peoples lives – allowing themselves to get away with shoddy work, bodging, limited safety towards boat owners and purchasers and maverick arrogant (so called) marine engineers who basically need a kick up the proverbial.

“Taking the ‘Ahhhh!’ out of Agas!” or “Fuel for thought!”

Among the many strains of research I have come across in my desire for life afloat/off grid/independant – or as much as you can get on this crowded and over-regulated island is the matter of stoves.

Most boats have a solid fuel stove of some kind. From the traditional “Boatmans Cabin” to a nice Morso Squirrel in the lounge or sometimes a full Arga or is it Aga or even an AHHHHH GA! When the damned thing went out overnight and would not light in the morning and so there is no heating or hot water! (Cant you just feel the pain?? Oh the memories of childhood!)

Actually, I remember warm mornings, oven bread and a slow cooked stew! So one way and another I want a proper cooking stove type fire in my boat.
But what type?

The problems come down to size, cost and fuel.

There is only so much space available in a boat and if one heats the lounge area with it then it will probably not be big enough to cook on or if you do use it for cooking you get cook smells (not so bad if you are a good cook-like me!) and condensation from boiling water send a greasy layer all over everything (ALWAYS a nuisance).

Of course if you have it in a separate galley then you lose the friendliness/atmosphere of a real fire in the lounge and have a roasting hot kitchen all the time. Not ideal if it has a fridge or freezer in it.

Then the question of fuel. Again effected by space, or rather lack of it, as wood and coal are bulky to store. Of course if your stove is not very efficient you need more fuel.

Then cost. A small boat stove  circa £200 and for an Arga….Well, even if I sold a kidney AND the dog…I still would not get what I want.

Soooo… my various researches have sent me in the direction of a Rocket Stove “RS”, Rocket mass heaters and experimental stoves.

Most, but not all, folks on the various forums are outside the UK which is a pity as there is a common feeling between them and boaters in respect to doing things our way rather than following the herd!

I will put a few links at the bottom for those interested in all things “Rocket Stove”.

But what I like about them is they are 90% efficient at turning fuel into heat. Where as the ordinary solid fuel stove is 30% if you are lucky. This is because the RS burns more efficiently rather than let the calorific gas go up [the chimney] in smoke! They are, once running, smokeless.

They require about a third of the fuel of an ordinary stove. They heat up quickly and will burn safely with no smoke and  almost no ash.

For information on designs try the Woodstove forum.

http://woodstoves.forumotion.co.uk/forum

Or You tube and look for the channels of  “Trying2hard” and “ppotty1”.

I have a design in mind that I have pulled together from a lot of different ideas on stove design that will incorporate a firebox in the lounge, an oven/hob in the kitchen as well as heating my hot water and central heating. I WANT IT ALL!

But to build it will cost me £500! But If  it goes off I should be snug as a bug with  third of the wood needed.

I have also been looking at different types of solid fuel, pellets, bricketts, sawdust and woodchips.

A sawdust fire done properly burns for 8 hours! Pellets are efficient but expensive., bricketts you have to make yourself- but you need the time and space to dry them.  Need to research more on this.

So there you have it another piece of the dream.

 

 

 

 

2014 04 06 Newsletter – An A to Z of everything narrowboat

I love writing my weekly newsletters. In addition to providing information to help aspiring boat owners realise their dream of owning a floating home, the newsletters are my personal diary. I know that reading what I have written in years to come will bring the memories flooding back. I love writing them but they take up most of my free time. On a Sunday when I press the button to send them on their virtual way some time before midday and 1pm, often after a 6am start, I breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to doing very little for the rest of the day.

As I was finishing off last week’s newsletter I was constantly glancing up from my laptop screen to see the spring sun glittering on the water outside. I couldn’t wait to take our folding camp chairs on to the grassy peninsula next to the boat and spend an hour or two soaking up the sun as I read my Kindle.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with English weather, things didn’t quite work out as I hoped. For a start, I had forgotten that our summer camp chairs are still in storage. Our storage unit is only three miles from where we moor but neither of us could be bothered with the hassle of fetching them. We decided to sit on the roof instead.

I climbed on to the roof first with my Kindle and a mug of coffee. Sally followed a few minutes later still wet from the shower, looking forward to drying out in the sun. The view from the roof was glorious. There was a hint of green on the island’s weeping willows, a trio of ducks squabbled in the reeds next to the boat and the sun bounced off the small waves on the choppy water.

Unfortunately the water was choppy because of the wind whipping across the marina, a wind which was much more pronounced on top of the boat. We did the typically English thing of wrapping ourselves up in coats pretending we weren’t cold but we weren’t fooling anyone, especially ourselves. We lasted about five minutes before we thankfully came to our senses and hurried in to the boat and the warmth of the fire.

I’m glad we enjoyed our five minutes on the roof because Sally has gone now. Not for good. At least, I hope it’s not for good. She didn’t mention anything about not returning when she left.

She has a problem to sort out. She doesn’t really want me to talk about it on the site but she’s happy for me just to say that it’s to do with the abuse of long term trust with her property and possessions in the Philippines. It’s important enough to tell her employer that she has to leave them for three weeks just four weeks after returning to work after a month away. It’s important enough for her to spend thousands of pounds of our hard earned savings to sort it out and it’s important enough for her to catch a flight back to the island within twenty four hours of discovering the problem.

The trip won’t be pleasant. I took her to Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon. After an hour and a half in the car going to the airport, she had a three hour wait for the plane to Manila, a grueling fourteen and a half hour non stop flight, an exhausting ten hour wait for her one and a half hour connecting flight to Negros and then a final and quite worrying ninety minute ride on the back of a motorbike holding onto the rider with one hand and her suitcase with the other travelling on roads studded with potholes deep enough to swim in.

Once she gets there she has to have her wits about her to resolve an extremely difficult and potentially volatile situation, a situation which has been caused by someone she has bent over backwards to help in any way she can over the last two decades.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Both Sally and I agreed that there was no advantage in me going with her. The nature of the deceit fills me with rage so diplomacy wouldn’t be uppermost in my mind if I were to meet the offending party. We agreed that I would stay on the boat so at least one of us is still earning a crust.

It’s interesting how my feelings about the space I have on the boat has changed over the last four years. I moved on to the boat after leaving the fairly large four bed detached house I shared with my ex wife for ten years. The boat felt tiny and quite claustrophobic. Over the next two years I became more and more comfortable with the much smaller living space, and then I met Sally.

Sally’s regular visits became more and more frequent until, a year after we first me, she moved out of her house and on to the boat with her two spaniels. The boat felt quite small and claustrophobic again. As I got used to sharing the space with Sally, and used to having two dogs underfoot all of the time, I felt comfortable again.

Now that Sally’s been away for a few days and I have the whole boat to myself, I feel as though I’m rattling around in too much space. I am sure now that if I was on my own I could quite comfortably live on a much smaller boat. I hope I never have the chance to put my theory to the test.

Sally’s absence has given me more time to work on the site, or it would have done if I hadn’t agreed to work an extra day a week at the marina. Sundays are normally quite busy days on our wharf. We look after four four 60′ narrowboats for the Royal Navy; Trafalgar, Emma, Lafter and The Andrew. They are offered to RN staff at subsidised rates.

When I first started working here I was a little nervous about doing instructions for the often all male crews. The hirers, often eight to a boat, would spend two or three minutes loading a minimum amount of luggage and then half an hour filling the boat with cases of beer. I had no need to worry though. The navy personnel are unfailingly polite and attentive during instructions and always in a good mood.

One of our Sunday instructors is out on an extended cruise at the moment and another is about to leave for a five year contract in China where he will earn an obscene amount of money and then retire to a life of leisure on the waterways when he returns.

I’m helping out until the cruising instructor returns which means that I’ve had to try and shoehorn my newsletter writing into evenings when I finish work and early mornings before I begin again.

Before I forget, let me tell you about our latest resident, or maybe residents. We have at least one otter here at the marina.

Last week for a couple of days we had three guys cruising around the marina in a strange looking craft. They were electro-fishing. Electro-fishing involves passing an electrical current through the water powerful enough to stun but not kill fish. The three man crew’s mission was twofold. They were  working on behalf of CRT to remove zander and to check for otter damage on the fish they caught.

Zander are a non native invasive and destructive fish which looks like a cross between a pike and a perch.  Any zander caught are removed from the water and often sold to restaurants. The largest removed from our marinas last week weighed a very respectable 9lb.

If otters are in an area, the first fish species to disappear are carp. We have (had) some monsters. Up until a couple of years ago I regularly saw fish weighing upwards of 20lb cruising in the shallows during the summer months. I didn’t see any at all last year. One of the electro fishers said that they stunned a carp with bite scars on its tail which is a very strong indication that otters are here.

I know we also have mink here so I asked what impact they have on fish stocks. I was surprised to hear that their impact is marginal. They are more of a danger to water birds than they are to fish.

So, if you pay a visit to one of our marinas at dusk and you think you see a dog swimming across the water, you’ve just seen a not so elusive otter. I can’t make up my mind whether I’m pleased that we have otters or sad that we have probably lost our larger fish because of them.

Finding Your Way around The Site

There’s a huge amount of information on the site now. Much of it has been added by me over countless late nights and early mornings but much more has been contributed by a wide variety of experienced boaters. There are now four hundred and eighty pages of information on the main part of the site and a further four thousand nine hundred posts on the forum.

Because there’s so much information, finding exactly what you want can sometimes take a while. Your only option until now has been the Google custom search facility which added a few months ago to the top of the right hand column on any of the pages on the main part of the site. It’s really good at finding the information you’re looking for. The problem is, you need to know what you’re looking for before you can search for it.

There’s now another way to find what you want.

I’m in the process of compiling a comprehensive index of all of the information on the site. It’s going to take me a few weeks to complete but here’s the index so far. It’s an alphabetical list of the most popular posts from the forum. I’ve yet to add the articles from the site and all of the content from the newsletter archive. I’ll also include everything from the narrowboat terminology newsletter and links to useful resources on other boating sites.

At any stage if you think something is missing from the index which is either on this site or which you think is worth including from another site, please let me know. It will be a work in progress for a while but I hope you agree that there’s some valuable content here already. here’s the index so far…

Aerials – Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
Aluminium narrowboats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal riverscolumn to both the left and the right of the content you are reading, you are on the main part of the site.
Back Boiler – Plumbing In A Back Boiler – Advice Offered
Battery monitors – Gimmick or essential boating equipment?
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.
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?
Boat Shares – A low cost alternative to outright narrowboat ownership. Advice from a current share owner
Buying A Boat – The logistics A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be surveyed.
Buying a boat – The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
Cold weather – Living on a boat in cold weather
Car insurance for boat owners – A boat owner had his car insurance cancelled when he told them he lives on a narrowboat. How does he approach other insurance companies?
“Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
Condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Condensation – Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Continuous Cruisers – Tips – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
Continuous Cruising – The Cost Of Continuous Cruising – How much does the nomadic lifestyle really cost?
Cruising  – Pre Cruise Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
Damp: Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
Depreciation – How much does a new narrowboat lose in value as the years go by?
Digital Books – A lifetime’s reading in the palm of your hand
Digital maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Digital music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
Diseases- “Chiggers” – It’s a mite you can pick up from the ever growing population of Canada Geese. Beware!
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.
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?
Finance – Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
Flooring – The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
Furniture – Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
Gadgets – Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on 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
Generators – A Big Inverter Or A Suitcase Generator – What are the pros and cons of either option?
Heat – Advice for the owner of a cold boat
Heating – Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Height – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
Hire boats – Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
Hurricane Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
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.
Inverters – Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
Inverter Installation – What do you need and can you fit one yourself?
Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
Kindle review – Digital reading for boat owners
Knots – 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!
Length – The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
Live aboard narrowboat – 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.
Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Mail services – 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?
Maps – GPS Devices and Canal Mapping – Are there any decent ones available for your narrowboat and do you need them anyway?
Mikuni Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed
Mobile Broadband Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
Mobile Broadband – More information – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
Mooring in winter – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
Mooring enforecement – CRT & Continuous Cruising – The Trust and their enforcement of the rules
Mooring fees – It’s Official: There’s No Need To Pay Mooring Fees – Or so this Daily Mail article claims. You may disagree. I do.
Moorings – Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
Music – Getting Rid Of Space Wasting CD’s & DVD’s – The solution is to digitise your collection. Here’s how to do it.
Narrowboat Choice – 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.
Narrowboat hire (long term) – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
Overcrowded Waterways – More and more people are choosing a life afloat. Are the waterways becoming congested?
Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
Ownership – Determining Proof Of Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
Pets – Keeping Cool On A Narrowboat – How to keep people and pets cool in the summer
Planning – Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
Postal services – 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?
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.
Replating – Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
River cruising – 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.
Rivers – 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?
Road Transport – 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
Ropes – 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?
Single handed Lock Techniques – How do you handle a narrowboat in a lock on your own?
Single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own?
Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
Steel – Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
Stoppages – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
Stoves – 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?
Stove Glass Cleaning – 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
Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
Stoves – Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
Survey Costs – How much should you pay to have your boat removed from the water for a survey?
Television reception – Which aerial is best?
Tips – 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.
Toilets – 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?
Toilets – Pump Out: 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.
Towing a butty – What’s the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty)
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
Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
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?
Washing Machines – 12v Narrowboat Washing Machines – Is there any such animal?
Water damage – Freezing Water – How to stop your pipes and pumps from freezing in the winter
Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
Windows Choice – Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
Windows – Condensation – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
Winter – Living aboard a boat in cold weather
Winterising – Preparing your boat for the winter
Winter moorings – Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?

Is anything wrong or missing from this list? Please let me know.

On Cloud Wine – Building An Aluminium Narrowboat Part 9

I had an email from Brian Colling earlier in the week asking whether I ever managed to publish the concluding part of his very detailed blog about how his aluminium Sea Otter narrowboat was built. I remember publishing the final part but I couldn’t remember where I had linked to it in one of the newsletters. After ten minutes of fruitless searching I realised that the reason I couldn’t remember where I had linked to it was that I hadn’t actually mentioned the final part anywhere.

Please accept my apologies Brian for the oversight. Here is the final part of the excellent series and, if you missed them when they were published, I have listed the first eight parts below.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Part 7
Part 8

 Earning Money On The Cut

BaddieemailfooterFollowing last week’s newsletter about earning money while continuously cruising, I received an email from a lady by the name of Sarah-May who is also known to her customers as Baddie the Pirate.

Sarah-May sells LED lights and fitting from her boat as she cruises the network. Here’s how she manages to combine business with leisurely exploration.

“A few years back it was difficult to find LEDs that were bright enough to be any use.  5 years ago when I discovered SMDs (surface mounted diodes to those in the know) I decided to go for it and started my boat-based LED business.  I have a website, but I do a lot of sales face to face along the towpath and whilst waiting to go through locks in the summer queues.
 
I have a little case of goodies which I visit peoples boats with, and help them pick the right LEDs for their needs. I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge along the way so am able to give advice on converting to LED lighting.
 
The logisitics vary depending on whether I’m moored up or on the move.  I have to have a vehicle so I can get to the post office to post orders out.  When I move the boat I then walk or cycle back for the car.  Progress along the network tends to be slow but that suits me.  I have many customers who pass me, then come and find me a day or two later having had a think about LED lighting in the meantime.  My rate of travel means I am normally still in range.  I have a superb network of friends and relations around the country who receive post for me and deliver stock.
 
So far I’ve managed to explore many of the northern and central canals.  I have plans to explore further south in the foreseable future, taking my business along with me, and making more sales and more friends along the way.
 
The pirate marketing theme is tongue in cheek.  The great thing about it is that my customers have a sense of humour (that’s boaters for you), and it gets my business noticed.  Visiting children like to live up to the theme and do a fair amount of swashbuckling whilst aboard, and occasionally if the swashbuckling has been too enthusiastic they get to do some plank walking too…”

I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. 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.

30th March 2014

How do you continue to earn money to support your boating lifestyle as you cruise the network?

23rd March 2014

Sharing your narrowboat space – The practicalities of sharing living accommodation the same size as a large shed.

16th March 2014

Paying for a narrowboat – What practical steps can you take to ensure you’ve established legal ownership and how do you deal with the transfer of monies between buyer and seller?

9th March 2014

Narrowboat Knots – At my first lock on my first cruise I watched my boat drift into the centre of the canal along with my twelve year old son. If you want to avoid the same embarrassment and potential damage to both your boat and your self esteem, you need to know how to tie your boat securely in a number of different situations.

2nd March 2014

Toilets is a subject often discussed by narrowboat owners but they usually talk about either pump out or cassette toilets. There is a third type though and it’s one which is both environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Here’s all you need to know about composting toilets.

23rd February 2014

Boat owners who live on board are considered to have a pretty simple and basic life by many living in bricks and mortar homes. Compared with the lifestyle of the farmers I’ve been staying with in the Philippines though, my UK life seems overly materialistic and expensive. Cou

16th February 2014

Here’s an account of my very first winter on board and that of one of the site’s subscribers, Nigel Buttery. They’re very different experiences. My first winter was the coldest on record. Nigel’s is one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a long time.

I’ve also included to links to my Philippines blog. I spent the whole of February living in a rural farming community on the island of Negros.

9th February 2014

Have you ever wondered how a narowboat is built. Here are the first two parts of a very detailed account of the building of a Sea Otter aluminium narrowboat. You’ll be particularly interested in Sea Otters if you don’t fancy the constant battle with rust that you have with traditional steel narrowboats.

2nd February 2014

Condensation is something all boat owners have to deal with. Here’s an explanation of why it occurs and what to do about it. I also tested a remote boat monitoring application in this issue.

26th January 2014

Cold floors, cold air above the floors and cold hull sides. It’s a combination which can cause your bottom half quite a bit of discomfort. Here’s what I do to deal with the problem.

19th January 2014

Weil’s disease – It’s an often talked about and often feared aspect of living, working or playing close to inland waterways but just how dangerous is it and what can you do to keep yourself safe?

12th January 2014

If you’re on a budget maybe a self fit our sailaway is the way to go for you. Here’s the story of a wide beam self fit out to give you inspiration (or put you off completely)

5th January 2014

Planning for the year ahead – Written plans and goals have always been important to me. They help me see into the future. Here’s what we’ve planned for our lovely floating home in 2014.

29th December 2013

The practicality of hosting Christmas afloat – How do you achieve a floating festive event (and do you really want to)?

Liveaboard case study, The Pearl – Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning. They stated their narrowboat fund thirty years before buying their own boat. Now the two retired education workers moor in a marina for the winter then explore the waterways during the warmer months.

22nd December 2013

Narrowboat Storage Space – How much space is there to store your worldly goods on board a narrowboat? Here’s a video walk-through of my own boat James.

15th December 2013

Roses and Castles Canal Art – What is it and why do boaters spend so much money decorating their boats with it?

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.

  • Aluminium Boats – They don’t rust so why don’t you see more of them on the inland waterways?
  • Ironing Board On Board – How do boaters manage a crease free life?
  • 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.

I have a list of paranoias

I have a list of paranoia’s or are they just worries…the weed hatch paranoia, the lack of water one, the water in the boat one, the flat battery one, the misfiring engine one, the was I ripped off when I bought it one and is the Morso too close to the bed one…, the am I doing it properly one and the did I close the paddles on the previous lock one and/or the one before it…and then there’s the usual, did I turn the gas off on the oven and have I turned all the lights off.

Such is the worry of the single handed boater. I seem to have lost a day somewhere and the associated pictures but then again not much to report on the journey from the ugly Trafford centre to Plank Lane, not far and not too much to say. But I managed to fill up with diesel for the second time and since Nantwich I have now put 90 litres in the tank…not bad thinks me for such a distance and so many hours, certainly more than 90 cruisng hours and now into my fifth week of living on a narrowboat.

I made it to Wigan basin but noticed the bottom of the canal scraping the underside as I entered the basin. The water level seemed very low as I turned to head towards the Wigan flight around mid-morning I could feel the bottom of the canal. As soon as I tried to get close enough to moor the boat to go and sort the lock the boat grounded still about 6 feet from the bank.

I tried to back it off but no joy so I used my trusty pole and managed to get it back to deeper water and I tried somewhere else and the same thing happened and then I tried another spot and so on until thoroughly exhausted I gave up grounded some 5 feet from the mooring, switched off the engine and phoned the C&RT people who promptly sent someone to Leeds to assist me despite I had explained I was in Wigan.

After a bit of messing about the Wigan office got in touch and were very supportive but by then the day had moved on and they had to get a crew to come from Burnley and traffic being what it is it all added another couple of hours to my wait.

Whilst sitting there in the rain pondering my best move and realizing I would have to moor in Wigan overnight I spotted this:

spot the wabbit win a lollipop

…and suddenly it was all worthwhile although it has to be said they looked like Wigan wabbits…I mean rabbits, something quite untidy about them and a certain scrawnyness. All the Wigan people who stopped to chat were very friendly I should say, not in the least bit scrawny nor untidy…I am just speaking about the Wigan rabbits here and all my fears of mooring in Wigan were unfounded for that particular night although the ambulances wailed and screamed through the night.

The C&RT trust chaps turned up and basically did the lock for me so I could get up one lock and moor just before the Britania bridge. I had one youthful voice call to me in the night…can we live on your boat with you please and that was all. I ignored the voice and it went away I was thinking it might have been one of the rabbits or both perhaps, did we all spot the other wabbit children, there’s another lollipop…

Wigan morring 1And so I had me a relatively quiet night in Wigan, Fred arrived in the morning and we set off up the Wigan Flight. At first progress seemed very slow especially as a rope on a brick slammed into the prop and the rope wrapped itself around the propeller and the brick wedged tightly between the back of the prop and the back of the boat. It distorted the prop slightly, there was a gurgling sound and suddenly the bilge pumped kicked in and started dumping water.

I was very worried at this point and thought I should boil water or call a doctor or run around in a madness wailing like an ambulance. Fred was great and said let the bilge pump get on with it while we set to releasing the brick, several shifts of cold hands and arms later it was free and the rope unwound. Fred turned the greasing screw a few times and the water stopped…he went on to tell me we could have tightened the stern gland if necessary but the extra grease seemed to sort it out.

After a stop of about 45 mins we commenced with the climb up the flight.

Not much more to report on that trip really…and 7 hours later we were at the top lock and had a very disappointing pint at the pub with an equally disappointing dinner of Fish and Chips…then Fred went off to his boat in Droylesden and I went to bed.WF 1

WF 2

 

 

 

 

WF 3

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