Archive

Monthly Archives: July 2014

2014 07 27 Newsletter – The Pros And Cons Of A Wide Beam Home

I love the internet and the vast amount of information which is instantly available twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year. However, sometimes I think there is too much information available. Take this week for example.

Meadows marina is beautiful. One hundred and forty boats rest on spacious moorings on six acres of reed fringed marina. The reeds and bull rushes screen each of the mooring bays, provide a degree of privacy for the boats moored there and a home for the marina’s musical reed warblers and an al fresco dining area for coots, crested grebes, mallards by the score, swans, tufted ducks and a very occasional kingfisher. The healthy reed growth is wonderful for wildlife but a bit of a problem for Pat and I.

The reeds grow at a tremendous rate at this time of the year. New shoots on the bank surrounding the marina often grow six inches between weekly grass cuts. New growth on the grass is easy to remove with a quick pass from the comfort of my ride on mower. New reed growth in the water is an entirely different matter.

There are nine bays in Meadows marina, each separated from the others by a grassy peninsula which extends thirty of forty feet into the water from the bank. The perimeter of the marina including the sides of the peninsulas was planted with reeds when the marina was built in 2006. Each year since then the reeds have extended their territory more and more until this year when many of the boats on end moorings have rather more privacy than they would perhaps like.

We have tried many ways of removing the reeds. We’ve tried throwing a grappling hook from one of our hire boats brought down from the wharf especially for weed removal. The grappling hook couldn’t budge the firmly rooted reeds. We tried leaning over the side of the hire boat and pulling them out by hand but we couldn’t reach them. We tried an outboard engine powered skiff to use as a platform. This was low enough to enable us to grab the reeds but they were so well anchored that giving them an almighty yank almost capsized the boat rather than pull them free.

Eventually we came to the conclusion that there was no other way of clearing the mooring bays than to climb into the marina wearing chest waders and carrying a pair of short handled garden shears. That’s when my problems began this week.

Our marinas are very healthy. The ten acres of water support a variety of fish including perch, roach, bream, common carp, zander and pike. The perch, roach and bream aren’t a problem. Nor are the carp although some of them weigh in excess of 30lb and can often be seen wallowing in the shallows. I’m not really bothered by the zander either even though they are fierce predators. What really bothers me is the thought of monster pike lurking beneath the surface looking for an easy meal.

Pat told me that he had an underpants changing incident when he was clearing the reeds a couple of months ago. He said that he felt something bang into his leg. He looked down to see a pike with a head as big as a Doberman resting against his thigh. He ran out of the water and hasn’t been back since.

I’m not entirely sure I believe him, especially as he’s told me on several occasions that he thinks the woods are haunted. I was pretty sure that he was having me on but, as I have a good internet connection and love a bit of surfing, I decided to spend a few minutes finding out if there are any record of pike biting people.

Worryingly there are quite a few. In fact world pike expert Fred Buller stated that a trailing hand in the water, or maybe a groundsman grabbing handfuls of cut reeds from a marina, is quite likely to trigger a predatory attack. A pike has a mouthful of needle sharp, backward-sloping teeth (see below) which I don’t want to get too close to.

Pike teeth

Of course I didn’t really expect to get attacked by a ravenous and ferocious four feet long meat eating fish, but the stories were at the back of my mind when I waded chest deep into the cool marina water armed with a pair of garden shears on a very hot Wednesday last week.  I soon forgot about the pike as I concentrated on staying upright on the uneven and steeply shelved reed choked marina side.

Meadows marina is unusually deep. The contractor who dug out the marina ran out of clay to build the island in the middle so, on the side closest to where I was working, he scraped more and more off the marina bed until he had enough to raise the half acre island six feet above the water. The result was a section of the marina over twenty feet deep. More than enough water to hide some very large fish.

Of course there was nothing to worry about, other than an unexpected under chin suntan from the searing sunlight reflected from the crystal clear water, the difficulty in keeping my footing on the steeply shelving and very uneven marina bottom and the problem of maintaining my balance with my increased buoyancy due to being nipple deep in water. There was nothing to worry about until I saw a line of bubbles approaching me.

In my late teens and early twenties I spent nearly every weekend fishing on lakes and ponds near my Merseyside home. I know all about fresh water bubbles. It’s a sure sign that something is under the surface disturbing the silt. I knew that there were often large carp foraging in the shallows but the carp are shy creatures so I would have expected the bubbles to move away from me and not in an arrow straight line towards my legs.

I took a precautionary step backwards and checked to see how close I was to the bank. Stepping backwards in chest deep water over an uneven surface wearing waders a size too big for me was a bad idea. I stumbled but managed to maintain my balance but not before a litre or two of marina sloshed over the top of my waders and down my legs. I would have been all right if hadn’t glanced at the line of bubbles again and then seen something beneath the water make the reeds quiver and shake as it moved closer and closer towards me.

Coot chickI took another step backwards just as the water boiled in front of the quivering reeds and something launched itself from the water towards my bare hand just beneath the surface. I leaped backwards, tripped over a rock and emptied the contents of the marina into my chest high rubber boots.

After a brief and rather unpleasant tour of the marina bottom I struggled back to the surface to see my “assailant” disappear into the bank-side reeds. It was nothing more harmless than a three month old coot chick making its ungainly and very noisy way through the undergrowth looking for food. The fluffy little vegetation eating bird wasn’t quite the 40lb attack-anything-on-sight predator I had tried so hard to get away from. Still, looking on the bright side, my phone soon dried out and in the searing heat I soon dried out too as I sat on the bank in my boxer shorts.

The Pros And Cons Of A Wide Beam Boat

I was asked recently what the advantages and disadvantages are of a wide beam boat and how they compare with narrowboats. I am biased of course. I have a narrowboat and wouldn’t swap it for a wide beam for all the tea in China. In one of the May newsletters last year I wrote about a chance meeting with a brand new wide beam hotel boat on the stretch of Oxford/GU canal between Napton and Braunston junctions. One reader thought my post was a personal and unwarranted attack on wide beams. It wasn’t. I have nothing against them at all. Many have beautifully designed and undeniably spacious accommodation but the waterway network wasn’t designed for such wide craft. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, many will disagree with me, they aren’t suitable as a recreational vehicle at all.

Here is what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of a wide beam boat compared with a narrowboat. I know that this post is subjective so in the interest of providing as balanced a view as possible, I welcome all comments from wide beam owners and enthusiasts. I know that a number of site visitors and regular forum contributors are wide beam owners. If you are one of them, and disagree with any of the points I have made below, please let me know so that I can publish your comments,

Advantages

  • More living space  You have more space to store them your stuff and even though your boat is sometimes nearly twice as wide as a narowboat, you only pay the same license fee for the canals (If you are going to be moored full time on some rivers, such as the Thames, the fee you pay is determined by the area of the boat rather than by the length. You will also have to pay more than you would for a narrowboat if you buy a Gold license.

Disadvantages

  • Severely limited cruising  In theory, you can cruise on rivers and wide canals. Wide canals get their name from the width of the locks rather than the width of the waterway itself. A wide lock will take two narrowboats side by side so wide beams can use these locks too. However, wide beams cannot use the narrow canals.We have some wonderful routes available to the moorers and hirers here at Calcutt Boats. We’re on the Grand Union canal at the heart of the network. The most popular routes are to Oxford and back along the south Oxford. The Warwick Ring which passes by our front door. The route is through Leamington Spa and Warwick, through the centre of Birmingham, on to Tamworth down towards Coventry, through Rugby, on to Baunston and then back to Napton and the final short hop to Calcutt Boats. A very popular and very gentle route is the “four locks” cruise to the end of the Ashby canal and back. My favourite route from Calcutt is to Market Harborough. There’s a huge amount of variety including three tunnels, two flights of staircase locks, a deafeningly noisy section as the canal squeezes past the M1 next to Watford Gap service station, the A5 and a busy railway, and some of the most remote and peaceful countryside on the network. Wide beam boats can’t do any of these routes.Wide beams also cannot travel on the Huddersfield Narrow canal, the Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Caldon or Trent & Mersey canals, the Shropshire Union, Birmingham & Fazeley, the hundred mile plus BCN network around Birmingham, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire, or the Worcester and Birmingham.And because wide beams can’t travel on some of the canals in the Midlands, it’s not possible to travel between the northern and southern sections of the network.I started off by saying that in theory wide beams can cruise the wide canals. Unfortunately, in practice it’s rarely either pleasant or stress free cruising.I live and work on the Grand Union less than half a mile away from Napton junction. It’s one of the busiest stretches of canal in the country. As well as being at the heart of the canal network, just two hour’s cruise from the canal capital of Braunston, it’s home to a large number of marinas. There are more than two thousand offline moorings within a ten mile radius of where I live.Because of our location, and because of the number of boats moored in the area, there’s a constant stream of boats passing by. I see hundreds off boats pass by each week. How many are wide beams? Not one.Seeing a wide beam moving along the waterway here is a rarity. I see one every couple of months at the most. The fact is that traveling on the canals, even wide canals such as the Grand Union, can be quite a painful process.Canals are often shallow but by keeping to the centre of the canals where passing narrowboats have kept the channel clear silt, you can cruise without difficulty… in a narrowboat. In a wide beam you often straddle the cleared channel, especially when passing under bridges and especially when you need to pass traffic moving in the opposite direction.When you pass through a bridge hole in a narrowboat, you have some manuouvering room. You can steer close to the towpath side where there is more headroom and more clearance for the any roof furniture. You don’t have that luxury with a wide beam. You have to pass under bridges very carefully and make sure that your boat roof is clear of obstructions.
  • Increased maintenance costs  Your boat’s steel hull and cabin needs constant attention to prevent the ever present threat of rust. You’ll want to have your boat removed from the water every two to three years to black the hull. A wide beam is going to cost you more to black because of the increased surface area which will need painting. You’re also going to have logistical issues when looking for someone to do the work for you. We black a large number of boats at Calcutt Boats. I’m not sure of the exact number but it’s probably in excess of 150 each year. They are all narrowboats.We can’t black wide beam boats because of the equipment we use.We have a wheeled cradle which is pushed down the slipway into the water by a JCB. Boats are steered over the trailer which is then pulled back out of the water along with the boat. The cradles four corner posts are just slightly wider than a narrowboat so we can’t accommodate boats wider than seven feet. Many other boat yards have similar restrictions because of the equipment they use to remove boats from the water of because of the width of their dry docks.
  • Increased running costs  Your license won’t cost you any more on the canals than a similar length narrowboat but it will on the waters which determine the license cost based on the boat’s area rather than the length. And because you have more living space, your heating costs will also increase.
  • Increased mooring costs  and difficulty finding a mooring  I told you recently about the monster wide beam which was launched at Kate boats a few months ago. Avalon is 70′ long and 13’6″ wide. The owners had done as much as they could to find a suitable mooring before the boat was built. They found a marina which promised could accommodate them, paid a deposit to secure the mooring and with the mooring secured instructed the Colecraft to build their sailaway. Gary then spent a year fitting out the boat himself. During that time he paid another deposit to the marina to hold their marina berth.On the day that they launched their new floating home, the marina informed them that the mooring was no longer available as it wasn’t suitable for their boat. They cruised as far as the Calcutt flight and stopped because Gary was a nervous wreck. On top of the devastating news that the boat now had no mooring, they launched the thirty seven tonne and surprisingly shallow drafted boat on a very windy day. Gary, with no boating experience at all to draw on, said that he travelled most of the three miles to the Calcutt flight at a forty five degree angle.Clacutt Boats’ owners agreed to let them stay for a few weeks until they found themselves somewhere else to moor. They searched high and low, and I helped them, but because of the boat’s size, nothing was available. For a start, even if they wanted to moor in a marina, the boat’s width caused a problem. I don’t know whether they could have negotiated the entrance to the marinas here, but it would have been a tight squeeze. I think they might just have made it if we removed the sleepers protecting the marina entrance sides. Whether they could or not was academic. There were no moorings suitable for them inside the marina and the business doesn’t accept live aboards anyway. If there had been space, it would probably have been prohibitively expensive.  Our moorings are all on pontoons with just two narrowboat widths between each finger. They would have had to pay twice the normal cost because they would have taken up two boat spaces. The cost would have been in excess of £5,000pa.We didn’t have a suitable mooring but Wigram’s Turn marina half a mile away at Napton Junction offered them a place. Unfortunately they couldn’t use it because they couldn’t fit their boat through the marina entrance. The marina entrance is 13′ wide, six inches too narrow to allow them access.I took Gary and his wife Marie out on James for the day to help them search for another mooring. There was nothing remotely suitable. The only other marina in the area which was prepared to take them and which had an entrance wide enough for their boat was at Braunston. They decided against it. The main reason for buying the boat and moving afloat was to afford their severely handicapped nineteen year old daughter Emily a better quality of life for her few remaining yearsEmily was shaken by  a child minder as a baby. The child minder was imprisoned for a few short years. Emily suffered brain damage and lost almost all of her sight in both eyes. Water soothes and calms her. The boat is a wide beam to give her the space she needs to move around her new home safely. The boat’s temporary mooring on the canal between two locks away from roads and surrounded by wildlife is the perfect location for her. The berth offered them at Braunston was wedged between other boats with difficult and dangerous access for someone so visually impaired. It just wasn’t suitable.

    Even if Marie and Gary didn’t have to consider Emily’s particular requirements, there were no mooring opportunities even remotely suitable. The boat was simply too wide for most online moorings. There wouldn’t have been room for canal traffic to pass easily or safely. Most of the marinas in the area don’t take live aboard boaters and couldn’t have physically fitted their boat in anyway. There was a glimmer of light at Barby Moorings on the North Oxford but the further we cruised up the canal from Braunston towards Barby the more apparent it became that the boat simply wouldn’t fit through many of the bridge holes.

    Gary and Marie were both very despondent when we moored at the end of a ten hour cruise. In theory they could have travelled further afield to look for somewhere suitable but they had the logistical issue of having to ferry Emily too and from her special school, a task they had to accomodate around their own full time jobs.

    The situation appeared so hopeless that they seriously considered selling the boat, probably at a substantial loss, and moving back into their Southam home. Since then they have been given a further stay of execution by Caluctt Boats’s owners but I don’t know what they will do if they are asked to move elsewhere.

As you can see, I think that the disadvantages of a wide beam far outweigh the advantage of having a little more living space. What do you think?

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 four 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 July 2014

The dreaded weed hatch – Sooner or later your engine will start to overheat, you’ll lose propulsion and you’ll know that you need to dive down your weed hatch to free an obstacle or two from the propeller. Here’s how to do it properly and a list of the tools you’ll need.

13th July 2014

Digital aids for narrowboat owners – Digital applications and maps for inland waterways boaters

6th July 2014

Practical experience for lone boaters. Here’s an account of a day’s cruise with a nervous single boater. He wanted enough confidence to deal with locks on his own. I spent the day with him, designed a route to include twenty six locks and spent ten hours helping him hone his locking skills.

29th June 2014

Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks

22nd June 2014

Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names

15th June 2014

Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?

8th June 2014

Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.

1st June 2014

Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges

25th May 2014

Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.

18th May 2014

Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.

 11th May 2014

How to avoid common narrowboat accidents. They happen far more often than you might think. Here’s what you need to keep yourself out of harm’s way.

4th May 2014

If you want to live on your boat and don’t want to, or can’t, cruise full time, you must have a residential mooring. Here’s how to find one.

27th April 2014

What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment

20th April 2014

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 07 20 Newsletter – The Dreaded Weed Hatch

What wonderful weather! When I finished work on Tuesday, I endured the long and painful commute from work to home (a five minute walk through the site and along a grassy bank overlooking the marina) to find tables and chairs set up on the peninsula next to the boat with a clear view of the water fowl relaxing on the island.

Sally brought our our evening meal, spicy lamb and rice followed by raspberry and mango cheesecake and fresh raspberries, which we eat in a contented silence as we listened to the squabbling birds and the soft breeze gently rustling the head high reeds.

The tranquility was marred ever so slightly by the annoying drone of microlight aircraft constantly taking off from a field close to the marina, doing a ten minute circuit of the area, landing and then repeating the cycle again. I’m very tempted to buy an air rifle and take pot shots at him as he passes. I suppose that’s not socially acceptable though.

As the week progressed the weather became warmer but more unsettled. On Thursday with the temperature in the mid twenties both Pat and I looked for something to do in the shade. Pat spent the hottest part of the day under the willows overhanging the road up to reception, cutting them back to allow easier access for the high sided vans and lorries which deliver to us regularly throughout the day.

I spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the cottage garden. The garden has a small orchard with half a dozen apple trees, a similar number of damsons, a too large pear and a magnificent walnut tree with a green painted bench built around the trunk.

Sadly, the orchard, and the cottage garden generally, has been neglected over the last few years. The pear tree had been allowed to grow to about thirty feet and had stopped producing fruit. Last winter I cut the top five feet off the tree. This year, after many barren years, pears are hanging from the branches again. Unfortunately most of the fruit is still too high to reach. I’m going to cut another five or six feet off the top again at the end of this year.

On Thursday I spent my time tidying the garden and removing excess tree growth. One of the larger damsons had grown over the slate roof of the byre which adjoins the cottage garden. I removed a couple of limbs to stop the roof from being damaged and then removed the lower branches from a forty feet high conifer which dominates the garden. I’ll be removing it completely at the end of the year but for now I just need to be able to drive around the trunk sitting on our Husqvarna mower without decapitating myself.

There’s no rest for the wicked. On Friday, my day off, I spent a rather hot afternoon in Sally’s garden painting her fence, and reminding myself why I love living on my boat so much. The house is in a very pleasant residential area of Woodford Halse but it’s far too close to other home owners for my liking.

I spent the afternoon listening to little Tommy tormenting his sisters in a garden paddling pool about fifty metres away. His mother’s parental guidance involved her leaning out of a bedroom window every five minutes and telling the neighbourhood what a naughty boy he was. Added to Tommy’s whining denials, his sisters’ screams and his mother’s shrill rebukes, I could hear the clatter of a group of teenagers practicing on skateboards on the road at the front of the house, groups of neighbours chatting at front doors, lawn mowers and hedge trimmers in nearby gardens, cars and motor bikes on the road and a host of other sounds typical of a quiet residential area. I hated it.

For the last four and a half years, I’ve been used to hearing very little other than the natural sounds around me. At this time of the year the marina is at its busiest but even now it’s unusual to see more than half a dozen people a day walking by during the day. During the winter months weeks can pass without seeing anyone else at all near our floating home. I couldn’t wait to get back to the peace and tranquility.

I was home by 7pm enjoying our evening meal under the shade of the cockspur thorn tree next to the boat, sipping a chilled Strongbow cider and watching the storm clouds build.

For the previous two or three days the weather forecasters had been predicting torrential rain, thunder and lightning for Friday night. I was really looking forward to it. I love a good storm but we rarely experience one in this gentle part of Warwickshire.

As the light faded we saw constant lightning flashes on the eastern horizon and the occasional muted rumble of thunder. We put our chairs and table away at 10pm, made sure that the covers were on the side and rear hatches, climbed into bed and waited for the show to start.

As is often the case with extreme weather forecasts, very little out of the ordinary happened. We had a brief but reasonably heavy shower in the early hours, but that was it. Saturday morning was dull with frequent gentle showers but the rain was warm so we carried on working on the wharf hire boats in tee shirts anticipating further forecast torrential rain, but we didn’t get that either.

One of the returning hire boat crews on Saturday morning was a man short. The crew was on one of our larger boats. At sixty feet long and about fifteen tonnes it’s not an exceptionally big boat, but it’s far too large for one person to deflect from a rapidly approaching wall without the aid of the engine. That’s what the missing crew member did. The boat’s bow was getting too close to the bridge side as the boat passed through the bridge hole so, we think, he stood on the bow and tried to push off against the wall with one foot. The foot he had on the bow slipped and he fell between the boat’s bow and the wall, just before the boat made contact with the wall.

He’s broken a bone in his pelvis. It’s going to be a long time before he forgets the consequences of such a foolish stunt and the danger of getting between the boat and any other solid object.

Emergency Hose Repairs & Keeping Notes

I recently told you about a problem I had with a failed hose. Roger Filler has kindly emailed me this useful tip for running hose repairs and another handy digital aid for boaters to add to last week’s collection.

“Glad the hose/engine issue was resolved without too much cash.  Here is a little inexpensive tip that will save you if you have hose issues again.  Get yourself hose menders for each hose size you have at the DIY center along with a couple of hose clamps for each one.  I have attached pictures for you.  The clamps can be the normal type or the ones illustrated which are great for a quick no tools repair.

How to use:  Cut hose where the leak is, insert mender, tighten clamps and off you go.  Done in a few minutes.  If problem is at hose end cut bad end off (not too long) and insert hose mender if needed to make up length elsewhere in hose.  It’s a permanent repair unlike tape. A real lifesaver if you have special shaped hoses that are only obtainable through the dealer. Perfect for the cruising spares kit.

I will try to post this tip in the digital post.  It’s for a program called Evernote.  The best idea for keeping copies of “stuff” I have found.  You can keep copies of manuals, notes, pictures and pretty much anything else.  It’s free for a limited – but adequate – monthly upload limit.  I have all the manuals for my motor home’s equipment, for the boat, cameras etc on it.  OK not bad you say?  It really comes into it’s own in that you can install it on multiple devices which will automatically sync.  I can access my info on any of my computers, iPad and smart phone.  No more needing the manuals if I need to look stuff up.  Also great for just jotting notes, reminders and saving pictures.  You can get Evernote here or look in your phone’s app store for Android and Apple.”

Dealing With Unwanted Canal Collections

A few days ago I was asked what a weed hatch is for. I explained that it was to gain access to the propeller to remove stuff that gets caught on it. “So it’s not just for getting weed off then?”. If you are already a boat owner there’s a very good chance that you already know from personal experience that removing weed from your propeller is the least of your problems.

I’m often asked by our eager and often novice hire boat crews how deep the canals are. They are usually surprised when I tell them that they won’t often have more than four feet of water under them and that quite often the depth can be as little as two feet of clear water and a couple of feet of silt under that.

The shallow depth is enough of a problem for you as a narrowboat owner. Your boat’s draft, the distance from the lowest point on the boat to the waterline, will usually be somewhere between eighteen and thirty inches. My boat’s draft is thirty inches and as such is quite a deep drafted boat. On shallow canals such as the Ashby I can often feel the boat ploughing through the mud. On rural canals being in contact with the bottom is no more than an inconvenience. However, on urban waterways where the intellectually challenged oiks like to pass their free time throwing inanimate objects into the water, shallow depths can cause you a great deal of inconvenience.

As your boat cruises along litter infested urban waterways, the boat’s thick steel bottom passes without harm over protruding objects but the propeller, protected only by the skeg, a narrow steel bar running underneath the propeller from the boat’s base plate to the rudder assembly, often catches the obstacles as they spring free from the weight of the boat passing over them.

Weed, unless it’s particularly thick and fibrous, isn’t a problem. The difficulty you’ll face is with just about every other man made object which finds its way into the canal. You’ll encounter fishing line complete with hooks, rope, plastic bags, every item of clothing under the sun, mattresses and duvets, three piece suites, shopping trollies and bicycles by the score, odd bits of wood and plastic and, if you’re particularly unfortunate, a rotting animal carcass or two.

With regard to unpleasant encounters with the weed hatch, we are very fortunate here at Caluctt Boats. We are on the Grand Union deep in rural Warwickshire. We are eight miles east of Leamington Spa, twelve miles south east of Coventry and thirty miles south east of Birmingham. The first opportunity to meet Neanderthal canal side revelers to the south is by travelling thirteen miles, two days by canal, south to Banbury.

The usual routes for our holiday hirers are down to Oxford and back on the south Oxford, up the north Oxford, onto the Coventry and then up the Ashby canal and back, along the Grand Union Leicester line to Market Harborough and back or around the Warwick ring. With the exception of some parts of Birmingham on the Warwick ring, our hire boat crews rarely have to dive down the weed hatch. We brief them on the correct procedure anyway. This is what we tell them.

There are a number of indications that you have something fouled on the propeller; you may experience a loss of power, you might suddenly notice dark smoke from the exhaust, your tiller might start to vibrate or you may notice that the engine temperature has increased (Please note, you will only be aware of an increase of engine temperature in the early stages if you (A) actually have an engine temperature gauge and (B) you can easily see it as you cruise. On my boat the temperature gauge is set in a pigeon box facing me. On all of our hire boats the temperature gauge is set in the rear cabin bulkhead facing the steerer.)

The first thing you should try is to put the boat into reverse and give it a quick blast to try and throw the obstacle off. If this doesn’t work you’ll have to roll your sleeves up and get down and dirty.

Pull over to the bank and moor your boat. Turn the engine off and make sure that everyone is aware that you are going to have your hands wrapped around the propeller so the engine mustn’t be turned on while you are down there. With our often novice hire crews we suggest that the weed hatch diver puts the ignition keys in his or her pocket to ensure that that doesn’t happen.

The weed hatch will have a locking bar or clamps securing it in place. Undo the retaining screws (you may need to give them a tap with your mooring lump hammer to free them), slide the locking bar out and then lift the weed hatch cover out of the way.

You will now see a square or rectangular opening through the bottom of the boat to the water. Carefully reach down into the water and feel for the propeller. I emphasise “carefully” because you don’t know what you’re going to encounter. Obstructions can include barbed wire and fishing line complete with hooks.

Because the routes out from Calcutt Boats are usually on rural and debris free canals we don’t have any tools on board for cutting away obstructions. We suggest that they use the serrated bread knife from the galley to cut any obstructions away (and to clean the bread knife using boiling water after they’ve used it).

Once the obstruction has been removed, replace the weed hatch lid and locking bar, make sure that the locking bar is secure and check that you have a watertight seal before replacing the deck board. If you don’t have a watertight seal, as soon as the boat is in motion, water will find its way from the canal into the engine bay, often with disastrous consequences. An easy way of checking the seal is to start the boat, put it into gear and give it a quick blast. The spinning propeller will throw water against the underside of the hatch and reveal any leaks to you. If the hatch is sitting in the correct place but there is still some water making its way into the engine bay then you may need to replace the tape around the edge of the weed hatch.

Our hirers don’t have any tools on board for dealing with more challenging items than fishing line, rope, plastic bags and clothing, but I’m sure you will want to have a full range of weed hatch tools available if you plan to explore the network. Here’s what I have on board.

  • Bolt croppers
  • Mole grips
  • A sharp knife with a serrated blade (Not the bread knife from the galley. Sally gave me one of her most chilling looks when I suggested using it)
  • Wood saw
  • Hacksaw
  • Chisel
  • A reel of parachute cord and a recovery magnet

(Here’s a post from Anton Woodford’s blog he wrote after he employed some heavy duty propeller clearing tools after a weed hatch incident on his boat Song Of The Waterways on the BCN earlier this year. Anton and his wife are continuous cruisers. They kindly answered some questions for the case study section two years ago. Their case study is here.)

You won’t always be immersing yourself elbow deep in the blood warm water of a summertime canal. Sometimes you’ll be delving into frigid water for longer than you would like. Your hands will be numb and you’ll usually be working in murky water on something you can’t see, often at an awkward angle. You will drop one or more of your tools at some stage.

I tie a loop of parachute cord around each of the tools I use in the water to use as a handle. If the handle fails or I’ve forgotten to tie one on in the first place, I can always go fishing with my recovery magnet.

Last but not least, make sure that you wash your hands and arms once you’ve finished. You don’t want to contract Weil’s disease from infected rat urine.

Scared senseless at the prospect of cruising the inland waterways now? Don’t be. Some boaters very rarely pick up debris. In fact, fellow live aboard Tim Wood has been a continuous cruiser now for eighteen months and hasn’t yet needed to open his weed hatch at all.

One final suggestion for you, if you haven’t yet bought your boat, make sure that your intended purchase actually has a weed hatch and if it does that the hatch is easily accessible. The only alternative to using the weed hatch to access the propeller is to jump into the canal to deal with the obstruction and, as you won’t be able to reach the propeller when you’re standing in the water next to your boat, you’ll have to hold your breath and duck your head under the murky surface to get close enough. You don’t want to be doing that!

Cruising Guides

The Pearson and Nicholson guides to the inland waterways are invaluable for route planning, locating facilities on your route and determining to a certain degree where the best places are to moor for the night. However, they often lack the additional information which you need to ensure that your cruise is both safe and problem free.

The cruising guide section of the forum is home to a growing number of detailed cruising guides written by experienced boat owners. The latest guide was emailed to me by Roger Filler last week. I’ve just posted it here on the forum. If you’re thinking of tackling the Leeds Liverpool canal, Roger’s notes will come in very handy.

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 four 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 July 2014

Digital aids for narrowboat owners – Digital applications and maps for inland waterways boaters

6th July 2014

Practical experience for lone boaters. Here’s an account of a day’s cruise with a nervous single boater. He wanted enough confidence to deal with locks on his own. I spent the day with him, designed a route to include twenty six locks and spent ten hours helping him hone his locking skills.

29th June 2014

Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks

22nd June 2014

Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names

15th June 2014

Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?

8th June 2014

Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.

1st June 2014

Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges

25th May 2014

Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.

18th May 2014

Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.

 11th May 2014

How to avoid common narrowboat accidents. They happen far more often than you might think. Here’s what you need to keep yourself out of harm’s way.

4th May 2014

If you want to live on your boat and don’t want to, or can’t, cruise full time, you must have a residential mooring. Here’s how to find one.

27th April 2014

What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment

20th April 2014

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 07 13 Newsletter – Digital Aids For Narrowboat Owners

I’ve just bought a new fridge. It’s not just any old fridge. It’s a fridge designed specifically for boats and because it’s a boat fridge it costs three times as much as a similar 230v fridge. This one was just under £500.

Why not just buy the much cheaper and apparently equally cheap to run 230v appliance? Because if you have a 230v appliance you either have to be plugged into a shore line twenty four hours a day, or you need to power your fridge via an inverter.

Although I’m moored in a marina most of the time at the moment so have easy access to the national grid, I want the boat to be fully equipped for extended periods away from civilization so I don’t want to fill our living space with 230v appliances powered via either the boat’s shore line or the inverter.

An inverter converts the DC charge stored in the battery bank to an AC charge which is required by mains appliances. The problem with using an inverter is that the device itself draws power from the battery bank, and draws it all the time it’s turned on. Most people want their fridge on twenty four hours a day so the two amps that an inverter draws on average is quite a drain. In our particular case, there’s another reason for not wanting the inverter on all of the time. It’s too noisy.

Our bedroom is next to the engine room where the inverter is screwed to the wall. It’s only about four or five feet from our heads when we’re in bed. The constant drone would be annoying while we tried to drift off to sleep to the natural sounds outside. An inverter working overnight is not something we want to endure. We’ll stick with the very much more expensive but more practical twelve volt fridge.

My previous fridge came with the boat when I moved on board. It’s served me well but since the plastic hinge on the freezer compartment door snapped, it’s been a wasteful drain on the batteries as the fridge works non stop to lower the open freezer compartment to the correct temperature.

When we took the boat out for two weeks at the beginning of June, I was fascinated by my Smartgauge battery monitor and my ability to check the batteries state of charge at the touch of a button. I checked the percentage remaining when we went to bed and then as soon as we woke the following day. The fridge was the only draw on the batteries overnight but the reading in the morning was always about 15% lower than the previous night.

I fitted the fridge on Monday evening after work. It needed about five or six hours to reach the correct temperature so by the time we went to bed it was just about there. I checked the battery capacity at bed time. It was 100% as we had the battery charger turned on which keeps the batteries topped up via the shore line. I turned the charger off and climbed into bed.

With our old fridge connected, the following morning’s reading would have been no more than 85%. With he new fridge fitted the percentage remaining had risen to ninety five. I’m very happy with that. I haven’t yet worked out how long we’ll have to keep the fridge before the savings made on the old fridge’s power use make the investment worthwhile, but the main thing is that Sally is very happy with the fridge because it looks clean. The old one had yellowed to the point where no amount of diligent scrubbing could improve its looks.

I think the cooker is next on the hit list.

On Tuesday as soon as I finished work I took James over to the slipway to use our “Big Brute” wet vacuum cleaner to remove some water from the bilge. The engine bay has been bone dry this year after I identified and cured a couple of leaks but over the last three or four weeks half and inch of clear water has appeared. It’s rain water.

There’s a small hatch set in the boat’s small back deck to allow access to the weed hatch. The hatch rests on a steel channel with a single ¼” hole drilled through it. Rain water which finds its way through the narrow gap between the hatch surround and the deck collects in the channel, runs through the hole and then into a hose attached to it and out through the side of the boat. The hole is too small so frequently fills with debris falling through the mat I have over the rear deck. The drain hole was blocked so any water collecting in the channel under the hatch was overflowing the channel into the engine bay beneath.

The cruise over to the slipway is less than five minutes but before I was half way there I noticed the engine temperature rise steadily above its normal seventy degrees. I noticed the temperature increase so quickly because of the position of the temperature gauge. It’s set facing me on the roof in a pigeon box along with the tachometer and oil pressure gauge. On many boats I’ve handled, the temperature gauge is set in an instrument panel out of the steerer’s line of sight so to see the engine temperature you have to duck down into the cabin to see it. My temperature gauge is very easy to see as I’m steering so I glance at it constantly as I travel. It’s very useful indeed for alerting me to potential problems before any damage occurs to the engine.

By the time I reached the slipway the temperature was over one hundred degrees and wisps of steam were swirling around the engine. I spent half an hour vacuuming the water from the bilge. There was far more to remove when I reached the slipway than there had been when I left our mooring five minutes earlier because all of the engine coolant had joined the rainwater.

The cause of the problem was easy to see. The hose which ran from the engine through the bulkhead to the calorifier under our bed passed in front of the engine very close to the fan belt. Too close as it happens. The fan belt had rubbed a hole through it.

There was no way I could move the boat until the hose had been replaced so I resigned myself to a night moored next to the slipway with a view of the boat lift instead of swaying bull rushes.

The following morning one of our fitters replaced the hose then ran the engine briefly to check that it was holding water before telling me that everything was working as it should once more. I untied the ropes then hopped on the boat for the five minute journey back to my mooring.

Half way across the marina and with a stiff breeze blowing hard enough to make stopping or even slowing down very difficult, I noticed the temperature creeping up again. By the time I reached my pier the engine was running twenty degrees hotter than normal. I was scratching my head, wondering what had gone wrong and feeling just a little depressed when I realised the problem.

I, the fitter, or a combination of both of us had made a schoolboy error. My engine is raw water cooled which means that water from the canal is used to help keep the engine running at the correct temperature. There’s a sea cock which needs opening before I turn the engine on, and closing again when I turn it off. The fitter hadn’t opened it before starting the engine, and I hadn’t noticed that there was no water coming out of the exhaust which is confirmation that the sea cock is open.

Once again, the clearly visible temperature gauge provided me with a very early warning that all was not right. It was a silly mistake and one which could have cost me a great deal of money if I had been on a cruise and not able to see the temperature gauge or if I wasn’t monitoring it constantly. The fitter can be forgiven. He deals with hundreds of different boats. Very few of them are raw water cooled and those that are usually have the fact clearly marked on the job sheets. I don’t work on hundreds of boats. I just have one to deal with so I should have noticed the absence of exhaust water immediately.

After I reached my mooring I let the engine cool down for an hour before opening the sea cock and starting the engine again. I was relieved when the engine temperature climbed to seventy degrees and stayed there.

On Wednesday we had the pleasure of Kieran from Floors4Less. In April last year we ripped out the old threadbare beige carpet and replaced it with oak effect laminate flooring. The new easy to clean flooring has been marvelous but we made a mistake. The flooring was fitted everywhere in the boat apart from the bedroom. We decided, and I can’t for the life of me think why, that a pale carpet would be more suitable in our sleeping area. Why we didn’t consider the muck that would be tracked through from the engine room is beyond me, but we didn’t and we paid the price for our poorly thought out decision. The carpet was marked with oily smudges which we couldn’t remove.

The bedroom floor is a very small area but the work took Kieren all afternoon to complete. He had to level the floor, wait for the screed to dry, then fit the flooring. The end result is both aesthetically pleasing and practical. The laminate is very easy to vacuum and mop, something we do a great deal of with two dogs on board.

On Thursday I took the boat across the marina again. This time to have some more work done.

Two gas space heaters and the gas water heater were removed, two additional shelves were fitted in the space left by the water heater and some remedial work was done to smarten up the gaping hole left by the heater under the port side hatch. The shower cubicle had to be taken apart to get at the water heater so that needed putting back together again once the heater had been removed.

One of the back doors was also welded back on after the original weld failed, partly because of the additional strain placed on it because of my inability to keep the hinges properly lubricated by using the hinges’ grease nipples. It’s an expensive lesson learned so I’ve just ordered a mini grease gun from Amazon to add to my growing collection of on board tools.

There wasn’t enough time to fit the shower door we bought earlier on in the year so the boat is going back into the workshop next Thursday to have that done and a host of other small jobs.

We’re nearly there. It’s been a long and expensive slog but the finish line is in site. The remedial work to the boat is almost complete. All that’s left to do is to install the central heating system and refit the engine room to box in and sound proof the engine properly and fit steps to allow easy access through the engine room to the main cabin.

A couple of weeks ago I told you that we have a problems with grey squirrels damaging the trees in our six and a half acre wood. I think the problem has been resolved and I’m currently looking at different ways of cooking these horrible little tree rats.

Before you start shouting at me, I’m not responsible for the squirrels’ disappearance and the squirrels on my menu aren’t coming from our site. Our savior, we think, is one of our woodland’s new residents. It’s a tawny owl. I know that tawny owls are partial to small mammals and as there’s been no sight of ay squirrels since the owl first appeared a couple of weeks ago and frightened the life out of a nocturnal dog walker, we think that the owl may have cured our problem.

I haven’t yet fully assessed the number of ring barked trees which will need felling but as I won’t be dealing with them until late autumn, there’s no great rush.

As a result of mentioning our squirrel problems in a previous newsletter, I received a number of emails with squirrel recipe suggestions. I always like to try new and unusual foods so with very little opportunity of stocking up with locally caught squirrels I did a quick search on t’internet and found The Wild Meat Company.

I ordered two squirrels, a rabbit and a wood pigeon on Tuesday. They arrived beautifully packed, protected and chilled on Thursday. Sally cooked them on Thursday evening ready for our Friday night meal.I would like to tell you that being the earthy country folk that we are, a stew made out of flying, hopping and scampering woodland creatures was right up our street. I can’t tell you that because we didn’t enjoy it at all. In fact Sally, who was brought up on chickens brought in the garden and killed in the kitchen, frogs caught in the local fields, and the half formed duck embryos as a snack food, said that the thought of eating squirrel made her feel a little queasy.

We eat about half of the stew and threw the rest away. There won’t be any more tree rats on the menu. The meat was quite tasty but too rich. I searched the internet for other interesting foods for us to try. I suggested to Sally that python or crocodile steaks would add variety to out diet. I don’t think that there was any need for her response at all.

Gadgets, Applications And Web Sites For Boat Owners

I’m always looking for interesting new newsletter content so I was delighted to receive the following email written by Roger Filler on an unpleasantly wet day on the cut.

“It’s persisting down outside so we moored up early today and I thought I would check a few boating websites to pass the time.

“Googling” around there is a bewildering amount of apps and websites that could be useful to narrowboaters, from mapping tools to finding the best pub in the area to the nearest TV transmitter mast. How about inviting forum members to submit the apps and boating websites they have found the most useful?  After all, most boaters have some form of internet capability while afloat, be it a laptop, tablet or smart phone. Many probably have all three.

Here’s a start. Use them how you want. Some are obvious, but I have found them all useful at one point or another.

PUBS

Lots of sites on-line, many completely out of date.  For beer drinkers there is no substitute for CAMRA’s yearly bible “The Good Beer Guide”, which is available on-line as a “freebee” at the moment. In tandem with that anybody can access “What Pub”. Just pop in where you are, and it will show you your nearest pub, list its facilities and the beers they sell. You’ll find it at www.whatpub.com or just Google “whatpub”

MAPPING

I am sure we all use Google maps or Google Earth on our phones and tablets from time to time and now the “Street View” cam has been extended to the canal network, a number of boating “hot spots” can be viewed up close, at ground level.

While both Pearson’s and Nicholson’s remain the boaters’ bibles, I quite like the E-Canal series of canal maps for phones and tablets. This detailed mapping system, showing everything from launderettes to post offices, centred on the canal network, is a handy companion to the paper guides, which are often well out of date. You can check distances, search for towns or locks, and even compile your own log. The E-Canal series are from £5.99

AERIAL ALIGNMENT

Those boaters who use an aerial to get TV reception, normally rely on looking at local houses and pointing their antenna in the same direction. In rural locations, however, that is not always possible. “Aerial Aligner” is a free app on Google Play and I would imagine there is an Apple alternative. It shows, at a glance, where your closest transmitter is, the strength of the signal, and the direction you should be pointing it. Also whether you should have your aerial in the horizontal or vertical position.

Alternatively, you could download a free compass to your device. There are several free ones available. I use Smart Compass to take bearings, though you have to be several feet from the steel hull of your boat to get a true reading.

Link your compass with Wolfbane, which is a reception predictor, and you have a fairly accurate way of tuning your TV. Wolfbane asks for a post code or OS map reference and then shows you the strongest transmitters, along with a bearing, and loads of other info. www.wolfbane.com and select reception predictor.

FLASHLIGHT

How many times have you stumbled along a dark towpath , cursing because you forgot to put a torch in your pocket. With the free app “Flashlight”, your phone becomes a torch. It’s become an app. shipped with many phones these days, but lots of people forget it’s there. It’s certainly bright enough to find your boat and your keys by.

SPEED CHECKER

Ever wondered how fast you are actually travelling over the water. Ulysses Speedometer is a free handy app. that helps you check your boating speed. Using satellites it seems quite accurate, and there is a trip recorder, compass and other various goodies to play with.

WEBSITES

Canal & River Trust – Canalrivertrust.org.uk

Sign up here for alerts on individual canals. CRT will send you regular e mails if there are issues or stoppages happening, or happened. Very useful. The site also has a comprehensive guide to most of the nation’s waterways.

Jim Shead’s Waterways Information – www.jim-shead.com

A well-respected site offering advice on locks, distances, individual canals, maps, history and boat names.

Hope these are useful.”

It is indeed a very useful list Roger, thank you. Here are one or two more I can think of…

A compass app for your smartphone. I always like to know which way is west when I’m looking for somewhere to moor so that I can pick a place to spot which is going to catch the sun. We don’t live in a terribly warm climate so I would rather sit in the warmth of the sun rather than the shade for my evening summertime meals.

The weather makes such a difference to a day’s cruising. Rain isn’t too bad if you have the right clothing, but strong wind means that navigating a flat bottomed boat in a straight line is a bit of a challenge when the expansive cabin sides are acting as a sail. If you are fortunate enough to be a continuous cruiser, you can simply stay where you are until the weather improves. The inclement weather may improve enough to allow you to cruise in comfort so it’s very useful to know the short term forecast.

An accurate weather forecast is also useful if you are going on to a river where the water can rise to a dangerous level after heavy rain. During the winter you will also want to know the forecast temperature. If there’s a period of sub zero days and nights forecast you will need to make sure that you are moored somewhere where you have access to water and fuel. You don’t want to get stuck in ice miles from anywhere and have to resort to carrying heavy plastic containers of water along a frozen towpath to your boat when your on board water supply runs out.

The weather forecast which I refer to daily is Weatherspark. I like the site because of its fancy graphs which make reading the data very easy indeed. I highly recommend it.

There’s another great site to add to Roger’s mapping section. It’s CanalPlanAC. The site is the second most popular inland waterways on line resource for boaters. It allows you to calculate routes between any two points on the network and shows you a vast amount of interesting information including suggested overnight moorings along your route, distance travelled, the number of locks, tunnels and bridges you will encounter and how many days the journey is likely to take you. CanalPlan has now also taken over the boat listing data from Jim Shead.

I’m sure there are other useful digital aids which I’ve missed but I’ve run out of time to add any more. It’s 6.15am on Sunday. I have to proof read the newsletter now, publish it, write the introductory email to the newsletter and schedule it for a midday delivery by my digital postman. Then I have to prepare for another Discovery Day which kicks off at 8am. There’s no rest for the wicked!

If you can think of any useful resources or handy applications which are missing from the list, please add them to this forum post.

New Case Study

Hilary and Nigel Lambert decided to grab the bull by the horns, leave the rat race and live the dream. They are now continuous cruisers after two years moored in a marina and loving every minute of their new freedom. Here’s their story.

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 four 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 July 2014

Practical experience for lone boaters. Here’s an account of a day’s cruise with a nervous single boater. He wanted enough confidence to deal with locks on his own. I spent the day with him, designed a route to include twenty six locks and spent ten hours helping him hone his locking skills.

29th June 2014

Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks

22nd June 2014

Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names

15th June 2014

Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?

8th June 2014

Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.

1st June 2014

Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges

25th May 2014

Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.

18th May 2014

Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.

 11th May 2014

How to avoid common narrowboat accidents. They happen far more often than you might think. Here’s what you need to keep yourself out of harm’s way.

4th May 2014

If you want to live on your boat and don’t want to, or can’t, cruise full time, you must have a residential mooring. Here’s how to find one.

27th April 2014

What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment

20th April 2014

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.

 

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Lady River Mouse

Hilary and Nigel Lambert decided to grab the bull by the horns, leave the rat race and live the dream. They are now continuous cruisers after two years moored in a marina and loving every minute of their new freedom.

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

Hilary and Nigel Lambert and jack russell terrier Flynn.

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

I was a stressed carer for my mum who has alzheimers and my husband was stuck in a job which was making him increasingly unhappy. One Thursday in May 2012 we decided that life is just too short not to get on and live your dreams. So a letter of resignation was written and handed in on the Friday while I arranged to put our house into auction.  On the Saturday we started looking at boats.

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

Lady River Mouse.  We inherited the name and after discovering it was an anagram we decided to keep it.  We like to leave it for others to work out what it means.

Do you have a permanent mooring? If so, tell me about it.

We have been moored permanently at Sawley Marina since July 2012 but on 30th June 2014 we became continuous cruisers as we now have the freedom to move on.

What is you boat length and style?

Lady River Mouse is a 1986 50ft cruiser stern narrowboat.  We believe she was built by Alvechurch and is an ex hire boat.
She is perfect for us.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Since May 2012.

How did you finance your boat?

We sold our house and all our goods and chattels.  It was the most liberating experience!

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

We live aboard so all 12 months.

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

No.  After breaking her leg my mum is now in a care home so I am no longer a full time carer.  Nigel has retired, or at  least he thinks he has – I think the roof needs painting, we need some roof boxes making and a good engine service……….well you get the picture, there is always something needs doing.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Honestly nothing. We are living a life long dream and loving every minute of it.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The boating community who are so generous with their advice, time, and the tools for any job we can come up with.

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

I would love a bigger bathroom (ours is tiny).  When we were looking for a boat we did not like the walk through
bathrooms, it was something we had never seen before but now I think the extra space they give would be positively
luxurious particularly now we are leaving the convenience of the marina and all its facilities.

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

We walk.  The Pearsons guides tell you where the shops are and an ordnance survey (or the internet) show you the footpaths so we just moor somewhere close by take a rucksack for heavy stuff, a few shopping bags and the dog and off we go, most villages have a co-op or small convenience store.  We also love to hunt out farm shops and occasionally can get eggs and fruit/veg from canalside homes.  If we are near a big town then we try to stock up on dry goods and household items.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

This is an interesting question as we have never been out long enough to run out of clothes before getting back to the
marina and the laundry.  We do not have a washing machine on board so I guess we’ll be hand washing the smalls and looking out for laundrettes as we travel.

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

We have an elsan with 3 cassettes.  We are perfectly happy with it.  In the marina it is easy but out and about we have to
make sure to make use of CRT elsan points whenever we see them and occasionally a marina if necessary.  We were out for 6 weeks last summer and had no problems and we only had 2 cassettes then.

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

We use a 3G hotspot on our phone.  It is usually OK for our needs and coverage is reasonable but not perfect.  Our main
use is staying in touch with family so a few days here or there is not critical.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

So far we really enjoy the Trent and Mersey especially around Shugborough Hall and Great Heywood.

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

We keep the batteries topped up by running the engine while cruising and by generator if we are static for any length of
time.  Everything except the TV uses 12v and the only thing that runs all the time is the fridge.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very warm.  We have been warmer over the last two winters than we ever were in our house.  When would you ever open the windows with the central heating on?  We are better at managing our stove to keep the boat at about 24C now but it is not unusual for us to have the hatch open whatever the weather outside.

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

I am probably not the right person to give advice as I believe that if you want something bad enough you should do it and
everything will be fine. Life is for living. I’m afraid we also bought our boat after falling in love with it, something
just felt right – a real case of heart over head.  We did look at quite a number of boats and we really liked the layout
of Lady River Mouse which seems quite unusual with the galley at the front, cabin in the middle and the bedroom at the
back – it works for us.

____________________________________________________________________

Are you one of the lucky few who lives the dream on board your own narrowboat full time? Would you like to share your experience with some of the thousands of potential floating home owners who visit this site? If you can spare the time to answer a few simple questions, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know so I can email the questions to you. I’ll create a post like the one above complete with a link back to your own blog or website.

 

2014 07 06 – Practical Experience For Lone Boaters

My knob’s fallen off. Sally’s not very happy about it, but it’s all her fault.

During her time off she likes to twist it regularly throughout the day. Even after a tiring twelve hour shift she can’t resist giving it a tweak as soon as she walks in the boat. I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

What can you expect from a £99 twin tub washing machine? I ordered a new knob for £4.99 but I just wasted my money. It wasn’t the knob which was worn, it was the spindle it fits on. Other than the broken knob, the washing machine continues to entertain Sally for much of her free time. She’s pinched a pair of pliers from my tool bag for for missing-knob-spindle-turning. I don’t miss the pliers. I’m not entirely sure what they’re for anyway.

I won’t be delving into my tool bag next week either. James is booked into narrowboat hospital again. The disconnected gas water heater is going to be removed to give us some more storage space, not that we need it really any more. James has more cupboards, drawers, shelves and hidey holes than the majority of boats I’ve seen, but we’ll always find a use for another two or three shelves, and they will look much better than a rusting thirty seven year old heater.

Two gas heaters will also be removed; one from the bedroom and another under the port side hatch. The heater in the bedroom has been used half a dozen times in the last four and a half years. The one under the hatch hasn’t been used at all. Although in the early days I could have done with a little more heat in the very cold bedroom, the cost of running gas heating appalled me. I’ve spoken to a number of boat owners with gas heating, often owners of ex hire boats where gas heating is the only heat source on board, who have confirmed that a 13kg cylinder (costing £27 here at Calcutt) lasts just three days. This is twice the cost of coal to heat my own boat for a similar period.

So the gas heaters will go, and once they have been removed, I can finally get the shower door fitted which we’ve had stored in our container since March. We haven’t had it fitted until now because of the difficulty we would face once it was fitted trying to access the gas water heater which is in quite a tight space behind the left hand side panel of the shower cubicle. At the moment if access is needed to it, the left hand panel slides out to give access to the heater. The new shower door would obstruct the side panel though and make access to the heater very difficult indeed.

Now that we’ve decided that we’re not going to replace the heater, we can have the shower door fitted firmly in place. We’ll have a decent shower cubicle then instead of one fronted be an insubstantial and high maintenance shower curtain. I can’t wait!

We’re having some other small jobs done at the same time. They’re simple jobs for most competent DIYers, but I’m not one of them I’m afraid. I fitted two fender hangers to the starboard side last year but just drilling six holes in the side of the boat and then riveting the hangers in place took me two hours and cost me three £5 drill bits. I’ll let the experts to fit the fender hangers on the port side.

I also need to have the navigation lights fitted properly. They should be simple to fit for anyone with half an ounce of intelligence, but that clearly excludes me. When the the ply cabin was over plated with steel a couple of years ago, the old navigation lights were removed and the wires were made safe. I bought two new navigation lights to go in their place. What could go wrong? All I had to do was put the red light on the port side, the green on the starboard side, attach the wires and secure the lights to the cabin sides.

I managed to get the colours on the right sides but failed miserably with everything else. The original wiring was the correct length for fitting lights to the old cabin but the new cabin was two inches further away. The wires wouldn’t reach so they needed extending. At that stage I realised, as usual, that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and decided to just screw the unwired lights to the cabin so at least they looked OK, even if they didn’t work. Two broken drill bits, an hour and much swearing later, the navigation lights were in place. I was quite proud of myself… I was quite proud of myself for about a year before a boat owner I met at a lock casually asked if I spent much of my time reversing at night. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, so the smiling gent gently pointed out that my navigation lights were on upside down so the lights were pointing backwards.

I don’t like DIY.

I don’t like DIY, but I really enjoy working on the grounds here at Calcutt, even if I’m not getting as much done as I would like.

I’ve been neglecting my beloved island this year. The island is a jewel in the Calcutt crown. The half acre wildlife haven in the middle of Meadows marina, about fifty metres behind my mooring, has flourished since the marina was watered in 2006. It’s home to ninety white poplar, willow, alder, field maple and horse chestnut.

Four years ago when I first visited the island, it was an impenetrable mass of head high thistles. I spent two weeks hacking them down and chopping out their tough roots with our Kawasaki strimmer’s circular saw attachment. Over the following two years I visited the island twice a month during the spring, summer and autumn to spend two or three hours mowing the grass with our Honda Weedcutter mower.

The close cropped grass was a huge improvement aesthetically and also provided a comfortable and safe haven for the marina’s wild fowl. The mallards, coots and swans began to use the island regularly, and then the Canada geese moved in.

Canada geese have few redeeming features. They can be aggressive, they’re noisy and they are world champions in the poo department. A single goose eats four pounds of grass every day, and passes three pounds of it out the other end. Each goose produces nearly half a tonne of fecal matter every twelve months. In the autumn, we have flocks of up to two hundred birds landing on the marinas looking for food and somewhere safe to sleep.

The new arrivals are fairly easy to scare away. A quick flash over the water with my laser pen is enough to cause an instant collective terrified honk before the flock takes flight and heads for the closest alternative water either at Ventnor Farm marina on the opposite side of the canal from us or the forty acre Napton reservoir next door.

New arrivals are easy to scare away but our summer geese, our resident breeders, are a different kettle of fish. Their breeding instinct is stronger than their flight instinct so even if it’s dark enough for the laser to be effective, which is only from about 10pm to 4am at this time of the year, they take flight initially but return to the marina within half an hour.

So the breeding Canada geese, about twenty of them, moved on to the island and made it their home. Between them, the flock were eating about eighty pounds of grass a day so they kept the island grass short. I love spending a few hours on the island but the logistics of getting a mower there are a bit of a pain.

First I have to borrow one of our hire boats if there’s one available on the wharf. I need some help to lift the 150lb mower onto the back deck, take the boat down through Calcutt Middle and Bottom locks, usually on my own, and usually cursing while I try to steer the boat in and out of the locks while straddling a four feet high machine which takes up most of the back deck, radio for some assistance to lift the mower off the other end when I reach the marina entrance, pick up my assistant, moor on the island, lift the mower off the boat, return my assistant to the shore and return to the island to cut the grass. Two hours of grass cutting takes at least half a day to complete.

The resident geese and their healthy appetite meant that I stopped visiting the island quite so often and then, this year, stopped going there at all.

The geese only eat the succulent tender grass. They don’t touch many of the coarser grasses and weeds. The vegetation which they don’t eat grows and spreads into the close cropped areas until there’s not enough tasty grass to attract the geese and not enough open space to allow them to graze without worrying about predators sneaking up to them under cover.

When I visited the island on Tuesday for the first time this year, the island was goose free, but it was a mess. Much of the grass was hidden under waist high stands of thistle and cow parsley.

Overgrown Meadows marina island

Waist high cow parsley on Meadows marina island

Meadows marina island beautiful again

Two hours with the Weedcutter mower and then another half hour tidying up with the strimmer and the island was looking pretty again. Before I loaded the mower back onto the hire boat’s rear deck, mallards and coots climbed onto the island to once more bask safely in the sun.

Don’t worry little birds, I’ll make sure I visit you regularly again from now on.

Discovery Day Update

I ran another discovery day on Friday. It wasn’t what I expect will be the more usual format in the future, but it’s the second of its type I have done so far. Rather than hosting the day on my own boat, I met boat owner Martyn Jones on his own boat on his canal-side mooring near Braunston marina.

Martyn has owned his 60′ boat for a year now. He wants to take it out more often on his own, but he’s been very nervous about tackling locks as a lone boater. In fact, he admitted that he hadn’t had much to do with locks at all. When he brought his boat back to Brauston he had quite a lively introduction to boating. He negotiated a dangerously high river Trent, dodging uprooted trees as he made his way from the raging river to the quieter canals, endured snow and freezing temperatures and fumbled with the tiller with numb hands for three days before he could get his new home to travel in a straight line.

Steering the boat clearly wasn’t a problem when he set off confidently from his mooring at 8am on Friday for the short cruise to the bottom of the Braunston flight.  Martyn’s main objective was to become comfortable with operating locks on his own so I made sure that our day’s cruise included plenty of locks and plenty of variety.

Our first lock was very interesting. There were plenty of boats still moored in Braunston following the rally the previous weekend. There were too many of them on the approach to the bottom lock. It was certainly a case of “in at the deep end” for Martyn as there was nowhere at all for a boat  going up the lock to moor. The bollards below the lock were occupied by a day hire boat which was being worked on. The only solution for a solo boater would have been to tie up to the day hire boat while setting the lock. There were two of us though, so rather than try and explain to the guy on the day boat that Martyn was practicing locking on his own, I stayed with the boat while Martyn worked the paddles.

Lock two was unobstructed by moored boats so I demonstrated how to step off the boat as it enters the lock and walk beside it using the centre line to lead the boat in. It was then that we reaslised that Martyn had a bit of a problem.

Martyn had solar panels fitted to the boat soon after he bought it. One of them was fitted close to the anchor point for the two centre lines which meant that when the boat was in an empty lock and either centre line was held taught by someone standing on the lock side, the rope snagged on the bottom of the solar panel. We couldn’t use the centre lines without breaking the panel or pulling it out of its brackets. The solution for the rest of the cruise was to remove the solar panel.

In the third lock we were joined by another boat. We were delighted to have another crew to help us, especially as the man knew everything about boating and was more than happy to share his extensive knowledge with us, loudly and in exhausting detail.

He exited the lock ahead of us ready to go into the fourth lock which his long suffering wife had kindly prepared for both boats. He was about to enter the open lock when his boat was pushed back by a tidal wave which surged over the top gates and crashed into the lock. Two hire boats coming down had left all the paddles open behind them in the top two locks.

Mr. Know-it-all let rip at the lady approaching the lock ahead of the two hire boats. “If you don’t know how to work a lock, ask for some help you stupid woman!”, he shouted up at her. She looked as though she was about to burst into tears. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a boat. I’m just taking my dog for a walk!”

We negotiated the final two locks without incident, and without let up from Mr. Know-it-all. He pulled over for a cup of tea above the flight. We wanted to stop too so that we could prepare for the tunnel but made sure that we moored far enough ahead to discourage him from giving us any more advice.

The tunnel preparation involved simply turning the lights on inside the boat and making sure that the curtains were drawn back so that the light would help illuminate the tunnel walls, turning the headlight on and checking that it was working, and making sure that we had a torch handy.

Martyn’s first tunnel was negotiated without a hitch, even if passing a difficult to see approaching boat in a tunnel which appeared barely wide enough to accommodate one boat did cause a twitchy moment or two.

With six locks behind us, Martyn was feeling slightly more confident but in the interest of adding as many locks and as much variety as possible to the day we turned left at Norton junction and headed for the three narrow and four staircase locks of the Watford flight.

At the top of the Watford flight we turned in a lively breeze at the winding hole next to the M1 and joined the queue to go back down again, much to the surprise of the three lock keepers on duty.

The Watford flight was great practice for Martyn. The flight also provided him of an example of how to annoy the usually placid and every so helpful lock volunteers. We were waiting for a particular boat to reach the bottom of the staircase locks before we could take Martyn’s boat up. While we were waiting we helped the lock keepers get the boats through. They pointed to the boat we were waiting for, indicated the guy who had been standing at the tiller all the way down the flight, and then pointed inside the boat at his wife who had also been inside the boat since they arrived at the flight, apparently cooking dinner and oblivious to all the hard work that was being done to allow her and her equally stationary husband to descend.

Lock keepers are always willing to give anyone a hand if they need it. This couple may have had health issues which prevented them from working the locks but they didn’t appear either frail or disabled, and they certainly hadn’t told anyone that they needed a hand. They had simply stayed on their boat and expected the locks to magically open in front of them and close behind them. The lock keepers weren’t happy.

The Watford flight was an interesting exercise but we were both glad to get away from the noise of the M1, A5 and busy railway. The trip back to the junction then through the tunnel was pleasant but uneventful but we had the opportunity for even more variety when we arrived back at the top of the Braunston flight.

Two 30′ GRP cruisers where ahead of us waiting to go down. An elderly guy from the lead boat walked back to us and told us pleasantly but very firmly that we could join them both in the lock providing we were very careful indeed with our steel monster. We promised to keep as far away from them as we could and agreed to go into each lock ahead of them to minimise the risk of crushing their fragile hulls with our fifteen tonnes.

It was a great partnership and, as I pointed out to Martyn, would have been very welcome indeed if he had been on his own. We now had a six strong crew to work the locks and four boaters on the two cruisers who had been around the block a few times and worked very well as part of a team. The men stayed on their cruisers, one of the wives helped me set the locks the boats were in then walk on to the next lock to get it ready while the other wife stayed behind to close up after the boats left. We flew down the flight.

I closed the last lock while the two cruisers headed towards the junction and the possibility of a mooring for the night then Martyn and I said goodbye to our twenty sixth lock of the day before negotiating the narrow channel a couple of hundred metres back to the boat’s mooring.

It was a full and eventful day and one which, I’m delighted to say, Martyn was very happy with. He wanted to practice single handed locking. By the end of the day, he was flying through them without hesitation and without any help from me. He’s now confidently planning a few solo cruises for the near future.

I emailed Martyn yesterday to ask for some feedback on the day. Here’s what he had to say…

“Thank you for yesterday and for putting up with me (the idiot who can’t tie knots).
 
I would like to say that you covered everything (and more) I asked of you and answered all of the questions that arose throughout the day. It was indeed a very busy cruise with 26 locks of varying types, either going up or down, with some unusual incidents thrown in. It was exactly what I needed to enable me to have the confidence to tackle them single handed, so beware, you will see me and the annoying Jake in your area pretty soon.
 
The day, I felt, was conducted in a very patient, professional and informal way, with plenty of chat and laughs had by us both. It exceeded my expectations, with the programme organised by you to suit my particular needs.
 
I would genuinely recommend the training you are offering to anyone, whether it be for your discovery day or for someone like myself who wants help with specific parts of narrow boating.”

The Discovery Day calendar is filling fast so if you want to experience a day on board a narrowboat equipped for living on board full time, spend a day asking me as much as you want about living afloat and what you need to do to join the happy few and get some boat handling experience at the same time, you can find out more here. There’s a constantly updated list of free dates at the bottom of the page.

Visiting Calcutt Boats

I created this site in February 2010 four months after I started working at Calcutt Boats part time and two months before part time became a very welcome and always enjoyable forty five hours a week. Over the past four and a half years that I have both lived and worked at Calcutt Boats marina I have spent thousands of hours adding content to the site and developing a number of products.

The site, and the number of people who visit it, has grown enormously. The management at Calcutt Boats are fully aware of my activities on the site and don’t have a problem with it at all. Unless, that is, those activities interfere with the work I do for them. Sometimes, inadvertently, they do.

There are just under 5,000 subscriber to the weekly newsletters. Many have reached the stage where they are actively looking for a boat. Some own boats already. Boat owners and buyers often turn up at Calcutt Boats’ reception asking for me. The company doesn’t complain about it to me, but I know it drives them mad.

I can see their point. I am employed by them to look after the site’s landscaping. Every time I stop what I’m doing to talk to someone, they’re paying me for doing nothing. In the past when I was an employer, the situation would have irritated me too.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to meet you. As a few of you can testify, I’m quite fond of a pint or two, and I can talk the hind legs off a donkey. However, I walk a fine line. When I’m being paid by Calcutt Boats to look after the grounds, I need to concentrate on doing that and not on building relationships with virtual friends.

If you want to pop in and say hello, I would love to meet you, but please email me first so that we can arrange a time when I’m not working.

Incidentally Ian, these comments are not directed at you. It was lovely to meet you earlier in the week. I hope we can meet again soon and talk nonsense over an inappropriate number of pints in a local canal-side tavern. No one complained to me about your visit but I’m just trying to resolve any potential problems before they occur.

Sea Otter Narrowboats

In February this year I wrote extensively, or rather linked to extensive posts written by someone else, detailing the construction of a Sea Otter narrowboat. Sea Otter narrowboats are constructed using aluminium so there’s no worry about rust, and no need to take the boat out of the water every two or three years to reapply a protective coating to the hull and there’s no need to have the boat professionally painted every seven to ten years at a cost of more than £100 a foot.

Not only are Sea Otter narrowboats rust proof, they are also very well constructed with many clever features to make the most of the limited space available to you on a narrowboat. They are expensive, but a great choice for hassle free, low maintenance cruising.

Sadly, you can’t buy new Sea Otter narrowboats any more. The company has recently gone into voluntary liquidation. What a shame.

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 four 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.

29th June 2014

Extending your boat’s storage space – The pros and cons of fitting covers to your front and rear decks

22nd June 2014

Naming your boat – The legal requirements when naming, renaming and displaying your boat plus the inland waterways’ two hundred most popular boat names

15th June 2014

Speeding boats – Are rocking stationary boats the fault of speeding passing boats or the fault of boat owners who can’t moor securely?

8th June 2014

Boat Handling – lock and paddle gear types.

1st June 2014

Boat handling – Swing and lift bridges

25th May 2014

Single handed boating – Negotiating locks.

18th May 2014

Single handed boating – Choosing the right type of boat for single handed cruising and equipment to make your solo journeys safer and more enjoyable.

 11th May 2014

How to avoid common narrowboat accidents. They happen far more often than you might think. Here’s what you need to keep yourself out of harm’s way.

4th May 2014

If you want to live on your boat and don’t want to, or can’t, cruise full time, you must have a residential mooring. Here’s how to find one.

27th April 2014

What makes a perfect live aboard narrowboat. Two experienced boaters discuss layout, size and essential equipment

20th April 2014

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.

 

>