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Monthly Archives: September 2014

2014 09 28 Newsletter – Emergency Food On Board

I fell in the canal on Wednesday. No one saw me but the fish sticking out of my pocket and the bandy-legged gait to stop my soaking work shorts from chafing was a bit of a give away.

I was working next to the wharf raking out two tonnes of top soil delivered that morning when a boat pulled in for a pump out. The owner didn’t seem overly familiar with judging the length of his boat so I gave him hand signals indicating the distance his bow was away from the concrete. Then, as he continued to steam up to the wharf far too quickly, I signaled him to slow down just as I reached forward to pluck his bow line off the boat’s gas locker.

His interpretation of my gesture must have been, “At all costs, throw your boat into reverse as hard as you can to prevent yourself from hitting the wharf and sinking your boat!” 

I didn’t realise that he was applying emergency warp factor seven reverse thrust as I leaned away from the wharf towards his boat. The rope and the boat were no longer there when I reached the point of no return and very briefly joined the fish.

My swimming session was very brief indeed. I’ve been swimming fully clothed several times since I started working at Calcutt Boats five years ago. I’ve come to the conclusion that electronic devices enjoy an unscheduled dip even less than I do. Although smart phones and radios don’t seem terribly bothered by the merciless mickey taking which inevitably follows such a silly mistake, they don’t respond well to lengthy immersion.

I was in and out in less than five seconds and within a minute I had my iPhone stripped down and drying in the sun. I rung a couple of pints of dirty water out of my socks, took my shorts off to turn them upside down and remove the gallon of liquid from my half dozen surprisingly waterproof pockets (my apologies for subjecting you to the sight Mrs Boat Owner) and then finished the pump out and diesel fill on the boat before going back home shower and change my clothes.

Half an hour later I was back on the wharf, this time wearing long trousers and rigger boots.

One of the four narrowboats we look after for the Royal Navy was waiting above the top lock. We ask all hirers to wait there so that one of our staff can bring the boat through the lock then reverse it on to the wharf. Reversing a sixty feet long narrowboat into a tight space at right angles to the canal is not something which most of them have ever had to do, or ever want to do, so to speed up the process and to remove a fair degree of end of cruise anxiety, we manouver the boat for them.

This particular hirer was an experienced sailor though and was looking forward to the challenge of doing something new.

I guided his through making the turn and applying the right amount of throttle to kick the stern round in line with the moored fleet. He did a pretty good job… until we were about six feet from the wharf. I asked him to put the boat into forward gear to slow the boat almost to a stop so that we wouldn’t crash into the concrete wharf. Unfortunately, because he was a man and couldn’t talk to me and tell his hands what to do at the same time, he thrust the Morse control in the wrong direction and increased our speed towards the concrete instead of slowing down.

As we were only about three feet away from the wharf at the time,  he panicked, jerked the Morse control forward as far as it would go, and created an enormous surge of water which hit the wharf then, like a wave hitting a vertical cliff, shot into the air before cascading over the two of us on the back of the boat.

I added my rigger boots and trousers to the growing pile of wet clothing drying on the roof of my boat.

rats on a bird feeder

rats on a bird feeder

That evening after my second shower of the day, I was making myself a coffee when I noticed some movement in the cockspur thorn tree on the peninsula next to the boat. I hung a bird feeder there a couple of months ago. I keep it regularly filled with a good quality seed mix. It was a slow start but now the tree has regular visits by blue and great tits (I think) as well as magpies, coots and moorhens foraging in the grass beneath the tree for dropped seeds. The feeder also has other less welcome visitors.

This particular bird struck me as more than a little odd. For a start it had four legs and a long worm-like tail. And rather than a cute feather capped beaked head, it had whiskers, fur and a mouthful of sharp teeth. I had a look through my Collin’s guide to garden birds but there wasn’t anything remotely similar in there. Sally assured me repeatedly that it was a “huge and disgusting brown rat” as she hid behind the curtains and vowed never to leave the boat again.

Maybe she’s right. I’ll have to do some more research.

I spent Thursday at work refurbishing the small walled cottage garden. Martin, our recently departed marina manager didn’t like gardening so over the years he was here the area had become, quite frankly, a bit of a mess.

There are some before and after photo’s here on the Calcutt Boats Facebook page. Actually they are more “before and during” photo’s at the moment.

Pat had sprayed the garden a couple of times over the last two months to kill the waist high weeds. I dug out the dead weeds, removed a couple of dozen broken paving slabs from the corner of the garden, and pulled up the uneven slabs laid next to the cottage.

On Thursday Pat and I cut to size and installed half a dozen railway sleepers to form a raised flower bed around the garden’s edge and then relaid the slabs and added a few more to form a patio area. There was plenty more to do when I finished the day’s work at five thirty but I didn’t care. I was off boating!

After a long and stressful commute from work to home (a five minute walk around the edge of the two marinas) I quickly prepared the boat for a week away. I topped the water up, threw an emergency bag of coal on the front deck and I was ready to go. Then I not-so-quickly had a leisurely chat with fellow moorer Alan before heading off. Consequently, I didn’t reach Calcutt Top Lock until dusk, but the failing light gave me an opportunity to try out my recently rewired navigation lights. Oh boy, are they bright. I can’t wait to try them out in a tunnel.

Sally arrived back from work as usual at 8.15pm, fortunately remembering that her house had moved since she left that morning. We planned to set off first thing on Friday morning but life muscled its way into our plans. We had to go into Leamington Spa to pick up a new pair of glasses for each of us. We’ve reached the stage in our lives when our sight is slowly but surely failing, mine faster than Sally’s.

After collecting my glasses, and then returning to Specsavers an hour later for the Sally’s glasses the assistant failed to find on the first visit, we did our weekly shop then returned to the boat expecting to set off.

We didn’t.

We had no particular plan for the week away from the marina other than to touch up the paintwork and our mooring above the top lock close to the reservoir is such a pleasant place to relax we decided to spend another night there.

After a late start and a leisurely cruise up to Braunston, we turned left at the junction onto the north Oxford then moored after about half a mile with a tranquil view over open fields.

I’m often asked how crowded the canals are around here given that we’re at a very convenient spot for narrowboat owners

A peaceful mooring just outside Braunston

A peaceful mooring just outside Braunston

with a large number or very different routes available and, because it’s such a good spot, over 2,000 marina moorings within a fifteen mile radius of Calcutt Boats. Crowded is subjective. If you spend much time on the country’s motorway network, you won’t usually be bothered by a single boat passing every five minutes or so.

I’m not used to motorways these days, and I’m a bit antisocial at the best of times, so I don’t like to be moored too close to other boats if I can help it. Sally feels the same way I do. Our perfect mooring is on our own, away from roads or any other artificial noise and with an open view or unspoilt countryside.

How likely are we to find such a mooring within half a mile of England’s unofficial canal capital, on one of the busiest canals in the country, on a dry and sunny September weekend with the temperature a good ten degrees higher than average? We arrived here twenty four hours ago (right). It’s not a bad spot for such a “congested” section of the canal network. We’re going to stay here again tonight.

Sally’s out walking the dogs at the moment while I finish writing the newsletter. After that we’re going to do a little rubbing down around the boat’s high traffic areas, the bow and the stern, where the paintwork needs a little TLC, then we’re going to touch up the chips and abrasions, and we’re going to sand and varnish out wooden WiFi mast. Then we’re going to forget painting for the rest of the week.

We planned to spend the full week repainting the boat, but our plans have changed.

James’ main colour is Toplac Mauritius blue. The panels on the cabin sides are cream. The cream is mixed especially for Calcutt Boats and is called biscuit. The colour seems to change slightly with each new batch so if we need to touch up the cream, it’s unlikely that we’re going to be able to match the existing paint. In fact, we have a problem with matching the existing paint at the moment. There’s a nasty four feet long scrape on the cabin’s port side where the wind caught the boat as I was reversing it into wet dock behind our woodshed. The boat was blown against the bow of a boat moored stern in next to the slipway. The moored boat didn’t have a front fender, which I didn’t realise at the time, so as I reversed the fenderless boat scraped along James’ cabin side.

I didn’t have any spare biscuit from when I repainted the boat three years ago so I borrowed an thimble full of the current batch to test against the boat. It’s different. If I don’t want the new patch to show, I’m going to have to repaint the whole panel, which is half of one side of the cabin.

Our solution is to leave much of the boat as it is at the moment and enjoy the terrific weather and the few days we have left of our week out. We’ll do what we can today and then forget about boat painting until next spring when we’re going to do a more thorough job and paint the cabin sides a different colour. Tomorrow we’ll turn the boat around and cruise down the south Oxford. Sally hasn’t seen Napton’s resident heard of water buffalo yet. It will remind her of the Philippines!

Emergency Food

As far as I’m concerned some of the best place to moor are as far away as possible from civilisation which means that they are a long way away from large supermarkets and the wide variety they offer. You’ll often have to make do with what you can find in the village stores and farm shops along your way. Some are surprisingly well stocked for the population they serve. Many are not.

Keeping a supply of emergency food on board is always a good idea for occasions when you want to spend some time away from it all and don’t have access to shops.

Sally and I always have plenty of rice and pasta on board and enough tinned meats, vegetables and spices to make some quick, tasty and nutritious meals. Keeping a plentiful supply of emergency dried ingredients suits us, but there is an even easier option available to you if you don’t fancy doing any cooking at all.

Pre cooked, heat in the bag meals were something I always looked forward to at the end of a hard day when I used to enjoy solitary multi day hikes in the Highlands. Wayfayrer meals were a favourite of mine then. I didn’t take many because they were too heavy to carry. If I was away from shops for a week or more at a time I would take these meals for the first day or too and then dried food for the rest of the trip. On a narrowboat though you don’t have to worry about the weight.

Wayfayrer meals are very good but they are also quite expensive. Stowaway Foods offer similar ready meals but at about half the price and, I’ve been told, they’re just as tasty.

If you want a handy supply of tasty hot food without any hassle, find a spare cupboard on your boat and store a dozen of these meals. They’ll last twelve months before you have to endure a let’s-eat-all-the -food-that’s-about-to-go-out-of-date session.

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.

21st September

Cruising in adverse weather conditions part two – A continuation of the previous week’s newsletter

14th September 2014

Cruising in adverse weather conditions – Steering a narrowboat over the glassy surface of a placid canal on windless day in the middle of summer is child’s play. Here’s what you need to do on a “normal” day’s cruise.

7th September 2014

Following your dream – Is your goal to some day spend a life of leisure out on the canal network? This article might encourage you to make a move sooner rather than later.

31st August 2014

Route finding for narrowboat owners – Here are the popular paper and digital route finders to help make navigating the network child’s play

24th August 2014

Long term narrowboat hire – Is hiring a boat long term a realistic alternative to buying one?

17th August 2014

living on board in the winter, the cost of living afloat generally and where you can moor your floating home are all subjects which are misunderstood by many aspiring narrowboat owners. Here’s what you need to know.

10th August 2014

Narrowboat heating, electrics and engine specifications – How is the perfect live aboard narrowboat configured? Here are a few suggestions

3rd August 2014

Essential boating equipment – Here’s the stuff every boater should carry on board

27th July 2014

The pros and cons of a wide beam boat – More and more wannabe boaters are considering more spacious wide beams rather than narrowboat. There is clearly more living space on board but how practical are wide beam boats on the inland waterways?

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 09 21 Newsletter – Cruising In Adverse Weather Conditions Part 2

I fired my new Kipor generator up for the first time on Sunday evening. I have to admit that the 35kg dead weight now the petrol tank is full is something I won’t be moving very far.

My original plan was to carry it from the engine room to the front of the boat each time I wanted to use it so that I could plug it into the shore line which we have running from the back of the boat along the roof and under the cratch cover to where the plug is coiled neatly on top of the bow locker. Then I remembered that I won’t need to.

When we set sail next April we won’t be using the national grid very often so the boat length shore line will be coiled neatly out of sight in the engine room. I’ll just get another much shorter cable made up to reach from the generator on the towpath near the back of the boat to the socket in the engine room.

Wherever I use the generator it will be chained to something immovable but I’m considering running it on my tiny back deck rather than off the boat. Chained or not, if I have it running on the towpath it’s much more accessible to potential thieves if it’s off the boat. I don’t intend using the machine when both Sally and I are away from the boat so if it’s running on the back deck, anyone with an unhealthy interest in it will have to step on board to get at it. Anyone stepping on to the boat is very noticeable from inside.

I’ve decided to run the generator on propane rather than petrol. I’ll always have propane on board to cook with and there’s plenty of spare space in the bow gas locker for additional cylinders. I have two 13kg in there for cooking; one in use and a full spare.

I’ve just purchased two 6kg cylinders to use exclusively for the generator. I had to sit down after I was presented with the bill. Because I wasn’t exchanging an empty cylinder for either of the new bottles I had to purchase a license for each. Each license cost me £32 . The total cost of the two licenses and two 6kg cylinders was £110.

I also needed to purchase an LPG conversion kit for £150 which I wasn’t terribly happy about but the expenditure makes sense in the long term. The generator is 30% cheaper to run on propane than on petrol, propane is readily available at boat yards up and down the cut and it’s safer to store on board than petrol.

Thank you Dave Bradshaw for pointing out that there’s sometimes an issue running generators on propane once the pressure in the cylinder drops. I’ve taken that into consideration but reached the conclusion that I’ll still be able to use the partial cylinders which won’t work on the generators for cooking instead.

Talking of cooking on gas, I changed one of my 13kg propane cylinders on Tuesday. The fact that I changed a gas cylinder wasn’t unusual. The fact that I last changed one before that back in June is very unusual indeed. In June I had my gas water heater taken out and had a calorifier installed to heat my boat’s water.

When the gas heater was installed I changed my gas on average every twenty one days. With the heater removed, the gas lasted me ninety days. I don’t know how much propane there was in the cylinder when the heater was taken out but I don’t think it was quite full. The current cylinder should last even longer. The cost of our gas per day was £1.28. Now it’s 30p. The yearly cost of my gas before was just under £500. Now that I’m just using gas for cooking, the cost will drop to just over £100. The saving will pay for half of my waterways license. I’m very happy.

Poor Weather Boating Part 2

Now where was I when time beat me again last week? Oh, that’s right, I was talking about the dangers of walking along the gunnel or roof of a snow or ice covered boat. The frozen stuff makes the outside of the boat very slippery, but so does summer rain and even early morning dew.

I see hundreds of hire boats passing through the Calcutt flight of three locks. For many of the hirers coming from Black Prince at Wigram’s Turn marina or Napton Narrowboats at Napton marina, Calcutt Top Lock is their first ever lock. Many of the boats have teenagers or younger children on board. Many of them spend much of their time in the lock jumping to and from the boat roof and the lock side.

This practice is dangerous at the best of times. I’ve seen several dogs in the lock as a result of slipping from the lock side or the gate and one boater slip from the lock side six feet on to the roof of his boat in the empty lock. All of the accidents were on dry days when surfaces were relatively slip free.

As soon as there’s any moisture on the boat roof it changes from a relatively slip free platform to a skating rink. The lock sides often have moss or lichen growing on them so a little rain or dew on the organic growth makes it equally as slippery. Wet surfaces make locking quite a hazardous affair, but not nearly as much challenge as when there’s a stiff breeze blowing.

Windy days and narrowboat cruises are not good companions.

Throughout the spring, summer and autumn, every Saturday we have groups of hirers coming to Calcutt to take one of our boats out. Regardless of the weather the boats go out. We don’t have to worry about ice or snow at that time of the year. Sometimes there’s a little early morning frost to make climbing over the boats in the morning a little more of a challenge as we prepare them for the afternoon but the frost has gone long before the first hirers arrive. Rain, although a little inconvenient, doesn’t prevent us instructing the hirers and sending them on their week or two week long cruises, but strong wind makes things very interesting indeed.

The majority of narrowboats are flat bottomed. They don’t have a keel and they don’t sit very deep in the water.  James is considered to be quite a deep drafted boat these days. My 2′ 6″ draft is nothing compared to the four or five feet common in the working boats two hundred years ago but there was much more water and much less silt beneath the craft then. The deeper the boat’s draft, the less the wind will push it across the surface in directions other than the one you want it to go in. The bigger the boat, the more the wind has to push against. On James the cabin is 48′ long and about four feet high above the gunnel. The cabin alone provides one hundred and ninety two square feet of “sail” for the wind to push.

Steering a narrowboat on windy days is a challenge for even seasoned narrowboat owners so at Calcutt we’re always a little nervous when we take first time boaters out for their half hour helmsmanship tuition.

The wharf where we moor our hire fleet is directly beneath Calcutt Top Lock. Our boats are moored stern in at right angles to the lock. Each has another hire boat tied either side. On a calm day it’s a tricky operation to get the new hirers off the wharf. There’s about fifty feet of clear water in front of the boats to allow passing traffic a clear channel along the canal but there isn’t enough space to turn the boats to get into either the top or the middle lock.

Our technique is to get the novice boater to start the engine while we untie the four or five ropes holding the boat in place and then put the boat into gear before very cautiously edging forward towards the concrete lined towpath ahead of us. The instructor stands on the bow indicating to the helmsman how far the boat is from the concrete. We use hand signals because the person steering can rarely hear what’s being said from the front of the boat over the engine noise.

If we time the manouver correctly, if the helmsman is watching attentively and if the attentive helmsman actually understands the hand signals, we ask him to stop the boat just before the bow touches the concrete and then leap gazelle like from the bow onto the towpath and then push the bow around until the boat is parallel with the towpath which allows the helmsman  (it’s nearly always a helmsman. I ask the hirers to nominate one person to steer the boat and one or more people to work the locks for this part of the instruction. If there’s a lady present I can almost guarantee that she’ll look like a startled rabbit and instantly offer the services of her husband or boyfriend to do the steering) to step off and hold the boat while I take the nominated crew up to the lock to demonstrate its operation.

It’s a tricky manouver made even more interesting on a windy day. The prevailing south westerly blows from the wharf side towards the towpath so the slow moving boat is given a bit of assistance which that isn’t really welcomed at this stage. Added to that, a novice hirer’s idea of moving forward very slowly isn’t quite the same as mine. What they haven’t learned at this stage is that one of our hire boats, weighing between ten and fifteen tonnes depending on the length, takes a bit of an effort to get moving and then once it’s moving an equal amount of effort to stop it. Because the boat doesn’t move forward instantly when they apply throttle, they push the Morse control forward until the wind assisted boat is moving towards the concrete bank opposite at a speed Usain Bolt would have problems matching.

Once I’ve helped the crew set the lock I then get back onto the hire boat to help the helmsman guide the boat in. If the prevailing wind is reasonably strong it pushes the boat against the bank so we have to compensate for the wind by giving the leading edge of the cabin a very hard push, hoping that by the time we get on to the back of the boat ready to move forward that that wind hasn’t pushed the bow back in again.

At this stage the helmsman has often had no more experience handling a boat than the fifty feet charge from the wharf to the towpath. Now he has to move the boat from the towpath and line it up with the lock just twenty or thirty feet away. I usually suggest that he goes as slowly as possible to reduce the force of the impact if he gets it wrong. Unfortunately, the slower the speed the poorer the steering and the greater the effect of the cross wind. It’s often a fine balance between moving forward slowly to reduce the likelihood of any damage occurring and moving quickly enough to maintain any kind of control at all against the wind.

Once the boat is through the lock, usually with a little bump on the way in, I stay on the boat for 450 metres (I’ve just measured the distance on Google Maps) to where we step off at a point where the canal narrows by the base of a dismantled railway bridge. It’s a short distance but long enough to establish whether the helmsman is comfortable handling the boat and to give some last minute advice about speed limits and how to pass moving and moored boats.

The short stretch of canal passes the exposed forty acre Napton reservoir. If the wind is buffeting the boat when we leave the lock I know we’re going to have to do a bit of crabbing when we reach the exposed bank next to the forty acres of reservoir water next to our grounds. I try to assume a nonchalant air as the wind whipped water on the canal in front of me draws ever closer. I casually point out the small waves marching ahead of our bow and mention that a little corrective steering is needed on gusty days.

I encourage the novice helmsmen to steer into the wind as we surge up the canal past the reservoir at forty five degrees. I laugh and joke but all of the time I’m thinking, “I’m really glad this isn’t my boat!”.

Many boat owners with plenty of time on their hands simply stay put in strong winds and heavy rain. They don’t often have appointments to keep so if it’s not pleasant cruising weather, they simply don’t cruise.

Not everyone has so much time on their hands though so sometimes they have to set off in inclement weather.

I quite like rainy day cruises. I have a Guy Cotten 100% waterproof jacket and trousers. They’re bright yellow. You see deep sea fishermen using them to keep dry at sea. They’re bomb proof. I can stand all day on the back of the boat in the heaviest rain without a drop getting through to me. They’re great for standing immobile for hours on end but not very good if I do anything involving physical exercise. Five minutes of lock wheeling would have me dripping in sweat. If wet weather lock work is required I can switch to my more breathable but not quite as waterproof Kakadu drovers coat and hat.

Wet weather is just an inconvenience but windy days are a pain. On a still day you can pass moored boats and enter and exit locks at a slow and careful pace. If you try the same manuouvers on a day with a strong cross wind, you’ll end up missing lock entrances and crashing into parked boats. With moored boats it’s Hobson’s choice. You can pass them at the recommended tickover and accept that the cross wind is going to blow your boat into them, in which case you’ll be subjected to cursing from inside the moored boats, or you can increase your pace to maintain some steerage, in which case you’ll be subjected to cursing from inside the moored boats. You choose.

By increasing your speed when entering locks you’re less likely to be blown away from the entrance, but you have to be confident that you have the right line going into the lock. If you get it wrong you’re going to hit an inanimate object harder than you would if you’d been going slower and then blown off course by the wind.

The same applies to getting into a mooring on a windy marina. It’s easier to maintain your line if you increase your speed but you have to be accurate in the first place, and you have to be able to stop quickly once you enter your mooring space. A boat here at Calcutt came to a very sudden stop last year when the owner adopted this approach. He judged his line correctly and accurately entered his mooring at speed then threw the boat into reverse to stop it quickly… just as the Morse control came off in his hand. The fifteen tonne boat didn’t do the wooden walkway any good at all.

Getting into our marina is interesting on a windy day. The prevailing wind usually blows out of the marina entrance so turning the boat into the wind can often be a challenge, especially if you’re coming out of Calcutt Bottom lock towards the entrance. As soon as you come out of the lock, the wind pushes the boat’s bow away from the marina entrance towards the towpath. A occasionally effective solution is to reverse the boat back into the lock mouth, use the lock landing to pivot on until the boat is lined up with the lock wall, then charge out of the lock before the wind pushes the bow in the wrong direction.

Sometimes the bow just won’t come round. It’s often easier to work with the wind rather than fight against it so if the wind pushes the bow into the towpath it’s possible to kick the stern around into the marina entrance and reverse through.

I was discussing handling narrowboats generally and handling them in challenging weather specifically with a guy who came on a discovery day a couple of weeks ago. He had owned a GRP cruiser for a number of years and was horrified at the though of so much contact between the boat and immovable objects, especially intentionally making contact with them to help turn or straighten the boat’s line. That’s the difference between the two types of craft. A narrowboat doesn’t handle very well in challenging weather but it’s usually solidly built so can shrug off light contact below the gunnel. A plastic cruiser is far more manouverable but it has to be handled as though it’s made of glass.

I would rather have the reassuring weight and substance of a narrowboat any day but given a choice I will always try to avoid taking one out in particularly bad weather.

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.

14th September 2014

Cruising in adverse weather conditions – Steering a narrowboat over the glassy surface of a placid canal on windless day in the middle of summer is child’s play. Here’s what you need to do on a “normal” day’s cruise.

7th September 2014

Following your dream – Is your goal to some day spend a life of leisure out on the canal network? This article might encourage you to make a move sooner rather than later.

31st August 2014

Route finding for narrowboat owners – Here are the popular paper and digital route finders to help make navigating the network child’s play

24th August 2014

Long term narrowboat hire – Is hiring a boat long term a realistic alternative to buying one?

17th August 2014

living on board in the winter, the cost of living afloat generally and where you can moor your floating home are all subjects which are misunderstood by many aspiring narrowboat owners. Here’s what you need to know.

10th August 2014

Narrowboat heating, electrics and engine specifications – How is the perfect live aboard narrowboat configured? Here are a few suggestions

3rd August 2014

Essential boating equipment – Here’s the stuff every boater should carry on board

27th July 2014

The pros and cons of a wide beam boat – More and more wannabe boaters are considering more spacious wide beams rather than narrowboat. There is clearly more living space on board but how practical are wide beam boats on the inland waterways?

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.

 

Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014, day 12 Saturday. Branston back home to Mercia marina, Willington.

P9130991Good evening as I write this and apologise for the lateness off the final instalment of my World Tour but settling back in and things, you know how it is.

I arose reasonably early Saturday morning and  got myself organised then checked if John my neighbour was up. I wasn’t sure so didn’t knock but shortly he came round I offered him breakfast of milky coffee and a couple of bacon cobs which he eagerly accepted. So we did a bit of catching up and chewing the cud as he’s off out continual cruising for a while now so probably won’t see him for a while.P9130993

I weighed the anchor, far too heavy, spliced me main sail, untied a couple of ropes and I was moving by shortly after 10.30. The day was overcast but warming up quite nicely and I felt at peace with myself and the world. This feeling needs to occur more often, I’m working on it. While autumn colours aren’t in abundance yet some of the trees are starting to change and a few leaves leaving anchorage too. Down passed Shobnall marina and Shobnall fields where there were several P9130994Saturday morning football matches under way and this leads onto Dallow Lane lock where one boat just coming out and another waiting to come up so I was straight in and helped through again. The timing of my arrival at the locks on this trip has been highly fortunate almost spooky some would say. This is a bye product I think of selling my soul.

I am just dawdling along and enjoying the run for home and feeling like I’m glad to be back and looking forward to some of the things I need to do and meeting up with neighbours and friends again even though it’s only been twelve days. I feel well refreshed and have enjoyed my time out tremendously but now there are new ventures to start rolling and enjoyable work to continue as well as not so enjoyable work to go back to on Thursday but it pays the bills.

Back to the meandering along the canal and as I reached the river Dove there were breaks in the clouds and bits of sun and blue P9131007sky. Still quite a bit of traffic and a couple of Avante hire boats passed me, they are based at Mercia. I’d passed quite a few over the last few days heading North so hopefully they’ve had a decent season. I turn a corner and the cooling towers are stood tall and proud and I know I’ve only a couple of miles left to travel. Willington village and a little negotiating under the bridges and down passed the gardens, which face onto the canal, that belong to a row of terraced houses where mostly they grow vegetables and fruit. P9131008There seems to be a good supply of fruit and a couple are busy digging something out or digging it over ready to plant. Under the railway bridge round the corner and I follow the marina trip boat through the tight entrance and I make the turn and never touch a twig. This makes up however for my negotiation of my mooring where we have two boats moored between a pair of jetties and my neighbours are away so I have a double berth to aim for which due to me being very relaxed P9131015and the breeze being the opposite way to normal I miss completely and end up with my nose on the end of the far jetty of the two and my boat across the front of the boats moored on the bottom. I used the end of the jetty as a pivot and got my stern back out into open water, reversed up and quickly tied myself to my mooring. No one saw me so it doesn’t count.

I’d forgotten but there was a free hog roast on over the other side of the marina with drinks and entertainment today. This was to say thank you to the moorers for the inconvenience while building the new Boardwalk which is now partly open. Looking forward to the opening of the bar which P9131026shouldn’t be too long.  My neighbour Ken reminded me and we went and had a look. It had been on since 1 pm and it was now 2.30 so I didn’t fancy our chances of finding anything left. There wasn’t but many were still enjoying the entertainment of a few moorers and friends playing, very enjoyable. Lightning Pete who I know from the folk clubs was leading some of it and he’s a good singer and a really good harmonica player. If you like bluesy, skiffle style good time music Pete and a few others go out as “The Chilli Dogs” and are well worth a visit if playing anywhere near you.

That brings me to the end of my outing which set out quietly and yet came home to a party. I hadn’t realised how much they’d missed me. I can dream. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings and I’ll try and blog a bit more often and keep you up to date with what’s happening locally and at the marina too.P9131021

Many thanks for reading and the comments.

Take care, God bless you

OurNige

Photos; 1. Looking back as I enter Burton.  2. A lovely tree beginning to change.  3. Shobnall Fields and the football.  4. Pillbox on the river Dove.     5. More blue sky and trees.  6. Over hanging Willow and out of shot left are the couple digging their allotment/garden.  6. Mercia marina with the new Boardwalk building.  7. The merry band of entertainers with Lightning Pete fronting.

Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014. Day 11 Friday. Fradley Junction to Branston via Alrewas, stop for butcher, and Wychnor.

It’s good Sunday morning as I write this so apologies but I’ve had a bit of trouble logging onto the site but all seems well now. P9120944Friday morning dawned and I was up fairly early and after popping over to use the CRT facilities I was ready to move by about 11 am. The facilities are kept nice and clean and are well serviceable. The cafe looks quite good too but I didn’t sample their wares so I can’t offer you an opinion.

I poddled off my first lock which was the fourth one of the Fradley flight and someone coming up and a volunteer locksman too. I pulled over and shortly floated in and bid him a good morning and thanked him for his help. They don’t normally do the bottom one I think but as there was no one waiting behind me he went and opened the top gate for me before sorting out the P9120946previous lock. The help we get from other canal users and the volunteers does help to lift your spirits and my opinion of our society.

Another boat was approaching as I pulled out but I wanted to top up with water and there is a tap on the lock mooring at the bottom so headed for land and the bit of breeze caught me so I had to do a bit of reverse and shuffling but made it safely in the end. Now this was a bit strange this tap. There were two locks a Squire and a Yale. I have keys for the Yale which took a bit of opening so was liberally doused with WD40  but after turning the tap no water was issuing from the bit of hose pipe dangling down or from another long nosed type of tap which wasn’t really easy to attach anything to as it was sat in a cut out in the metal. I should have took photos I realise now I’m trying to describe it. I didn’t appear to have anyP9120973 keys on my boat bunch that fitted the Squire so thinking I realistically should have plenty of water to last me a couple of days I gave up and set off. I must send an email to CRT in case it needs repairing or something.

Off we set in the beautiful warmth of another hazy summer day. Listening to the birds and watching for whatever wildlife was about and admiring the general beauty of the trees and plants. It was a pleasure just to be alive and experiencing the day as it unfolded. I was beginning to feel that I was unwinding at last. A short hop down to Common lock which if I remember rightly I had to do all by myself as there was no one there. Shock, Horror. P9120950Down to Alrewas where the stanchions of the road bridge have been graffitiised, I think legally and authorised, I’m not sure whether I like or not. Bagnall lock and a good morning to a fellow boater who then walks past lock and offers to help when he sees I’m on my own, so many good folk about, I decline as I feel I need a bit of exercise and it’s only a shallow one so no real steel ladder climbing.

Down through the lovely village of Alrewas where quite a few boats were moored with gaps between which I kept looking at and wondering if I could get in. If they had moored closer to each other there would have been lots of room. Gave the impression of inconsiderate mooring. Not everyone is helpful and friendly we have to accept that but not join in with it. A little further down I found a space more than big enough and P9120952I pulled my boat back up about six feet of the boat behind. I’m glad I did as later someone else moored up in front of me and there was plenty of room between me and the boat in front.

Shopping bag in hand I set on the long expedition and dangerous expedition to find supplies. I was accosted by two nice ladies who wanted to know where the town centre was and could they get a coffee and I duly pointed them in the direction of the shops and a couple of pubs which I thought would be more than happy to supply them with a couple of cups instead of glasses unless they changed their minds and went for a tipple when they got there. It was past noon on the old sundial. The butchers, Coates I think it P9120956was, had real beetroot outside so I snaffled a bunch of that along with a bunch of tomatoes still on the vine and went inside. An extensive array of meat from the usual animals and different cuts laid out along with breasts and steaks that had already been marinated in various solutions. Me I wasn’t going to do much real cooking so smoked bacon, 1/2 a pork pie, 1 lamb burger and a pasty which looked like wholemeal pastry, I should have asked, which I had for lunch on my return to the boat. A quick walk a little further along to the Co-op for a dozen of the small wholemeal cobs, these are rolls, bread cakes, baps or other names depending on your place of birth, they exceedingly good as they are quite solid and not just light and fluffy. I like my wholemeal bread to have substance.

After devouring the very tasty pasty for lunch and a short rest I set off again and found help in the form of other traffic going P9120957through the bottom lock and the boat and owner to go in as I come out was from my home marina of Mercia, he recognised the front of Steppin’ Out and I’d seen The Navigator before as we live on opposite sides of one the bays in the marina but hadn’t spoken before so good to get to know another fellow moorer.

Out on to Alrewas river section and into the wilderness of the reeds and tall grasses that line the first hundred yards or so of the canal/river as you turn off the river proper. I suppose this is customary of rivers to canals as the banks are tended on the rivers. I was thinking back to when we were on the broads many years ago, about forty or more years ago to be precise, it adds a charm and variety but does limit the view much more than on the canals. Down through the canal side moorings which look good and are in a P9120959peaceful setting. On to Wychnor lock which again I had to do myself and then the first of the stretches of canal that run alongside the A38. The birds still sing and there is still a sense of peace amongst the roar of the traffic fifteen or twenty yards away. Barton Turn marina with it’s waterfront pub and shops. I will have to call in to sample the quality of their goods for reporting purposes one day.

I am now approaching Barton lock and there is a boat in the mouth of the lock having just come out. There are many people milling about and doing lock type things, raising or lowering paddles and pulling, pushing gates, I’m a bit far away to see exactly, but I can’t make sense of it. Why are they filling the lock behind a boat that has come through and with a boat coming down the canal towards them. I am for a moment non nonplussed, in fact my plussed hasn’t been so nonned for a while. As I get closer I realise what is happening but it’s the first time I’ve come across P9120962anyone who is actually towing another boat through a lock.

Into and out the other side where I again don’t moor up to close the gates but leave the boat in the mouth of the lock while a quickly close the gates but keep a watch on my boat too, just in case, but this has a long mouth so not much likelihood of it wandering away anywhere and off we set again. Now we’re back proper in what is familiar territory for me heading up to Tattenhill lock where I have helpers again who do the lock for me which I know makes it quicker for them too but is much appreciated. Before you get to the lock there is one of those bridges which is only seven foot wide gives you the opportunity to see how good your aim is, I got straight through with out touching the sides this time.

P9120970Now the day is turning into a lovely evening and no thoughts of a sweatshirt yet. On through Branston water park till the Bridge Inn appears which says Italian Pizza and Pasta Restaurant again I don’t know how good the food and service are but quite often a few boats are parked there so I think it’s popular. I sail on through Branston lock and look for my friends boat which is where I’m going to moor. He’s visiting friends in Derby otherwise we would have gone for a drink but we spoke about having breakfast instead as he’s off out travelling the cut shortly. After mooring up and a tuna fish salad with a portion of delightful pork pie I sit down to write my blog for you and horror. I am Forbidden access to the site. What has Paul found out about me? All the skeletons that are lurking in my closet I mull over but while I have done many things I’m not proud of I can’t think of much that would be get me banned. I’ve never even peed in the canal on my way back from the pub. I don’t leave litter, I don’t leave lock gates open.

It turned out not to be me but a bit of problem with spam so here we are again. One more blog to do for this trip after this one and I will try and blog a bit more often this coming year.P9120984

Cheers and good health.

OurNige

Photos; 1. Leaving my first lock of the day.  2. Moorings just below Fradley bottom lock.  3. The Wildlife. Question do you A. write a book about said wildlife, B. produce a film? or C. Make a pie?  4. The bridge art.  5. nice garden at Bagnall lock.  6. Alrewas, if you’re going to have a summer house you might as well have a good one.  7. Alrewas bottom lock.  8. Approaching Wychnor lock.  9. Looks idyllic from this angle and is lovely but the A38 is twenty yards the other side of the boat. 10. One of those narrow bridges.       11. My nights mooring, a bit too close to the main road but I still slept well.

2014 09 14 Newsletter – Cruising In Adverse Weather Conditions

I have a habit of upsetting people. I don’t mean to, but I’ve done it again.

Last week I made a comment about two men engaging in a little precoital activity on the front deck of a passing boat. As a result of the comment I received several emails rebuking me for my homophobia. Just for the record I am not homophobic in the slightest. I don’t subscribe to racism, sexism, ageism or any other “ism” you care to mention. I think that there is enough space on the canals and enough liberally minded boaters to accommodate everyone regardless of their class, colour, political or religious beliefs or their sexual persuasion. I think they should all be allowed to do their own thing providing they don’t interfere with anyone else.

My objection is this case, and it was only a mild objection, was the very public and very intimate display. They were performing on the open front deck of a slow moving boat in an area where there were many passing boats and walkers on the towpath. There is a time and a place for everything. The time might have been acceptable, but the place certainly wasn’t. I would have objected to the same degree of public intimacy had the couple been heterosexual.

Having said that, I apologise unreservedly if my hastily written sentence offended you. The comment was made mostly in jest and certainly wasn’t intended as a general criticism. If I hadn’t been writing the introductory email so quickly, maybe I would have been more careful with my choice of words or maybe I wouldn’t have mentioned the incident at all. But I did. The damage has been done so if you are one of the offended few, I’m sorry.

Back at the marina I’m enjoying a wonderfully calm and gentle September. The days are sunny and warm, hot even, and the nights chilly but not as cold as they were a couple of weeks ago when I was lighting the stove each morning. Because I have the shore line plugged in, I turn on my two 500w greenhouse heaters in the morning for an hour to take the chill off but the longer lasting heat from the stove isn’t needed yet.

Yesterday was turn round day for our hire fleet and what a pleasant day it was. In the morning the previous week’s hirers returned from a week or two on the cut. All of them were absolutely delighted with the warmer than usual September weather, as were the new hirers who arrived in the afternoon for what looks like another warm and dry week ahead. Of course the weather will take a turn for the worse a week on Friday when Sally and I take the boat out of the marina for a week. It’s going to be a working holiday.

We’ll enjoy a very short cruise to somewhere off the beaten track where we’ll enjoy the solitude while we touch up the paintwork. I painted James two and a half years ago. For a first attempt, apart from the “Big Dipper” coach lines, it wasn’t a bad result. However there are a few patches now where the undercoat is showing, mainly where the paint has been rubbed repeatedly by hands and feet. The back doors are also a but of a mess after a hinge was welded back on and indentations where my roses and castles wooden door panels were fitted to the steel.

Providing the weather holds, I don’t think the painting will take more than a couple of days but it’s a chance to give the boat the TLC it so richly deserves. We want the boat to look its best when we finally set sail on our lifetime’s cruise.

Last week I told you that we set a backstop date for the start of our continuous cruising. We agreed that we wouldn’t wait any longer than 2nd April 2016, my fifty sixth birthday. Since then we’ve discussed our plans and refined them further. Twenty months seemed an awfully long time to wait so we’ve brought the date forward.

Our new release date from a lifetime’s hard labour is 2nd April 2015, just eight months away. I’ve finally convinced Sally that much as I enjoy my work here at the marina, there’s more to life than never ending toil. More to the point, I’ve convinced her that the noble work she does as a senior carer at a local nursing home is too hard, too dangerous and too stressful.

Sally earns very little as a carer even though she is completely dedicated and responsible for looking after a team of not quite so dedicated junior carers and the well being of two dozen patients with severe physical ailments. Sally is only small but she regularly has to manhandle uncooperative patients, some weighing as much as eighteen stone, often without help from other carers. All of the time she has to try to avoid being punched, kicked, head butted, scratched or bitten. All of the time she has to remain calm and passive. Most of the time there aren’t enough staff present to do the job either safely or effectively. It’s brutal work. It has to stop.

When I first suggested that we leave our working lives behind us, Sally’s main objection was that she felt she wouldn’t have a focus if she wasn’t going to work every week. I pointed out that she could swap the unhealthy interior of a too hot nursing home for daily lengthy and leisurely walks in the great outdoors through ever changing countryside as we slowly cruise the length and breadth of the network. She didn’t take much convincing really.

The next halfhearted objection was that she can’t use certain appliances when we are away from our home mooring. Sally likes to keep the boat very clean and tidy. Personally, I couldn’t be bothered but I do appreciate the end result. Our 1600w Sterling inverter won’t power our 2000w vacuum cleaner, the iron or Sally’s hair dryer. I could live without all of the appliances but I suppose if I had beautiful waist length hair to care for I would want a working hair dryer too.

With her current objection in mind, we paid Midland Chandlers in Daventry a visit on Friday to buy a generator.

I’ve been looking at the pros and cons of suitcase generators for a while now. The Rolls Royces of compact, quiet and lightweight generators are the Honda range. The downside of choosing a Honda is the price and the fact that because they are so light and popular, they are often targeted by opportunistic towpath thieves. We seriously considered buying the Honda 2000w suitcase generator but decided that it was too expensive for us and wouldn’t run some of our on board appliances.

Midland Chandlers sell the very good value Kipor range. The Kipor IG2600 suitcase generator costing just under £600 is about half the price of the 2000w Honda. It’s dry weight is 30kg which about 20% heavier than the Honda. With a full fuel tank it will weight 35kg, a similar weight to one and a half bags of coal. It’s heavy and a little noisier than the slightly lower powered Honda but I won’t have to carry it far and I won’t have to sit next to it while it’s running.

The Kipor IG2600 generator is now stored safely in the engine room waiting to be oiled and fueled ready for use. For the time being I will run it on petrol but due to the logistics in obtaining petrol out on the cut and the Boat Safety restrictions for carrying petrol on board I am considering investing another £150 for an LPG conversion kit.

Running the generator on propane is said to be about 30% less expensive than petrol, safer and more environmentally friendly. I have space in my bow gas locker for an additional small propane cylinder or two so storing the additional gas isn’t going to be a problem.

I also need to go shopping for some sturdy chain and two new padlocks to make sure that, heavy as it is, my generator isn’t too tempting to a light fingered towpath user.

Poor Weather Boating

Last weekend I held discovery days on both Friday and Sunday. The weather was perfect on both days; a little cloud to keep the sun out of our eyes and just the barest hint of a breeze to ruffle the water’s glassy surface. The weather was perfect for easy cruising but it wasn’t much of a challenge for training purposes.

Steering a narrowboat on a windless canal on a dry day in the middle of summer is pretty easy once you get used to the boat’s length and the fact that you have to push the tiller one way to ensure that the boat goes in the opposite direction, but piloting the same boat in wind, rain, snow and ice is a different kettle of fish.

My first winter living on board at the marina was very cold indeed. In fact December 2010 was the coldest December for 100 years. The marinas were frozen solid with up to six inches of ice locking boats into their moorings.

In early December when the ice was a mere two or three inches thick, one of our moorers had a bit of a problem. He and his wife were staying on board over the winter as temporary accommodation after they sold one house and before they bought another. Their boat was a very comfortable and well equipped seventy footer. It was well equipped for normal boating conditions but it wasn’t able to cope with the exceptionally cold weather.

They had a pump out toilet on board. The tank would last them for four weeks if they were careful but they hadn’t taken the precaution of pumping the tank out before the bad weather hit and they didn’t do what many live aboard boaters with pump out toilets do and carry a cassette toilet in addition to the pump out loo.

They had a full toilet tank and needed to empty it. The only way to do that was to take their boat to the nearest of our two pump out stations in Locks marina which is just four or five hundred metres from where there boat was moored close to me in the newer Meadows marina.

They tried to move the boat but it was stuck fast in the ice. They phoned our office asking for help. I was volunteered.

They were stern in on their mooring which meant that moving the boat was very difficult. It’s much easier in reverse when you can gently move backwards towards the edge of the ice then give the boat a quick blast of forward thrust. The turbulence from the propeller can shatter quite thick ice. Once the ice is broken you can move gently back through the broken ice and repeat the process. It’s a slow process but at least the blacking isn’t stripped off along the waterline.

This guy didn’t have that option though. His bow was facing the unbroken ice. He had to rely on a very low tech solution; me!

For an hour and a half I stood on his front deck armed with a ten feet length of scaffolding. I punched holes in the ice to weaken it then he moved forward to push it aside with the boat. It was a very slow process to start with while we were on the mooring and couldn’t take a run up at it but after I had cleared a twenty feet long channel he was able to reverse back and then charge at the ice.

The first time we hit the ice and the boat crashed to a halt, heard breaking glass and china and some very unladylike cursing coming from the cabin. The sudden stop had launched half a dozen ornaments off shelves and onto the floor. His wife wasn’t at all happy. One of the crashes we heard was the coffee cup she had been holding when we hit the ice.

The routine continued; nose up to the unbroken ice, punch a dozen holes in the ice with my increasingly heavy scaffolding pole, reverse along the cleared channel, engage full throttle and charge into the unbroken crust ahead of us.

Within half an hour all of the hull’s protective bitumen along the water line had been scoured away. The lady down below had removed the few remaining unbroken ornaments from shelves and work tops and was wedged into their Pulman’s dinette bracing herself against the frequent crashes.

Snow on the marina in January 2012

Snow on the marina in January 2012

At one stage we managed to beach ourselves on the ice when the bow ran over the unbroken ice rather than through it. After much furious reversing, and equally furious cursing from below, we managed to drag the front third of the seventy feet long boat back into the water.

After ninety exhausting minutes we reached the pump out station where we had to spend another twenty minutes raking the broken ice from between the wharf and the boat so that we could pull the boat alongside, and then another half hour pouring boiling water over hoses and taps before we could get the pump out machine working.

As a result of our little adventure the boat had to be blacked again soon afterwards to replace the bitumen scraped off by the ice. The cost, including £200 for taking the boat out of the water, was in excess of £600. That’s a great deal of money to pay for a pump out! Then there was the cost of replacing the broken ornaments, the unknown damage cause to the boat’s internal fixings and fittings by the frequent severe impacts and the ongoing and undoubtedly enormous cost of repairing a fractured relationship.

In this case the damage was caused by ploughing through more than two inches of ice but just half an inch would have been enough to strip the bitumen off the water line. That same year the local coal boat was rumoured to have punched a hole in the bow when forging his way through thick ice to reach his customers.

Don’t cruise when the canal is frozen, and if you are a continuous cruiser, make sure that you keep an eye on the weather forecast then get to somewhere which has the services you need before the weather closes in.

The weather doesn’t have to be as cold for snow as it does for ice. Snow is pretty as it falls and when it forms a soft white blanket across the land. It’s a beautiful and welcome change to the drab and often soggy winter weather. It’s beautiful and welcome until you try to move around the outside of your boat.

Most gunnels are safe to walk providing of course you keep both hands firmly fastened to a rail or the top edge of the cabin side. Most are wide enough to acommodate the widest feet. Mine aren’t the width was reduced from five to three inches when the original wooden cabin was over plated with steel. It’s now quite a balancing act to get from one end of the boat to the other along the gunnel but on most boats you will have very little trouble in normal weather conditions.

A snow covered gunnel is a dangerous place to walk. We have to move boats around the marina throughout the year so moving on and around snow and ice covered boats is not unusual. After sliding off an icy gunnel a few times I developed a technique for moving along the outside of a boat. Rather than step along the gunnel, I shuffle along it pushing the snow or ice ahead of me rather than pressing it underfoot. It’s an odd way to get around but it’s by far the safest way for us. Of course, if we owned the boats we work on in the winter, we would be far safer just walking through the cabin but given that we often have dirty boots we don’t want to make a mess inside the boats.

Walking along the boat’s roof in sub zero temperatures is very dangerous indeed, especially if stepping from one boat’s roof to another or stepping from the boat to a lock side if single handing. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve almost fallen on a super slippery icy roof. If I have to go on a boat roof at all now I usually crawl or crouch rather than walk and if I need to take a boat through a lock in sub zero temperatures I would rather shuffle along the gunnel in the narrow and often dirty gap between the cabin side and the lock wall rather than risk falling from the roof.

To be continued….

Trouble Logging In?

I haven’t had time to complete the section above because I’ve been battling malicious code again this week. The cost of the software I use is determined by the number of subscribers I send my weekly newsletters to. Early last week the site was bombarded by spam subscriptions. Up to 500 fake subscribers a day have been added to the database so I’ve spent much of my time either removing the bogus entries or trying to find ways of preventing them from being added in the first place.

The tech support guys from the company which hosts my site immediately restricted access to the admin section of the site to stop the spam bots from gaining access to the server and using my site to send out more spam. The solution prevented unauthorised access to the site but it might also have stopped forum users from logging in.

If you have tried to log in to the forum or have had problems viewing the site in your browser please let me know. You may have seen something like this in your browser… You don’t have permission to view this site. I can easily remove the restriction but I need to know if it has denied genuine users access to the site.

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.

7th September 2014

Following your dream – Is your goal to some day spend a life of leisure out on the canal network? This article might encourage you to make a move sooner rather than later.

31st August 2014

Route finding for narrowboat owners – Here are the popular paper and digital route finders to help make navigating the network child’s play

24th August 2014

Long term narrowboat hire – Is hiring a boat long term a realistic alternative to buying one?

17th August 2014

living on board in the winter, the cost of living afloat generally and where you can moor your floating home are all subjects which are misunderstood by many aspiring narrowboat owners. Here’s what you need to know.

10th August 2014

Narrowboat heating, electrics and engine specifications – How is the perfect live aboard narrowboat configured? Here are a few suggestions

3rd August 2014

Essential boating equipment – Here’s the stuff every boater should carry on board

27th July 2014

The pros and cons of a wide beam boat – More and more wannabe boaters are considering more spacious wide beams rather than narrowboat. There is clearly more living space on board but how practical are wide beam boats on the inland waterways?

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.

 

Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014, Day 10, Cannock Chase to Fradley Jct, Including, excitement, near death and sun.

Good evening everyone. I did nothing yesterday and today it’s been jam packed with excitement and incidents. I rose relatively P9110879early and was under-way before 11 am. There seemed to be lots of traffic moving in both directions as I’d sat and had breakfast and that was sort of the order of the day. However shortly after setting sail and taking a bearing on the Shetland Isles, I do need a new map book, I came across a Heron stood at the side of the canal, not too unusual I agree, and he stood there as I approached and with camera in hand I thought I might get a decent picture and indeed I did. He stood stock still and as I passed plunged into the water and came up with his own breakfast. A rather pleasant start to my travels unless you happened to be the fish.

P9110885I meandered along at a very sedate pace and met a few boats going north but none thankfully following me so I could cruise at my leisure. A sharp right turn and across the aqueduct which brings you to the outskirts of Rugeley and a 90 degree left hander. A straight run of houses all about 50 ft above you and gardens that drop down to back onto the canal. Here I was visited by more wildlife. This time it was a black butterfly with red on it’s wings. Not a Red Admiral as I can recognise those and I haven’t looked it up P9110886yet. I’m sure one of you here will know what it is. Now we are beginning to hit the town centre and I’m thinking of stopping to do a little shopping but after arguing with myself I decide not too. Is it me or do we often look to shop when actually, in my case anyway, I have enough to do what I want to do tonight. Sausage and mushroom sarnies. These are the Cumberland ones I bought from the canal side shop at Great Haywood and I P9110888raise my hat to them, they were fabulous. I’m going to work on shopping less and using what I buy and trying not to buy things on impulse. This will be a struggle.

As I said on my way up I find These three little towns very pleasant. As you pass through the town centre area it does narrow down and if boats are moored then a bit of care is needed if you meet anyone coming the opposite way. Today I didn’t and slowly meandered my way through say morning to people and waving to others who were hanging their washing out in their gardens. The sun on my back and warm with out burning. This was turning into a rather appealing sort of day and was only improved when God spoke P9110889to me. No there wasn’t a peal of thunder and no I don’t and didn’t here a direct voice but I know it was him. I have a habit of complaining about others who aren’t courteous, or don’t slow down proper when passing, or don’t slow down when you meet under a bridge, or push in at the bar and that sort of thing. You may on occasions do this yourself. Well I got to this bridge and I was halfway through and someone came round the corner and they did slow down a little but by the time I could move right and get out of the way there wasn’t much room between us, a couple of feet, and I just thought why not slow down so you’re not almost threatening the other boat and as they passed and I shook my and said “Oh Lord is it me???” The answer popped up and he said “actually yes it is you. These numpties will continue being numpties so stop whingeing smile and get on with it.” I thought well that’s fair enough.

P9110910Now we leave Rugeley and visit Armitage, another lovely stretch of canal and up past Spode priory there are some allotments which I think look grand and I noticed today an old washerwoman scarecrow waving at me. Should I cut down on the drugs I wonder. A little further on and we come to what may be the only tunnel in the world that doesn’t have a roof. Did they build it for people who are claustrophobic I wonder. It does have a bridge P9110898built over it now which makes it like a tunnel again but apparently due to subsidence they had to take the roof off.

Next we have near death at the hands of a Buzzard, or should that be “wings of a Buzzard”. I digress but as I left Armitage hit Handsacre’s lovely waterfront bungalows and a very sharp left hand bend I spotted a Buzzard circling and he wasn’t very high so I grabbed my camera and slowed down and took a few photos of him and with my head up hadn’t seen this boat coming the other way. He however had seen me and slowed right down too. So I apologised and blamed the Buzzard, as you do, and he smiled and we continued our journeys.

P9110904The stretch of canal from leaving Handsacre down to Fradley junction is to me a sheer joy. Tree lined and meandering with reeds and grass. Today with the sun shining down, the birds singing and something feeling just as it should it seemed to take on a new shade of elegance. An abundance of different shades of green. Water swirling behind and the sun high in the sky. If you can’t enjoy boating when it’s like this then it’s time to go home.

I met some more wonderful people at Woodend  lock who helped me through, they were walking, so I offered them a lift down to Fradley, Jeff accepted but his wife Annie declined, I think she remembered what her P9110914mother had told her about accepting lifts from strange men. They had hired boats for years but were thinking about buying so we had a good chat on the way down to Fradley. Jeff helped through a couple more locks and I left them at the Swan pub and dropped a further lock and was pleased to find a mooring waiting for me so I soon joined them outside the pub with a pint of Outlawed, for me a very nice pint indeed. Pint number two and then back for the sausage sarnies and to write this blog.

This has been a truly enjoyable day. I feel at peace with myself and some of the world too.P9110943

Take care and may God bless you.

OurNige.

Photos; 1. Heron catching his breakfast.  2. First garden as you turn into Rugeley,  3. A fore said butterfly.  4 and 5 Rugeley town centre area.               6. A beautiful bridge.  7. Armitage tunnel.  8. Allotments and Mrs Scarecrow. 9. The Buzzard and 10. My Fradley junction mooring.

Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014. Day 9 Wednesday. Lazy Wednesday afternoon.

P9100849Hi folks doesn’t have the same ring as Lazy Sunday Afternoon by the Kinks but I’ve decided to recharge my batteries and have a day lounging about. I didn’t surface till 10 o’clock. Bone idle no excuses. I think it will do me good as I feel quite worn out after yesterday. Only 3 locks but a lot more pulling and holding the boat while queueing. My knee was giving me a little trouble last night and I couldn’t see why at first then realised I’d probably done more yesterday than other days.

Wall to wall hazy sunshine and very warm.  What to tell you about as I haven’t done lots. Half hour on the guitar this morning. Then decided to mop the bird poo off the top of the boat and cleaned out the cruiser stern asP9100851 it had got a bit untidy and dusty over the last week or so. This isn’t major surgery let me tell you, just a quick flick. I have however refilled my stern greaser and mopped the water out of the engine room. I get a bit of leakage when I’m moving I think it’s the age thing.

P9100854The big question today is what do I take pictures of as I’m not going to be travelling and one field of sheep looks pretty much like another. I think I found 6 to keep you entertained or might be 7 and I’ll pinch one from late last night.

While out travelling this last week and while washing the poo from the roof P9100866it has brought home to me how much in need of a paint job she is. The windows need taking out while painting too as there are rust bleeds coming through. So while I don’t have many leeks yet, I’ve found one recently, sanding and undercoating and generally sprucing her up ready for next year has to be a priority over the autumn, winter, spring and early summer. Also having some hooks to hang windlass, mooring pins, chains, pegs and hammer on so everything is at hand when required.

Organisation that’s what I need to do. Put things where 1. I might know where they are and 2. might be able to lay hands on them when needed, especially if in a little hurry. This sounds very helpful and similar to what I probably thought after last years trip out but progress could be made on my return to base.

P9100868It’s been a relaxing and yet mildly productive day. Another session on the guitar and I think I’ve sorted out one of the songs I want to record. Read a little more of Andrew Marr’s History of the World. Only just started it but I’m finding it very interesting and thought provoking. Seems to be leading P9100875me down the anti establishment route in fact I may be revolting. Not sure I’ve phrased that right but there you go.

The sun is just sinking down now and I shall be poddling through Rugeley and Armitage tomorrow. Might stop for a bit of shopping. Sorry it’s a bit short but normal service may be resumed tomorrow.

P9090838Thanks for reading.

Cheers, Nige

Photos; 1. The crack of dawn. Well 10 o’clock actually.  2. A nice boaty pic.      3. One of the windows showing the rust. Not horrendous yet but needs tidying up.  4. My own little recording studio. Modern technology is an amazing thing especially when living in a smaller space.  5. The power station peeking out at me.  6. A lovely evening sun.  7. Last nights burning bush.

Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, Day 8 Tuesday. The danger of water and more good folks.

Hi anyone. All the blogs should now have photos. I think I’ve found a cure but it hasn’t solved the problem. The last 2 days I put captions on theP9090791 photos and it wouldn’t show them. So I took them off. Today has been a belter of a day. Wall to wall sunshine a little hazy but that stopped it burning so much. It’s now nearly 6 o’clock and it’s still lovely and warm. A lot of traffic today and a few of us were wondering if it is because the school kids have gone back and everyone is rejoicing. I’ve only done 3 locks today and have queued at them all.

P9090801I actually managed to get moving before noon today. I think it was about 11 o’clock when I set out. Hoo Mill lock was a bit further than I thought it would be and rounding the corner I found someone waiting. There isn’t a lot of mooring there, about a boat and a half so I hovered for a little while before I could moor up and join in the fun. Someone right behind me once I did get it. All good kind folks and after a bit of a wait I continued on my way and enjoyed the warm sunshine. Moored up at Great Haywood and set off with rubbish in hand and a shopping bag. Rubbish dropped off now to find more supplies. I like the worst bits of meat really but like only the best so I had a couple of their own home made faggots, 3 links of their own cumberland sausage, mushrooms and a fresh wholemeal loaf, oh I nearly forgot  I had one of their pork and shropshire blue sausage rolls which I had for lunch and it was delicious.

Now the days acrobatics and excitement. I moved down a hundred yards to the water tap. I decided not to spin round and moor with water cap P9090802to the bank but manage with it on the canal side of the boat. I have 2 pieces of flat hose for watering 1 short one and 1 longer one but I still had to pull the boat back a little from  where I had first moored. It is also very warm and I’m sweating like a garden hose to be polite. Anyway moved it back and the long one just about reached. Removing the cap was a little problem holding on with one hand while bending down and unscrewing with the other hand. I’m not as yound and agile as I used to be but the job was done. Now to get the hose in the top and do I switch it on first or not. If I put it in and turn it on and it flies all over and goes in the canal not very good or hygienic so I thought I would try it with the water on. Now if you’ve used a flat hose before you will know they tend to do a fair impression of an angry cobra doing a jig and it was nearly in then lept out then one side then shot over the other then miracles of miracles it went in and stayed in. Hooray, for Hollywood.

P9090811I have a list now from this holiday so far of things to get or things to do or organise ready for my trips out next year. A proper hose on a real is on this list a long with a pole and plank rack and a few other things to help keep the roof tidy. I managed not to fall in the canal either when I put the water cap back in place.

Now I can venture forth again and join another queue of boats waiting down at P9090814Shugborough lock. I have to hover again as I’m fourth in the queue. It isn’t particularly breezy so it isn’t a problem. Now we all know there are some grumpy people about but these were all good folks and made it a pleasure to pass the time of day with them while we all waited and worked together. This applied to those in front of me and those coming up behind who would wait a little longer. The day was enhanced rather than detracted from by this. Through Shugborough lock and off into the great wide open all the way to Colwich lock where we all met up again and did the same once more.

P9090815This would be most peoples last lock for the day that I’d met as I was hoping to moor up before Rugeley. The two boats in front of me were heading for Rugeley and they were son and wife in one boat and mother and father in the other, they weren’t live aboards so had bought two boats that fit in one lock at the same time. Saves time when your out cruising together. Very clever my dear Sherlock. The couple behind were heading for the Plum Pudding as they eat there whenever they are this way. Another recommendation for their Italian cuisine.

I chugged off again thanking all of them for their help and hoping they had a great time. P9090822The sun was still shining and still nice and warm I cruised up through bridge 70 where there are some good moorings and took the first of the three single moorings just up from there. It gives you more of a feeling of solitude. Lovely views and the evening sun shines on you till it finally retires for the day.

I have sat and done my blog after dining early today at 5 o’clock. I had the same as I did 2 days ago to finish the bacon. Real bacon, real free range egg with mushrooms and tomatoes. I did get my egg to perfection this time as I managed to poach it spot in. All the white cooked and the yolk runny so you can dip your bread in it and the tomatoes run in with the yolk and make it perfick.

I’ve no doubt that a glass of fine cider and a tot of the finest of whiskies, Talisker, may accompany my reading or guitar playing later after watching the sun go down. Tomorrow will no doubt bring something else of interest and value.

Remember we are all like narrowboats. We cannot be guided if we’re not moving forward, even if only slowly.P9090829

May your God go with you.

OurNige

Photos; 1. Morning from the back of the boat.  2. Great Haywood moorings opposite the canal side farm shop and cafe.  3. the flat hose running across the front of the boat. Sorry I couldn’t dangle there removing the cap and taking a photo at the same time.  4. The view back up towards Shugborough lock.  5. A house with the largest rhubarb I’ve ever seen.       6. Some of the good folk I’ve met today who helped me and each other.   7. I just thought it had charm. I hope it didn’t empathise with me as it felt it had met a kindred spirit or I might not be in as good health as I think.  8. My mooring for the evening.

Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, day 7 Monday. Stone to Hoo Mill lock

Good evening to you all. The sun is still burning the sky but I’m moored up by 17 o’clock as I want  a bit of time to myself. I’m very selfish like that. I am in the middle of nowhere or it feels like that but after mooring up a man came past with his dog and then I spotted an articulated lorry followed by a car then followed by a bread van. These were about 50 yds away and now I have another boat mooring up with me. Bugger. I’m not really unsociable just fancied a night of total solitude. I shall try for that tomorrow then.

I rose about 8 am and cheese on toast and coffee for breakfast. Had a walk into Stone as I’d spotted a shop with the title Yesterdays and a few bits in the window looked OK. I had a look in some of the other shops and then went back and treated my self to a wooden fruit bowl, a knife and spoon, 3 DVDs about or taken from the Hubble telescope, I hope they are good and I couldn’t resist a DVD with 1 episode of The Prisoner starring Patrick McGowan. I know how to push the boat out. £8.50.

Stone is in my opinion from what I’ve seen a good place to moor if you

want somewhere pleasant down by the water and not unpleasant in the town part. Shops Banks and plenty of Italian restaurants. I wonder if this is a feature of the area as there seem more where I’ve moored up since up Great Haywood, Stone way than there is Derbyshire way where it seems more Indian restaurants. Choice is always good. On the way out of Stone there are a lot of properties that look out or back onto the canal and mostly modern with a few nicer older properties so those who prefer the land and can afford the prices can have nice home too.

Some one coming up as get to the first lock of the day and when negotiating coming out I leave the boat in the mouth of the lock and nip up the stairs to close the gates, keeping an eye on the boat let me tell you as this, for me anyway, is a daring new adventure as I’ve always moored up and walked back to shut the gates. This is so much quicker. My first attempt going down which means you have to climb steps so are away from your boat. I did use this as well when I was coming up the locks and it works a treat but you are much closer to the boat if anything were to happen.

As we leave Aston lock the marina is on the left and it’s a fairly straight bit

of canal down through Burston where there is a sign on the bridge advertising the Greyhound Pub then on again on again to Sandon lock which at the moment has a damaged bottom gate paddle so looks like it’s open even when it isn’t. It will still fill enough to let the top gate open properly. The gear mechanism on the damaged paddle works OK. Help again from some really nice people. There are some idiots and grumpy bums about but generally many more good people than bad I would have to say.

Lovely scenery as there is mostly and heading for Weston on Trent where I was half thinking of mooring up for the night. There are some decent moorings top side of Bridge 81 and a couple of gorgeous moorings between 81 and 80 which I managed to hesitate over as I was trying to take a photo at the same time and missed them, sod, and comfy walking distance to the Saracen’s head too. I’m a bit of a f…..ool sometimes. I was going to say fart but thought it might be too rude for the boating community. There are some more moorings bottom side of bridge 80 but no room was to be had so I soldiered on.

I came to Weston lock were a boat had come through but I missed the

drop as there were 2 waiting to come up so caught the next one and had a chat with some people from Langley Mill and some from Shardlow. They helped me through so again an easy day. Now I’m looking at bit more earnestly for a mooring but some which looked OK only had wood and I was feeling idle and wanted armco to save using the hammer.  I meandered along taking the odd photo and keeping a look out and then I found a guy pulling off a mooring opposite a line of trees, deserted and armco and rings set in concrete. The sun shining on the bit I was about to moor up on so what could be better. Moored up and looked around, not a soul in sight and you remember the rest from the beginning of this blog

and now there are a line of 4 boats. Well if I’m honest it’s not my canal and I’ve only paid about the same as everyone else and it isn’t like it’s intrusive or any of them are making a great deal of noise. I’ve just had a good listen as I write this and I can’t really hear any of them at all and 4 of them are out BBQing.

There has been quite a lot of traffic passing between 5 pm when I moored up and now which is 7.20 although it has dropped off. There are a few clouds drifting over and the sun is slowly sinking. No fabulous sunset to

take pics of but it’s been another great day and I’m fair dinkum tired Bruce. My plan for tomorrow is to try and move a little earlier and call at Great Haywood’s canal side farm shop then hope to find one of the three moorings on the edge of Cannock Chase and have 2 nights there so I can have a leisurely day and get a few songs recorded so I can put them on my YouTube site. This site has 2 of my own songs on already with a slide show background making it like a video so if you want to have a look then go to YouTube obviously and type in OurNige and the songs are called Sometimes and The Emptiness. More will follow once I can get them recorded then put the photos to them which also take a bit of time.

Any way it’s getting near to bed time so I shall go lay my weary head down.

Take care and God bless.

OurNige.

Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, Day 6, Grt Haywood to Stone

Ha good evening I’m just settling down to write this alongside a glass of Capt  Morgan’s spiced rum having consumed a fine meal

of thick sliced smoked bacon, this butcher, Parr’s in Sutton in Ashfield, smokes it himself and it doesn’t produce white gobbets of water when it’s grilled or shrink hardly as it hasn’t been pumped with water in the first place. A friend I know keeps his own chickens so my egg was truly free range and rather delicious, grilled mushrooms and smothered with chopped toms with cinnamon, mint, and Italian seasoning. The hardships I have to endure in my quest for simplicity. Oh and a couple of slices of wholemeal bread and some brown sauce.

Right then. Where were we. I didn’t surface till gone 9 o’clock this morning and a light breakfast and a coffee and took my rubbish down to the bins for boaters near the Anglo-Welsh boatyard. Steadily got myself organised. Dropped my pram-hood. Another benefit of which when out cruising is a little extra security, sort of. I know it doesn’t stop anyone but with the hood up and putting the side nearest the tow path in place it gives a bit more privacy people can’t see everything I’ve got lurking under my seat.

The sun is beating down and the forecast is for the same all day and tomorrow then dry and warm but a bit cloudy till at least Thursday. I hope you all appreciate the suffering I’m enduring just to bring this scintillating report to your breakfast/supper table. Sun cream applied, bandanna secured, camera in place and a bottle of coke at hand we are ready to depart. So of we jolly well go. Plenty of private moorings along side the canal at Great Haywood so a while admiring or wondering at the condition of some then the moorings stop once you pass the entrance to the marina and it becomes more at peace with reeds, trees and rushes. Then Hoo Mill lock appears. Someone comes out so I go in and someone waiting to come down so I don’t have to do anything at all to get through the lock apart from thank this wonderful couple for the help they’ve given.

Off up the cut again and it’s lovely just dawdling along in the warm

sunshine. There is a noticeable breeze though which does affect you occasionally but no real hardship. A lot of wonderful open country side to travel through and some interesting and lovely houses to add variety to the journey. Weston lock then Weston on Trent which looks a nice small village and then a line of beautifully situated moorings. They may not have all the facilities but they do have the outlook. Turned the corner and a row of about 20 or so anglers. I thanked most of them as I went past very slowly. Some spoke, some were pleasant and none were rude. Boaters and fishermen have to learn to get along as in the end we need each other to keep the canals and rivers in the best condition for all of us to continue to enjoy.

Now Sandon lock. Oh a bit of good fortune for me again as at the last lock and again here the boat behind as caught me up helped me through the locks so I’m still not doing them on my own really. In fact I’ve hardly done any in the 6 days I’ve been out. Again nice people. Many, many thanks. The country side rolls on as do the miles and the sun keeps beating down and I apply more sun cream to the side of my face which now feels a little hot under the continuous sun. We of the Cloud Appreciation Society see the benefits of our friends the clouds not just to add beauty to a dull all blue sky but a little respite from the blazing sun we continually get in the summer. ??????

Down towards Aston lock and the Aston marina which appears to be quite

large and offers a butchers, a shop and a bistro with short term, long term moorings and over night stay if required.  Well that’s what their sign says. Looks modern and well equipped from what I could see. Now at Aston lock my friends are not behind me so I have to empty the lock then cruise in and close the gates. The bottom gates here are ridiculously easy to move so be careful with them. I raised the ground paddle slightly and waited for the boat to go back a little then forward, I’d left it in gear to keep the nose on the gate but it wasn’t coming back to the gate. It was a foot off it????? My friends

arrived and as they got their windlass out I realised I hadn’t dropped the paddles in the bottom gate. If I’d been on my own I could have been there for a while. She did agree with me that I shouldn’t really be let out on my own. Anyway through the lock then into Stone. It is quite a way from this lock up to next lock and the Star public house and a mooring was to be had about 400 yds down from it.

Get the home in order, a quick shower and a walk into town to find a cash

point. I walked past the star and sort of headed left then followed the road round and eventually found a couple of banks to withdraw some loot. A walk through the now deserted shopping area and back down to the Star where I tried a pint of the Bank’s Sunburst which advertised a  light fresh citrus flavour and indeed it did deliver. A really clean, tasty and wholesome pint it was then back to base for the previously described bacon, egg and tomatoes and write this blog.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love you tomorrow, it’s only a day away.

I could write for musicals you know if I tried.

Oh well good night.

Nige

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