Archive

Monthly Archives: October 2014

2014 10 26 Newsletter – A Directory Of RELIABLE Waterways Tradesmen

I’ve gone in to “last time” mode. On Wednesday when I started writing this newsletter I had 162 days to go until I set off for distant shores. Not-too-distant canal banks actually, but you know what I mean. When I installed a countdown app on my phone there were 210 days to go before the Grand Cruise and my target date seemed a lifetime away. Now, in the blink of an eye, 25% of the remaining time has elapsed. It’s a very exciting time for me. Sally too probably, but she’s keeping the excitement to herself. In the meantime, it’s work as usual.

On Monday Rob helped me load one of our two 150lb three wheeled mowers onto the cruiser stern of an available hire boat, set the two locks for me as I took the boat down into the marina, and then helped me lift the heavy mower onto a very slippery island jetty. I dropped him off at the entrance to Meadows marina before returning to the island to cut the grass there for the last time.

I’ll miss my visit to the island every two or three weeks during the warmer months of the year. When I first set foot on the island three years ago, it was completely covered by four feet high thistles. I spent two days wading through them with a strimmer, then two more grinding away dense mounds of course grasses with the strimmer’s circular saw attachment.

Over the last three years of regular mowing, the thistles and weeds have died off leaving half an acre of short grass under the island’s mix of one hundred white poplar, alder, willow, field maple and horse chestnut.

The island has become a sanctuary for the marina’s coots, moorhens, mallards, swans, the occasional unwelcome flock of Canada geese and three recent and very welcome new guests.

About a year ago we were first visited by a solitary grey heron. He or she, I don’t know which, often stood motionless on one of the marina’s grassy peninsulas before silently floating into the air whenever someone approached. Now the bird has discovered that it’s safe on the island. There’s a three feet high six inch diameter wooden post protruding from the water near the jetty. The fish eating heron likes to stand motionless on the post now and stare intently into the murky water searching for something to eat.

The other two very recent additions to the island menagerie are a pair of beautiful kingfishers. I’ve only seen a kingfisher once here at the marina in the five years I’ve been working here. I was making a coffee on a calm summer’s day when one dropped onto a bull rush three feet from my galley window. I desperately wanted to move to fetch my camera but I knew the movement would frighten the bird. I stood motionless for five minutes until the bird took flight and disappeared forever.

Now there are two of them, and they appear to be here to stay. They’ve been seen flying to and from the island over the last few weeks. I hope they make it their home.

I’ve probably also spent my last day on the site’s ride on Husqvarna mower. The grass is still growing but as autumn advances the ground is getting wetter and wetter. It’s soon be too soft to mow and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have left the marina before the spring’s first cut.

Monday was a good day for me but a difficult day for the engineering department. Jim who deals with general engine repairs here drove himself to Warwick hospital to have some tests done. He was experiencing an increasing numbness in his left arm and weakness in his left hand so that he could no longer grip the tools he needed to do his job. He hasn’t been seen for the rest of the week. We think that he is still in hospital.

On Wednesday we had some smart new oak posts delivered. The site has acres of landscaping. There are large areas of tree studded mown grass next to the access roads throughout the site. Many of them are single track so, as is often the case, if a vehicle is coming towards you, you have to find a convenient passing place, of which there are many, then wait for a couple of seconds until the road is clear. Alternatively, because you don’t have a couple of seconds to wait to get from your boat to the chandlery, and because you have a flashy four wheel drive vehicle which you don’t use nearly enough over rough terrain, you can drive your big fat knobbly tires all over our carefully cut and currently rather soft grass. The new posts are an attempt to discourage the practice.

They are fitted with reflectors for nighttime drivers. I spent a very pleasant half hour fitting two dozen reflectors to the dozen posts then another half hour hammering guide holes for the fixing spikes on the bottom of the post with a mooring stake and lump hammer. I then spent another half an hour removing all the posts I had fitted, spacing them equally and actually standing them up straight.

Thursday was a great day for me, but not such a good day for another of our engineers, Dave. Shortly after arrived for work at 9am, he complained of severe chest pains. Mindful of issues he’s had with his heart before, an ambulance was called. The first responder arrived, followed shortly after by an ambulance. None of the paramedics were happy with his condition or the length of time the ambulance would take to get him to the hospital, so the air ambulance was called in.

The helicopter landed on the meadow close to our reception, quickly loaded Dave on board and whisked him off to hospital. Dave phoned in later in the day to let us know that he was OK and that he will probably need to have an operation to improve his condition. So, we’re now down to just one engineer until the other two are fit for duty which, in Dave’s case won’t be for a month. I know the remaining engineer enjoys a challenge though so he’ll be planning to get up before he goes to bed and working a twenty five hour day to make sure he gets all the work done.

Thursday was a great day for me because I managed to combine two of my great passions; playing with boy’s toys and breaking things.

Over the last five years I’ve been here, a wonderful marina with some slightly shabby areas has improved tremendously. Some rather down at heel Portakabins dotted around the site have provided important but rather untidy dry storage solutions. We removed several of the dilapidated buildings close to reception and replaced them with a much smarter chandlery store. A few months later as part of the project to compact our tip area and create a new half acre space for container storage for moorers, we removed a barely standing Portakabin next to the tip access road.

Removing the buildings is a pretty straight forward process. Pat and I take the windows out first. Actually, it’s usually Pat who does it because he has a gentler touch than me. Then we remove any partitioning or fitted furniture from inside the building. I like this bit because I can go wild with a 10lb sledge hammer. I like the next bit even better. I use the site’s “three sixty” excavator to smash the building to bits. The next part I’m not so keen on. The demolished building then has to be loaded onto our site Nissan pickup and transported to our tip area ready for burning.

There were two Portakabins to remove. Both were between our shower block and the slipway. We removed one of them completely on Thursday and started on the second. Pat finished clearing the second on on Friday when I was off and Saturday when I worked on the wharf all day preparing and then doing instructions for the hire fleet.

Yesterday was a busy day on the wharf. It was the start of the last week before the boat hire operation closes for the season half term for the schools. Most of our boats were scheduled to go out so we spent a morning of furious activity to get them ready and then a very pleasant afternoon showing happy hirers how to steer their holiday homes.

During the busy week I also had to find time to work on this site.

I’m considering creating a new section. Actually, I’m considering starting two but I’ll tell you about the second and far more serious section in a minute. The first section will focus on my stupidity and lack of thought when buying stuff for the boat. I’ve considered calling it Paul’s Pointless Purchases.

Catchy title, isn’t it?

I like gadgets and I always fall for the sales blurb. I’m a little absent minded so I don’t always think things through properly if I have my mind on other things like, for example, how on Earth I’m going to actually fit a day’s work in and finish off the weekly newsletter.

Here are a couple of examples for you.

When I’m working at my laptop I’m easily distracted. Once I’m distracted, I need to take a minute or two to get back “into the zone” before I can carry on working. A couple of years ago I was driven to the verge of insanity by two flies which buzzed about my head as I tried to work. Just to add insult to injury, each of them would take turns to land on my screen to read what I was writing, or to wonder why I wasn’t writing anything at all.

I did a quick search on Amazon and found a neat solution to my problem. It was an electronic fly swat about the same size as a tennis racket and with an electric current passing through the racket’s “strings”. All I needed to do to kill the flies was to swat them with the strings to electrocute them.

Have you ever tried waving a tennis racket around inside a narrowboat? Of course you haven’t. You have more sense. There isn’t enough room to swing anything around, especially a tennis racket.

I tried the racket on a number or different flying insects without success. The only one I managed to swipe was a particularly large and slow moving wasp. There was a load crack as it touched the wires, a joyful cry from me as the wasp fell to the floor, a very angry buzzing as the stunned wasp launched itself from the lino in my direction, and a clatter as I dropped the swatter and ran for the door, pushing Sally out of the way as I left.

Apart from stupidly testing the current with my finger after it failed to to kill the wasp (it hurt!), I haven’t used the racket since. It was a complete waste of money.

Then there was the fancy shower head.

Seven months after buying a ridiculously expensive bespoke narrowboat shower door, I had it fitted. The shower door and its new frame blocked nearly all the light coming from the central bathroom ceiling light. The guy who fitted the door advised me to have another light fitted inside the shower cubicle but I knew better.

I had a cunning plan.

 I’m an avid reader of the Boats & Pieces section in the Waterways World magazine. I like gadgets. I like boats. I love gadgets for boats.

One of the new products in the November issue was an LED shower head. The water powers the lights and the lights change colour according to the temperature. Brilliant. I ordered one.

I took the old shower head off and replaced it with the new high tech replacement as soon as it arrived then stripped off and climbed into the shower to try it out. It was only then that I realised that there were a couple of problems with the new shower head.

The lights need a reasonable flow of water if they are to work at all. My water pressure is only sometimes able to power the lights so it’s a hit and miss affair to get them to work at all. And because some of the water pressure is required to power the lights, the force of the water coming out of the shower head is reduced, in my case to not much more than a dribble. But the real problem with my ingenious solution was something I should have considered before I ordered the useless piece of equipment.

I usually shower with my eyes closed.

If I shower with my eyes closed, I can’t see the lights anyway. I keep my eyes closed to keep the soap out of my eyes. I don’t need additional light in the shower cubicle. I’ve wasted my money again. I’ll never learn.

Finding reliable waterways tradesmen

My Dad was and is a wonderful father.  He drilled many important principles into me. One of them was that you don’t let people down, ever. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a particular time you make absolutely sure that you’re there, preferably early, but never late. Early is on time and on time is late. If you say you’re going to do something, you make absolutely sure you do it. You don’t need words on a piece of paper to make you do it, you just keep your promise. It’s a simple principle but it’s one which so many people you meet fail to grasp.

This principle appears to elude many waterways tradesmen in particular.

Take the joiner who’s been doing some work for me over the last lifetime and a half. I’ll call him Darren, because that’s his name. Actually I’ll call him Darren Aldridge because that’s his full name, and he lives in Tamworth.

Before I begin to question his work ethic, let me tell you that Darren is a first class joiner. He’s now rebuilt my engine room and soundproofed the engine. He’s done a first class job. The engine is now boxed in and the sound from a rather noisy Mercedes engine is very much muted. So quiet in fact, that I can hold a conversation with guests as I’m steering and with other boaters as they pass when previously I haven’t had a clue what any of them have said so I’ve just nodded and smiled and hoped that I’ve given the appropriate response.

So the finished job in the engine room was very good indeed but the way the whole job was done, which included work apart from the engine room, was frustratingly slow, exceptionally badly organised and, to date, incomplete.

The work was due to start at the beginning of September. Following a series of last minute emails it was delayed by a week, then a fortnight, then a month. We then appeared to have an agreed start date and start time. I was expecting Darren with me at 10am. He finally arrived at 2.30pm without a word of apology or an indication that there was anything wrong with being four and a half hours late.

Having a tradesman turn up late when I’m on a static mooring at a marina where I work may not appear much of an issue, but it is when Sally is working nights, something which she is doing all of the time at the moment. She needs to get some sleep so we need to know when anyone is turning up at the boat so she can determine where in the small living space she can sleep with the least interruption.

So Darren turned up at 2.30pm. He was very late, but at least he had started. As he had driven an hour from Tamworth to get to me, I assumed that he would work into the evening to make the travel worth his while. I was quite surprised then to see him driving off site an hour and a half later. Apparently he had only come to “measure up”, something he could have done on his previous visit when I agreed to his price.

The pattern continued over the next two weeks. His longest working “day” with me was four and a half hours. He was rarely on time and frequently more than an hour later than the time he had promised the day before. I could have put up with the nonsensical two hours travel to do two hours work if he had actually finished all of the work he promised he would do, the work he clearly detailed in the quote he sent me.

The engine room was completed but he still had to build and fit some bespoke racking inside the boat. And there was an additional job he quoted for to refit and secure my rear hatch.

I asked him to quote for the work to the hatch after I had seen the quality of his work in the engine room. The price was high but the work needed doing so I accepted it. We agreed that he would return Thursday or Friday of this week to fit the racks and to start on the hatch. He measured up for the racks and the hatch, said he had the materials ready in his workshop then left to do the joinery there.

At the beginning of the job we had agreed on the payment schedule. I would pay him a deposit so that he could buy materials and then pay the balance when all of the work was finished. As soon as he finished the engine room fitting work though, he asked me to pay him for that part of the job because cash flow was tight.

I agreed.

He didn’t turn up on Thursday so I emailed him to ask when he would be here. He replied an hour later telling me that he had decided that I was too far away and anyway he didn’t want to do the work because of the weather’s unpredictability.

I suppose it’s really not a big deal. He’s only been paid for work which he’s completed and the quality of the work he’s finished is very good. But he hasn’t finished all of the work he promised to do and his communication and time keeping throughout the process was diabolical.

Sadly, his approach to work on the waterways isn’t unique. At least the quality of his work is good which is more than I can say for some of the tradesmen who have worked on James over the last four years. I’ve had fifteen stone guys standing on fragile engine fittings, a frame welded in place around the engine which can’t be removed to access the stern gear, an incorrectly fitted alternator which meant that I had to run the engine for three hours instead of the one hour which was needed once the mistake was rectified, shoddy joinery and wonky shelves, dangerous wiring and a few other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten. I’ve also heard tales from other boat owners up and down the cut. Some of them are quite frightening.

One boat owner recently told me about a scary situation she had when her engine failed on a river. From a precarious mooring tied to a tree she contacted a marine breakdown organisation whose attitude to a family in peril was disgusting. To a much lesser degree, my own experience with the same company has been similar.

Of course there are many excellent tradesmen providing much needed services to over thirty thousand narrowboat owners on the canal network but they appear to be few and far between.

I had one of them, two of them actually, doing some work for me this week. Dave Reynolds is a highly qualified marine electrician. He works with his wife Alex. They make a great team. They’re always happy in their work, are exceptionally competent and their communication is first class.

I needed some rewiring doing inside the boat. We’ve had the work loosely pencilled in for the last two or three weeks. It wasn’t urgent so either Dave or I rearranged the work a few times but always as a result of clear and mutually satisfactory communication. He came to do the work on Wednesday and agreed on a time of day which would disrupt Sally’s day time sleeping least.

Of course with an old boat, especially with the wiring, nothing is ever straight forward. He discovered that the wiring he unearthed didn’t comply with the Boat Safety Scheme guidelines, spoke briefly with a surveyor to determine a solution, then quickly finished the work.

After he left I noticed that some of the lights at the front of the boat had stopped working. The first think I checked was the fuses. The fuse board had been rewired by Dave a month earlier and then labelled clearly so that even someone as technically inept as me could understand it. I replace the appropriate fuse, or so I thought, but the lights still didn’t work.

I left a note for Dave about the problem. First thing the next morning he contacted me to ask when he could come and which time would be best for Sally. He arrived, as expected, at the agreed time and spent two or three minutes rectifying the problem. It was a clearly labelled fuse which had blown. My fault. I don’t seem to be able to understand the difference between the labels cabin roof lights and cabin wall lights. Dave was too diplomatic to mention this though.

Dave costs a fortune. as do all qualified marine electricians. His rate is £37 an hour but it is a rate which I am prepared to pay because I know that the work he does will be of the highest standard, and is something which I couldn’t hope to achieve myself in a million years.

Another outstanding tradesman is Tim Davis from Onboard Solar. He installed my solar panels in April last year and did a first class job. As with Dave Reynolds, his communication was first class throughout the process. Actually, there was very little communication. He gave me a price for the 3 x 100w panels and MPPT controller via email (£995) and agreed a time and a date to do the work.

He turned up exactly on time, was both friendly and highly professional, installed the system to a high standard after discussing the panels’ exact location with me, and left me after just three hours with solar panels which have worked perfectly ever since. Unsurprisingly considering the quality product and first class service, Tim has now installed solar panels for more than five hundred boat owners.

Reliable, professional and highly skilled waterways tradesman are out there, but how do you find them? You can scour the classified sections of the waterways magazines and newspapers but anyone can part with some cash to advertise their services to the boat owning public. An advert in a publication isn’t and indication of ability or attitude. Quite the reverse in fact. Many of the better tradesmen don’t advertise at all. They receive so many enthusiastic recommendations from satisfied customers that word of mouth referrals is all they need to keep them busy all year round.

My latest disappointing experience was the straw which broke the camel’s back. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who struggles to find honest, reliable and competent tradesmen. I’m going to take the bull by the horns and create a directory of first class tradesmen, but I can’t do it without your help.

This site’s regular readership now includes hundreds of boat owners, many of them living afloat full time. If you are one of them, you have undoubtedly had your fair share of experiences with both good and bad tradesmen who are either sole traders or staff at marinas and boat yards. You might even be one of the elusive tradesmen I’m looking for.

The directory creation is going to take me a while to put together. The first stage is to try and identify which of the thousands of regular site visitors are boat owners. To help me find out I added a link to the newsletter introductory email. You should have been directed to this newsletter as a result of completing the one click questionnaire. If you told me that you’re already a boat owner, I’ll be writing to you shortly. If you reached the newsletter via another route and you’re a boat owner who would like to contribute, please let me know.

If you are a boat owner or a tradesman who offers a good service, I urge you to help me get this off the ground. I’m prepared to dedicate much of my free time to the project, especially when I don’t have to find another forty five hours a week to earn a living from April next year. All I’ll need from you is the names and contact numbers of tradesmen you recommend and a little about what they’ve done for you and why you think they’re worth recommending.

I’ll update you on progress next week but please don’t leave all the contributions to other boaters. This site is a comprehensive resource for aspiring and current boat owners alike, but it can be improved. How much is up to you.

I Need Some Help!

Each time I write a newsletter, I tick another subject off the list of things which those new to boating have told me that they want to read about. The hardest part of the process isn’t the writing itself, it’s constantly thinking of new content for each issue. The trouble is, I don’t know what you want to read. I think I keep the newsletters reasonably interesting but I don’t know for sure. That’s where I need your help.

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

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over 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.

19th October 2014

Anti social behaviour on the cut – How common are the unpleasant incidents you sometimes hear about on the canal network and who are the worst offenders? You’ll probably be surprised.

12th October 2014

The pros and cons of buying an ex hire boat to live on – How suitable are ex hire boats for living on board full time?

5th October 2014

I ran short of time during this week and couldn’t think of much to write about anyway, so I just detailed an idyllic week we spent away from the marina, pottering about for a few days in Braunston and then finishing off the week on the south Oxford canal down as far as Fenny Compton. Six months before the start of our continuous cruising lifestyle, it was just what we needed to whet our appetites.

28th September 2014

Emergency food on board – Some of the most pleasant places to moor are a long way from the nearest supermarket. Here are some suggestions to ensure that you’re never short of a tasty meal on your idyllic canal-side retreat.

21st September 2014

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 10 19 Newsletter – Dealing With Anti Social Behaviour On The Canal Network

I’m wet, I’m dry, I’m cold, I’m hot, and I’m frustrated.

I don’t like this time of the year when the weather can’t make its mind up what to do, and I can’t decide what to wear, or what to do about heating the boat to deal with it.

I can begin the day dressed in polo shirt, padded work shirt, padded high visibility overcoat and a fleece hat. If the sun comes out, the layers come off. If the sun goes in, they go back on again. If the sun goes in and the wind blows from the north I think about lighting the fire. Sometimes I do, then the wind drops and the sun comes out and the inside of the boat melts.

I’ve used three bags of coal in the last six weeks. It’s a time of the year when a solid fuel stove is a waste of space. I need just a little heat to take the chill off the boat but the stove provides too much. I light it sometimes in the morning. By the time the boat warms up, it’s time for me to go to work so I let it go out again. I’ve only used three bags of coal in the last month and a half but I’ve spent about a million quid on fire lighters and kindling.

What I really need, what I’ve really needed for quite some time now, is central heating.

I’m struggling to get someone to fit my central heating system. I asked Calcutt Boats to fit it but they didn’t because of politics. It was my fault. I attached some conditions to doing the work which weren’t acceptable. I understood their reasons for turning the work down so I looked elsewhere.

I asked a local and quite well known boat heating specialist to quote for doing the work. Getting them to actually come and look at the work was a major obstacle to overcome. I phoned them and left messages and I emailed them but, apart from one voice mail message telling me that they would be in touch within a few days, I heard nothing from them.

I sent them an email after about three weeks complaining that they hadn’t been in touch. A guy replied saying that he had tried my mobile but I had given him the wrong number, even though he had left me a message on the same “wrong” number two weeks earlier.

Eventually two of them came to look at the job. They seemed to know what they were talking about, took some measurements, gave me some options then, as they were leaving, promised to email me a quote within the next two or three days.

Nearly a month later, long after I had given up hope, I received an email from them informing me that the delay was due to them having to tidy up their workshop.

Their price, £2,000, to fit the Webasto heater supplied to me and fit four radiators supplied by them, I thought was fair. However, I wasn’t at all impressed by their attention to customer service so I decided not to use them,

Back to the drawing board.

In February, I bought the Webasto heater and a 55l SureCal calorifier from Steve Smith at Evesham marina. I was impressed by his friendly approach and his efficiency so I asked him if he would be interested in fitting it. He declined because of the logistics in doing the work so far from his base at Evesham.

I had a problem with the calorifier when it was fitted in July. There was a small but significant leak from one end. I called Steve about the faulty unit, he apologised and promised to send a replacement. It arrived the following morning. The speed with which he dealt with the problem was yet another indication of a first class service.

When I turned down the quote from the local company at the beginning of the week I though of him and thought what a shame he couldn’t do the work because of the distance, and then I remembered! From next April, the distance won’t be a problem because rather than him coming to me, I can go to him.

I phoned Steve and asked if he was interested in doing the work if I came to him. He was, so he suggested coming to see me on Thursday.

I was delighted. I’ve had my fair share of brief and very unsatisfactory relationships with a variety of well meaning tradesmen who have let me down in one way or another. I knew that Steve was different. He’d already clearly demonstrated his efficiency and organisational skills on two occasions so I looked forward to meeting him at 8.30am as agreed.

He didn’t turn up.

I called him five times on Thursday. I couldn’t get hold of him. He was out on the river with a customer and there was nothing in his diary indicating that he had an appointment with him. I was asked to call him first thing on Friday when “you are bound to catch him”. He wasn’t in.

I haven’t given up on him yet. Communication is a two way street and I’m not easy to get hold of. I rarely have a phone signal here at the marina so I had been calling him using Skype. It’s a great service but recipients of my internet calls can’t call me back on that number so I haven’t been able to give the staff at Evesham marina a number he can reach me on.

And so the saga continues. I purchased the Webasto heater on 16th January this year thinking that I had almost a full year to have it fitted before the following winter. Nine months later, I’m still no closer. It’s so frustrating!

Nastiness On The Cut – How Bad IS Antisocial Behaviour

I’m the first to admit that I haven’t seen much of the canal network even though I’ve lived afloat for the last four and a half years. There are two reasons; initially the problem was with my boat, or my lack of confidence in my boat and its ability to transport me from one idyllic location to another. I had problems with the fuel filter and the gearbox. Both were minor and easily rectified by anyone with half an ounce of mechanical sense, which certainly isn’t me.

The problems were rectified and the engine was given a couple of very thorough services. Over a twelve month period and half a dozen day trips out on the boat my confidence grew more and more. I realised that I had a very good engine which would last me for as many years as I wanted to stay afloat. So I had a boat which could take me wherever I wanted to go. Unfortunately I didn’t have the free time to take it anywhere.

I had to work to pay the bills and I was self employed, if I didn’t work I didn’t get paid. I didn’t take my boat very far or for very long. My financial affairs have been in a little better shape over the last couple of years so I’ve been able to take at least one two week break on the boat each year. But I still haven’t travelled very far. I’ve been down the south Oxford on to the Thames as far as Reading, up the Grand Union Leicester Line to Market Harborough and to the end of the Ashby canal. That’s it. Nearly all of the stretches of canals I’ve cruised have been rural. Where we’ve had to pass through towns, we’ve done so pretty quickly and never stayed the night there. I don’t like artificial noise so wherever possible I’ll find a quiet place to moor away from commerce and away from people.

Probably like you, I’ve often heard horror stories about the problems more widely travelled boaters have had; assault, stone throwing, spitting, beer throwing, verbal abuse and intimidation, criminal damage, vandalism and trespass, often “up north” and often in widely acknowledged no go areas.

I wanted to find out exactly how many serious problems boaters actually have, so I turned to a wonderful and ever growing source of first hand information about the UK’s inland waterways… this site’s many boat owners. Here’s the email I sent to a selection of ever helpful boaters…

“Can I ask for your help? I’m going to write about anti social behaviour on the canals and rivers in this week’s newsletter as a result of an email I received last week. The sender, in the nicest possible way, suggested that I paint an overly positive picture of life afloat. He said that he had had more than his fair share of incidents on his travels and said that the issue would make a good subject for a newsletter.

 I agree, but I want to be able to provide a balanced view. As you know, I haven’t explored most of the network and where I’m moored in rural Warwickshire there just aren’t any problems with anti social activities.

 Can you tell me about your experiences? How much of the system have you travelled, where have you stayed and where have you experienced problems, if you’ve experienced any problems at all? How did you deal with the problem and has your experience put you off life afloat?”

…and here are their replies. Make yourself a cup of coffee and settle down for half an hour. There are some very comprehensive  and possibly surprising answers to my questions.

“Regret I have no overly bad experiences (your 2 guys on Mint excepted).  Got rammed a few months ago by some d***head driving too fast round a blind bend who blamed his bow thrusters for not working rather than his lack of grey matter.  Then again my mate I’ve been taking with me tries to take a ‘racing line’ round bends and tends to get into trouble.  He’s ex navy and says he’s not used to driving such a small boat (he was on HMS Hermes – an aircraft carrier), there were no bridges to go under and no narrow waterways to navigate. 

Last week he was just sweeping the side of the boat with thorn bushes on the left hand side of the canal when a nb came round the bend with the lady co-pilot waving furiously to get over on the other side.  He then decided discretion was the better part of valour and abandoned the helm to me to face the lady’s wrath. As I apologised and she sniffed the little piece of faeces that was apparently under her aristocratic proboscis and gave me a withering look from her elevated position aboard her Royal Yacht. Later that day he took the ‘racing line’ again where some cows had been paddling and we ended up at the Dorset end of the South Oxford canal – on Sandbanks! 

Parking’s my bugbear where they shove a small boat in the centre of a space where they could fit 2 large boats.  Had it on Cropredy last week and we missed out on food at the Red Lion as had to park so far away.  Saying that we were going up the locks from Braunston towards the tunnel when a guy coming down in a pair decide he’d talk on his phone as we (a pair with the other one being single handed) sat there waiting while he sat in an empty lock with gates open.  He looked the other way when he eventually came out despite all our attempts to make eye contact and apologise for being so rude as to be on the same canal as him.

 All in all I find most people are pretty relaxed, polite and helpful rather than back on the streets where life is like GTA – that’s Grand Theft Auto to someone of your age.”

Keith Adams

 

“My travel is limited I purchased my boat from whilton marina and so we travelled it back up to Mountsorrel where I am now moored. On this journey I had nothing but help and polite exchanges of conversation all the way up. That was until we arrived in leicester, at which point the locals where not the nicest of people and hence since I don’t say I am from leicester. We had a few young youths shouting abuse but being three of us and all big built builders when we stopped on the towpath to ask them to repeat there comments they suddenly lost there voices. We did have one boat owner who moaned about our speed unbeknown to him we had the e canal maps on and dashboard app which shows our speed, so,we soon showed him and explained to which he offered a few expletives to which we ignored and carried on.

I have moved the boat from three marinas at different times and days and found nothing but nice friendly people and many asking questions and wanting to know more about the boat it’s name and why I live on it.

I will never be put off living aboard as I always think in life there is good and bad people in every aspect.”

Simon Creedy

 

“As continuous cruisers and livaboards for the last 3 years we have travelled the canal system quite widely. We’ve travelled from to Bath via Reading to Oxford to Braunston Up to the Macclesfield and the Peak Forest through Stone and Stoke and down the Caldon . Up via Middlewich to Chester then back down to the Llangollen. Nantwich to Birmingham was very quiet. From Birmingham we have been down to Stratford and to Stouport then back to  Braunston via Warwick and Leamington Spa.   We’ve done the Leicester ring through Leicester and Lougborough to Burton on Trent,  Fradley, Tamworth and Rugby to Braunston.. We’ve been down the Grand Union as far as Cowsroast.

Having done all of that we have always checked out our routes for any issues and advice before setting off. We have never been through Manchester because of the stories of problems – it seems that if you want to go that way you should make sure its not the school holidays and make sure all your doors and windows are shut. We haven’t made it to the Leeds and Liverpool due to issue with the Rochdale an Halifax canals being shut when we tried, Not sure if we’ve been lucky or if Dave is just very careful about our routes and where we moor. We prefer the countryside to cities so other than Birmingham when we usually moor in Gas Street we rarely moor in really busy places or cities. When we had to stay in Stoke on Trent we spent a night on the marina visitor moorings. If we have to leave the boat for a week or so we tend to leave it in a marina.

We’ve never had any issues with anti social behaviour,  we racked our brains and all we could come up with were……

1. Another boat on the llangollen moored at the bottom of the Ellesmere Arm at lunchtime. The boaters were causing issues with a couple of very drunk people on board playing music really loudly, shouting at local kids and   jumping into the canal putting themselves at risk. The local supermarket refused to sell them any more booze (it was lunchtime) so they started hassling everyone around to go and buy them more booze. The police had to be called several times to sort out the boaters. The locals were all very lovely and patient.

2. Biurmingham – nothing more than a bit too much noise and some very drunk people wandering about but you expect that in cities.

Hope that helps. Probably doesn’t.”

Allison Wilcox

 

“My wife and I spend 5 to 6 months each year ‘summer cruising’. Last year we covered 1600 lock miles from the Midlands to Essex, London and Bristol and back. This year we did 1300 lock miles to Ripon and back up by canal and back by the River Trent. In the main we think your view of the canals is not overly positive but reflects our experience.

 We had a quick think and only two items came to mind.

1.       Dog poo on tow paths. It does seem to be getting better but we still carry a trowel and scrubbing brush to deal with those times when boat handling is more important than seeing what we are stepping on. On the Chesterfield Canal a kind person identified poo piles by highlighting them with blue spray marker paint.

2.       Speeding cyclists. Last year we both had close encounters with high speed cyclists on the tow path by the River Lee. We have also noticed that cyclists generally do not ring their bell. My hearing impaired wife can hear the bell but not the tell-tale rumble of an approaching bicycle. Recently we have taken to thanking considerate cyclists in the hope that we engender some positive contact.

Did you hear the tale of two chaps moving to the same new town? The first asked a local fellow what the people there were like and was asked what the folk in his old town were like. He replied that they were friendly, nice people. The local fellow thought that he would find the same in the new town. When the second chap asked the same local fellow, he too was asked about the people in his old town and replied that they were devious and unfriendly. The local fellow suggested that he was likely to find the same in the new town!”

Alan Penter

 

“During my several years of travelling quite extensively, I can report only two experiences, both very minor and resulting in no damage to body or boat.  Both involved the throwing of small stones, one on the outskirts of Birmingham, and one in the Liverpool Docks.
 
But I will admit to having been put off certain areas of the Leeds & Liverpool canal.  The area I have been warned off, is between Barnoldswick and Chorley, which includes the towns of Burnley and Blackburn.  I have heard too many bad tales of spitting, broken windows from thrown beer bottles, and general nasty behaviour in those areas.  I just don’t see the point of risking upset, and would only consider cruising the L&L from the Leeds direction, and turning round before these areas.
 
I have travelled through Manchester in all it’s glory, but would do so only early in the morning when towrags are still in their pits.”

Brian Colling

 

“In response to your email we’ve travelled fairly extensively Grand Union, Thames Ring, River Wey, Basingstoke, Kennet and Avon, Leicester Ring, Warwickshire Ring, Four Counties Ring, Llangollen, Shropshie Union, Leeds and Liverpool.
 
We’ve not encountered any really serious anti social problems. Some stone throwing off bridges near Hawkesbury Junction, spitting off bridges in Birmingham, threatening behaviour near Manchester Centre, intimidating behaviour on the Rochdale Nine and of all places Abingdon on Thames. Walsall was a bit dodgy too! Kids asked us why we were mooring in a particular spot? We just replied ‘We like it and the locals couldn’t have been more helpful’. ‘Can we get milk at the local shop?’ Engagement is the name of the game.
 
My wife and are really mindful about where we moor. We actually prefer mooring in rural locations. We never leave the boat unattended if we are in a city location ie Birmingham, Stoke, Leicester, London and wouldn’t stay in such locations other than an overnight. We are both ex Headteachers with over 25 years experience as HTs. We know about psychology of children and how to get ‘the buggers to behave’! We smile, speak, engage in brief conversations, ask kids a question. When seeing a group of teens stood on a bridge last week armed with sticks and stones I immediately engaged with them, held up my disposable and asked them to smile! They are not going to incriminate themselves so decided not to throw whatever was in their hands at us.
 
A short question like ‘Can you help us lads?’ … ‘We need some milk … where’s your nearest supermarket or shop?’ ‘Any chance of pushing the lock gate open to help my wife?’ …and whilst they are doing so, my wife will engage in a short conversation.
 
If the boat owner is arsey the kids will respond negatively. The boat owner is often passing through someone else’s territory. We need to mindful of that.
 
We’ve sometimes been told that boats don’t moor there! We just say ‘We like it and we like the locals. Couldn’t have been more helpful to us!’ It’s then been OK.”

Bob Green

 

“We’re moored near Chester and spend most of our time in a marina.  Unfortunately, like you, my husband works so, frustratingly, we don’t get a lot of time to cruise out on the cut.  We do spend every holiday cruising an area easily accessible from our mooring and one day hope to be out cruising the whole of the system in the not too distant future.

Over the past 3 years our cruising routes have included:

  • ?The Shropshire Union up to the boat museum at Ellesmere Port, stopping overnight at Christleton, Chester and moorings Nr. Chester Zoo.  We have never experienced any issues regarding any anti-social behaviour in any of these spots on the several occasions that we have used them or whilst cruising in the area.  However, we have heard of a couple of occasions when other boaters have experienced some problems mooring in Chester, which appear to be linked to ‘race’ days and have involved people running along the roof and cutting loose from moorings.  I think these incidents are rare.
  • The Llangollen and Montgomery Canals – as could be expected, our experience of these has been excellent.
  • The Shropshire Union from Tattenhall to Norbury Junction.  Overnight mooring at Barbridge Junction, Audlem, Norbury, Nantwich.  No problems experienced.
  • The Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union.  Numerous visits, no problems.
  • Trent and Mersey from Middlewich through to Preston Brook.  No problems, in fact we were pleasantly surprised at what a  lovely trip this was.
  • Trent and Mersey from Middlewich to the Macclesfield – no problems found, really pleasant cruising – apart from all the locks and the rain! 🙂  All part of the enjoyment.
  • Macclesfield Canal and Upper Peak Forest.  Excellent.
We do look for marked 48 hour moorings, generally away from built up areas/main roads and prefer it if there are other boats or signs that the moorings are regularly used. 
There are occasions when fellow boaters regale us with tales of their experiences, but we hope that these experiences are few and far between and try not to let them put us off our future travels.”
Christine Thomson

“We spent 6 weeks on the Leicester ring last summer mooring generally in quiet areas usually on our own. We did not stop in Leicester itself but only because it did not fit with our schedule.  We did not experience any anti-social behaviour at all on our journey. Interestingly one day when moored at Fleckney a local lady asked if we had had any problems with the village youngsters overnight and was delighted when we were able to tell her ‘no’.This year we have been out for 4 months on the Trent & Mersey, River Weaver, Llangollen, Shropshire Union, (incl middlewich branch), Staffs & Worcs. We have moored in towns, villages and in the countryside. We have had no problems what so ever – maybe we have been lucky?, maybe we have not ventured far enough afield yet?.I am assuming the anti-social behaviour your contact was talking of was noise, theft, vandalism, verbal abuse etc.

Like so many we have met our fair share of miserable and/or mildly inconsiderate boaters, we take that in our stride, we all have bad days or allow ourselves to be side tracked and loose concentration thus making annoying (to others) mistakes.  Again like so many others dog poo on the towpath and unattended loose dogs really do annoy me and occur far to often.

I would also add that I walk my dog from the boat all over the place just following footpaths and again have experienced no problems. I have met some very interesting people though!”

Hilary Lambert

 

” I have had three proper journeys on the canal (ignoring the short stuff);

    Long Itchington to Knowle and back to Napton Bridge Inn and back to Long Itchington (10 years ago).  
    Nottingham (Shardlow) to Leamington
    Braunston to Warwick to Fenny Compton – over 3 months period

The only hassle that I’ve encountered was having stones thrown at me, whilst steering, in Rugby.
I know these areas and have no real concerns – I’d expect some abuse in the rougher areas.

I have been moored up between Stockton and Warwick for a few months and was careful to moor in areas that felt OK.  I like to moor near boats that are live-aboards.  I have left my roof gear (poles, etc) in place and have never had it interfered with.  I have a nose for trouble – I was born and bred backing onto the canal in Leamington – I just moor sensibly.  There is antisocial behaviour about – having worked some of the roughest areas of the West Midlands I’ve been at the sharp end – the canal offers a safe haven by contrast.  If you drive to an urban area and park your car you need to keep your wits about you – why would the canal be different?  

I pickup from FB it must be grim up north?  I haven’t witnessed the same issues in the midlands.

The issue that stands out for me is the drinking on the canals – and I do like a drink myself.  Some boats obviously have people with a chaotic life style (Public sector euphemism for abusers of drink and drugs) on board – probably needing help/ support.

I do detect that there is a ‘rose tinted glasses’ brigade on the canal that are pretty intolerant of anyone with a differing view. Speeding, noisy or just having fun – a littler fickle and a too romantic view of the canal!

You just need to be realistic and tolerant – the system is plenty big enough for all.

Just thinking out loud…”

James Sinnott

 

“To answer your question since we moved on board 2 1/2 yrs ago we have been to Oxford, Worcester, Stourbridge, Stourport, Birmingham, the furthest south is Berkhampsted, and the furthest north was Manchester. We have never felt intimidated the only antisocial behaviour was at Milton Keynes where our front rope was untied our font door curtain was open and we saw them by the time I got out they had left but the boat hadn’t moved. We have moored on the Caldon without any problems.We do have a dog sorry (did he died on Saturday)13 yrs old. The boat next to us had his Bikes stolen at Eturia by the Museum but he hadn’t locked them up after using them. So not a lot of problems sorry.”

Dave Bradshaw

 

“Our experience of being hirers and for the last year owners, has actually been very favorable. 

However, we are based in Crick, a beautiful area and we have generally cruised only in very quiet areas with very little problem. We have only been on canals around Oxfordshire, Northants etc. and the Kennet and Avon. We are actually rather put off by the odd report of difficulties in city areas etc, but I imagine we will pluck up our courage and venture out of our comfort zone in the next year or two!
Sadly the image of the canals being all sweetness and light is probably rather outdated, and there will of course be areas where life is very challenging for the population of the area. Anyone passing through is probably considered to be fair game. We were talking to a very experienced boater who had a nasty experience with an angler! Probably nothing new there though!
Not sure if the above has been of any interest to you but in general we have not had any problems.”
Sue Birchall
” We have been living aboard our boat for 4 years and have travelled quite a bit over this time having done the 3 counties , Cheshire ring , peak forest ,  Oxford and Thames, Leicester ring and Black Country and river Severn in this time I have only had very minor problems . On the Macclesfield at Congelton I had an apple thrown at me which missed . At Minworth on the Birmingham Fazeley I had an irate fisherman who thought the canal was all his own in which I just smiled and turned away .
The only time I have felt intimidated was from another boater who was looking for confrontation as I had already been warned of by another boat passing the other way . I find it best to smile and pass by . There are numpties in all walks of life but very few on the canal network . If every time you were cut up on the road would it stop you driving . Regarding mooring if you don’t like your neighbours then just untie 2 ropes it’s that simple . This is our dream why would I let others spoil it.”
Kevin Allbutt
“Your  email regarding anti social behaviour is something I don`t have a lot of experience of. There are certain places which have a bad name and mooring there is not recommended. Blackburn & Burnley on the Leeds Liverpool canal, Rochdale and surrounding area & Stoke on Trent on the Trent & Mersey are the only places I would not moor. My recommendation for Stoke on Trent was not an experience but a recommendation from a local boater. He saw me tying my boat up and asked if I was planning to stay. When I said yes he pointed to a burnt out narrowboat further along the jetty. Apparently it was the 3rd that had been set on fire in a short time. Some idiot thought it a good idea to push lit paper through an open window. As you would expect I left the mooring a lot quicker than I arrived.  
Several other places I take precautions when mooring ie tie up as normal but then add either a chain or 6mm wire padlocked ashore and on the boat so that should the kids and teens cut you ropes or let them go your boat stays secure. A place very bad for this is on the River Ouse at York. One popular mooring site is next to Scarborough Railway bridge which also has a footbridge across the river. As the river has quite a strong flow it`s important that you are securely tied up. On one occasion I was tied up there without the chain or wire when a group of students who drink at one side of the river and live at the other side think its good fun to let a couple of boats go, walk over the footbridge and watch the boats bash into each other. Luckily for me a nearby resident saw them letting me go at 0100hrs and came out to wake & warn me. The plastic cruiser they had also let go behind me would have been crushed had not the resident come to my assistance.
I feel relatively secure when moving on my boat as I am enclosed in a wheelhouse but used to feel vulnerable on my old cruiser stern boat when say approaching a lock with a group of lads hanging around. I always kept a tin of sweets near by and would throw a handful in the kids direction as I came alongside. By the time they had scrambled for the sweets they had forgotten about any mischief they were planning and would sometimes help with the gates  A common problem during the “hot weather” during the school holidays is kids swimming in a full lock which you want to go down. Usually a promise to refill the lock for them after penning your boat through gets you their permission.
 One worrying problem I have had on several occasions is when off the boat working a lock or bridge and 2 or 3 young lads approach me to ask for a ride on the boat. I always give the same answer that my insurance does not cover me for passengers and so cannot let them come on. They then threaten me they will tell the police that I have interfered with them on the boat if I don`t allow them the ride. I always tell them to ring the police but have never had a copper turn up to question me. It does lead to a few sleepless nights worrying if they have rung. Having someone else on the boat would cut out this problem but I have always been a solo boater and too old to change.
I have a contract mobile phone with “3” and a pay as you go which I keep a bit of money on from Tesco which is on the 02 network. If I ever need Police help I hope that one of them will have a signal and work. Never yet had to put it to the test and I hope I never do.
 Thanks for seeking my views and sorry I had no big stories to help in your article but that’s life as I have found it. Not been everywhere yet but a large number of areas covered. I think a cheerful and friendly approach helps get people on your side rather than being miserable.”
Don Wilkinson

“Couple of things. We’re brand new boaters, as it were, having only purchased a boat in May. We haven’t travelled much as yet, just a few mile in either direction of our moorings up to now (mainly because I’m still learning how to moor the bloody thing! ). If we’ve spent the night on the boat, it’s been while we’ve been moored up at a local country pub. Whilst there can be some noisy kids (under 10’s etc) playing in the beer garden or on the campsite, it’s not the type of place where you would suffer anti social behaviour.Likewise, the stretch of canal that we frequent, running from Chester to rural Cheshire is extremely peaceful & away from any towns so life is good in that respect. However, I am told by friends who work & often socialise in Chester that boaters often suffer such behaviour when moored on the City’s stretch of canal. Due to many bars & pubs opening along the banks of canal, boaters have suffered damage & disruptive behaviour from revellers making their drunken way home.I suspect this would be the case for most people who moor within towns & cities and I have read recently about a couple of boats being destroyed by arsonists whilst moored on the canal in Wigan town centre. Personally, I don’t fancy mooring up in Liverpool, Ellesmere Port or Chester City Centre, despite them all being local to me.”

Neil Quinn

“We keep our boat in Gloucester and have travelled along the G&S canal many times and gone up the River Severn a couple of times- doing both the Avon ring for a couple of weeks and more recently up to Stourport, then Wolverhampton and Birmingham and back through Droitwich.  To be honest we have not had any bad experiences, just a couple of 8 year olds that chucked a small stone at the boat who then apologised when it set our loony dog barking and rushing up and down inside the boat.  We did moor one time at a place the homeless tended to hang around during the day, but they were no problem, maybe because we had a chat with them and treated them as people.  A couple of other boats did stop briefly but moved on quite quickly when they realised who they were sharing the place with.  We also tend to have the outside of the boat looking a bit tatty which maybe does not give the ‘look at me I’ve got lots of money’, which maybe attracts negative attitudes.  The boat looks like that because for those reasons I like it like that, my wife thinks it is because I am a scruffy bum and a slob.  On the whole the G&S and River Severn are quiet and trouble free.  That said, like any inner city, there are areas in Gloucester I avoid at night unless I am in a group. But that is more common sense than canal specific trouble.  Same as we moored in B’ham’s Gas street basin – very nice, but I would be wary about some of the other parts of B’ham for night time mooring and would plan not to stop there.A few years ago, whilst on a holiday boat we went through an urban lock and there were a group of lads swimming and ‘helping’, we chatted to them as we went through and they were in no way threatening or aggressive, though some may consider their language to be fairly fruity.  As we were about to leave the lock the police arrived as there had been complaints of hostile and aggressive behaviour from a previous boater.  So I guess that the same situation will be seen by some boaters as ‘colourful’ but safe, while others will report that it was sufficiently bad to need to call the police.So in conclusion, we have found the canals to be safe and enjoyable, but we are careful to avoid ‘run-down’ areas for mooring.”

“Chewy”

“I have been cruising on NB’s off and on since 1987, hire boats until 2009 then our own boat to date.Problems:1998 Todmorden Guillotine Lock. Had a man in his late 20’s hang on to the side of the boat, “helped” with 4 locks, finally left when I forcefully asked him to go. Later learnt he was “simple” and of no threat. Ruined our holiday as I had been widowed 9 months prior and had my daughter 15 and my son 13 on board and this was our first holiday without their Mum. Made me feel very vulnerable at the time.

 2005 Had some lads cut our ropes one night on the Calder and Hebble. Same trip had eggs thrown at us Brighouse.

 2006 Had a  windlass wielding “tramp” help us up the Rochdale 9. He was actually no trouble at all, just doing it for whatever money folks would give him. It was a trifle disconcerting at first bearing in mind the reputation of The Rochdale 9.

 2009 Went to Coventry, even though we live there. Half term and had some youths and girls throw stones at us in the Foleshill Area. Waved a camera and they all ran off.

Apart from the incidents above no problems. They obviously haven’t put us off boating but we always carry a camera to hand.

 Like many thing in life it is too easy to remember the shitty bits but the fantastic times make it all worth wile.

 A little anecdote from an old working NB captain I visit.

 “A bloke mooned at us at Norton Junction, so me dad got his air rifle and shot his arse”.

Ray Thorpe
“Over the years I have cruised extensively round a lot of the system. Namely T&M, Bridgewater, Thames, Coventry canal, Ashby canal, Basingstoke canal, River Wey, Regents Canal and Paddington Arm, GU from Braunston to London, Leicester Line, River Soar and Erewash canal.In all honesty I have never encountered any significant bad experiences. I do try and be aware of my surroundings and if I feel I will be travelling through a suspect area I try and travel through at an early hour and on a weekday when potential trouble makers hopefully won’t be around. So far that strategy has worked. “
Kieran Thomas
“We have boating since 1978 and have had our current boat for eighteen years. However although we use it a lot ( half the year this year) in all of that time we have had very few incidences of bad behaviour.
The main problem we have had is having things thrown at us sometimes in the most unlikely rural places. However as we do not live on our boat we do not stay more than a couple of days in the same place. I suspect that if you linger in the same place for more than a few days you might be more vulnerable as the local low life get to know you are there. We also are very careful where we moor and try to make sure we are in a reasonably nice area although this does not always work as we had a brick thrown at us in Weedon which is the last place you would expect that to happen. I guess if you are in the wrong pace at the wrong time it can happen anywhere!
To sum up in my opinion although you cannot prevent it try to moor up in a sensible place and do not stay too long in one place or leave the boat for too long unoccupied.
Finally the most depressing incident we had was when some toddlers kept throwing small stones at our boat while the mothers continued talking to each other and made no attempt to stop them. What hope for the future!”
William Thomas

“have had very few antisocial problems over the years. I’ve travelled

 
The Grand Union from Marsworth to Knowle
the Aylesbury Arm
The Leicester Arm
All the Stratford
The Worcester and Birmingham from Kings Norton to Gas Street
Done the Soho and Icknield Port loops
All the Oxford Canal
All of the Coventry Canal including into Coventry
Most of the T&M
The Llangollen
Some of the Shropshire Union
Most of the Staff and Worcs.
The Hampshire pound of the Bsingstoke
 
So I’ve been through cities, Bimingham, Coventry, Stoke and a fair bit of urban areas.
 
The only antisocial behaviour I’ve had was kids chucking stones in Coventry – they missed and ran off
Kids with Pea shooters in Leamington, they ran off when I pointed a phone camera at them.
I saw but didn’t have a problem with some kids playing with an air rifle.
We’ve seen drug use (hash) but laid back users (Birmingham)
We were untied in the night on the T&M in open countryside!
I’ve met a rude boater or two.
I’ve had to move because of noisy boaters 3 times.
I’ve filled the canal up a number of times after someone drained a pound
 
On the plus side most people are friendly, I’ve helped people get afloat a number of times. I’ve showed interested people round my boat, answered loads of questions. Retrieved a ball from the shallow on the off side of the canal in Coventry and made some kids very grateful.
 
So the vast amount was fine.
Graham Clutton
“The only problems i have had was in 2007 going into Birmingham from Aldersley junction via the main line. Yobs were throwing stones from bridges. One boater was hit with half a brick. His wife and kids were in shock as when he rang the police they had no map of the canal so they did not know where he was when he was only able to give them bridge numbers. They wanted road names and as they said, how on Earth could he see one from the canal. The police never did contact him.
My way is if I’m going through a known problem area I start very early and pass through before trouble is out of bed (ie yobs don’t get up early).
We came through Birmingham two weeks ago. There were no problems, no yobs not many boats.”
Peter Castle

“My wife, Frances, and I only started cruising the canals three years ago when we purchased a 67ft trad stern narrowboat. During that time we have experienced no real anti-social behaviour apart from the occasional late running generator on the towpath and a few early birds who start their cruising day at the crack of dawn.For the first year we had an offside mooring near Pewsey on the K&A and explored the section from Pewsey to Bath. Then in Sep 2012 we made our first long trip up the K&A onto the River Thames and Southern Oxford to a new offside mooring at Claydon. Last year we made a couple of trips as far as Braunston and then in Sep explored the Ashby. This year we have travelled up the GU Leicester to Welford Junction, down the GU to Gayton Junction and have just returned from a 5 week trip to the Caldon via the Coventry, B&F and T&M.I did have some concerns about this last trip as some of the boaters I spoke to said they had been attacked by youths throwing stones at Bedworth on the Coventry as well as on the Ashby and Caldon and wouldn’t go through Stoke. The guidebooks also advised against overnight mooring by the recreation ground at Etruria.

We prefer to moor in quiet rural spots if at all possible rather than the popular pub and town moorings. We take our two dogs with us so try and find somewhere with woodlands or open space so the dogs get a good run. In the event we stopped on our outward and return journeys at Bedworth at the end of a line of liveaboards without incident. We stopped at Etruria to use the CRT facilities and then moved on to find a quiet rural mooring for the evening. On the way we met a group of schoolboys skimming stones across the canal but they stopped to let us pass unhindered. We waved and exchanged greetings with everyone we passed on the towpath. Even a group of dubious looking youngsters in hoodies we stopped to ask for directions to the nearest shop were most helpful. We encountered young men sitting on lock beams drinking beer but we engaged them in conversation and they even helped with opening and closing the gates.

Perhaps the presence of two dogs makes a difference. They are on the towpath while working the locks and while we are moored they bark at the slightest movement on the towpath during the hours of darkness which would deter most people from trying to get on board.”

John Hanks

“We’ve been living aboard as continuous cruisers for six months now and have experienced no problems at all.The areas we covered have been north on the Grand Union from Milton Keynes up to Braunston, then on to Lower Hillmorton, just outside Rugby, then back down the Oxford to Oxford.  We then headed down the Thames to Reading and went along the K&A to Bristol and back, and we’re currently in London for a week or two.  The areas we stayed where I guess we thought we might have trouble would have been Milton Keynes, Reading and Rugby, purely because they are more urban, and more likely to have bored youths!!  But it was fine, no problems at all.We did travel for a few weeks with a couple who have lived aboard for 5 years, and have travelled extensively up north.  They did have some bad experiences – on the outskirts of Manchester they had the delights of someone urinating on them from a bridge – nice! – but it hadn’t put them off.  If that had happened to me when we first set off, it might have put me off, but the good times would’ve cancelled that out, I’m sure.  If it happens now, as we plan to head north, it won’t put me off boating.

When we were on a holiday boat a few years ago on the Leeds and Liverpool, from Skipton to Foulridge, we did go through a town where some kids threw stones at us as we passed, but they were just kids being kids.

When we spoke to our builder about ‘thugs on the cut’, he reckoned that instances of bad behaviour/vandalism has gone down in the last few years as most of them are now sat at home in front of their computers!”

Aileen Queenan

“I have been on many narrow boat holidays throughout the country over the last 40 years and have owned my own boat (which I live on most of the time) for the last 4 years.

I now cruise regularly throughout the Great Ouse system. I can only remember one instance of some nutter screaming at me to turn my engine off because I was charging my batteries at 8.00pm (in the centre of Ely on a very busy evening). Also I have had a couple of instances of people running the length of the roof at night but apart from that nothing in terms of actual anti-social behaviour! I think that there may be a perception among many boaters that the problem is worse than it is – gangs of youths and the odd drunk are common on many urban stretches of waterway but in my experience rarely actually cause any problems – maybe just saying hello might reduce the risk of confrontation?”
John Yates

“I have been boating for around 5 years and tend to go out for 8-12 weeks per year.  I am moored at Brinklow now (before that 2 yrs at Blisworth) and most of my cruising has been centred in the Midlands – I think Aylesbury is the furthest south I have been.  I am also a CRT volunteer lock keeper and when I am not on my boat I usually do 2 days per week on the Lapworth flight.In general I would say 95% of boaters are quite reasonable and friendly.  I come across a few awkward customers on the Lapworth flight, but have not had any major problems – you get some boaters who get annoyed with hirers, but on the whole everyone mucks in and helps out.When on my own boat I have only had one occasion of what I would call serious abuse which was on the Hatton flight where a boater had filled a lock, opened the gates and then decided to stop and have a cup of tea. When I politely pointed out that he was holding the whole flight up he told me to F off.  I resolved the problem by telling him he had 5 mins to finish his tea after which I would drain the lock (I was going up with another boat) there was a lot more shouting but he did comply.

You occasionally get shouted at by people fishing, but I have never had any real problems.  On the tow path cyclists can be a problem if they going flying past at great speed when you are moored up and this year we had a problem with a youth riding one of these mini motorbikes on the towpath when we were moored in the Stoke area.  He shot past at great speed and a big cloud of dust.  I did not have time to react and he did not come back.  I have been told that if the police catch someone on one of these bikes on the towpath they will impound the bike and issue a fixed penalty notice – but you have to catch them!

My final point is that prior to taking up narrowboating I had a touring caravan for 15 years.  I find boaters a lot more friendly and willing to help.”

Chris Brown

“This is a summary of the antisocial incidents we have experienced.  Just 12 in 18 years of boating.  It is generally young lads who are bored. It is often on hot sunny days. Sometimes it is older lads who have been drinking. We avoid mooring in town centre locations on Friday and Saturday nights.  In the school holidays we avoid cruising in the afternoons unless we have to.Sometimes we come across a group of lads swimming at locks or sitting around drinking. We have found it best to engage them by talking to them or asking a question such as “Can you tell me where the nearest shop is?”We perceive a reduction in the number of incidents in more recent years, maybe due to the distraction of the computer age and smart phones. Perhaps also due to larger numbers of boats meaning that boats are not so unusual these days.  Did early motorists experience stone throwing I wonder?

Here are the incidents:
                     

Wey Navigation at Coxes Lock

Whilst leaving the lock downstream, on a hot sunny day, a young lad (10) lobbed a stone onto the roof of the boat.     No action taken

 
Thames at Lechlade

On the way upstream on a very hot day, four or five lads in their mid teens were jumping off a footbridge as close to boats as possible in order to splash the occupants.  On the way downstream half an hour later, the Cotswold Canals Trust trip boat “Inglesham” had broken down. The lads were throwing lumps of mud at the crew and passengers.  We stopped to give them a tow to safety.   We took photos and reported the incident to police who weren’t interested.
 

Thames at Kennington, south of Oxford

A single teenager threw a stone which missed.    No action taken

 
Thames at Wandsworth Bridge

Cruising upstream with the tide from Limehouse, two lads were spitting on the boat as we passed underneath.     Although one scored a direct hit on my hat, we didn’t look up.  No action taken.

 
Grand Union Paddington Arm at Northolt

Our most serious incident.  Two lads in early teens. One fired a stone from a catapult, which hit and badly bruised my wife on the stomach, even through a thick fleece.  The other threw a brick which hit the gunwale.  Incident reported to police.

 
Grand Union Leicester Section at Glen Parva, south of Leicester

We had moored to buy provisions, along with another couple from another boat.  On the way to the local shop we were surrounded and intimidated by about twenty 12 year olds, clicking their fingers and coming in close, in the style of West Side Story.  Shopkeeper rang the police as this had happened several times before.
 

Grand Union South at Norwood, north of Hanwell Locks.

Two 8 year olds, hiding behind a bush, threw a stone as we went past.  No action taken.

 
Sheffield and South Yorks at Swinton

A single 12 year old threw a stone which hit the boat.  No action taken

 
River Ure at Boroughbridge                       

Three 10 year olds (two boys and one girl) were trying to set the unoccupied boat loose from its moorings when we returned and spotted them.   We had a serious word with the kids.

 
BCN on the Tame Valley Canal

It was school going home time.  As we passed under a footbridge, an empty plastic cola bottle landed on the roof.    No harm done except pollution. No action taken.

 
River Ouse in York

We were moored in the centre of the city as the visitor moorings were under water due to floods. It was a Saturday night. At 2am when the nightclubs were emptying, a bottle was smashed in the semi-trad stern.  No action taken.

                                               
River Weaver at Sutton Swing Bridge

A group of teenagers were returning from swimming on a hot day.  We were the other side of the river, moored up. We were relaxing in chairs on the bank.  One of them threw a stone, which missed us by a few inches.  We shouted to them that it was dangerous.

James Bell

 

“I guess like many long term CCers, we have had a bit of anti social behaviour but I can honestly say it has been no worse than when we lived in a house. And we lived in a quite nice area.

From memory, I’ve been spat on 3 times, had a can of coke thrown over the bridge ( I guess the thrower disliked coke as much as me) and has stones thrown a few times. On the Coventry once we had a half brick thrown which landed inside the open side hatch. Quite a good shot I thought, however that was on a hire boat rather than our home so I might feel differently now.

A couple of times we’ve been disturbed by loud music, earlier this year in Leamington Spa the boat 10) yards away had two huge speakers on the towpath playing until about 11pm, goodness knows what effect it had on their batteries! However, not as loud as the nightclub with a 2am licence that was at Merryhill!

However, I would stress, there are no No-Go areas on the British canal system. Yes, there are places you wouldn’t want to moor and there are plenty of places where another boater advises you not to moor because he has had trouble. Bear in mind though that the nice quiet rural mooring may have the local sink estate just over hill.

However, there are always two sides to every story. We moored by the park in Newbury on Tuesday. There was a knock on the side of the boat with another boater advising me not to stay there overnight as another boat had had his windows broken there a few days earlier. As it happens we had passed the boat the day before so had no reason not to believe the story. So we moved around the corner. Filling with water today at the boatyard I mentioned this to the owner. He said, the owners of the boat with the broken windows were drug addicts and smashing the windows was, in his opinion, due to a falling out.

One of the good things about boating is that if you don’t like the area you can pull your pins and move. We moored by the church in Kidderminster a few years ago. Very nice mooring until about 5pm when all the kids in the town descended on us.

 We only tend to cruise for about 3 hours a day so are usually moored up by the time schools finish.

Also, areas such as Birmingham and Manchester seem to have reputations based on someone’s experience of 20 years ago. It used to be excepted wisdom that if you were heading from Manchester to the Peak Forest then you needed to bet up at some ungodly hour so as to clear all the locks before the little darlings got out of bed. Nowadays doing it in daylight is perfectly OK.

It was the same with Birmingham. Knowle to Curdworth is still recommended by some boaters, ignoring the several safe moorings on the way.

Oh. If you are worried remember there is always safety in numbers.”

 Peter Earley

“My view though may just underline your ‘overly positive picture’ but I haven’t experienced (m)any such problems in 8/9 years of living afloat. In my book, it’s a wonderful way of life amidst a marvelous community, in the heart of the countryside; a world away from the mad, mad world out there.

To be fair, I’ve not (YET) cruised anywhere north of Market Harborough, all boating, so far, confined to the GU, Regents Canal, Hertford Union and rivers Nene, Great Ouse, Thames, Wey, Lea and Stort. Oh, and the Middle Levels. So have avoided the ‘Badlands’ of the Frozen North to date.

The only incident that caused me any concern was just outside Peterborough, when a gang of kids on a bridge spanning the river hurled a couple of stones at the boat. This was within my first week of owning Hobo (with her brand new paint job) as we were moving her to her new home. As I recall, I shouted something largely unprintable, then hit the throttle – like top speed on a narrowboat would put any distance between us and a determined bunch of following youths!! They didn’t come after us though. And they weren’t paving slabs like happens on roads…

I was advised, when heading south, to take care at Enfield Lock on the Lea and not to moor anywhere in that vicinity. There was a group of kids there, maybe intimidating to some but, once engaged in conversation and answering their 101 questions about living on a boat/how much did it cost etc etc, they pronounced us ‘cool’ and waved and grinned as we left.

I’ve only ever exchanged friendly waves and words with towpath walkers, no altercations to date. A lot of the time I am on my own on board and have never felt unsafe or worried. Perhaps I’m just lucky..?”

Annie Carey

“Had to dig deep in the old gray matter for some info regarding  antisocial behaviour on our travels because they have been remarkably few and I guess you learn from a situation and avoid it to lessen the chances of a reoccurrence.

Let me give you an example. A short way down the Slough arm on the GU we found a lovely tranquil spot for a few days in the late summer of 2013. Not too much boat traffic, few houses, nice and open for the solar panels but with a small bushy tree that we could follow the shade of when we sat out on the towpath. We were even moored near a  pretty little foot bridge across to a nature reserve. Idyllic. Except that the foot bridge was used by local kids going fishing over at the lakes and someone thought it would be funny to lob a stone at the boats. Luckily just the one as I ran outside with my camera and long lens clicking away at the bushes on the other side of the canal shouting that ‘I’ve now got your photos and in going to upload them to the polices Facebook page!’

In nearly three years this has been the only time it has happened, I now don’t moor within a couple of hundred yards of bridges in built up areas so who knows it could have happened quite regularly.

So what other direct instances have we come across in about a thousand nights aboard. Well we had a drunken joker jump on the back of the boat in Chester at about 4am singing ‘I’m on a boat, I’m on a boat’ to all his mates. I shouted in my gruffest voice to F off only for his next verse to be ‘the man on the boat told me to F off, the man on the boat told me to F off’ which I actual thought was quite funny. These are genuinely the only two occurrences of this direct type of  antisocial behavior that we have come across. Bearing in mind that our travels have included three month winter moorings in the centre of Birmingham and a month or so cruising around London including some less desirable mooring locations like Kensal Green.

We have been in the location of antisocial behavior but not directly affected on two other occasions. First was in Birmingham center when the butty used as a bicycle repair/sales shop was untied. It really had nowhere to go as we were in a basin. I was up and about early the next morning and helped another boater retie her safely.

The second time was potentially more serious and resulted in the only location we have now blacklisted as a definite no return area and that is New Islington Marina in Manchester. It should be an ideal stop off between the difficult Rochdale nine out of Manchester and the Ashton flight to the right or continuation along the Rochdale canal. Facilities include a large area of parkland, laundry, showers, and an £8 loo tank pump out. We were lucky on the one night we stayed. It’s an area renowned for its problematic youth and of five of us in the quite small visitor mooring area, one boat had it’s bikes stolen and one had it’s windows smashed. It got worse after we left though and a week later a fire was started close to the residential boaters area and within the week a gang of ten youths (I prefer the label criminals) ran amok around the canals. They were armed with a hand gun and mugged a couple on the towpath and held up a security van. Like I said we were lucky.

The last little collection of  antisocial behavior that I’ve experienced I’ve lumped together as one as they all happen so regularly that you’ve just got to deal with it or boating is not for you.

• boaters going to fast and potentially loosening your mooring pins (we’ve only had them ripped out once)

• streaming doggy parcels on the towpath (always check before you kneel down to tie your mooring ropes)

• litter bugs, what doesn’t annoy you along some towpaths will wait until you’re boating and wrap itself round your prop (if every one cleared just a couple of boat lengths either side of their mooring it would really help, and when you clear your prop off bag it and bin it).

Has any of this put us off, no chance. I just hope that we’re not on someone else’s list of antisocial behaviour!

PS Deb has just reminded me that we were ‘mooned’ by a lad in his garden somewhere down the Stratford on Avon canal.”

James Ward
“Sorry its a bit late but here is my thoughts on anti-social behaviour.
We have only been on our boat for a few months but we have hired for over 25 years. We have cruised mostly the birmingham/ Worcester areas and recently Leicester/Coventry.
Personally we have had very few incidents apart one on the North coventry near hartshill. Late one night there was a noise on the roof. On investigation I found a man standing beside the boat. When I spoke to him he wandered off. We think he was trying to take the ladder we have but we always lock it in place with a cycle cable lock.
We have been warned by others on mooring in some places ( Bourneville station and parts of the Leicester section near to kings lock).
We always try to moor in very remote areas away from towns or where others are moored (not next to them) and always secure any equipment on the roof or put them inside the boat to stop opportunist theft.
We have often seen young people on the bank and think that they look like trouble but if you treat them with a smile and a hello most will smile back and maybe help with the locks.”
Andy Smith
“We hired canal boats from 1989 until 2012 (my husband has now retired and I have stopped work for a while, how long depends on life!!, we purchased a boat the end of last year).  We have cruised on many canals over the years though have avoided the major cities other than Stoke, Chester, Wolverhampton, Blackburn and Burnley, the canals we have travelled on. either all the way or parts are:
Leeds Liverpool, Llangollen, Trent and Mersey, South & North Oxford, Grand Union, Macclesfield, Caldon Canal, Shroppie, Staffs and Worcs, River Severn plus others we have forgotten.
 
The only time we had a major problem was on the Caldon Canal, we had children throwing stones at us and kids took our mooring pins out when we were in the pub and the boat floated to the other side of the canal, this was back in about 2003 and before phones had cameras.  We were helped by the locals in the pub and a hotel boat so no real harm was done, other than losing a mooring pin and
yes it made us worried and more aware and more savvy about where we moor up especially if we are leaving the boat.
 
We do not leave our front doors open when we are going a long, (we do not have a cratch, cover as we haven’t needed the extra storage) especially when going through locks in towns and cities such as Chester, though we have not had any trouble, a few years ago I did speak to someone with a cruiser who had just lost their cigarettes and lighter buy someone reaching in through a window, when we moor up in towns we moor near to other boats. We also take note of what people say when we chat with other boaters, you also hear all the latest gossip when you are working the locks, of where there is trouble, whether a pub is good at the moment or gone downhill, shops that are good or not and this is normally the most up to date info going.
 
Our attitude, is that you must remember that though you are on the canal and life is relaxed, friendly and helpful, there are people that aren’t necessarily honest, helpful and friendly but that is the world in general.  If someone is rude to us whether they are on another boat or on the towpath or anywhere, we just think to ourselves, let them get on with it and just avoid them, if it is at a lock then I might not help them with their lock and just stand back or walk away. We have had people steal our water at locks, when this happens there is no point in arguing with them. We do find that people who help others get help and those that cause trouble could end up needing help but find that none is forthcoming.
 
Our dog has a great attitude that we hopefully follow, she is a German Shepherd and a lot of dogs that we pass by either on other boats or on the towpath, or when we are just walking down the street, let rip at her and bark, she just gives them a look basically saying get a life and chill out, nothing is worth the hassle.
 
We do tend to avoid mooring in towns too much, because of having a dog on board and also why look at buildings if you can look at fields and stars and we can all sit out on the towpath when the weather is nice, plus get the washing dry, without all and sundry looking at it,
but saying that we have moored in Market Harborough in Sept and as usual it was peaceful and lovely.
 
We do hear about other boaters having lots of problems both with other boaters and anti social behaviour, but we really haven’t had that much trouble. I wonder if at times the trouble is escalated because of arguing back instead of trying to diffuse an iffy situation.”
Jackie Heredge

“I am almost only ever on my semi rural mooring and certainly have little problems to report. Indeed the relaxed informality of the mooring and those near by is a main attraction to me.it has only been the occasional passing boat that has been antisocial… usually in the form of stag parties dressed as pirates, with attendant noise. but not enough of them to spoil life overall.

John Andrews
“I’ve been cruising since the beginning of July travelling from Liverpool through Wigan into Cheshire and through Birmingham and now approaching Milton Keynes.
So far I have not encountered any problems and have only experienced genuine interest and a willingness to help from both fellow boaters and gongoozlers.”
John Gillick

“Vandals, delinquents, juveniles… I have had a share of it sadly with my plank being pinched from me even when I thought I was in a rural setting in the middle of no where in farm land…. It could have been malicious and deliberate as I suspect a worker from a nearby farm who had a habit of hanging around observing the I goings on a stretch I was on for a few days. I should have moved on had I suspected that I was going to be targeted but I didn’t… Anyhow, in the middle of the night, it went, and when I woke with the kids only to find that we would have to jump to shore… Not a great thing with young kids, but we managed. Eventually down the line acquired a solid thick and heavy plank, bored two holes and secure one side permanently to the boat. Attracting the wrong attention is never the desire of a boater. Just as cars… I keep my bank facing windows screened shut to avoid prying eyes ( though scruffy and an on going restoration process… I don’t want to necessarily let out what fittings and features, possessions or prized fixtures are there on board.)

All that I keep under loose canvas covers, under the front accessible flaps is coal, firewood, water containers (excess for long spells between watering holes). The rest is between the locked front door and the back hatch. Bicycle chained on top. It does help living on a springer, I sense immediately if anyone was to step on board due to the v hull.

PS it’s good to have a walk along a stretch before mooring there in order to get the feel of the place especially around city’s towns villages and the like (even amongst the other boats).”

 Don Samba
“The first serious event of canal low life apart from some minor incidents with the usual aggravating canal side kids swimming in locks and pushing lock gates shut after i had just opened them ( oh the joy of boating single handed ) occurred on my way through Manchester.
It was early evening on a rather splendid late spring day, at the time i was an avid smoker, stood out on the stern of my 45 foot semi trad narrow boat steering, with my first of the day can of lager and my packet of baccy on the roof, i was mortified when a sudden gust of wind picked up my baccy and all i could do was watch in horror as it floated in the opposite direction down the canal. As luck would have it i spotted a shop, moored up at the first available spot and replenished my nicotine supply and kept it safely in my pocket.
This act of vandalism by the wind delayed me a little and the sun was setting as i headed into a tunnel incorporating a lock, there had been a lot of rain this particular spring and the canal levels were really high, the water was flowing quite rapidly over the top of the closed lock gate,i tied up and noticed various bits and pieces of clothing and bedding on the path inside the tunnel and a couple of coats hung on the wall, it was fast approaching darkness and i felt slightly uncomfortable so quickly fully opened the lock paddles and swung the gates, unfortunately this caused the tow path to flood and some of the bits and pieces that were laid about joined my earlier packet of baccy on a trip down the canal.
I hastily got through the lock, moored at the other side and closed the gates, no sooner had i got back on the boat and i was joined by three scruffy twenty something thugs that demanded £100 each for the loss of their possessions, stating that it was bad enough being homeless without an ass hole like me washing away what little possessions they had left, they seemed not to take any notice of my trusty German shepherd who was going ballistic on the other side of the stern doors, i can only assume they were so high on the can of glue that one of them was waving in my face that they had gone deaf and blind as well as stupid, a funny thought ran through my head that although they were down and out at least they stuck together ( good old thixofix ).
I realised  that i was not going to talk myself out of this one and no way was i parting with 300 quid which i did not have anyway  so picked up my windlass to wrap around the first available head and at the same time prepared to slip the top bolt on the stern doors and let my now frantic dog out for an early dinner – to my total amazement they just legged it back into the tunnel and disappeared in the gloom, then on looking up to the street about 8 foot or so above me i noticed two very very nice policeman that had obviously heard the commotion – Phew ! Who was it said there’s never a copper about when you need one ?”
Paul McKay
“My cruising has been limited to the Oxford canal, the Thames, the Broads, and the Avon which is where I keep my boat at the moment. I have never experienced anti-social behaviour but then I haven’t cruised through the dodgier parts of cities which is perhaps where I would expect to possibly come across some. That expectation being based on what I’ve read but which I have never taken as the norm. I have met fellow boaters who have been thoughtless, mainly by going too fast and creating excessive wash, and the occasional loner who doesn’t return a greeting but overall my experience is a happy one.”
Richard Mather
What conclusion do you draw from these very helpful answers? I was actually surprised by the relatively few serious incidents of antisocial behaviour by non boat owners. On the other hand, I didn’t expect to read about quite so many anti social boaters.
What is clear is that many potential problems can be avoided. It’s very easy to discover which areas are safe and which you should stay away from. All you have to do is speak to boaters in areas close to those which worry you or ask for advice on this site’s forum or other boating forums.
Most is not all of the problems with local pedestrians occur in the afternoon or in the evening, more so at the weekends or during school holidays in warmer weather. Potential risk can be significantly reduced by cruising through risky areas in the morning or, if you’re particularly worried, by not cruising through them at all.
Of course you can’t easily avoid what appears to the major source of anti social behaviour on the waterways… other boat owners.
Just as most of the people you meet on the towpath are sociable, chatty and pleasant, so are most boat owners. It’s the minority who can make your life difficult, but only if you let them.
Your own attitude often plays a major part in the outcome.  If a man walks into a pub looking for a fight, he’ll usually find one. If the same man goes into the same pub for  a quiet drink, he’ll normally find that too.
I experienced a potentially unpleasant situation today. It’s been pretty windy all day. This morning I was on the outward leg of a discovery day when we reached a 100m section of the canal which was only easily passable for one boat at a time because of overhanging willows on the off side. By the time we were committed to the gap, we saw a boat coming in the opposite direction also committed to the same gap. Neither of us wanted to stop and wait for the other because the wind would have blown the stationary boat into the undergrowth. We both kept moving forward and scraped by hull to hull.
Once upon a time I would have given the other boat owner a mouthful, certain in the knowledge that I was right and he was wrong. I didn’t. Instead I had a joke with him about being too close to him for comfort as we passed. I could tell that he wasn’t particularly happy as I approached, but he laughed when he realised that I wasn’t being confrontational, and we both went our separate ways without another thought.
I’m sure that over the coming months and years of cruising up and down the cut there will be some situations I can’t talk myself out of but I’m going to try my hardest to plan my routes carefully and be as pleasant as possible with other boat owners, walkers, anglers and even the hooded and baseball cap wearing, tiny bike riding, tracksuit bottom wearing youth of today.
I don’t think I’m going to have many problems.

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.

12th October 2014

The pros and cons of buying an ex hire boat to live on – How suitable are ex hire boats for living on board full time?

5th October 2014

I ran short of time during this week and couldn’t think of much to write about anyway, so I just detailed an idyllic week we spent away from the marina, pottering about for a few days in Braunston and then finishing off the week on the south Oxford canal down as far as Fenny Compton. Six months before the start of our continuous cruising lifestyle, it was just what we needed to whet our appetites.

28th September 2014

Emergency food on board – Some of the most pleasant places to moor are a long way from the nearest supermarket. Here are some suggestions to ensure that you’re never short of a tasty meal on your idyllic canal-side retreat.

21st September 2014

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 10 12 Newsletter – The Pros And Cons Of Buying An Ex Hire Boat

What a wet and windy start to the week. I started work at 8am, then went back to the boat to change my soaking clothes at 9am. But before that I had the pleasure of moving two boats; one off the boat cradle on the slipway back into the water and another off its mooring and on to the half submerged cradle at the bottom of the slipway so that it could be pulled out of the water by our ancient JCB.

The wind made both jobs very interesting indeed.

The first boat belongs to proud new owner and regular site user Simon Birt. It’s a 2003 60′ traditional stern boat built by S M Hudson which appears to be something of a bargain.

Simon’s boat, Genevieve, has a traditional layout with a boatman’s cabin at the rear and the engine room in front of that. Most narrowboats have a Morse control gear selector and throttle control. You just push the lever forwards or backwards to select forward or reverse gear. The further you push the lever in either direction, the faster the boat moves.

The old traditional boats, and the ones like Simon’s designed along those lines, have separate gear selector and throttle controls. The gear selector is a brass handle which you pull towards you to put the boat into reverse and push away from you to select forward gear. Somewhere in the middle is neutral. Neutral is rarely marked so you have to guess where it is if you don’t know the boat. The engine speed is governed by a wheel. It’s called a speed wheel. You rotate it one way to increase the engine speed and the other to decrease it.

These controls aren’t the best in the world if you want to do something quickly because if you want to go from forward to reverse you have to use the speed wheel to reduce the engine speed to idle, pull or push the gear selector rod in the opposite direction, then quickly turn the speed wheel again to increase the engine speed. With a Morse control you simply move the lever from one end to the other, briefly pausing at neutral. A speed wheel takes a bit of getting used to, ideally on windless day and somewhere other than on a cradle seven or eight feet off the ground.

The boat was lowered into the water, then I spent a few seconds fumbling with the controls in the driving rain as the stiff breeze pushed me sideways across the marina. With a little rope pulling assistance from JCB driver Jim we managed to tie the boat securely to the side of the slipway before I drove to a mooring at the far end of Meadows marina to collect the second boat.

Our two marinas are always a challenge in the wind. Monday was no exception. It’s usually a case of having to be a little heavy handed with the throttle to maintain any effective steering, something which is always a little risky when you’re crabbing across an open stretch of water towards a waiting cradle and a very nervous looking JCB driver.

Unusually for me, there were no mishaps so once the boat was safely on the slipway I was free to return to my boat for a much needed change of clothing and to put on my bomb proof waterproofs ready for a very wet morning waddling around the site doing something other than grass cutting.

We’ve reached the time of year when we can focus on proactive rather than reactive tasks. I’ve probably cut the grass for the last time this year and the willow’s rapid growth has ceased for another season. It’s time to think about removing this season’s squirrel damaged oak and, sadly, half a dozen irreplaceable hornbeam which are damaged beyond recovery.

Our larger wood needs thinning out. There are far too many oak and ash growing too close to each other so I’ll probably need to take 150 – 200 of the weaker trees out this winter.

I look forward to the winter woodland projects but I’ll be quite sad while I work. When I began working at the marina five years ago, the woodland area close to our mooring was very much neglected. There were a few little used and overgrown paths along the wood’s edge closest to Meadows marina and very little else.

I’ve had the freedom to manage the woods as I see fit. I’ve created paths, removed restrictive fencing, built bridges over ditches, removed stakes and protectors from thousands of trees, removed weaker trees to give the stronger ones more space to grow and planted over 1,000 shrubs to provide ground cover for birds and small mammals.

This coming winter will be my last.

Next spring Sally and I will set sail to explore the waterways network. Maintaining and developing the woodland isn’t considered a priority. I do it because I love woodland areas and think that our two woods offer an interesting addition to the many acres of easily accessible meadow walks available on site.

I hope that my replacement will hold a similar view.

Ex Hire Boats – Do They Make Suitable Live Aboard Homes?

Have you ever considered buying a hire boat after it’s finished transporting happy holiday cruisers on short breaks? Hire boats are often snapped up by new live aboard boat owners, but are they really a good buy?

I’m not sure that they are.

A hire boat is designed to accommodate the maximum number of people for relatively short periods. Those people spend much of the day cruising and very little time sitting inside leading a “normal” life. Long cruising days are often followed by long evenings in the pub before a few hours in bed before beginning the cycle again.

Because of the crews holiday needs, the boat is all about bedrooms and bathrooms. A sixty feet long boat is a common length for a live aboard boat. A sixty feet long hire boat will sleep six or more. The one below will sleep nine.

Calcutt Boats' Burdock

Calcutt Boats’ Burdock

The plan is of Burdock, the longest in the Calcutt hire fleet. The space labelled 2 & 3 is the seating in the saloon area which can be converted into a double bed. The two spaces labelled number 12 (one on the port and one on the starboard side) are bunk beds. Number twenty three is a double bed with a single bed above it.

Up to nine people can sleep on this boat, and they do on a regular basis. I’m always amazed by the number of people that can shoehorn themselves into the boat, and the amount of stuff they bring with them. We had two families take the boat out earlier in the year, four adults and five children. After and seemingly endless stack of bags, boxes and suitcases disappeared onto the boat, two of the adults drove to Tesco in Southam to stock up with food and drink for the trip. They returned after spending £400, not all of it on drink. The wharf staff then helped them load twenty food filled plastic bags into the little remaining space.

In addition to the nine berths are a toilet and shower room and another toilet. Each toilet deposits waste into a coffin sized holding tank underneath.

The heating on many hire boats and on half of our own fleet is gas. I don’t know if any hire boats have solid fuel stoves. Most don’t because of the safety risks and because of the space they take up.

Outside the boat, the bow is open to the elements and will seat six people comfortably. The rear, as with the majority of hire boats, is a cruiser stern which means that there is a large rear deck where the steerer and three or four other holiday hirers can stand in comfort while they cruise.

The electrics on board are pretty basic. There are two 110ah batteries in the domestic bank and an additional 110ah for starting the engine. There is a 1,000w inverter on board for running low power mains appliances.

Compare the above specification to my own boat which is designed and equipped to accommodate just two people in comfort for long term off grid cruising.

At sixty two feet, my boat is marginally longer than the hire boat above but because it has a traditional rather than a cruiser stern I probably have an additional six feet internal cabin space.

The downside is that I don’t have as much space at the rear of the boat for people to stand and talk to the helmsman during a cruise. Having said that, on discovery days I have two guests at the back of the boat with me. One or the other of them is steering while the other guest and I try to stay out of the way. When I’m cruising on my own, I have a four feet long tiller for steering. When I have guests I switch to a two feet long tiller to free up vital space.

On the hire boat, the front well deck is open to allow hirers to sit in comfort while they watch the world go by. On my boat a triangular cratch board and cover has been fitted to convert this space into a very useful lobby which we use to store stuff we don’t want in the boat like the hose reel, bags of coal, the ash bucket, outdoor shoes, a mop and bucket, a pair of garden shears for taming otherwise ideal moorings and a towel for the dogs. The covered space allows us to dry them off in wet weather before they come into the boat. The covered area also helps retain the heat in the cabin when we open the front doors.

Because we don’t have the logistical challenge of sleeping six or more people every night, vital space is available to make our lives more comfortable. For a start we have room for a solid fuel stove.

I’m an evangelist for stoves on live aboard boats. If you don’t have one, you’re asking for trouble. They may well take up vital space, require much more effort than a mechanical heating system in terms of keeping them topped up with fuel and cleaning them, but they are reliable.

My Torgem stove was installed when the boat was built in 1977. It’s still going strong. The flue pipe has been replaced but apart from that it’s always been there to provide a reliable heat source when it’s needed. In a perfect world I would replace my stove with a more efficient Morso Squirrel, but the Squirrel is slightly larger than the Torgem so I would have to extend the hearth another three inches into the centre of the boat and sit three inches closer to a stove which is sometimes to hot as it is now. I’ll make do with the Torgem for now.

Mechanical central heating systems will break down at some stage, usually when you need them most. With a solid fuel stove in place you’ve always got another string to your bow.

So we have room for a solid fuel stove and room for some comfortable fitted seating where we can relax on a cold winter’s evening and watch the fire’s flickering flames. Under the seating is some very useful storage space, something which there is very little of on a hire boat.

The hire boat above has very little storage space because most of the space inside the boat is taken up by beds, an extra bathroom an open plan front deck and a large open back deck. On my boat there’s more storage space than I can shake a stick at as you can see in this video. The plentiful storage space means that we can keep our small living space very tidy indeed.

My boat was deigned to sleep five. It still could, but one of them would need to be a child. The original owner and his wife had three small children. The length of one of the bunks, a space I now use as my office desk, reflects that. I have disposed of the mattress which covered the small bed base so I now have a dedicated and very comfortable desk.

Behind where I sit at my laptop are two full size bunks. If we ever make any friends, and they are daft enough to want to stay the night, they can sleep on the bunks in comfort.

The main sleeping area is the fixed double bed in the bedroom which is just in front of the engine room.

I mentioned that the heating on many hire boats is gas. Gas central heating is very expensive to run and produces a wet heat which aids condensation. I stayed on one of Calcutt Boats’ hire boats for ten days in November 2011 when my own boat was taken away to have the new steel cabin fitted.

The majority of our boats with gas heating have Alde boilers but the smaller boats have Riviera heaters. Over the ten days on board I used two full 19kg propane cylinders at a cost of £40 each. The £8 a day average is nearly twice the cost to run my solid fuel stove.

I believe that the new Alde compact boiler is more economical to run but I can’t find any average gas consumption figures. However the quoted 405g/h seems quite high.

Hire boat electrics are pretty basic. The boat I’ve used for this comparison has two fairly low capacity batteries in the domestic bank. The boat has a total of 220ah to provide power to the on board electrics and a charger so that the boat can be plugged into the national grid via the shore line to charge the batteries when the boat returns to base and there’s a small inverter to run the television and some low power mains appliances. And that’s it.

I have four batteries in my domestic bank which total 540ah. I too have a charger built in to enable me to charge the batteries from the mains and I have an inverter. Mine isn’t that much bigger than the hire boat but it will run a washing machine at a push. I also have a 300w solar panel array with an MPPT controller and I have something which no live aboard boater should be without. I have a battery monitor which enables me to see the capacity remaining in the battery bank at the press of a button.

Of course, all of these things can be added to the hire boat after you’ve bought it but they’re an additional expense which you may not have considered and things which may be included if you buy a second hand boat which has been designed for extended cruising.

A perceived benefit with ex hire boats is regular servicing.

It’s true that hire boat engines are maintained on a regular basis, but they need to be because of the frequent use. At seven months, Calcutt Boats’ season is shorter than some hire companies. Our first boats of the year go out at Easter. The last of the year’s hirers return at the end of October. Some hire boat companies operate all year round.

People who hire narrowboats generally don’t hire them so that they can moor in one place for days on end. Most plan quite ambitious routes for their week or fortnight away. Two popular routes from Calcutt Boats are the circular Warwickshire ring and the out and back cruise to Oxford.  Both necessitate cruising for seven or eight hours a day to complete roughly 100 miles and 100 locks for the former and 80 locks for the latter.

These routes are chosen regularly throughout the season so it’s not unusual for a hire boat to be moving for fifty or sixty or more hours a week for months on end and to suffer the inevitable knocks caused by continuous cruising in all weathers by often novice crews.

Most hire boats are worked quite hard.

I know two people who have bought ex hire boats to live on. Both were purchased as DIY projects. One was bought four years ago and still isn’t finished.

Gary started by considering what he needed to do to make the boat work as a comfortable live aboard. He came to the conclusion that he needed to rip out all the internal fitting and start again. He realised that as a single boat owner he didn’t need two toilets on board. He had to completely dismantle the bathroom before he could remove the back-breakingly heavy waste tank with its decade long accumulation of crusty unmentionables.

By the time he had finished removing what he didn’t want in the boat he was left with something very similar to a sailaway. Just in case you haven’t come across them before, a sailaway is a part finished boat, widely available for purchase by DIY enthusiasts who want to fit out their own boat. Here’s an example of a company offering sailaway boats with various options.

So Gary purchased a complete boat and then removed all of the internal furniture and bulkheads to take it back to a sailaway state. And then he spent the following four years considering how to fit it out, and then trying to find the time, energy and money needed to finish the project. Three years later, he still hasn’t quite managed it.

There you are. A hire boat may at first appear to be a reasonable choice for your new floating home. Now you know the pros and cons. Do you still want to buy one?

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.

5th October 2014

I ran short of time during this week and couldn’t think of much to write about anyway, so I just detailed an idyllic week we spent away from the marina, pottering about for a few days in Braunston and then finishing off the week on the south Oxford canal down as far as Fenny Compton. Six months before the start of our continuous cruising lifestyle, it was just what we needed to whet our appetites.

28th September 2014

Emergency food on board – Some of the most pleasant places to moor are a long way from the nearest supermarket. Here are some suggestions to ensure that you’re never short of a tasty meal on your idyllic canal-side retreat.

21st September 2014

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 10 05 Newsletter – Cruising The Idyllic South Oxford Canal

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley” wrote Robert Burns in 1786. I know what I means. At least, I know what he means after I’ve looked up a translation. The best laid plans often go awry, as ours did last Sunday and Monday.

We planned to do some repainting as soon as I finished last week’s newsletter but we didn’t get much done.

Lunchtime was fast approaching when I finished tapping away at my keyboard so we thought we would walk into Braunston for a bite to eat. We sat on a canal-side bench next to the Gongoozler’s Rest cafe, sipping lukewarm Pepsi out of cans and eating toasted cheese and onion sandwiches as we watched happy narrowboat owners cruise serenely by.

After our lunch we strolled up the hill to the centre of the village, popped into the butcher’s shop to check it out, wandered around the small supermarket, bought an ice cream each, then slowly walked back down to the hill and along the towpath to our neglected boat.

The nearer we got to the boat, the more the hastily rust proofed patch on the rear doors stood out. The weld on the top hinge failed earlier in the year, mainly due to me not lubricating the hinge properly and forcing the dry joint open every time I wanted to get into the engine room. The bare weld had been coated with grey primer ready for me to touch it up to match the rest of the cabin. MORE HERE

I guiltily changed into my scruffy work clothes and began sanding. I don’t know why I spent so much time making excuses for not doing the touching up. I enjoy painting. I’m not particularly good at it, but I’m getting much better. Standing on the back of the boat with a far reaching view over gently rolling fields on a sunny and warm autumn day is not a bad way of spending a couple of hours and the boat looked so much better when I finished.

On Tuesday we planned to set off fairly early but first we needed to take the dogs for a walk. First we met James and Debbie on NB Lois Janes. We stopped for half an hour for a chat and a guided tour of their boat, then carried on along the towpath towards Rugby where five minutes later we met Marilyn and David on NB Waka Huia. They were on the last day of their six months in England before putting the boat to bed at Barby Moorings and flying back to New Zealand to escape the English winter. It’s all right for some!

Back on the boat we were just about to have our “posh coffee” of the day before setting off. Making a posh coffee involves hauling the 35kg generator out of the engine room and onto the towpath, firing it up and connecting a cable between the boat and the generator. It’s a bit of a pain, but we both love the coffee. So did James and Debbie who were passing in their boat. They responded instantly to Sally’s frantically waved mug from inside the boat by reversing into the space in front of us.

An hour later we said goodbye to the pair and set off ourselves. The nearest place to turn the boat around ahead of us was the entrance to Barby Moorings marina but as that was a two hour cruise away I decided to try to reverse a quarter of a mile along the canal, through a bridge and try to turn in the long disused and heavily silted remains of an arm into Braunston. It wasn’t my best idea.

I think I would have been OK if I could have communicated effectively with the owner of the boat I met as I was reversing through the bridge hole. I couldn’t and he was in a hurry so I had to reverse into the shallow water on the off side so that he could pass and spend a couple of minutes shaking his head at me.

Reversing a two feet six inch deep boat into two feet of water and deep silt isn’t the fastest way to get from A to B. I spent fifteen minutes getting myself unstuck, remembered that we were on a week long leisurely break rather than in a race, and decided to add another four hours to our cruise and turn at Barby.

I’m pleased I did. The day was wonderfully calm and sunny. It was a delight drift along in my own little world, smiling at the occasional passing boat owner and generally enjoying myself.

By mid afternoon we were back were we started. Another fifteen minutes and we were very quickly topping our water up and emptying our cassette at the quite challenging water point at Braunston junction. It’s challenging because to use the water point you need to almost block the canal as you need to moor on a blind bend with boats moored on the towpath opposite you leaving a very narrow channel for passing boats which, coming from either direction, can’t see you until the very last minute. The hire boat which came steaming around the turn from Napton narrowly missed us but in avoiding us scraped down the full length of the boat opposite us. Apparently it was my fault, so I’m sorry.

Our intention had been to tackle the Napton flight before mooring for the night but there was no chance of that happening so we stopped for the night near Flecknoe and very close to an abundent supply of blackberries. Sally picked an enormous bowlful each which we had for tea with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The following morning we cruised for an hour, diverted to Calcutt to top up with water so that Sally could continue with her washing machine marathon, popped into the chandlery to see if they had a tin of Owatrol to treat the bare metal scrape down the cabin side (they didn’t) and to see if they had missed me (they hadn’t).

After we topped up the water tank, we moved off the water point onto the towpath, had a bowl of Sally’s wonderful spicy noodles for lunch, then cruised for half an hour to Napton and the nine lock flight.

The stretch of the south Oxford canal between the top of the flight and Fenny Compton is magical. There’s a small fraction of the amount of traffic using the canal between Napton and Braunston at the bottom of the flight and stunning far reaching views over rolling countryside. We moored at 5pm and didn’t see another moving boat until 8am the following day.

On Wednesday we walked the dogs before setting off on our two hour cruise down to Fenny Compton. Sally took the helm. Historically, she’s been reluctant to steer the boat for two reasons; because of her height she’s had a problem seeing over the cabin roof ahead of the boat and because of the size of the rudder she finds steering, especially on a contour canal like the Oxford with constant twists and turns, very hard work.

We managed to overcome the first problem fairly easily. We’ve increased her height. Initially I suggested that she wear six inch heels (and a nice short skirt) to help her see over the top of the boat but after I climbed out of the canal that Sally had thrown me into I realised that this wasn’t a universally acceptable solution.

The far more practical solution, but a much less aesthetically pleasing one, was to find Sally a platform to stand on. I bought a very sturdy six inch heavy duty folding step stool. The height is perfect and it’s sturdy enough for her to safely stand on without tipping up.

There’s not much I can do about the weight of the rudder, apart from ensure that Sally always uses the longer of the two tillers I have on board.

There isn’t much room for guests to stand comfortably on the back of a traditional stern narrowboat. The best tiller to use on James to minimise the strain of handling the boat is four feet long. Turning the boat with this tiller on is easy for the steerer but not so easy for anyone else standing on the back of the boat as there’s a constant risk of being pushed off the back of the boat with it.

When I have guests on board, normally on discovery days, I switch to a much shorter and safer to use two feet long tiller. The shorter length allows to additional people to stand with the steerer without running the risk of being swept into the canal. The drawback is that because there is less leverage steering the boat is far more physically demanding.

With the Sally-steering-stool and long tiller in place, Sally took the helm through the gentle hills of rural south east Warwickshire.

We stopped to fill up at the water point next to the Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton. We knew the nearly empty tank would take at least twenty minutes to fill so we enjoyed a coke each and a bowl of chips between us sitting in the garden close to the water point and the boat.

While we were waiting, Sally bought a jar of Mike’s Gourmet Chilli Mustard and a bottle of Hot Caribbean Chilli Sauce made by the Warwickshire Chilli Tree company. The stall was unattended so she left £7 in the blue Tardis honesty box on the table. It was an expensive water stop; £7 for the two cokes and bowl of chips, another £7 for the sauces and then £12 the following day for two steaks to try the mustard on. We won’t be spending money like that when we’re cruising full time!

On the two hour return leg of the cruise Sally left me to my own devices and walked ahead of me along the towpath with the dogs. It’s great exercise for the dogs, and for Sally, and I was more than happy to chug along in my own little world, occasionally passing moving boats, sometimes catching a glimpse of Sally in the distance but usually just me and the slowly moving scenery.

We moored for the night again in the middle of nowhere and, once more, didn’t see a moving boat until we set off at 8am the following morning. Sally, Charlie and Daisy abandoned me again and raced down the towpath ahead of the boat until we met at the start of the Napton flight at Marston Doles.

An hour and a half later we moored beneath the flight for a coffee and a few more minutes of canal-side freedom before returning to the captivity of the marina.

I love Calcutt Boats’ Meadows marina. I think it’s one of the prettiest and most spacious marinas in the country but after spending a week out on the cut it was like moving from a farmhouse to a crowded housing estate. Both Sally and I enjoy mooring without other boats or people on site but now we pulled into our section of the marina just a wooden walkway away from our closest neighbour. Ah well, only one hundred and seventy eight days to go. MORE HERE.

Autumn has finally arrived. It’s been a marvelous summer, most of it rain free and warm. Too warm sometimes.

Both Sally and I sleep far better in a cold bedroom but this year it’s rarely been below twenty degrees in there. Ten degrees is much better and this morning with an outside temperature of three degrees, the bedroom dropped to a very acceptable thirteen.

It’s 5.30am. I’ve just been out to the Elsan point to empty our toilette cassette. I’m hosting a discovery day today so I need the little tank’s full twenty one litre capacity. It’s a wonderful autumn morning. There’s a tawny owl hooting in the woods. The little bugger’s been at it all night. It’s a lovely sound but I wish he’d shut up when I’m trying to get some much needed sleep. There’s a clear star studded sky and a hard frost on the truck’s windscreen. A pale mist is drifting across the marina obscuring the boats.

It’s cold outside but toasty warm on the boat. I lit the stove and cleaned the sooty stove glass as soon as I crawled out of bed this morning while I waited for the kettle to boil. Now I can see flames dancing above the orange glow of the burning coal and two very happy dogs laying as close as they can to the radiating heat.

I’ve run out of time again to write what I consider a full length newsletter, but I’ve just had my breakfast and done a little pre cruise preparation ahead of today’s guests imminent arrival.

I’m hosting the discovery days every other week to coincide with Sally’s work rota at the nursing home where she works as a senior carer. The schedule’s gone to pot in the last few days though.

The nursing home is short of supervisory carers to run the night shifts so Sally has been asked to help them out until they can recruit some permament night staff. Consequently she will be arriving back at the boat at about the same time as the couple who are spending the day with me. She’ll say a quick and probably very tired hello and then climb thankfully into bed for some well earned sleep… and then I’m going to start the engine which sits about a foot from her head and run it for eight hours while I take the boat out. She says that she finds the engine noise very soothing. Rather her than me.

I’ll be back next week with a more informative newsletter. I hope this one hasn’t been too disappointing.

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.

28th September 2014

Emergency food on board – Some of the most pleasant places to moor are a long way from the nearest supermarket. Here are some suggestions to ensure that you’re never short of a tasty meal on your idyllic canal-side retreat.

21st September 2014

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.

 

 

>