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Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 12 28 Newsletter – Winter Cruising

Ninety four days to go. Three months and four days before I break the shackles of full time employment for a lifetime’s canal and river exploration. I’m very, very excited,  but a little frightened too.

I won’t be retiring. My pension was tied up in my business which went so terribly wrong six years ago. I still have a tiny pension which matures next year but sadly that will just about keep me in toilet roll for the year so, from next April onwards, I will be totally reliant on the income I generate from this site.

Most of the time it’s enough to support me. Just.

We won’t be living in the lap of luxury. Sally is giving up her full time employment working as a senior carer at a local nursing home and I’m giving up my full time employment as a groundsman at Calcutt Boats. We both enjoy our work. Actually, I love the job I do. It’s the only period in my thirty seven year working life when I have worked for someone else but the company give me pretty much a free reign to do what I need to do to keep the site looking as good as it does. I love the freedom and I love working outdoors all year round.

Sally loves her work too but she finds it very fulfilling rather than pleasant. She cares for people with moderate to severe physical and mental conditions which means that she is often subject to very unpleasant physical and verbal abuse. On a daily basis she’s subject to punching, kicking, biting, scratching, spitting, slapping, hair pulling and, of course, shouting and screaming. It’s not pleasant but Sally’s very good at it and finds the work rewarding.

I’m not sure that Sally quite feels she’s ready to retire but she’s moderately enthusiastic about joining me for at least two decades of inland waterways relaxation and exploration.

We’re both giving up our regular full time income. From April next year we’ll have to get by on 36% of our current income. It’s enough but we’ve been used to spending what we want whenever we want so we’re going to have to be very disciplined indeed, and I will have to try very hard not to become totally obsessed with daily sales from the site, or lack of them.

It’s fascinating watching the seasons change and knowing that the outside temperature, the amount of rain and the amount of daylight will have a direct impact on my income. It’s fascinating and slightly worrying. Take this time of the year generally and Christmas in particular as an example. Christmas is a worrying time for most small businesses which don’t offer Christmas related products or services. My old cleaning services business was typical. New enquiries and sales started dropping of towards the end of November, disappeared almost completely over the Christmas period then started to pick up again towards the end of January. For at least a month and a half the phones didn’t ring much at all.

My web site income is similarly affected by the festive period but is also affected by colder weather. People simply aren’t as interested in narrowboats and the live aboard lifestyle when the sun isn’t shining. Visitors to all of the most popular narrowboat web sites plummet in the winter months.The dream for many is of spending lazy days moored in an idyllic spot with panoramic views, sitting on the towpath in the summer sun serenely watching boats drift by. It’s difficult to keep the dream in focus when an east wind is driving icy rain across a drab and cloud capped landscape.

Boat owners aren’t keen either. Most owners of narrowboats used for recreational cruising wrap their boats up for the winter. They have no intention of visiting them again before the following spring. In January and February I see very few moorers visiting their boats. I often spend a full day at work without seeing a soul.

It’s a shame because winter boating is a joy.

Sally and I are out on our Christmas cruise at the moment. We’re having a wonderful time. We cruised for six hours on Saturday and six hours yesterday. In total we’ve seen seven moving boats. There have been no queues at locks and no shortage of spaces at any of the popular mooring spots. We’re on the Grand Union Leicester line. Last June we came this way and had a two hour wait at the Watford flight before we reached the head of the queue. Yesterday we arrived at the bottom of the flight at 9am. The lone lock keeper welcomed us enthusiastically, told us that we were his first and possibly only boat of the day and helped Sally work the locks up the flight. Negotiating the flight took us nearly three hours last June. We did it yesterday in thirty five minutes. The lock keeper told us that the average number of boats per day over the winter is about six, although there are some days when there are no boats at all. It’s boring for the lock keepers but marvelous for boat owners.

Our winter trip began on Saturday a little later than I hoped. Sally had to work a twelve hour shift on Friday night. She arrived back at the boat at 8.30am, tired but eager to set off, but we had to do our food shopping shopping for the trip first. After that we had to drop off a belated Christmas present to Sally’s tenants in Woodford Halse before returning to the boat.

Sally unpacked the shopping then made me a coffee before heading off to bed for a well earned sleep as I headed out of the marina. I only saw three moving boats on Saturday. Luckily one of them was a neighbour of mine who was also heading up the Calcutt flight on a day trip to Braunston. They had two very eager teenagers with them so I didn’t need to get off the boat as we sped through the three locks at 11am. I knew the time because I knew how far away our intended mooring for the evening was and how unlikely it was we would reach it given the limited daylight in December. I’m sure that I’ll relax next year and not be so focused on achieving goals but I definitely had a goal for Saturday.

Sally was still asleep so I pulled over just before Braunston for long enough to make a coffee and have a wee, and be overtaken by my marina neighbour, then set off again. I passed my neighbour moored outside The Boathouse. They gave me a cheery wave from their cosy table by a canal-side window and raised a mocking glass to me.

I had a spot of good luck at the Braunston flight too. A boat owning dog walker helped me up the first three. I am always very pleased when I see a dog walker carrying a windlasss. Thank you Tom! Just as he left to ferry his wife to the shops Sally appeared with a windlass and a steaming mug of coffee. She had only allowed herself three hours sleep. Any more and she wouldn’t have been able to sleep when we both went to bed that evening.

Sally returned to the warmth of the cabin and the reassuring drone of her washing machine as we entered Braunston tunnel allowing me to play with my new tunnel light and super powerful 5,000,000 candle power engine room torch. Both were wonderful even if I was a little disappointed in the cumulative effect of a small city’s worth of candle light. Effective tunnel lighting makes a huge difference. I didn’t touch the sides once.

I emerged from the east end of the tunnel into twilight and realised that I wouldn’t reach my goal of Welton Haven marina before dark. We were close enough though so I pulled over at the least muddy looking spot I could find, couldn’t get close to the bank because of my 2’6″ draught, tried another spot a hundred metres further on, failed again and then succeeded on my third attempt.

We squelched along the towpath for half an hour with the dogs before battening down the hatches for the evening, stoking up the fire and tucking in to a pot of beef stew.I’m delighted to say that we couldn’t manage to get any television signal at all so we settled down for a slightly frustrating evening of card playing. Sally introduced me to a game which she says is very popular in the Philippines. I’m not saying that she cheated but it appeared to me to be a very complicated game made even more difficult by a constant changing of the rules, usually when I had the upper hand. Still, a bottle of honey infused Jack Daniels helped ease the pain.

I was up bright and early on Sunday morning ready and eager – well, ready anyway – for a full day’s sub zero cruising.The thermometer read minus four when I reluctantly eased myself out of bed at 6am and made a dash for the coal box next to the stove. I still haven’t found anyone to fit my central heating system so I’m completely reliant on the stove to heat the boat. Thank you to those of you who recommended reliable and competent tradesmen to do the job. I’ve tried them all. Unfortunately, because they are reliable and competent they appear to have work coming out of their ears. Non of them can accommodate me.

The stove’s not doing a bad job but it’s a little painful for the first hour or so before the boat heats up in the morning. I’ve been up since 5.30am this morning. It’s 7.30am now and I’ve only just taken my fleece hat off. The boat should be much warmer when I’ve finally fitted my secondary double glazing panels. It’s been almost a year since they arrived but I think I might be close to actually getting them on the windows.

The initial problem I had was with the magnetic fixing kit. The magnetised strips simply weren’t powerful enough to hold the weight of the relatively light 4mm panels. Every one of the six I fitted slid off the windows within forty eight hours. I didn’t bother looking for an alternative way of securing them at the time because (A) March and warmer weather had arrived and (B) I despise and consequently am not very good at DIY of any kind.

The current cold weather has focused me on finding a solution. I’ve found one. I’ve ordered some wood to metal double ended screws. One end will go into the window frame then I’ll drill a hole in each corner of the plastic panel to take the protruding metal thread. The panels will be secured with wing nuts which will be hidden by the curtains. Each panel will have draught excluder fitted around the edges. It should work fine, but what do I know?

The half hour cruise to the Watford flight was accompanied by the tinkling of breaking ice on the canal, less than an eighth of an inch in most places, none at all in some, but nearly half an inch at Norton Junction. Nothing to worry about at the moment and if the weather forecast is accurate for the latter part of next week, nothing to worry about on the return journey. With two or three very cold days to come though, the ice is going to get much thicker before it disappears.

The trip to the Watford flight was a bit painful for me. Sally was at the helm. Unfortunately she’s still at the stage where she’s quite confident steering along the straight, around bends and through all but the tightest bridge holes, but as soon as something unexpected happens, she freezes and looks to me for instruction. This level of confidence and competence means that I need to be on hand in case of emergencies but I’m not actually doing anything to generate any heat. I tried dancing on the spot for a while but my complete lack of rhythm depressed me so I stopped very quickly.

We moored on the landing beneath Watford Bottom Lock. Sally bolted for the cabin to thaw out her frozen hands. I bolted back along the towpath to Watford Gap service station to take advantage clean and capacious toilets with an unlimited water supply. They’re much more pleasant to use than a cassette toilet.

Entering the service station grounds from the staff access road next to the canal was like entering a different world. Peace and tranquility was replaced by stress and noise as cars jockeyed for tight parking spaces inches away from the service station entrance. Inside, harassed motorists queued for overpriced food and drink. As I passed the head of a Costa Coffee queue on my way to the toilets I heard a cashier ask a suited traveller for £27 for three coffees and three slivers of cake. The same amount would keep me in wine for a month.

Back at the boat the lock keeper had the lock ready for us and Sally was throwing sticks for his very noisy but happy collie. Once through the flight, Sally took advantage of a set of batteries and unlimited supply of hot water courtesy of the engine to catch up on the washing and, I suspect, to keep out of the cold while I cruised gently through the thinning ice to the water point at Yelvertoft.

We had seen nothing moving along the canal in either direction for the last two hours so once the tank was full we popped into the village for a toilet stop for Sally and a quick brandy at the bar for me.

My target for the day was Welford junction but as we only had an hour of daylight left but two and a half hours to the junction and no real need to get there for any particular time, I pulled over about a mile out of Yelvertoft on a stretch of dry Armco lined bank away from traffic and any risk to the dogs.

That’s where we are now. We dined on Sally’s chilli fish cakes, lowered the level in the Jack Daniels bottle by another couple of inches, watched a bit of telly, then retired for a night’s tranquil rest.

As I mentioned, the boat was quite chilly when I woke this morning. I realised why when I popped outside with the dogs. There’s an inch of ice on the canal and a thick white coating of frost over the fields. The temperature isn’t expected to rise much above zero today so we won’t be going anywhere today, or tomorrow for that matter. The temperature isn’t forecast to rise before Wednesday so I think we’re stuck here for a couple of days.

Being stuck here for a day or two isn’t a problem. At least, I don’t think it is. The Smartgauge alarm was flashing this morning. The leisure batteries were down to 42% from 100% when we stopped yesterday afternoon. I’m hoping the drop is due to Sally’s inadvertent use of the washing machine after we moored and while I was out with the dogs. I’m hoping that’s the cause, but I don’t really expect it to be. Two of the batteries in my bank of four are now three years old. I suspect they’re on their way out which will mean that I’ll have to keep a very close eye on them over the coming five days and then replace the lot when I get back to the marina.

B.O.A.T. Bring Out Another Thousand!

Discovery Day And Narrowboat Helmsmanship Training

If you’re new to this site you might not know about the service I launched in June 2014. I host narrowboat experience days on board my own 62′ long narrowboat James No 194. The ten hour days are a combination of discussion about the pros and cons of living on board, narrowboat designs and the best equipment for live aboard boaters, and a six to eight hour helmsmanship training cruise along the Oxford and/or Grand Union Canals.

Over the last couple of weeks I mentioned that I was considering offering an option to book a discovery day but rather than pay for it at the time of booking, pay 25% at the time of booking and then the balance over three months. I asked for anyone who was interested in the scheme to click on a link to let me know.

I’m delighted to report that there are enough people interested to make the time needed to set up the option worthwhile. I’ve been working on it for the last week so everything’s just about in place. I need to test the system out though so I’m looking for a guinea pig or two before I make the option available on the site. Are you interested in attending a discovery day but would rather pay in installments rather than in one up front fee? If you are, please let me know. I’ll be running the discovery days aproximately on the first ten days of April, June, August, October and December next year. Half of April’s dates and some of the dates in June are already taken so if you are considering a place next year, please check the diary before it’s too late.

In the meantime, meet recent discovery day attendee Paul Trotter…

Profile

Narrowboat Helmsmanship training in December

Narrowboat Hemsmanship training is enjoyable even in December!

“I am extremely interested in buying a liveaboard in the next 3-9 month. I booked the discovery day to get my first helmsman experience under guidance and to start to fill in the gaps in my knowledge in a range of areas.”

Feedback

“I was very pleased with the day. The information and instruction and its delivery was excellent. I would definately recommend the discover day to somebody else who was considering getting a narrowboat. It was a great day. In addition to the helmsman experience, I found it was invaluble to ask so many questions about the requirements of a liveaboard lifestyle.”

You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here.

I Need Some Help!

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

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

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over four years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far.

21st December 2014

Cooking on the cut – Here are some gourmet festive recipes suitable for a narrowboat’s small galley

14th December 2014

A Cautionary Tale – Canals and narrowboats offer all the ingredients for some pretty nasty accidents. Here’s one which could have been much worse.

7th December 2014

Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

23rd November 2014

London cruising – Every week I receive emails from potential boat owners who want to live on board in London or who want to visit the capital as part of a holiday cruise. This advice from a very experienced boater will be of great interest to you if you’re one of them.

16th November 2014

Narrowboat fuel consumption – How many miles to the gallon can you get out of your floating home?

9th November 2014

How to spot bogus narrowboat adverts – Beware narrowboats for sale at bargain basement prices. Here’s a cautionary tale to make you think twice about reaching for your wallet.

2nd November 2014

Narrowboat CO2 emissions  – Is living on a boat a green alternative to a home on dry land? You’ll have to read this newsletter to find out.

26th October 2014

Finding reliable tradesmen on the cut – They are out there but it’s not always easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s a new service on the site which is going to make the job much easier for you.

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 12 21 Newsletter – Cooking On The Cut

First of all, I would like to wish you a relaxing and stress free Christmas. I hope that the break from an arduous work regime helps to recharge your batteries ready for the year ahead

Personally, I don’t enjoy this time of the year at all. I find the commercial aspect of the festive period irritating in the extreme.  According to an article in The Telegraph earlier in the week, one in three people will go into debt this year because of Christmas. That’s over 1,600 readers of this newsletter suffering stress and its associated health problems trying to conform with what is generally accepted as the right thing to do over Christmas and the New Year. I think it’s disgusting.

I probably feel so strongly about debt because of my own experience. A few years ago I endured the humiliating social stigma which is bankruptcy. It’s not a pleasant experience. I lost my business, the equity in the business which I planned to use to support me in my retirement and, as an indirect result, my marriage failed and I no longer saw my three wonderful children.

I know all about stress caused by debt. For over a year I was at a financial, emotional and physical low which verged on suicidal. The twelve month period was without doubt the worst period of my life. The debt was all related to the business rather than frivolous personal spending but that didn’t make me feel any better about the situation.

For three years I was treated like a leper by banks and financial institutions. The banks didn’t want to know me at all. I didn’t want a credit card, just a simple bank account with a debit card. Financial institutions just weren’t interested. I had to resort to an account with an online division of Mastercard where I was charged £10 for the privilege of banking with them.

These days my situation is very different. I have a regular bank account with just a simple debit card. I don’t have credit cards, an overdraft or debts of any kind. I control my finances with an iron fist. Every single spare penny I’ve earned over the last four and a half years I’ve lived afloat has been invested in the boat. It’s now a very comfortable floating home, it’s equipped very well for long term cruising and it’s all mine.

The key to managing my finances over the last half decade is the wonderful but strangely named You Need A Budget. It’s a low cost personal finance application which works seamlessly with PC, MAC, IOS and Android applications and which works much better than better known programmes such as Quicken and Money. I use it constantly to budget for both regular and occasional expenses so I’m always on top of my boating and my personal expenditure.

Because I’m not a great fan of Christmas at the best of times, and because as a self employed contractor for Calcutt Boats I earn far less than usual because of their ten day closure over the festive period, the end of this year and the beginning of next will be a very low key affair for me.

Sally will be working up until 27th December when she will resign from her position as senior carer at a local nursing home. Then she has to go back to the Philippines for three months to tie up some loose ends. She will fly on 6th January then return in time for the start of our eight month cruise at the beginning of April.

We won’t celebrate Christmas at all in the traditional sense. There’s no tree or decorations on the boat and we won’t have a Christmas dinner. However, we will celebrate.

We’ll leave the marina the minute Sally finishes work then enjoy a leisurely cruise down along the South Oxford for a week. The only money we’ll spend over the Christmas period over and above what we would normally spend will be for diesel for the boat. I can’t imagine that we’ll run the engine for more than forty hours over the seven days we’re out so our total Christmas expenditure will be for fifty litres of fuel. We might even splash out and have a glass of sherry each.

Now that’s what I call a financially stress free Christmas!

Talking of stress, at midday on Thursday I was asked by marina owner Roger Preen, he always asks rather than commands, it’s an endearing trait, if I would like to go on a little trip to fetch an engine from another marina. Given that I was getting myself filthy at the time hauling heavy and very wet paving slabs on and off back of our site truck, I jumped at the chance to swap my day for a little gentle driving.

The marina in question was Tattenhall marina. It’s in a lovely part of the country on the Shropshire Union canal three miles west of Beeston castle and about seven miles south east of Chester. The approach to the marina was all the more pleasant after enduring the M6 for two and a half hours. The  sat nav’s circuitous approach to the marina lead me past both Beeston and Peckforton castles which tower above the road.

I’ll be heading this way on the boat next year so I was particularly interested in the Shropshire Union canal, the “Shroppie” and all the attractions within easy walking distance including the stunning thirty four mile long Sandstone Trail. I have a feeling that Sally and I will stay a week or so close to the trail.

Tatenhall marina was a joy. I don’t come across many marinas which are as tranquil as Calcutt Boats, but this one comes close. It’s miles away from busy and noisy roads and railways and the business employs some particularly friendly and accommodating engineers. Thanks for helping my load the engine lads, and thanks for the very welcome coffee.

Back in Warwickshire mt working week flashed by. On Saturday I had the pleasure of taking a couple out for a test drive on one of the boats for sale on our brokerage. They moored here earlier in the year but sold their boat to move to something with a little more space. I spent an hour with them and watched with interest as they fell in love with the well built boat with an exceptionally quiet engine. They almost sprinted into the office as soon as we moored to put a deposit on the boat.

This morning I should have started early so that I could finish the newsletter at a reasonable time then take Sally into town so that she could do a little last minute Christmas shopping. Fortunately I managed to persuade her that a far more pressing need was to take James up to our wharf to top up with fuel and to give the engine bay a clean. As you can imagine, I was bitterly disappointed when, three hours later, we arrived back on our mooring and realised that I didn’t have time to go shopping with her. She’s now gone to fight through the crowds while I tap away at my keyboard. Rather her than me.

Cooking On The Cut

I love to cook but sadly I haven’t done much of it over the last couple of years. Sally has had more free time than me so, as she also loves to cook, she’s been doing nearly all of it.

There’s not a huge amount of space on board for food preparation, the equipment needed for gourmet recipes or for the cooking itself. Aspiring narrowboat owner Alan Cranford realised the limitations when searching for his own boat and kindly suggested using his own extensive experience in the kitchen to put together some recipes for exceptionally tasty meals which can be prepared and cooked on a moderately well equipped boat.

Alan is American so there’s a trans continental slant to them but most of the ingredients can be found in UK supermarkets. I’ve copied Alan’s introduction below, then a recipe for a Christmas dinner, some Christmas chocolates, and some rather tempting and very alcoholic festive deserts.

I’ll hand you over to Alan…

Let me introduce myself… I am Alan Cranford, a “wanna be” narrow boater who lives in Mexicali, Mexico with my wife of 35 years.  I am a former executive chef, working in hotels and restaurants in Canada, the USA and Mexico, and was once Fleet Chef for the Canadian Fisheries and Environment [ a combination of the US Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement with a little Canadian Mountie thrown in for good measure]. My wife and I hope to soon purchase a narrowboat to tour the UK via canal and river for a two year period.

Cooking… GOURMET cooking on a boat is a difficult task.  I have looked at photos of hundreds of narrowboats “for sale” in trying to find OUR boat… and I noticed that many ONLY have two burners, oven and grill.  Now being from the “more burners the better” school, and working in professional kitchens with every gizmo and gadget you can think of, the typical narrowboat kitchen is a bit “cramped” for gourmet cooking…. These recipes are developed and designed to be easy on your “two-burner”!

CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR TWO – NARROW BOAT STYLE
Cooking for two can be a difficult task… even if you have done it for years. It seems NOTHING is truly packaged for two people!  What would your butcher say if you asked for a Christmas Goose big enough for two people?  He would laugh you out of his shop!  Most narrow boats have very small galley’s [kitchen to those of you with one foot still on dry land] with limited counter space, a small refrigerator and, often, a smaller than home size stove and oven. This is why you’re only going to cook for two people! Now all of this MIGHT sound hard to do… It is possibly the easiest Christmas dinner ever! You have some choices… use fresh or canned.  Fresh is going to give the best taste… but frozen or canned will work out perfectly acceptable when it comes time for dinner… and is faster and easier!

OUR CHRISTMAS DINNER MENU

APPITIZER:

Baked Brie topped with Your Choice of Topping

SALAD:
Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

MAIN COURSE:

Duck with Raspberries
Steamed Asparagus
Oven Roast Baby Potatoes

APPITIZER: Baked Brie

Purchase a small whole Brie wheel 8-12 ounces.  Using a sharp knife cut off the rind from the TOP of the cheese.  Place in an oven safe baking dish. Top the cheese with one of the toppings below to about ¼ inch from the edge.  Bake in a medium hot oven 12 -15 minutes until heated all the way through.  Serve with your favorite crackers or bread [French, naturally]

Toppings:
•    Canned cranberry sauce – the whole berry type not the cranberry sauce that looks like jelly.  Grate the peel of one orange into the sauce, mix and spread over the top of the cheese.
•    Sautéed mushrooms with garlic
•    Any flavor of preserves you enjoy… like Orange Marmalade
•    Canned Blueberry or Apple pie fill
•    Almost anything you can think of ….

SALAD:  Endive Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans

PREP:
•    Roast ½ cup pecan pieces in a single layer for about 8-10 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet. After the pecans have cooled you want to break them up.  You can chop them but the chopping often breaks them into pieces that are to small.. so I use a rolling pen and gently break them.
•     Now Wisk two tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar, two tablespoons of Olive Oil with salt and pepper to taste.
•    Trim off the very base of the head of endive with a knife. Carefully remove 10 or so outer leaves one at a time. You’ll probably need to slice off more of the base as you go along. If any leaves break or are less than visually perfect, reserve them to chop up for the blue cheese/walnut mixture. Rinse leaves and carefully pat dry with paper towel. Arrange in a radial pattern on plate.
•    Mix ½ cup firm Blue Cheese pieces [or other strong cheese to your taste] with the chopped endive and the vinaigrette dressing we made along with the pecan bits and pieces. Mound in the center of your endive leaves.
o    You use the endive leaves to scoop up a bit of the Blue Cheese mix and enjoy.. when you run out of endive leaves, grab a fork and finish off the cheese!
o    Keep in the refrigerator or someplace cool until dinner time…

MAIN COURSE:  Duck with Raspberries

Ingredients:

•    TWO boneless Duck Breast halves with skin ON
•    1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
•    Salt & Pepper to taste
•    1 garlic clove – chopped
•    1 Tablespoon sugar
•    2 Tablespoons Raspberry Balsamic vinegar
•    ½ cup demi-glace [can be purchased as a concentrate at a good grocery store] •    1 ½ cups raspberries FRESH if possible – whole frozen if not…
•    ½ Tablespoon of butter

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Pat duck dry and trim off any excess fat. Score skin in a crosshatch pattern at 1/2-inch intervals with a sharp knife; this will allow duck fat to escape as the breasts cook. Season with salt and black pepper on both sides, but don’t go overboard; the demi-glace will add a fair amount of saltiness. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof sauté pan over medium-low heat. Place duck breasts, skin side down, in the hot, dry skillet. No oil or other fat is needed—the duck will produce plenty. Cook the breast until the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer breasts to plate and pour off the fat from the pan, reserving 1 tablespoon [actually, save it all—what you don’t use in the sauce can be used for making delicious roasted potatoes]. Return duck breasts to the pan, skin side up, and place in the hot oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 50°C for medium rare [unlike chicken, this is perfectly safe—and delicious]. Remove from the oven. Transfer breasts to cutting board, tent with foil and allow to rest.

While duck rests, add 1 tablespoon reserved duck fat to the sauté pan, then add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and cook, stirring, until dissolved—a minute or so. Stir in vinegar, scraping up brown bits. Add demi-glace and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of raspberries.

If you have to use frozen raspberries… allow to completely defrost in the bag in your refrigerator.  Strain and retain any juice.  When you add the half of the berries to the sauce, add the saved juice also.

After cooking the sauce for about 20 minutes gently, not boiling… force sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, discarding solids. Over low heat, swirl in butter. Remove from heat and add remaining raspberries.

Slice duck breasts, fan on individual plates and top with sauce. Serve accompanied by steamed green asparagus , green beans or kale. For roasted potatoes you can purchase fresh baby potatoes, quarter and toss with a bit of oil and seasonings and bake before you bake your duck or use a can of whole baby potatoes for a faster “baked baby potato”.

EASY CANDY RECIPES FOR NATURALLY LAZY PEOPLE

With Christmas almost upon us, a Saturday afternoon of candy-making fits right in.  Friends and family will love to receive one of these offerings!  These are the easiest candy recipes ever! Wrap some selections in fancy cellophane wrap and fill a nice coffee mug for an easy, much appreciated gift.  These recipes are not for diabetics.  Those who suffer from diabetes should use care and manage their “Christmas Candy intake!”

SMOKEY ALMOND CHOCOLATE BARK
INGREDIENTS:
•    8 ounces Dark Chocolate Baking Bar, broken into small pieces
•    1/2 cup coarsely chopped smoke-flavored almonds, divided
•    1/8 teaspoon sea salt (preferably large crystal)
Line an 8” baking pan with waxed paper or lightly greased aluminum foil.
Put the broken chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for about 45 seconds.  If the chocolate has not melted when you stir it… tray another 15 seconds or so.
Once the chocolate has melted, put in about ½ the Almonds and mix.  Now pour into your prepared wax paper lined backing pan.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top – press in a bit to make them “stick”.  Sprinkle with your sea salt and pop into the refrigerator to sit and rest for about half an hour.
Take the Bark out of the baking pan and break it up into mouth size pieces.  Store in an air tight container.  Makes about ½ pound of delicious easy candy!
PEPPERMENT PATTY BARK
INGREDIENTS:
•    12 ounce bag of white chocolate wafers or “melters”
•    1 bag on unwrapped peppermint hard candies
Using a meat mallet or the side of a cleaver, or rolling pin… beat the bag of peppermint candies to break them up. Best put the bag of candy into a heavy plastic baggie… or you will have candy all over your kitchen!
Melt the white chocolate wafers in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir. Add another 15 seconds if not melted [OR you can heat them gently over hot water, stirring as they melt. They like to melt gently… to much heat and you will get a funny taste… burned chocolate!] Using a strainer, hold the strainer over the melted chocolate and pour in the peppermint candy pieces.  Shake the strainer so the smaller bits fall into the chocolate.  Mix well – saving the larger peppermint bits and pieces.  Now spread your chocolate-peppermint mixture on a baking sheet that you have lined with wax paper [or Saran Wrap]  After you have spread the chocolate [ work kind of quickly so the candy will spread!!]  sprinkle with the remaining peppermint bits and pieces – press into the chocolate gently… refrigerate for 30 minutes or so then break up… White Chocolate Peppermint Bark DONE!
CHEERFUL CHERRY BARK
INGRDIENTS:
•    1 pound white chocolate wafers
•    ¾ cup chopped red maraschino cherries
•    ½ cup unblanched whole almonds
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl [ or over warm water] …. Stir in the chopped cherries and the almonds.  Spread on a backing sheet lined with aluminum foil or wax paper.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so and break into pieces….
DOUBLE TROUBLE PEANUT BAR
INGREDIENTS:
•    1 pound white chocolate wafers [or white vanilla wafers] •    ½ cup peanut butter – I prefer creamy… but you can use crunchy just as well
•    1 milk chocolate plain candy bar – or dark chocolate bar….
Melt the white chocolate or vanilla wafers and the peanut butter together.  Mix well. Spread on a prepared baking sheet. Now freeze for about 15 minutes
Melt the milk chocolate [break into bite size pieces to melt] and pop into microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir.  Drizzle over the peanut-chocolate mix.  Get creative and make a design with your milk chocolate – na… just kidding! IT’s DONE!
MICROWAVE ROCKY ROAD FUDGE
INGREDIENTS:
•    2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)   Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels or Chocolate Chips
•    1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk NOT ordinary “canned milk” but the thick, sweet type.
•    1 teaspoon vanilla extract – Use REAL vanilla if at all possible… the taste is far superior.
•    3 cups miniature marshmallows
•    1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts  OR Pecans
1.    LINE 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil; grease lightly.
2. MICROWAVE morsels and sweetened condensed milk in large, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR.
3. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.
4. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in marshmallows and nuts.
5. PRESS mixture into prepared baking pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve. About 15 minutes is all I have ever managed to wait!!
6. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into pieces.
SPECTACULARLY SINFULL DESERTS
A number of years ago, when I was still a real “working Chef”, I operated an upscale restaurant that had lost most of their clientele…. Which means I got pretty much of a “free hand” to experiment and bring in enough customers to pay the bills.  We had live music and had more of a “late night dinner” crowd than your normal restaurant.  One of my ideas was “Sinful –  A list of Deserts for Adults ONLY!” Here are some of the favorites:
TEXAS KISS ME QUICK PIE
[CHOCOLATE AND PECAN PIE] INGREDIENTS:
1.    1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust
2.    3 eggs
3.    3/4 cup white sugar
4.    3/4 cup light corn syrup
5.    1/4 cup butter, melted
6.    1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips [OR “Bittersweet” chocolate chips] 7.    1/2 cup chopped pecans
8.    ¼ to 1/2 cup DARK RUM or AMERICAN BOURBON [Sorry but all of the alcohol will cook out during baking and just live flavor]

•    Combine the eggs and the sugar, light corn syrup and melted butter in a bowl and mix well.
•    Sprinkle the bottom of your pre-made pie shell with the chocolate chips and pecans. I prefer the Bittersweet chocolate chips – with the booze it seems to give an overall better flavor
•    Add your DARK RUM or American Bourbon to the mix… stir in well and pour over the chocolate chips and pecans.
•    Bake at 175C about 35 minutes
•    Enjoy warm with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream on top, or cold and crunchy.
Guys used to order this next dessert for their girlfriends under the belief that the young lady became “more willing…..”  [Let me know if it works for you….] CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION
[NO SMOKING OR BURNING OBJECTS WITH IN 10 FEET WARNING: THE ALCOHOL DOES NOT “COOK OUT”!!!] INGREDIENTS:
•    21/4 tsps. baking powder
•    1/2 tsp salt
•    2 sticks unsalted butter [*** IF YOU USE SALTED BUTTER – LEAVE OUT THE ½ TSP SALT ABOVE!!!
•    288 grams brown sugar (firmly packed)
•    4 large eggs
•    118 ml Jack Daniel’s ( Tennessee Whiskey)
•    146 grams pecans (chopped)
•    126 grams chocolate chips
•    256 grams confectioners’ sugar
•    3 tbsps. Jack Daniel’s (Tennessee Whiskey)
•    1 tsp vanilla extract [I use pure real vanilla – makes a big difference] •    281 grams all-purpose flour
•    4 tbsps. unsalted butter
•    ANOTHER SHOT OR TWO OF JACK DANIEL’S!!!
It is my understanding that Jack Daniel’s pure Tennessee Sippin’ Whiskey IS available in the UK… but if you don’t happen to have any handy, can’t find it in the store closest to the canal… You can use Dark Rum or Brandy as a substitute… but you don’t get the REAL effect!
You want to use a Bunt pan , tube pan or an Angel food cake pan for this cake….Some Angel Food pans are “two part” so the cake with the center cone comes out of the outer ring/shell – BEST!!!
For the cake:
1.    Preheat the oven to 325°.
2.    Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
3.    Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
4.    Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, eggs, flour mixture, and whiskey, stirring well after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
5.    Sprinkle evenly with the pecans and chocolate chips. Bake about 1 hour, until the center of the cake is firm and the edges begin to pull away from the side of the pan.
6.    Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
7.    After the cake as cooled somewhat – not stone cold but not oven hot – use a long tine meat fork or a bamboo skewer and poke holes all over the top of the cake.
1.    Using a teaspoon as a “shower head” pour the extra whiskey in the cake, little by little going all around the cake. Maximum amount is NOT MORE than 1/4th cup!
8.    Drizzle with the glaze. [See below] 9.    With the alcohol, this cake will stay moist [guess what?] and fresh for DAYS… IF someone does not eat it all….
For the glaze:
1.    Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. While still on the burner, stir in the sugar, whiskey, and vanilla.
2.    Whisk until well blended and heated through – whiskey in last so you save a bit of the alcohol…
You can also cheat and use a cake mix… just add the chocolate chips and pecans… AND OF COURSE THE BOOZE!  – reduce the amount of water called for in the cake mix instructions a bit to allow for the alcohol.      Our alcohol will cook off… so IF you add ¼ cup alcohol ONLY reduce water by 1/8th cup.  Make sense???
COMAONAIWANALAYYA
HAWIAAIAN PINEAPPLE CAKE
INGREDIENTS:
Topping:
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake + ¼ cup for cake….
Special equipment: A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet. If you lack a cast-iron skillet of this size, make the caramel in a small pot and scrape it into the bottom of a similarly-sized cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make topping:
•    Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces.
•    Melt butter in skillet.
•    Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes.
•    Remove from heat.
•    Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly. IF fresh pineapple is NOT available used canned pineapple that has been canned in it’s own juice. SAVE the juice for the recipe…..
Make batter:
•    Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
•    Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar.
•    Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
•    Beat in vanilla and rum.
•    Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended.
•    Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)
•    Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
•    Let cake stand in skillet five minutes. Poke holes in cake using meat fork or bamboo skewer and pour additional rum over cake.
•    Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet.
•    Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.
Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.
Well… I hope you enjoy these ADULT deserts… they make interesting conversation happen on the stern deck when visiting with friends….more than two slices and a Captain may have problems navigating!

Hope you enjoy these Christmas recipes… if you have questions or comments you can reach me at mexicalialan@gmail.com  until then, I am wishing one and all a very merry and safe Christmas holiday season!

Discovery Day And Narrowboat Helmsmanship Training

If you’re new to this site you might not know about the service I launched in June 2014. I host narrowboat experience days on board my own 62′ long narrowboat James No 194. The ten hour days are a combination of discussion about the pros and cons of living on board, narrowboat designs and the best equipment for live aboard boaters, and a six to eight hour helmsmanship training cruise along the Oxford and/or Grand Union Canals.

Meet recent discovery day attendee Estelle Lomax…

Profile

Narrowboat Helmsmanship training

Estelle enjoying a day’s narrowboat helmsman training in November

“I am well on the way to having my own narrowboat built from scratch, I live on a borrowed boat but it is very small and cramped and I am soooo looking forward to living on my own – it takes ages, though, to get anything done so I grab every opportunity to go on someone else’s…………yours in this case! Wanted to be sure I can handle mine single handedly when she is ready because to me she looks huge at 57ft…….”

Feedback

“Thanks for the day out “on the cut” am now getting on with my fitting out as fast as I can so I can get up there on the canal system and enjoy many more. I had a wonderful day thank you – I was anxious at first but it was very calming and I never felt under any pressure. Of course we were blessed with a gorgeous day for the end of November and thanks to our successful trip I can hardly wait to get going by myself. I think everything needed was there for the taking….I had read all your newsletters before so didn’t have too many questions that needed answering- love your boat BTW. Yes I would recommend the day. It worked for me as I learned a few things that will be essential for me in the future and also I think you have learned a lot of lessons  the hard way and so can help others to bypass the many pitfalls involved in Living on a Narrowboat”

You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here.

I Need Some Help!

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

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

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over four years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far.

14th December 2014

A Cautionary Tale – Canals and narrowboats offer all the ingredients for some pretty nasty accidents. Here’s one which could have been much worse.

7th December 2014

Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

23rd November 2014

London cruising – Every week I receive emails from potential boat owners who want to live on board in London or who want to visit the capital as part of a holiday cruise. This advice from a very experienced boater will be of great interest to you if you’re one of them.

16th November 2014

Narrowboat fuel consumption – How many miles to the gallon can you get out of your floating home?

9th November 2014

How to spot bogus narrowboat adverts – Beware narrowboats for sale at bargain basement prices. Here’s a cautionary tale to make you think twice about reaching for your wallet.

2nd November 2014

Narrowboat CO2 emissions  – Is living on a boat a green alternative to a home on dry land? You’ll have to read this newsletter to find out.

26th October 2014

Finding reliable tradesmen on the cut – They are out there but it’s not always easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s a new service on the site which is going to make the job much easier for you.

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 12 14 Newsletter – A Cautionary Tale

I don’t like shopping any more. To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed shopping or high street crowds, but now I positively dislike them.

We needed to pop in to Leamington Spa on Sunday to get a charger for Sally’s iPad and to ask advice about my iPhone. About a month ago I automatically and foolishly installed the IOS 8 operating system update. As a result I lost my WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Since then, I’ve searched high and low for advice on restoring it. I failed.

I asked one of the usually very knowledgeable and helpful chaps in the Three store I sometimes visit when I’m in town what his suggestions were. He gave me his very best embarrassed and slightly nervous smile before suggesting that I get a new phone. There isn’t a solution. Not one that he or any of his colleagues have been able to find anyway. Mind you, Sally is quite happy with the phone’s WiFi failure. For the last month she has been able to relax in bed without the tell tale soft glow from my phone when I indulge in a little furtive nighttime email checking.

We escaped the crowded phone store, dodged hundreds of shoppers laden with Christmas purchases and entered the relative calm of a Cafe Nero coffee shop. I understood why it was relatively calm in there after paying nearly ten pounds for a cappuccino, an orange juice and two almost transparent slivers of carrot cake.

The next stop was a much quieter Braunston. We wanted to test some different coloured paints ahead of our cabin side repaint next April. The Wharf House Narrowboat’s chandlery next to Braunston Bottom Lock carries a wide range of Craftmaster and Toplac paints so we popped in there. We came out with a tin of Craftmaster’s red undercoat and another of Toplac Bounty. The Bounty has a purple tinge to it on the colour chart but is a rich dark red on the couple of boats we’ve seen with it on. I’m going to use it to repaint my pole over the winter before committing to the colour for the rest of the boat in April.

We finished off the afternoon away from the boat  with a pub dinner. A pub overlooking a canal of course. The Boat House in Braunston is a favourite of ours. We went there for a drink the day Sally and I first met in Daventry Country Park three and a half years ago. We’ve been frequent visitors there ever since. The canal side terrace is a wonderful place to spend a lazy hour or two in the summer watching narrowboats cruise slowly by. Sunday was far tool cold for terrace sitting though. The next time we sit outside at the pub, we’ll be living full time out on the cut. What an exciting thought!

On Monday I was back to working in the cold rather than finding places to escape from it. There was plenty to keep me warm.

Early Monday morning I took a boat from the marina up through two locks to the area on the wharf where we keep the boats for sale. It’s a job I do fairly often and one which is normally a pleasure. On Monday the trip wasn’t quite so pleasant. At this time of the year the sun is low in the sky so heading east at 8am on a clear day into the glaring sun isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. After edging the boat towards two locks I couldn’t see I was glad to escape into the shaded woods.

I have four or five tonnes of oak, ash and willow on site which I cut last November. I logged the felled trees for my own use on board, but I’m not going to use it now. I loved the idea of creating and using a store of free fuel during my working day but after thorough research I now realise that I can’t use the wood effectively and keep the boat in reasonable condition.

The problem with burning wood on board is burning it hot enough to prevent creosote and excess carbon monoxide from forming. The hotter the fire, the less dense creosote laden smoke is created and the less chance there is of that creosote from condensing on your flue and causing a chimney fire.

Burning wood at the optimal temperature creates too much heat in the relatively small area inside your boat so if you burn wood on board, you inevitably get a build up of creosote not only inside the flue but also outside the boat around the chimney collar and down the cabin side to the gunnel. You will see many boats with smokey chimneys and an unappealing and difficult to remove nicotine coloured stain on the cabin side.

Last winter, Sally and I had a couple of painful boat cleaning sessions trying to get rid of the stain. If we caught it early enough we could remove the creosote with traffic film remover but the chemical also removed the lovingly applied wax we had polished the boat with.

The other issue was storing enough seasoned wood on the boat to keep us going for a reasonable period of time. We just couldn’t do it.

The huge pile of six inch logs in my store were going to waste so on Monday I took a truck load to a house in a nearby village where the marina owner’s daughter has just moved. It’s a beautiful property set in extensive grounds. It has huge fireplaces in many of the rooms so the truck load of logs won’t last long.

Back at the marina I had some road mending to do. At this time of the year we need to regularly fill water filled potholes with planings, the minced top layer removed from our nation’s roads by contractors prior to resurfacing. We have the planings delivered in twenty tonne loads. We get through about forty tonnes each winter.

I spent a couple of days filling potholes and dressing our car paring areas and the roads around the new container storage area. It’s great work for cold weather.

This newsletter is taking me far longer to write this week because of my chair. It’s a posh office swivel chair with a gas powered height adjust mechanism. Sadly, the height adjust mechanism has developed a mind of its own.

I sit on the chair in front of my laptop at the perfect height for me with my arms resting on the arms of the chair and my hands slightly above the keyboard…. and then I begin to sink.

The chair drops steadily until my laptop’s at nose height and my chin is resting on the desk. It’s not very comfortable. I believe that the chair’s gas cylinder needs changing. I’ll have to see if I’m capable of changing it but I suspect that I’ll be enjoying a child’s view of my desk for quite some time to come.

At least I’ve had something interesting to look at while I’ve been rubbing the varnish off the desk with my chin. I’ve been watching an excellent seven part series of videos by professional narrowboat painter John Barnard. I’m determined to achieve a better result when I paint the cabin sides next year and I’m delighted that I’ve found this excellent advice. John has created the series as a marketing aid for his two day narrowboat painting courses, but the videos are packed with useful information about techniques, equipment and processes. For example, did you know that you can cause imperfections in your work just by breathing on early morning cold steel in an unheated paint tent? I didn’t. The solution is simple and it’s just one of the dozens of useful tips I picked up when I watched the videos. If you’re considering doing any boat painting at all, they are a very useful resource. The first in the series is here.

Friday didn’t look too promising for the penultimate discovery day of the year. I was up at 5am to the sound howling wind and the rattle of pea sized drops of rain against the boat’s port side windows. The weather hasn’t defeated me on a discovery day yet but it certainly looked a challenge on Friday.

Fortunately, as is often the case with the English weather, by 9am and the start of the day’s cruise, the day was totally different. The wind and rain disappeared leaving us with perfect cruising weather for what turned out to be a very quiet day on the cut. In the six hours we were out on the canals, we passed just three moving boats. I spoke to the lady at the helm of one of them. She told me that she cruised for five hours the previous day and didn’t see anyone moving at all. This is remarkable when you consider that the area is one of the busiest on the network with over 2,000 marina moorings within a ten mile radius. Who said that the waterways are getting too crowded?

A Cautionary Tale

In May last year I wrote about common narrowboat accidents in this newsletter. I told you about an experienced lady boater who tripped and fell at Calcutt Top Lock hurting herself quite badly. In fact, she hurt herself so badly that we had to transfer her from one side of the canal to the other strapped to a stretcher on a boat’s bow so that she could be carted off to hospital.

The accident was caused by a momentary lack of concentration doing something she had done a thousand times before without any problems. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a narrowboat owner who had been living afloat for eighteen months and who had just had an unpleasant and potentially very dangerous experience at exactly the same place at the same lock.

The boater’s name is Kelvin Jarman. Here’s his email to me…

“I bought Misty Blue spring ’13 and took her down from Doncaster to Welford, where I had a mooring. She had been neglected for some years; a hose burst between Donny and Keadby requiring a return for it to be replaced, some weeks later we set off again but this time when we got to Keadby we were told the Cromwell lock was shut, so back to the mooring again…
 
We finally set off August time, got to Kilby when the cam belt failed: £2500 and another two week delay! It’s a bloody god job I didn’t pay a lot for her, for what she is. Anyway, spent until June this year painting outside, ripping out the awful linear seats, using their bases as a bed base for a second bed room, fitted new laminate flooring and carpet up to the gunnels, fitted a new kitchen, new led lights, led strip under the gunnels, blah blah and moved on board after retiring at the end June.
 
Set off in July with my partner and spent 3 months doing the Leicester ring, including the Ashby and Erewash. When I got back to Welford I realised I was spending over £40 per week for a linear mooring, with unreliable electric supply and nothing else, no showers, laundry: nothing.
 
So I gave notice ( I had paid up to end Nov) and set off again.
 
So far I have dropped one phone in, fallen in with a phone in my pocket, lost a couple of windlases, got sunburnt in the summer and covered in mud now – and I love it.
 
I am glad you are taking the plunge; I’m sure you’ll enjoy the life.
I must say, it took me weeks to stop thinking I had to move every day, or to plan to be somewhere – getting years of experience out of my system I guess.
Anyway, here’s an incident which happened to me. I thought your readers would find it useful.

Approaching Calcut top lock this afternoon, I got off the stern with the centre line as usual, to stub the boat around the bollard. In this instance though a couple of things conspired to cause what could have been a nasty accident. Firstly, for no reason I picked the ‘T’ bollard – this will have repercussions. Then, I only got one loop around the bollard, ‘cos I  did not have enough rope in my hand.

The boat was moving a bit quicker than normal and, with no friction to slow it, she was carrying on dragging the rope through my hand. I couldn’t flip the rope off ‘cos it was a ‘T’, not a simple bollard.

A loop then caught around my foot, dragging my foot and causing me to fall over. It was getting tighter and tighter around my foot and getting tight enough to cause me to shout out!

Luckily the loop slipped off my foot and, with the boat now almost stopped, I could recover myself.

Lessons are,  always have enough rope to put at least two turns around the bollard to stub it and watch out for loose coils of rope ready to catch hands or feet. Luckily I was wearing wellies; I dread to think what state my foot would have been in had this happened in the summer and I was  barefooted or wearing Crocs.”

Getting body parts caught in tightening loops of rope can cause very serious injury. A 60′ narrowboat can weigh between fifteen and twenty tonnes. A few years ago, again on the Calcutt flight, a boater caught his finger in a loop as his boat was dropping inside an emptying lock. He was on his own so he couldn’t drop the paddle to stop the water level dropping so the iron hard rope loop pulled the boater’s hand down into the lock until it eventually slipped off his finger and released him. Unfortunately, the only reason the rope slipped was because it stripped the skin off his his hand like a finger being cut off a glove. He needed hospital treatment as a result.

Carelessness causes most accidents, so you need to be very careful around your boat, especially when you’ve been boating for a few years.

Discovery Day And Narrowboat Helmsmanship Training

If you’re new to this site you might not know about the service I launched in June 2014. I host narrowboat experience days on board my own 62′ long narrowboat James No 194. The ten hour days are a combination of discussion about the pros and cons of living on board, narrowboat designs and the best equipment for live aboard boaters, and a six to eight hour helmsmanship training cruise along the Oxford and/or Grand Union Canals.

Meet recent discovery day attendee Estelle Lomax…

Profile

Narrowboat Helmsmanship training

Estelle enjoying a day’s narrowboat helmsman training in November

“I am well on the way to having my own narrowboat built from scratch, I live on a borrowed boat but it is very small and cramped and I am soooo looking forward to living on my own – it takes ages, though, to get anything done so I grab every opportunity to go on someone else’s…………yours in this case! Wanted to be sure I can handle mine single handedly when she is ready because to me she looks huge at 57ft…….”

Feedback

“Thanks for the day out “on the cut” am now getting on with my fitting out as fast as I can so I can get up there on the canal system and enjoy many more. I had a wonderful day thank you – I was anxious at first but it was very calming and I never felt under any pressure. Of course we were blessed with a gorgeous day for the end of November and thanks to our successful trip I can hardly wait to get going by myself. I think everything needed was there for the taking….I had read all your newsletters before so didn’t have too many questions that needed answering- love your boat BTW. Yes I would recommend the day. It worked for me as I learned a few things that will be essential for me in the future and also I think you have learned a lot of lessons  the hard way and so can help others to bypass the many pitfalls involved in Living on a Narrowboat”

You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here.

I Need Some Help!

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

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

Newsletter Index

I created the site just over four years ago to provide a source of information for anyone interested in narrowboats and the possibility of living on one full time.  The site has grown to encompass a comprehensive listing of inland marinas in England and Wales, dozens of articles, a forum and regular newsletters. I’ve already created (below) indexes of the site articles and the more popular forum posts. I thought it was about time I created an easy to use index of the newsletter content. Here’s the index so far.

7th December 2014

Shared ownership – If you can’t afford a whole boat, why not buy part of one? Here’s how you can enjoy narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the normal cost.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

23rd November 2014

London cruising – Every week I receive emails from potential boat owners who want to live on board in London or who want to visit the capital as part of a holiday cruise. This advice from a very experienced boater will be of great interest to you if you’re one of them.

16th November 2014

Narrowboat fuel consumption – How many miles to the gallon can you get out of your floating home?

9th November 2014

How to spot bogus narrowboat adverts – Beware narrowboats for sale at bargain basement prices. Here’s a cautionary tale to make you think twice about reaching for your wallet.

2nd November 2014

Narrowboat CO2 emissions  – Is living on a boat a green alternative to a home on dry land? You’ll have to read this newsletter to find out.

26th October 2014

Finding reliable tradesmen on the cut – They are out there but it’s not always easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s a new service on the site which is going to make the job much easier for you.

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.

 

 

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Misty Blue

After a lifetime in engineering, one man and his dog take to the inland waterways for a mobile and rewarding retirement exploring the waterways of England and Wales.

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

My name is Kelvin and my ‘significant other’ is a gorgeous red and white Border Collie called Sky. I also have a partner who joins me often…

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

Always loved the water and sailing, but thought after selling my last yacht it was time to move onto the inland waterways. Ex-RAF electrical engineer followed by assorted jobs mainly in the fork lift truck industry, culminating in Middle East service manger.

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

Narrowboat Misty Blue

Originally Kundalila when I bought her last year, that name was roundly disliked by the family so Misty Blue was chosen instead

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

Did have a mooring at Welford, but gave it up in November to go CC

What is you boat length and style?

60ft semi-trad

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

19 months

How did you finance your boat?

Sale of a second house

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

Since June virtually full time. Anticipate odd weeks away, may for a sunshine holiday

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

Retired in June

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Mud, unable to keep trousers clean

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Pretty much everything else

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

Probably the engine, but that’s because I am paranoid about engines since sailing days. I appreciate an emergency on the cut is not the same, but still…

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

Stock up as and when.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Smalls in the shower when I shower, bigger stuff at marinas

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

Dump-through. Happy enough, I for sure don’t want to trundle a bucket of s*** along the tow path. Seems to me, if frosty times are a-coming, you ensure it is regularly emptied.

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

I have a Wi-Fi from 3, generally very pleased. Originally on a monthly contract at 5gb for £16, I went onto a 24-month contract at 15gb for £15

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Of the (few) I have been on, the Ashby. Erewash is the worst by far.

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

Everything is 12v; I have 2x110ah leisure batteries and 2x100w solar panels with an MPPT controller – I may well increase the number next year. I have also fitted a sterling alternator regulator and a Smart gauge.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

I have a wood-burner and 2 rad CH. So far, I only use the wood burner, though I am renowned for not feeling the cold. During modifying the boat to what I wanted, the living area was reduced by about 1/2, the kitchen moved forward and a second double bed fitted onto that space. With the corridor door shut aft of that bed it is quite cosy.

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

Watch you don’t fall in!

____________________________________________________________________

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

 

2014 12 07 Newsletter – The Pros And Cons Of Narrowboat Shared Ownership

Is work getting you down? Do you fancy a change to something entirely more relaxing, more fulfilling and closer to nature?

You do? Well, how about this?

Imagine waking up on a Monday morning actually looking forward to the week ahead. No lengthy commute along noisy and dangerous motorways breathing in lungfuls of carbon monoxide as you wind the window down to freshen the stale air inside your car. No worry about meetings and schedules, targets and turnover. No unpleasant thoughts about sitting in a claustrophobic office next to coworkers you can’t stand before the second lengthy and unpleasant car journey of the day to get back to a home you’re too tired to enjoy.

If fact, imagine no stress or worries at all.

In your new trouble free life you wake to the sound of water fowl on the lake where you’re boat is moored after being lulled into a deep and tranquil sleep by the hooting of a tawny owl in the seven acre wood a stone’s throw from your boat the night before. It’s early May and you enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by an equally relaxing stroll along a grassy grassy flower carpeted bank on your two minute commute to your new job just a quarter of a mile away.

Your week begins with a day sitting on a comfortable ride on mower driving sedately through acres of cowslips and ox eye daisies under falling blossom from hundreds of wild cherry trees.

The following day, after yet another tranquil night on your floating home, you spend your working hours moving narrowboats off their winter moorings, out of the marina and up through two gentle locks to their wharf-side summer home. It’s boating at its most pleasant, and you’re getting paid to do it.

The days merge into weeks, the weeks into months, and there’s not a part of your life you have to worry about. You don’t get paid much, but you don’t care. Life’s a dream, and you wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Actually, you would swap it if you were me and you were planning to embark on an exciting new adventure exploring England and Wales from the comfort of your own floating home.

As you know, I’m off on my travels next April. Calcutt Boats will be looking for a replacement for me. I wondered whether you would be interested in applying for the position before it’s advertised officially.

The job is a joy.

The Calcutt Boats site covers 110 acres of some of the most beautiful countryside in rural Warwickshire. Three meadows have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the rich variety of flowers and grasses. The main part of the site is forty acres, ten of which is taken by the two marinas where 250+ boats are moored. Within the forty acres are seven acres of woodland containing forty nine (that I know of) species of trees, over 8,000 of them in total.

There’s also another seventy acres of agricultural land to look after. Two years ago I spent eight weeks over the winter cutting a rough track through land which hadn’t been used or visited for more than a decade. At dusk I had the pleasure of seeing barn owls swooping feet above my head and saw both roe and muncjack deer stepping nervously across the path ahead of me.

The job is physically demanding so you need to be pretty fit to do it justice. It isn’t actually just sitting on your backside while you let the equipment do the work. There’s a fair amount of reasonably heavy lifting. Take this week for example;

I spent a couple of days felling and logging oak and ash in the larger of the two woodland areas, then loading the cut logs into our site Nissan pickup for transportation and storage at the marina owner’s house nearby. Over at his house, the log store needed rearranging before offloading the fresh logs.

Yesterday, Pat and I spent the afternoon moving engines. A twenty feet long container where we had refurbished engines stored needed emptying at short notice ready for a moorer to move his things into the following day. The engines were moved with our Merlot fork lift truck but they had to be moved within reach of the forklift in the first place so they had to be dragged into place both ends manually. It’s hard work, but it’s great exercise. I’ll miss it.

One of the grass cutting jobs I won’t miss is the dreaded “steep banks”. One of our car parks was built on a thirty year old mountain of spoil from the canal. There’s a 100m stretch raised thirty feet above the level of our older Locks marina. Between the marina and the car park is a grassed forty five degree slope. The only way we can cut it is with a Flymo on a rope. To cut the full length takes about six hours of very demanding labour.

The job on occasion can also be less than pleasant.

The work is 100% outside. You’ll work when there’s thick snow on the ground and ice on the marina, when there’s a howling gale blowing, when there’s hail and driving rain lashing your face (you won’t actually work in heavy rain. You’ll find something, anything, to do to get you out of it, but don’t tell the management that), and you’ll work in the searing heat of the midday sun at the height of summer. Obviously I like the last bit more than other stuff. I get to wear shorts and a tee shirt for work for at least six months of the year. In fact, Pat still has his shorts on now, but he certainly doesn’t look warm.

Pat and I, the grounds team, are also the rubbish and sewage team. We have to manage the rubbish on site which means emptying the bins and jumping on them to compress the rubbish when the bins are too full. Pat is better at this than I am as he can provide an additional two stone of compression.

Our site processes its own human waste. All of the sewage from the site’s two pump out machines, the two Elsan points, the shower block and the toilets by reception and in the main building, flows four hundred metres to our reed bed filtration plant. The solids remain in two large holding tanks ready for removal by a contractor once a month. The liquids continue through the reed beds where the water is purified before entering the area’s field drainage system.

Several times a year, there’s a blockage somewhere between the highest point at the wharf and the reed beds. Pat or I, sometimes both of us, don elbow length rubber gloves and chest waders, collect an armful of metre length rods and set off in search of the blockage. The cause is usually a cassette cap which has been inadvertently dropped down the Elsan point. The endurance record is currently held by me for a seven hour session standing thigh deep in the brown stuff trying to remove what predictably turned out to be a cassette cap from a difficult to reach section of pipe in our tip area. I had a lonnnng shower after that little adventure.

Sewage days are few and far between though and the smell is something you get used to very quickly after a couple of dozen narrowboat pump outs on the wharf.

In April this mainly exceptionally enjoyable position will be vacant. Just about every aspect of the job will make you smile, including the rate of pay, but that will be more a smile of disbelief rather than one of pleasure. It’s a lifestyle choice rather than a job you do to put money in the bank so if your current lifestyle is causing you pain then maybe you’ll be interested.

The position may come with a mooring. I have what I consider to be one of the best moorings on either of the two marinas but this one wouldn’t be available. I think there are already one or two boaters who have their beady eyes on it. There may be an alternative mooring, but you’ll have to ask.

If you think the position would suit you, please email me and I’ll give you more details.

Back on the boat, as ever, I’ve been spending a not so small fortune fine tuning the boat ready for a lifetime’s cruising. My Mercedes engine, I recently discovered, is one of the most reliable and durable engines ever made. They’re often used in African taxis where cars which have done 500,000 miles are common and ones which have done 1,000,000 miles are not unheard of. Of course, a boat engine isn’t described by the number of miles it’s done, but rather by the number of hours. Mine has done 4,600 hours in the last thirty seven years although the ridiculously expensive (£37 per hour) marine engineer who spent the day with me yesterday tells me that the engine has probably only done 80% of that because the odometer is wired to the ignition rather than the engine itself.

He told me, and he is the second marine engineer to tell me the same thing, that my engine should be good for 100,000 hours. Given that it has done an average of just 124 hours a year for the last thirty seven years, at the same average, it will last another 653 years. I think it will probably be the only engine I ever need.

While he was with me yesterday, the engineer fitted a powerful halogen headlight for tunnels and night time cruising, fixed the instrument display lights so that I can actually see them when I’m cruising in the dark, adjusted the alternator to increase the output and to reduce wear and tear, and finally presented me with a bill to make my eyes water.

Still, that’s another job ticked off the list. All that remains to be done now is to get some remedial carpentry done to the rear hatch to improve safety and security, and have a central heating system installed to supplement the solid fuel stove. Both of those jobs will be done early next year.

Early next year is going to be a busy time for me.

Three years ago I had my wooden cabin over plated with steel. A couple of coats of primer were applied to the bare steel when the boat was returned to Calcutt Boats then, six months later in April 2012, I spent three weeks painting the cabin “properly”. Apparently, not properly enough though.

The boat is getting a fair amount of use at the moment. Apart from living on board full time here at the marina, I’m taking my floating home for a cruise on average one day a week. There are often people climbing on and off the stern or using any of the four ropes to moor the boat or to control it while we are traveling. There are low hanging oak, ash and willow branches brushing against the roof, or brambles, hawthorn and blackthorn scouring the cabin sides. And then there’s the occasional inevitable brush with another boat, some of them fenderless and a real danger to paintwork.

As a result of this expected wear and tear and my own inability to apply the paint as well as I should, there are numerous chips, flakes and abrasions in the cabin paint and two substantial four feet long scratches, one on the port and one on the starboard side.

The scratches in particular need attending to. Both are down to bare metal in places. The chips and flakes aren’t going to do the boat any harm at the moment but as I’ve spent a considerable amount of money to make the boat look as good as it does, I want to keep it in the best condition I can.

The original plan for April next year was to head up to Llangollen as soon as I’ve finished my early April discovery days. I want to touch up the cabin pain though and I want to have some sign writing done at the same time. I’ve booked one of Calcutt Boats’ paint tents for ten days in April. Once that’s done, I’ll have the boat taken out of the water so I can spend a couple of days blacking the hull and repainting the tunnel flashes. While it’s out of the water, a worn rudder bearing and all four anodes will be replaced.

Once all of that is done, we’ll have a month to potter about before the Crick boat show at the end of May. After the boat show, we’ll be back at Calcutt for another ten day’s discovery day training sessions. Then we’ll go to Llangollen.

London Cruising

Last week I published some responses I received to the previous week’s article on cruising the capital’s waterways. Neither the original article or the comments which followed it cast either the London canal network or any of the boat owners who live there in a particularly favourable light. Here are a couple of comments to help redress the balance.

 “I felt obliged to reply about the London narrow boat views expressed in the newsletter.   

I have read the coverage of the London narrowboats / continuous cruisers at http://london.lecool.com/inspirations/continuous-cruisers-onboard-mark-walton/

I don’t own a narrow boat, but I do commute into London.   I would like to live in London, but costs are too much.

I think this perspective needs to be highlighted.   People live on boats as it is cost effective.  There is very little allowance for this situation.  One one hand people visiting need to moore, but people also need a place to live.

It is a classic situation, where something needs to be done, but nobody has done it.

My view is that the London continuous cruisers are doing the best they can.”

Miles Davenport

” I was disappointed that nobody had written to say anything positive about the canals in London. I have moored in Paddington Basin 4 times in the last six months and haven’t had a problem finding a mooring. CRT do check the moorings pretty regularly. It’s a terrific place, remarkably quiet for it’s location, clean and secure. The same is true of Limehouse basin. The main issue can be finding moorings in between but provided you’re prepared to breast up I haven’t found a problem. If you don’t venture further than Paddington basin you’re missing out. It’s fascinating to thread your way through London’s back door. Camden market can be really buzzing and a detour into Battlebridge basin to the canal museum is well worth the effort of squeezing into the tight mooring space.

Next cruising season the waterways in the Olympic park should be open to everyone too. And if you don’t cruise through London from the GU you’ll miss out on the Lee and Stort navigations, and they’re lovely, particularly the latter. I hope people haven’t been put off from visiting London by some of the negative comments. They should explore it themselves and make up their own minds.”

Neil Quarmby

Narrowboat Shared Ownership

Narrowboat ownership is an expensive hobby. The purchase of the boat itself is the second largest purchase that most people will ever make after that of the house they live in. Expenditure doesn’t stop with the cost of the boat. There are mooring and license fees and general running costs and repairs and maintenance. For many aspiring narrowboat owners, the initial purchase price and the regular cost to keep the boat licensed and it good condition is just too much.

You may be one of these people and you may have considered a more cost effective option to help you get afloat, at least for part of the year. Shared ownership allows you to enjoy the benefits of narrowboat ownership but at a fraction of the cost. I wrote about the subject two years ago in this article but I’m adding to it now courtesy of the ever helpful Peter Earley.

Peter has been a continuous cruiser for the last seven years but after two decades of regular narrowboat hire and before he invested in his own live aboard narrowboat, Peter and his wife purchased a share in a boat. He’s kindly sent me the following article for consideration by those considering doing the same.

“We bought the 11th share of 12 in the, then new, narrowboat Sundowner in October 1999. This was in a shared ownership scheme run by Ownerships. It wasn’t something we went into lightly, after all we were paying out £6000, but we read all the paperwork carefully and the fact that we actually owned our bit of boat and a holiday on a horrible boat hired from one of the largest UK hire companies decided it for us.

Our dates for using the boat were decided by the list system. The owners are listed in a set sequence which rotates two places each year. For this year, the first choice of weeks goes to the owners at the top of the list and then in order down the list. At the end of the year, the two owners at the top of the list drop to the bottom and everyone else moves up. We were able to choose 2 weeks in the summer period and 2 in the winter. The remaining free weeks were up for grabs, with the priority from the bottom of the list this time around. In our case on the two occasions we were in the bottom two, the owner beneath us grabbed them so if you buy a share in a boat using this system, try to get an even numbered share!

In the original Ownership scheme it was possible for some owners to pay a higher amount, which meant that the others paid a lower amount, to guarantee weeks during the school holidays. This meant that they always had the first pick regardless of where they were in the share listing.

It was quite common for two or more owners to agree to remote changeovers which meant they didn’t have to do out and back cruises but were able to extend the cruising range. It obviously meant agreeing on a place with car access and the ability to fill the diesel tank and empty the toilet tanks. It also meant you had to spend most of the first day, or the last day, moving cars around.

We have friends in an ex-Challenger boat. Here the owners pick their weeks out of the hat meaning quite a bit of horse trading has to go on after the draw.

I can’t recall our annual costs now but Sundowner is still in operation as a share boat, now administered by BCBM. The costs they list for Sundowner are:

MOORINGS                                             £2,300
LICENCE                                                £875
INSURANCE                                                £275
TURNAROUNDS                                £1,050
ENGINE SERVICING                                   £400
BREAKDOWNS & REPAIRS                      £500
CALL OUTS – EMERGENCIES                      £300
INVENTORY & REPLACEMENTS         £300
MISCELLANEOUS                                   £300
ADDITIONAL FIGURE                                   £900
TOTAL BUDGETED EXPENDITURE       £7,200

So split amongst 12 owners it will cost each one £600 plus a management charge of £436 plus their diesel, gas and pumpouts costs. So for about the cost of a weeks hire you have use of Sundowner for 4 weeks. A bargain, with the added bonus of it being your boat. Something that you have had input into, whether it be touching up the paintwork or choosing the curtain design or floor covering.

Each year, the owners get together and decide where the boat will be based for the coming year, what maintenance or repairs are needed and what changes or improvements are required. Of course you don’t actually have to do any of these things. You just direct the management company, in this case BCBM, what you want doing. They will cost it and agree it with you and send you the bill. But of course you are only paying a twelfth of the total cost. You will also agree how much money each owner should have to put into the ‘sinking fund’. This is not to refloat the boat after an accident but is to build up a fund for emergencies or for replacing major components such as engine or gearbox. When buying a used share you might want to check how old some of these components are to enable you to assess what major expenses are likely to arise in the near future.

If you want a cheaper deal and are prepared to be involved with the running of the boat then go for a private syndicate. Our friends with the ex-Challenger boat do exactly that. They elect a Chairman and Treasurer each year and decide what needs doing when, just as they did when Challenger were involved. It is said that managed boats can make savings on some costs due to economy of scale but our friends have found it much cheaper running it themselves, not just in the saving of management fees but the ability to haggle or do some of the work themselves.

There is a share in Sundowner currently for sale at £2500 giving the boat a value of £30000. I would think it unlikely that the value drops much lower meaning a secondhand share bought now could be sold in 5 or 6 years time without much loss.

So, what happens when you want leave the scheme to buy your own boat or that villa in the Algarve. In our case it was easy. At that time Ownerships ran a ‘Guaranteed Buy-Back Scheme. Those owners that wished to, could pay a small sum each year and when they wanted out, Ownership would buy the share at a previously agreed price. The price was a slight bone of contention as most of us thought it too low but, knowing we intended to buy our own boat, it was an easy way out. Otherwise, you decide how much you want for your share and the management company will try and sell it. Being your property, you can also advertise it on eBay, Gumtree, Apolloduck or whatever. Many put a sign in the boat window whilst they are cruising. One couple on Sundowner that we keep in touch with did just that and sold it within a few days. But, of course, it is a question of getting the price right and here your management company can advise you. I’ve mentioned the sinking fund and if this has accumulated a large amount you might wish to take this into account when setting the sale price.

Both Challenger and Ownerships are no more, both due to major fraud on the part of their founders, with many owners losing money, fortunately long after we had sold You can read about this on the internet but it does highlight the need to read the contract carefully and to enquire how all those various sums of money are held for you. I am sure that those companies currently offering shared ownership have learned from the previous failures and, in order to retain the trust of their customers, run their schemes with the utmost probity.”

Following this article’s publication Ian Bull emailed me the following…

“Good article on shared ownership which is how we got our feet wet before buying our own boat. Still hanging on to our share in fact, but many of our group have sold quickly through boatshare, http://www.boatshare.co.uk/forsale/index.htm which is cheap and very good!”

Live Aboard Case Studies

After a chance meeting on a cycling holiday in Jordan, Aileen and Mike can now cycle together along the towpath next to their beautiful floating home as they continuously cruises the connected waterways of England and Wales. Here’s their story.

RIP  Steve Hudson

2014 hasn’t been a good year for quality narrowboat builders. Sea Otter ceased trading in June. Their high quality aluminium narrowboats were very popular but not popular enough to keep the company solvent.

Another boat builder of distinction ceased trading this week. Steve Hudson of S M Hudson boat builders died last Tuesday after a short illness at the tender age of fifty five. The owners of his boats have always been evangelists. His summer open days at Glascote basin were always attended by dozens of current Hudson boat owners and their boats. It’s always sad to hear of anyone passing away at such a tender age but particularly so when they contributed so much to the inland waterways.

He will be missed.

Discovery Day And Narrowboat Helmsmanship Training

If you’re new to this site you might not know about the service I launched in June 2014. I host narrowboat experience days on board my own 62′ long narrowboat James No 194. The ten hour days are a combination of discussion about the pros and cons of living on board, narrowboat designs and the best equipment for live aboard boaters, and a six to eight hour helmsmanship training cruise along the Oxford and/or Grand Union Canals.

Meet recent discovery day attendee Richard Bavin…

Profile

“Recently divorced and re-evaluating my life, I have been looking at what I want to do and where I wish to live. My ex hated anything to do with boating, camping etc whilst I love the outdoors life, and the idea of living on a narrow boat, and exploring this fascinating country appeals hugely. I am very practical and am happy to tackle any of the DIY problems and am very keen to investigate the most efficient use of a large array of solar panels together with a wind turbine, to be as much ‘off grid’ as possible. The challenge is fascinating. The discovery day helped me to make up my mind to go ahead with my plans, as it confirmed that running a narrow boat single handed is for me a very practical idea. Lots more research to do so that I am fully up to speed with all things technical. Looking forward to living my own personal dream!”

Feedback

“The day was great – from the friendly warm welcome and cup of hot tea, to the exploration of James in detail. You managed to answer all of my questions on many varied topics patiently and in a succinct and easy to understand fashion. I like your calm approach to everything. I threw loads of questions at you from heating through condensation to usage of water, lights, washing machine, toilets, usage of gas and diesel, and lots more and you answered them all for me.

I was particularly keen to get down to the real nitty gritty details, and you have certainly cleared my mind on all of the issues I raised. And then off we set on a journey through apparently beautiful countryside, somewhat hidden in the murk. I felt instantly at ease controlling the boat under your guidance and again I praise you for your calm approach and direction. I also feel much happier about negotiating locks single handed.

All in all the day was a brilliant success for me, most enjoyable and informative and made me confident that I will be able to make the change in my lifestyle successfully. I would most certainly recommend this to anyone who was thinking about buying a narrow boat. It will enable people to really understand what is involved, in great detail, and with a friendly informative and calm teacher!

You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here.

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.

30th November 2014

Here’s a live aboard narrowboat fully equipped for long term cruising. It’s my own boat James No 194. There’s a five minute video tour of the boat and a summary of the pros and cons of the boat’s design and equipment.

23rd November 2014

London cruising – Every week I receive emails from potential boat owners who want to live on board in London or who want to visit the capital as part of a holiday cruise. This advice from a very experienced boater will be of great interest to you if you’re one of them.

16th November 2014

Narrowboat fuel consumption – How many miles to the gallon can you get out of your floating home?

9th November 2014

How to spot bogus narrowboat adverts – Beware narrowboats for sale at bargain basement prices. Here’s a cautionary tale to make you think twice about reaching for your wallet.

2nd November 2014

Narrowboat CO2 emissions  – Is living on a boat a green alternative to a home on dry land? You’ll have to read this newsletter to find out.

26th October 2014

Finding reliable tradesmen on the cut – They are out there but it’s not always easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s a new service on the site which is going to make the job much easier for you.

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.

 

 

A Case Study Of Liveaboard Narrowboat Quaintrelle

After a chance meeting on a cycling holiday in Jordan, Aileen and Mike can now cycle together along the towpath next to their beautiful floating home as they continuously cruises the connected waterways of England and Wales.

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

Aileen Queenan and husband Mike

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

DSC_7311I’m 46 and from Edinburgh and enjoyed life there working at Edinburgh University with a good social life. I met Mike on a cycling holiday in Jordan in 2010 and we married in February 2013. Mike was due to semi-retire in 2014 and we decided we wanted to do some travelling but without the hassle of packing up every time we moved. Neither of us had really done the UK extensively, so we decided that travelling on a narrowboat that was our home fitted the bill – we could explore the UK with not a suitcase in sight.  We had taken a few holidays on narrowboats, and it rained a lot, yet we still came home having loved every minute of it.

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

Quaintrelle. Well, we couldn’t decide on a name, so I posted on Facebook for suggestions and said the winner would get a week on the boat. Some of the suggestions were awful, but we shortlisted our favourites and got friends to vote. We didn’t really like the winner. Then a friend posted the word Quaintrelle on Facebook, saying she aspired to be this, the definition being; a lady who lives life passionately through leisurely pursuits and looking beautiful – exactly what our boat is!

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

No. We are continuous cruisers.

What is you boat length and style?

57ft semi-trad. (You might have seen her in September’s Waterways World – they did a boat test on her).

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Six months.

How did you finance your boat?

We were in a fortunate position that we were able to purchase outright from the builder with staged payments.

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

DSC_574811 months probably, we live on her permanently, but will maybe head off somewhere warm for a few weeks in February.

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

Mike has his own business, so he still does a bit of consultancy, and I do the admin for him.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

We’re still very much in the honeymoon phase and have had a wonderful summer, but I guess it’s planning when you need a pump-out/water/diesel and making sure that you’re somewhere where it’s all available. Oh, and washing the boat……..

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything else!

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

The kitchen tap!  It’s too high above the sink, and to short a spout, so when you rinse something it splashes all over the worktops 🙁

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

We have bikes on board that are stored in a front locker, so we cycle and fill our panier bags. We use the internet to find the nearest supermarket. On a wine-run we can get 12 bottles between us on the bikes 😉

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a compact washing machine on board.  We have used laundrettes for bedding and towels when they’ve been to hand.

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

We have a pump-out toilet with macerator.  Very pleased with it, it is just like a normal toilet.  It does get a bit pongy when it’s almost full, but that’s just boating life for you.

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

DSC_5754

We have a Huwei mobile dongle, 3G.  It’s been fantastic, only a couple of places in six months where we’ve had no service for a couple of nights.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Gosh, we’ve only just begun….. I did love the Leeds Liverpool on the Skipton to Foulridge section, going across the dales, so looking forward to doing that in Quaintrelle at some point.

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

We move most days, so the leisure batteries get charged up. We use about 10-15% overnight.  We’re always careful to do washing and anything that might use a bit more power whist we’re moving.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

We haven’t had a winter yet, but we have a diesel powered Heritage Stove on board which provides hot water, central heating and cooking.  We also have a solid fuel burner.  In the last week we have had the solid fuel on, but found once we’d cooked on the Heritage we had to open the windows as it was too warm.  So I think we’ll be toasty.

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

Do a few holidays first, in all sorts of weather. See if you think you can live in the space.  Ask all the obvious questions on forums and use Paul’s calculator to see how much it will cost you.  Everyone seems to think it is cheap as chips, and whilst at the end of the day it is cheaper than living in a house, there are still costs.

If you want to find out more about Aileen and Mike’s travels you can read their unusual but very effective Twitter boating blog.

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

 

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