2015 02 22 Newsletter – Buying A Narrowboat Part 2

There are just thirty eight days to go now before the start of the next exciting chapter in our lives. In just over a month’s time I will hang up my sheath my shears, stow my spade and finish with my fork before setting sail on this year’s seven month waterways adventure. It’s all terribly exciting but at the moment I have something more important on my mind.

Sally’s back. I know she’s back because (A) I collected her from the airport and (B) both the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner have been running full time since she returned.

I tried my very hardest to clean the boat to her standard in a mammoth five hour session after I finished work on Wednesday night. I vacuumed, dusted, washed and polished everything on the boat which looked remotely dirty or dusty and made sure that the dirty linen basket was empty. However, I knew that whatever I did, Sally would do everything again the very minute she stepped in to the boat after thirty six exhausting hours of non stop travel.

I was right but, unlike last time when I threw my toys out of the pram, I accepted that she has a sixth sense as far as dirt is concerned and that my “clean” is not in the same league as hers.

It’s good to have her back. Dogs on board are a nightmare. Our living space is just under three hundred square feet so the hairs they shed don’t have far to spread and cleaning up the dirt they track up and down the hallway we call home is a job constantly waiting to be done. Unfortunately for Sally, cleaning the oak effect laminate flooring is a fairly labour intensive job which I haven’t had time to do.

I was running around like a headless chicken on Wednesday evening trying to get the boat up to scratch. It’s when I’m in a hurry that I get frustrated with simple boating tasks which are so much more labour intensive than they are in a house.

I had to wash the clothes in our laundry basket. It’s a simple enough task to throw a 7kg load into a plumbed in automatic washing machine on dry land, but it’s a bit of a pain on the boat in our cheap and cheerful low cost but labour intensive twin tub.

For starters, I have to make sure that there’s enough water in the tank. A wash cycle uses thirty litres. A rinse cycle uses thirty more. Particularly dirty washing (e.g. anything I wear for work) requires a second rinse. One load of washing can use a quarter of our 350 litre tank.

At this time of the year, when the water supply to the pontoons is turned off to prevent exposed pipes from freezing, I have to run a hose from the boat to the nearest water supply, a manhole sixty feet from the boat. Filling my tank can take twenty minutes of faffing about, often slipping across ice, or bent double to protect my face from driving rain hurled at me by a fierce south westerly.

A full wash cycle means being constantly at hand. The maximum wash cycle available to the £100 plastic twin tub is a miserly fifteen minutes. Three visits to the machine are needed for a basic wash, then a couple more for the rinse cycle followed by one last visit to move the clean wet washing in the spin dryer for a five minute blitz.

The spin dryer doesn’t actually get the clean clothes dry so more time is needed to drape or peg everything over hangers and hang them in the boat wherever there’s a chance the clothing will dry, usually somewhere near the stove.

Of course, if there’s a chance of the clothes drying in front of the stove, the stove needs to be on. And for the stove to be alight, there needs to be a plentiful supply of coal to keep it that way. A 25kg bag of coal briquettes lasts me for about two and a half days so roughly once a month I stagger up the gravel slope to the boat with ten of them. This month’s coal replenishment coincided with my manic preparation for Sally’s homecoming.

The toilet cassette also needed emptying before Sally walked into the boat and complained about the smell. The twenty one litre tank sometimes smells a bit if it’s left longer than four days. It rarely lasts that long if there are two of us on board but with just me using it over the last month and a half when I haven’t been at work, each emptying session was about a week apart.

Normally, non of the additional on board work is a problem, but I twisted my back earlier in the week so unless I’m sitting still with my back straight, any movement, especially bending, is painful to say the least. Unfortunately bending is what you do an awful lot of on board. On many boats, including mine, you have to simultaneously duck through the cratch cover opening, step over the gunnel and step down in to the well deck to get to the cabin’s front doors. It’s easy when you’re fighting fighting fit, but a different kettle of fish when you’re having trouble bending in the middle.

Carrying the 20kg almost full cassette through the boat and up the steps to the front deck – while bending over to avoid head butting the steel cabin door frame – is yet another bad back challenge, as is lifting bow locker gas cylinders or 25kg bags of coal. It’s a real pain in the neck, or pain in the back in my case.

Getting out through the back of the boat is just as bad. I have to almost bend double as I climb up the steps next to the engine before being able to stand straight in the hatch space, normally after I’ve caught my head on the hatch frame. In my current state, bending double isn’t an option. I have to walk backwards through the narrow door frame to the engine room then shuffle my bum up the steps, roll over and crawl out on to the back deck.

Still, life could be worse. I could be living in a house.

At the beginning of the week I spent three days doing what I do best; smashing things to pieces. Since the beginning of time, for at least twenty years anyway, Calcutt Boats have been using half a dozen steel framed wooden wheel-less freight carriages for storage. They’ve lasted well but now the timber on the weather side of many of them has rotted. All of them will be replaced by smart and durable olive green steel containers in due course. Stage one last week was to dismantle two of the worst.

Unfortunately before we could take them apart several tonnes of carefully stacked and ordered spares from dismantled engines had to be moved to their new homes. Once that was done, Pat and I made short work of removing the rotten face of the containers on the weather side before moving on to the two sides and rear of the sturdy railway cars protected from the elements. Oh boy, were these carriages well built. We spent hours with sledgehammers, crowbars and bolster chisels removing wood from metal so that the steel frames could be cut.

It was back breaking work. In my case, back twisting work. I sincerely hope that no more carriages are scheduled for removal before I leave in few short weeks.

I enjoyed a short break break from demolition on Tuesday when I did the daily post office run to ensure that the daily orders from Calcutt Boats’ online chandlery reached buyers the following day. We use any one of three nearby village post offices or the larger town post office in Southam. I used the Long Itchington branch on Tuesday as I also needed to collect some steel from a supplier there.

The trip was the usual pleasant eight mile return journey along quiet country lanes. I arrived back at the marina and headed straight back to the boat for my afternoon coffee. As I was walking away from the company pickup I used for the trip, a car pulled up behind me.

“Lost something?”, a familiar lady moorer enquired from the open passenger side window. I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about until she handed me my wallet. Her daughter who lives in Long Itchington had been shopping in the post office store, seen my wallet on the floor, looked inside to see who it belonged to, saw the Calcutt Boats address and driven to the marina to try to find the owner. The mother recongnised the just-convicted-murderer photo on my driving license and instructed her daughter to drive around the marina to look for me.

How lucky was that? If there had been any money in my wallet I would have given her some. As it was, all I had was a half inch thick wad of receipts. I didn’t think she would appreciate any of these so I just offered my heartfelt thanks instead.

I ran two discovery days this weekend. The first, on Saturday, was on a bitterly cold day with banks of purple clouds dropping masses of hail all around us. They all missed, apart from a brief but intense bombardment preceded by an unexpected squall which made the three point turn we were trying to execute at Napton Junction very interesting indeed.

Cold as it was, Saturday was a perfect summer’s day compared to Sunday.

We left the marina at 9am blessed by spells of early spring sunshine between increasingly thick banks of cloud. Our intended route for the day was to Braunston marina then back to Calcutt Boats but, by 12pm when we stopped for an early lunch near Flecknoe, a combination of co-helmsman Rob’s very confident and competent first time, first class boat handling skills and the rapidly deteriorating weather, we decided to cut the cruise short and turn round at the first possible opportunity before we both froze to death.

After a quick lunch and a sort cruise through choppy water, we anchored the bow of the boat on the pilings at the back of the winding hole in the middle of the garden moorings at Wolfhampcote, flipped the boat a hundred and eighty degrees and headed west into the teeth of a strengthening gale and horizontal sleet and hailstones.

I always advise anyone coming out with me, especially at this time of the year, to bring more warm and waterproof clothing for the trip than they think they will need. You don’t generate much heat standing almost motionless on the back of a boat for hours on end. Rob had brought plenty with him but his waterproofs, like most breathable waterproofs, couldn’t handle relentless driving rain.

By the time we reached the Calcutt flight he was very cold and very wet. I was a little cold but bone dry thanks to my bomb proof Guy Cotten deep sea fisherman’s outfit. The waterproofs have justified the fairly high purchase price time and time again.

We flew down the locks, successfully turned into the marina entrance against a fierce cross wind and then skated sideways across the six open acres of water on Meadows marina. Fortunately, I have a fairly spacious end mooring so I am able to point the boat at the grassy peninsula next to my mooring as I charge across the marina expecting to be blown sideways next to the pier at the right moment if my timing is right. We touched the wooden pontoon with barely a bump and quickly secured the boat.

I offered a bedraggled Rob a warming coffee but he decided to head off immediately with his car heater on full blast to try to restore circulation and dry his soaking trousers and shirt. Given the appalling weather we had endured for the last three hours I hesitantly asked if he had enjoyed the trip.

“Fantastic! Wonderful!”, he told me between chattering teeth, “I really have had a great time. OK, I know I’m cold and wet now, but you’ve answered all the questions about the lifestyle which concerned me. My main worry was that a narrowboat might be cold in the winter. Your boat is lovely and warm. It’s a real pleasure to sit in front of the stove after being out in weather like this. I’m definitely going ahead with my plans, so thank you very much indeed.”

The weather was, beyond question, the coldest and most uncomfortable on any of the fifty plus discovery days I’ve hosted so far but, do you know what? We both had a really good time. It was the worst possible weather for cruising, as you might expect in mid February, but it was still a pleasure to be cruising along close to nature, away from the noise and pollution of urban life, knowing that at any time we wanted, we could just pull over next to the towpath, secure the boat in a couple of minutes, and retire to the warmth and tranquility inside. Oh, how I love living afloat!

Buying A Narrowboat

This is part two of Simon Birt’s boat buying inspired article. The first part is here.

Making an offer

Having found the boat of your dreams, or in reality one that is not too much of a compromise and ticks most of the boxes, it is time to make an offer. This is something that a lot of people find quite tricky, knowing how much to offer can be difficult. Generally the seller is going to have set a price in the knowledge that there will be some negotiation. Offer too much and you are wasting money, too little and you may alienate the seller. Generally when boats first go on to the market, the asking price will be, perhaps a trifle optimistic, as the weeks go by the price is often reduced to something more realistic. When making an offer take account of any obvious remedial work that requires doing. A good approach is to ask the seller or broker what their best price is, this will give you a starting point. Without being too brutal point out any shortcomings that the boat has and suggest that these should be taken into account when agreeing the price. At this stage it is a good idea to see what the sellers attitude is to defects that may be found by the survey, will they contribute to the cost of rectification work?

After your offer is accepted it is normal to pay a deposit, in theory this commits the buyer to complete the purchase subject to a satisfactory survey. Most brokers will have terms that allow the buyer to withdraw only if major defects are uncovered by the survey, be aware that by accepting your deposit the seller is not committed to proceeding with the sale. They can simply return the deposit and call the deal off.

The Survey

The next stage in the buying process is the survey, the broker, assuming you are buying through a broker may suggest a surveyor, this may be fine, but it may be better to choose one independently. The surveyor should belong to a professional association such as the International Institute of Marine Surveying. One of the important membership requirements is that the surveyor holds professional indemnity insurance; this means that if the surveyor overlooks or fails to spot a major defect which subsequently comes to light, you as the purchaser will have some recourse.

It is worth pointing out that this protection only applies to the individual who commissioned the survey, it does not apply, if for instance you were to buy something with a recent survey carried out for somebody who did not go ahead with purchase and has handed over a copy of the survey to the seller. The survey should take half a day to carry out and will involve testing the boats systems,  carrying out testing to establish the thickness of the shell using ultrasound and giving an opinion as to the value of the boat.

The survey may highlight work that needs to be done, this can range from minor faults that can be fixed quickly and cheaply to major problems such as corrosion requiring extensive repairs to the hull costing thousands. Most surveyors are happy for the potential purchaser to be present during the survey, but don’t get in the way and save questions to the end. Perhaps a good plan is to arrive at the boat at a time agreed with the surveyor when he will have finished and can give you a summary of his findings. If you choose not to be there then it is usual for the surveyor to give you a call with a summary which will enable you to make a decision on whether to proceed or not. This will be followed up with a detailed written report running to many pages, divided into sections with recommendations for remedial work. As an aside most surveyors can also provide Boat Safety Certificates, if you are going ahead and  one is needed it could be worth getting this done at the same time.

Payment – buyer beware

The survey is done, you have agreed the price with the seller with any adjustment made for defect rectification. You now need to complete the purchase, beware you are about to enter the dark zone of boat purchase.

Buying a boat is nothing like buying a house or a car, a house will have title documents and searches will be carried out to ensure that you are protected. Strict protocols are in place to protect your funds while the process takes place. When you buy a used car, you can, for a modest fee check is provenance. So when buying a narrow boat costing more than a car and a bit less than a house, is there a way to ensure that you are buying a something that actually belongs to the seller has no outstanding finance and is exactly what is says on the documents? Amazingly there is not, you have more protection buying something on eBay than you will have when handing over thousands for your new boat. Unless the boat you are buying was purchased with a marine mortgage there will be absolutely no record available to tell if there is an outstanding loan or indeed. If the person selling is actually the owner.

There are a few simple steps that one can take to avoid being caught out: Reputable brokers will gather a certain amount of information about the seller, including an identity check looking at the boats documents including the bill of sale when the present owner bought it. But despite all this you should carry out your own “due diligence” ask to see all the documents including the original or last bill of sale, CRT licence, Boat Safety Certificate, previous sale details and as much information about the seller as you can get. You should be able to construct a history of the boat from it being built to the present day, are there any gaps? Does the address of the seller fit the story, look up the address on Google street view, does it look right? Cases of fraud are fortunately rare, but they are not unknown. If it looks wrong then it probably is and it may be best to walk away.

The next area of difficulty is completing the purchase, depending on  whether a  broker is involved or you are dealing direct with the owner the funds will need to be transferred and a bill of sale signed. In either case the only sensible way to do this is to have all parties in the same place preferably where the boat is, both sign the bill of sale then transfer the money by CHAPS (immediate electronic payment). As soon as the money moves the boat should be handed over and a receipt issued.

Brokers prefer to have the funds before the completion and will often have a clients account in which the funds will be kept, they will argue that your money is perfectly safe and that in the event of them going out of business your money will be “ring fenced”. Don’t believe it, they may well have a client account but who has access to it is anybody’s guess. Brokers are unregulated, there is no equivalent to the law society to ensue that your funds are safe. Brokers may or may not belong to an association, but this will be a trade body with nothing more than a code of conduct to follow. In the best case and the broker went bust while holding your money it would be months before you saw it again, and then only when the administrator had finished winding up the business, in the worst you will never see the money again. The message is clear be careful and don’t part with the money until the last possible minute.

Buying a narrow boat requires a bit of work, take your time, enjoy the process. Remember that there are lots of boats out there and you will find the right one eventually. The old saying goes “Always look before you leap…But if you are going to leap anyway, don’t look too hard.


As a result of part one of the above article I received the following email from fellow Calcutt Boats moorer David Lorimer. David wanted to share a positive boat buying story with you.

“We’ve crossed at Calcutt but have never been “properly introduced”.  My wife Maeve and I are the owners of Wine Down, a Cerulean Blue 57′ moored in the Swallow Bay at Calcutt.  I’ve just read your 14 Feb newsletter with the “buying a boat” excerpt from Simon Birt’s account and I’d like to recount how we came about buying ours.

We live in Brazil, so what would be the normal procedure for purchasing a boat – researching on Apollo Duck and brokerage sites, then visiting, negotiating etc would be rather difficult.  We’ve cruised on rented boats since the eighties and, in preparation for my retirement, were considering buying a boat and spending half the year on it, the other half in Brazil.  We put theory to the test In 2013, hiring an Oxfordshire Narrowboats 58′ for a month; rather to our surprise, that hire confirmed that we could get along together in the more confined space even more amicably than in our Brazilian spread.

After that hire I visited some marinas to look at used boats and didn’t find much of interest.  Driving to marinas spread out across the country was pretty tiring. So, when we returned to Brazil I began researching all I could about narrowboat living, sale and purchase contracts, the CRT, insurance, as well as the brochures put up on brokerage sites and Apollo Duck.  By early 2014 we had settled on what we wanted, a fairly new Aqualine 57-58′ Madison with one double cabin forward, cruiser stern.  New & Used Boats had a brand-new Madison available for immediate delivery and I very nearly closed the deal on that.  But there were several used ones advertised on Apollo Duck and I eventually contacted three owners via email, with varying degrees of receptivity.  Usual questions, including why are you selling.  Two, I could suss out from the email exchanges, were rather doubtful as to whether we were serious buyers.  The third, owners of Wine Down, were extremely professional.  They were a double income, no kids, couple upgrading to a wide-beam on which they intended to live, sent us time-stamped photos of every nook and corner of the boat.

The owners were able to do some background research on me via google and I on them.  In the space of a week of emails, photos, questions and answers, we reached a very reasonable level of trust.  I had offered a much lower deposit than normal, around 5% instead of 20-30%, which they accepted.  On the basis of that they had the 2011-built boat lifted out and blacked, while I arranged for an independent survey – which came back with no caveats.  A few weeks later we arrived in the UK, went straight to a hotel near the marina, met up with the owners, looked over the boat and, next day, went with them to the bank and transferred the balance.  Deal done, smooth, no glitches, no lawyers, no brokers.  So easy, everyone happy.  Wine Down’s just had its first BSS survey, arranged by Calcutt, all ok and we’re anxious to begin a six-month cruising schedule starting in April.

David Lorimer

There’s some more excellent boat buying advice from ex corporate financier Alan Izatt in this newsletter from last year.

Cruising Guide To London

Have you read Peter Earley’s excellent three part guide to cruising in the capital? No? You’re missing a wealth of information you probably won’t find anywhere else. If you’re thinking about going anywhere near the capital in your boat, make sure that you read these three posts first.

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.

I’ll be running the discovery days approximately on the first ten days of April, June, August, October and December next year. As spring approaches more and more site users are booking the relatively few discovery days still available. In the last week alone, four dates for June and two for August have been reserved. April is now fully booked apart for one date for a single person, and just six of the thirteen June dates remain. If you are interested in joining me for a fun and information packed discovery day please check the diary before it’s too late.

In the meantime, meet September 2013 discovery day attendee Justin Parrish.

“I thought the day was splendid.  As you know I am planning to buy a canal boat and live on board cruising permanently. Although I have plenty of holidaying on boats experience I had gaps in knowledge and was particularly after information/tips on buying a boat and preferred specs, some explanations on technical aspects and to gain some experience with solo boating.
I thought you covered everything I was after.  The walk round your boat explaining systems and talking about relative merits of different types of heating etc was great and will help me greatly with buying a boat.  I enjoyed the cruise and was grateful to learn how to solo lock with someone about to help or fish me out of the canal if needed.  The way you get information across is very good with your knowledge, patience and enthusiasm for the subject always coming through.  I can not think of anything else I needed on the day, I think the merit of your day is that it covers pretty much everything with enough time to still be tailored to the needs of those who attend.
Yes.  If anyone is thinking of canal boating and has any doubts in their mind about any aspect then the day is well worthwhile.  I’m sure novices and veterans could all learn something and you were great company throughout.
Thanks again Paul for a great day.  I enjoyed myself and learned lots, which I know will give me the confidence to make my dream happen.

You can find out more about my discovery days and availability here. Don’t forget that there’s just one date for a single person remaining for April now so if you want to spend a spring day out with me you need to book quickly.

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.

15th February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 1 – Some great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

8th February 2015

Routine engine servicing – The basic stuff every narrowboat owner should know

1st February 2015

Running a boating business – How to earn a living on the cut.

25th January 2015

A detailed breakdown of my own narrowboat running costs for December 2014

18th January 2015

An unexpected cruise – A surprise cruise to Braunston, secondary double glazing panel fitting, and why dogs and laminate flooring don’t go well together

11th January 2015

Battery Banks – The pros and cons of lead acid and AGM batteries

4th January 2015

More winter cruising – The tail end of my Christmas break afloat

28th December 2014

Winter cruising – A narrowboat isn’t just for the summer months. Winter cruising is a joy. Here’s my account of a week on the cut over the Christmas break

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.