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Monthly Archives: March 2015

2015 03 29 Newsletter – Licencing Your Boat

It’s 10.20am on Sunday. I’m sitting on our double bed in the cabin at the back of the boat playing with my new toy.

There isn’t much space on a narrowboat for two people and two dogs to coexist in harmony. We spend our lives with us and everything we own crammed in to three hundred square feet. Three hundred square feet is slightly smaller than the lounge in my old house.

The area where I normally do most of my typing, and what passes for thinking, is next to our “utility room” area where I foolishly installed a twin tub washing machine a year and a half ago to save us having to use the washing machines in the shower block or launderettes when we are out cruising. Unfortunately Sally’s regime for keeping our clothes clean and mine are poles apart.

While Sally was away in the Philippines for six weeks earlier this year I thought I kept myself in pretty good order. Two half hour washing sessions were enough to clean everything needing cleaning before Sally returned.

Sally, on the other hand, manages to find gainful employment for the twin tub most days for hours at a time including times when I need to concentrate on writing. The solution was for me to find somewhere else to work. Unfortunately there are very few alternatives available on board apart from our bedroom.

I tried working in there before with me sitting on the bed with the heat from the laptop resting on my legs burning a hole through my thighs, a crick in my neck and locked wrists from the unnatural typing angle. I gave up after half an hour.

Sally suggested I buy a laptop bed desk. I didn’t know such a thing existed but I found plenty of them for sale on Amazon. I picked a model from Lavolta. I’ve been using it for a week. Now that I’ve worked out how to set it up, I love it. The desk is a flat plastic tray with two pivoting arms either side allowing the table to be set in at least a million different positions. I’ve tried them all and eventually found a position which works for me.

So I’m sitting on our bed with the table straddled across my legs. It’s very cosy in here. There’s the distant and ever present rumble of the washing machine in the background and the faint murmur of voices. I think Sally is using Skype to speak to her sister on the tropical island of Negros.

A gale force wind is howling over the water rattling pea sized rain drops against the window. Grey white crested waves are slapping against the side of the boat. If I look out of the opposite window past the flitting tits and finches on the swaying feeder in a nearby ash, I can see two wind blown anglers cowering under a flimsy green umbrella. They don’t have much equipment with them so I suspect that they are eastern Europeans fishing for the pot. I hope the fish aren’t biting.

Anyway, I digress. Let me take you back to the excitement at the start of the week.

I was up at 5am on Monday ready for my last full week working at Calcutt Boats and eager to get off the slipway where we had been living on the boat out of the water for three days while we blacked the hull.

The initial plan was for me to take the day off work to finish off the blacking but with new bitumen applying supremo Sally at hand I didn’t really have an option. She wanted me to leave her alone so that she could indulge in her new passion for dressing up in a dirty old man’s overalls, sorry, I should have said an old man’s dirty overalls, and slapping tar based paint on the outside of her floating home.

By the time I popped back to the boat for lunch Sally had finished applying the third and final coat to the hull, the removed weed hatch, the weed hatch surround and her face. We then had nearly a full day for the paint to dry before the scheduled return to the water at 8am on Tuesday.

We were both up early for the following day to prepare for our reentry. We took advantage of the nearby facilities first. The nearest tap to our dump barge mooring is 100m away so we used the tap next to the slipway to top up our water tank. Then we hauled the half full toilet cassette off the boat to empty it in to the nearby marina Elsan point. But the most important job of the morning was to replace the weed hatch.

The weed hatch is a lid on a rectangular hole through the bottom of the boat to allow easy access to a fouled propeller when the boat is in the water. If the weed hatch lid is left off when the boat is wheeled down the steep slipway back into the marina, water will flood into the engine bay and possibly into the cabin. If the weed hatch is still left off when the engine is put into gear, the thrashing propeller will push a tidal wave of water into the boat.

I quickly stuck weed hatch tape around the bottom of the weed hatch lid then hauled it up a ladder next to the boat’s stern and on to the back deck. I lined up the two small circular holes in the weed hatch lid with the threaded bars welded to the weed hatch and dropped the lid into place before attempting to screw the two securing handles into place.

I’ve always struggled to secure my weed hatch. Either the weed hatch lid is too tall or the threaded bars are too short but when the lid is in place there’s only about a quarter of an inch of threaded bar to screw the handles on to. Now, with three thick coats of bitumen and a new layer of spongy weed hatch tape, the quarter of an inch was reduced to nothing at all.

I used all of my technical skills to try and resolve the issue. First I tried pushing the weed hatch lid down enough to reveal some of the thread. Then I tried forcing the lid down with a lump hammer. Then I jumped up and down on the lid and swore at it. As a last desperate measure I swore at Sally when she came to help. Nothing worked, especially swearing at Sally. I’m sure she’ll speak to me again but only once she’s taught me a lesson in good manners by remaining silent for three days.

Finally I did what I should have done in the first place. I asked for help.

Ian, the engineer who was driving the JCB needed to put me back into the water, quickly assessed the problem. “You’ll never get that back on. Just put the lid back into place and stand on it as the boat goes back in the water, then take your boat around to my workshop. I’ll shorten the weed hatch support for you. But, for God’s sake, be gentle on the throttle when you move the boat or you’ll sink it!”

With those few encouraging words he climbed back into the JCB cab, crunched it into gear, and pushed the boat down the steep slope into the water. Steering the boat while standing on a hatch below deck level isn’t easy, especially if you have to wait until the boat was in the water before turning the engine on.

My engine is raw water cooled which means that it uses water drawn in from the canal to cool the engine. When the boat is out of the water the engine can’t be turned on because it can’t draw water in through the grill on the side of the boat. Usually when a boat is on the slipway we start the engine before backing the boat in to the water so we don’t face the uncertainty of trying to start an unfamiliar engine while the boat is drifting out of control across the marina, especially if, like me, you happen to be standing on a weed hatch below deck level with your eyes level with the cabin roof without the faintest idea what’s happening at the front of the boat.

I had nothing to worry about though. My ever faithful Mercedes engine fired up first time and with the gentlest of touches on my Morse control I guided the boat slowly onto a mooring next to the slipway while keeping an eye out for any water ingress through the unsecured weed hatch. Ian is a steel cutting and welding artist. Within an hour the weed hatch lid was shortened, aligned and secured and I was back on my rusty steel dump barge mooring admiring my Sally’s wonderful hull painting and Rob’s neat tunnel flashes.

All we need to do now is repaint the cabin. Do you know anyone who would mind lending me a temperature controlled paint tent for a month?

While all this was going on, a driver was trying to deliver a courtesy car to Sally. The car was taken away while she was back in the Philippines after she drove it into the back end of my site truck in a moment of madness. They failed to complete all of the work so agreed to take the vehicle back and lend Sally a car until the work was finished. The driver took the courtesy car to our old mooring. We weren’t there. At the office he was told that the boat with us on board was on the slipway. By the time he drove from the office to the slipway, we weren’t there either. It must be very frustrating for a delivery drive to be given an address to go to and find that the address keeps moving.

After the drama on the high seas, walking back to our office to climb a ladder thirty feet to paint the eves was a bit of an anti climax, but a very satisfying anti climax. The once cream painted building was more of a dirty grey. A couple of coats of cream masonry paint has made a huge difference as has removing hundreds of feet of narrow bore plastic piping from the long defunct auto watering system.

Rain stopped painting play on Thursday so I spent the morning boat moving, rubbish removing and preparing the grassed parking area in front of our offices ready to accommodate the nine boat crews due to join us at the weekend.

Part of the preparation included introducing our ride on mower to the light of day for the first time this year. Spring is here. It’s grass cutting time again, but three weeks later than our early start next year. It’s a wonderful time of year to be working at a rural marina with extensive grounds. After whizzing around the car parking area for fifteen minutes I began cutting the rest of the site.  I have roughly five acres to cut with the ride on mower, much of it fiddly paths and around trees. Each cut takes about fourteen hours and, from April to June when the grass grows quickly, the cutting needs to be done at least once a week.

I spent most of Saturday cutting the grass for the first time of the year, and probably the last time ever. I have just three working days left now. I’m both excited at the prospect of spending eight months cruising this year and very sad to be leaving the best job I’ve ever had. Three days left to work followed by a block of ten consecutive discovery days then we’re off!

Trades Directory Listing

A few months ago I told you that I was in the process of setting up a trades services directory for the inland waterways. There are a few of them already on t’internet but there aren’t any which allow you to comment on the listings. If you are already a boat owner, you know that there are a more than a handful of sub standard service providers on the cut so reviews of the listed services is a very useful pointer in the right direction.

The directory hasn’t developed as quickly as I would have liked, but I’m not surprised. I’ve been running around like a headless chicken recently preparing both the boat and myself for semi retirement and continuous cruising so I haven’t had much time to focus on it.

I can now see light at the end of the tunnel. I finish work in three days’ time and finish my first block of discovery days ten days after that. Then we’ll cast off for distant shores and a life of leisure. I suspect that what will actually happen is that I’ll use much of my new found free time to spend more time developing the site. The first project will be to populate the directory and encourage those of you who own boats to either add new listings and comment on the existing ones.

Maybe you are a waterways service provider. You are more than welcome to add your own listing to the directory. The more listings there are in the directory, the more it will be used by boaters and the more likely your listing is to generate more business for you.

I added a listing for a site user this morning. He is Alan Cazaly living on board NB Pengalanty. Alan has invested a substantial sum over the last year in fancy machinery for his mobile workshop. He’s in the enviable position of having generated a considerable amount of business purely through referrals from happy customers. His new listing is here. If you have used his cratch repair business, please take the time to add a review to his listing.

Boat Licensing

Licencing your boat will be one of the most costly of your annual boating expenses. A variety of licences are needed if you want to explore all of the canal and river network and, to be honest, I haven’t cruised enough of the network to have needed most of them. I know a man who has though. Peter Earley has been a constantly moving continuous cruiser for the last seven or eight years. He’s cruised most of the network so has needed most of the licences. Here’s his appraisal…

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An often asked question on Living on a Narrowboat is ‘what licence do I need?’ It seems a simple enough question but a quick count gives at least 7 navigation authorities that cover the connected waterways with no single licence that will allow unrestricted use. In fact, there are so many different terms and conditions attached to them that it needs careful research before you start on your cruise to ensure you are not spending money unnecessarily.

For most of us the standard CRT license is the one. For a 58ft boat it will cost £870.42. I say boat as a wide boat costs the same as a narrowboat. Some may say unfair as they take up more space, etc. but then they are restricted to either the waterways of the North or those of the South. CRT also offer a River only licence which, for our ‘standard’ boat will cost £522.27. Depending on where you moor this could be considered good or poor value. In the North East you could cruise from Ripon to Shardlow, via Boston but on the other side of the country, just the short Weaver Navigation. However, should you wish for a longer cruise, a 7 day licence is available for £48.83 and a month for £148.89. So our boater from Ripon could cruise down to London, up the Thames to Reading then back onto the canals and home across the Pennines for the extra cost of a 7 day  and one month CRT licence plus a Thames 7 day licence and still be about £70 in hand.

The standard CRT licence starts from from the first of the month in which you apply for it and, when you’ve had enough, can be refunded for the unused part. Refunds are made on a pro rata basis for whole months only, less a £30 administration charge. CRT T & Cs are changing as soon which may affect your right to a refund.

The Thames and Anglian waterways, the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse, are Environment Agency navigation’s. However, just to complicate things, on the Thames what you pay is calculated on how much space you occupy, ie. length x width, whereas the Anglian Waterways is just on length. So our 58ft narrowboat on the Thames will pay £18.55 per square metre so 17.5 x 2.1 x 18.55 = £681.71 whilst our 10ft 6in wide boat will pay 17.5 x 3.2 x £18.55 = £1045.29. In contrast the both boats on the Anglian waterways would pay the same, £878.81.

Environment Agency licences run from 1 April to 31 March irrespective of when you apply for it. There are no refunds for unused portions of a licence but there are concessions for licence holders from one EA waterway using the other.

We now come to Gold licences. Not always gold coloured. Ours is blue! This allows you unrestricted use of all EA and CRT waters and can be good value for money. The extra cost is £201.98. Consider that a 7 day licence on the Thames is £70.50 or a month for £172.50. I say can be good value as our wide boat will still pay £1161 for a Gold licence or an extra £284.50 for a month on the Thames. You need to remember that Gold licences only run from 1 Jan to 31 December and are for a full 12 months. So no good applying in April, you’ll still pay for 12 months. So, if you launch your boat part way through the year and would like a Gold licence, wait until the end of December and happy for a new Gold licence whilst at the same time requesting a refund of the unused part of your CRT licence.

The next waterway in terms of number of boats licenced is probably the Bridgewater but the costs seem to be well hidden. After trawling through all the pages on their website I gave up trying to find the costs but from another forum the cost in 2012 was £452. But, to get a licence you must have mooring. Under a reciprocal agreement with CRT it does allow licence holders to cruise further afield for short periods. There is also the option to buy a CRT licence at a discounted rate. The reciprocal agreement allows CRT licence holders to cruise the Bridgewater for up to 7 days.

Licence costs for the River Avon are a bit ambiguous. All licences run from 1 Jan to 31 Dec and will cost you £303. If applying after 1 August there is a 50% discount. However, that price is discounted from the full fee of £616 provided you pay before the end of the year. It is not clear if you will pay the discounted or the full fee if starting later in the year.

River Wey licences also run for 12 months from the beginning of the year at the prompt payment charge of £223 but although they start from the 1st of January they will very generously wait for payment until 1 July before charging you the full cost of £288. Obviously the National Trust is not desperate for the cash. Its neighbour, the Basingstoke, has a different approach from other authorities.  Navigation licence charges consist of a standing charge and a lock use fee. The standing charge is determined depending on which pound your boat has it’s permanent “home” mooring – and as a result how many lockless miles of navigation you have available without passing through one of the controlled sets of locks. For lock usage there are two options, the first is an annual fee of £100 for unlimited (subject to availability) lock usage. The second option is ‘pay as you go’.

However, for cost for mile or for the fewest facilities then you can’t beat the River Cam. For years your EA or Gold licence gave you unrestricted cruising into Cambridge. But a few years ago, faced with ever rising costs, the Cam Commissioners introduced their own licence fee at a hefty £923.54 for the year. They follow the EA rules in that your licence will run from 1 April to 31 March and no refunds. However, as a visitor, you will only pay 3% of your EA or Gold licence so about £35. A bargain to cruise into the centre of Cambridge but unfortunately it won’t guarantee a space in one of the 5 or 6 visitor spaces.

The cheapest cruising is the Middle Levels, joining the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse. Here you have unusual experience of cruising below sea level, for free. Primarily a drainage system, the Middle Level Commissioners are not permitted to charge for navigation by Act of Parliament.

A word of caution though. The Canal & River Trust are the only authority that accepts the concept of continuous cruising. All the others expect you to have a home mooring. That’s not to say you can’t CC on these navigation’s but generally, because they are mostly rivers, you are restricted to the provided visitor moorings and these are all time limited. However, plenty of boaters manage to do it, keeping one move ahead of enforcement, but it is getting more difficult.

Not all of the costs I’ve given are accurate as I’ve taken them from their websites, not all of which have been updated for 2015, but I’m sure you get the idea.

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Pete has also written an article about continuous cruising, what the classification means as far as CRT are concerned and what you need to do to abide by the Trust’s guidelines for continuous cruisers. I’ll include this important information in next week’s newsletter.

Did you know that all of the weekly newsletters are also listed on the forum? This week’s newsletter is here. I welcome any comments you would like to make about anything which is written above. Many newsletters email me each week with comments. I’m always please to receive them but so many of them contain valuable information which would make a useful addition to what’s on the site. If you haven’t posted on the forum before, don’t worry. It’s a very friendly place!

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 this year. As spring approaches more and more site users are booking the relatively few discovery days still available. April is now fully booked apart for one date for a single person on Saturday 1th April. There’s also a vacant slot for a couple of an exclusive single on 9th April because of a rescheduled date. In June just Wednesday 10th is available. August onwards is still relatively free. 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 Brent Smith. Brent spent a day with my last November as part of a two week trip to England from his home in Australia. Because he was traveling light, Brent didn’t bring the appropriate gear for the very wet start we had to the day but I had spare waterproofs on board. As a seasoned narrowboat hirer Brent was quite comfortable handling my boat. His aim for the day was to find out about the practicalities of living on board and to brush up on his boat handling skills.

Brent Smith keeps dry in his borrowed waterproofs

Brent Smith keeps dry in his borrowed waterproofs

“The day was very good; good intro to your boat/home, proper cup of coffee, making friends with the dogs; then outside for launch. Appreciated the knot tying exercise; I’ve always wanted to know how to tie a half hitch! Good tips on single-handed locking, how to use the centre line to good effect etc.? All my questions were answered.

 I have had a bit of experience as I’ve rented narrowboats for holidays in the past, but I still learned a fair bit; and it would be indispensable for a newbie.”

 

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.

22nd March 2015

Three years since we last painted our hull so this week we had the dubious pleasure of taking the boat out of the water to do it again.

15th March 2015

Five live aboard case studies – I added four new case studies to the site and updated my own which I had written three years previously

8th March 2015

Water pumps and security – Bits and bobs from a life afloat

1st March 2015

Narrowboat ownership on a shoestring – How to cut your boat ownership costs

22nd February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 2 – More great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

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.

 

 

2015 03 15 Newsletter – Blacking Your Bottom

Ten days to go. Two hundred and forty hours before the inland waterways network exploration begins in earnest. The days are flying by now. There’s a part of me wanting the countdown to progress a little slower. Giving up a job which you love and which pays all the essential bills is a little scary, but I’m sure we’ll get by.

Sally hasn’t worked since she left for her six week trip to the Philippines at the beginning of January. She’s not quite adjusted to having to rely on me financially or the need to watch what we spend. We’ve spent the last four years buying whatever we want whenever we want. Living on a fairly tight budget isn’t something we’ve quite mastered yet. The budget is going to be even tighter in just over a week’s time when I join Sally and give up my full time job.

There’s still a large number of incomplete tasks on my groundsman to do list but no sign yet of a replacement for my position. Fortunately Pat and I don’t have to worry about grass cutting yet. The relatively cold weather recently has kept the spring’s growth at bay. Cutting the grass on the site’s landscaped section of the one hundred and ten acre site during the spring and early summer is almost a full time job in itself. By this time last year we’d already been furiously cutting grass for two weeks.

There’s plenty of grounds maintenance work to do but with just fourteen days to go before Easter and the start of the hire season Pat and I are often side tracked to help Caclutt Boats’ fitters, engineers and wharf staff prepare our own twelve strong hire fleet and the four narrowboats we look after for the Royal Navy.

Over the last seven days I’ve spent much of my time moving boats around the marina or taking refurbished and repainted hire boats from the marina up through two locks to the wharf where they’ll be moored for the season between cruises. It’s a very pleasant way to earn a living.

Between dashes off the site to collect steel from a supplier in Long Itchington and to and from Braunston to have a new rudder cup made I’ve been doing a little work on the grounds. I spent a few hours removing truck loads of invasive brambles from the bank above the channel on the canal side of the norther perimeter of Locks marina where I’m now moored and tidying up the straggly willows growing over the run off from the old single lock.

On Friday Sally and I had a lazy day. Neither of us are very good at them. If there’s rushing around to do, we generally rush around with a vengeance. Friday was a beautiful day without a breath of wind on two usually very blowy marinas. We pottered around in the morning, Sally in the boat with washing machine, vacuum cleaner and duster and me in the engine room thinking about doing manly things but doing little more than tidying shelves and watching a crested grebe fishing for lunch.

At midday we drove to Napton post office to buy something for lunch. The business has been transformed since it changed hands a year ago. The previous owner struggled to raise a smile or stock a shelf but the new people couldn’t be more different. They’ve refurbished the interior and incorporated a small cafe but more importantly, they make their ever increasing volume of customers feel very welcome.

We bought a couple of baguettes stuffed with thick wedges of succulent beef and dripping with horseradish. We added a pack of chilli cheese, cheese biscuits and a jar of sweet garlic pickle. We drove back to the boat and eat the lot sitting at the picnic table next to the boat, basking in the spring sunshine while watching a steady stream of boats negotiating the bottom lock.

Friday was the calm before the storm. On Saturday I spent four hours in the morning scaling the north face of the office building wire brushing the white painted bricks ready for its smart new coat on Monday.

I dashed back to my boat at 1pm, fired up the engine, untied myself from the dump barge and cruised four hundred feet across the marina to the slipway.

Three years ago I took the boat out of the water to paint the hull. Three years is long enough between repainting for bitumen covered hulls so this weekend was the perfect opportunity to cover the scrapes and scratches accumulated during recent cruises, including the bright red line of rust along the water line caused by ploughing through the ice on our New Year cruise.

Removing the boat from the water is a fairly straight forward task. Our ancient site JCB pushes a wheeled flat bed trailer down the slipway and in to the marina. The boat helmsman steers the boat towards the slipway aiming between the trailer’s four corner posts which stand a foot above the surface of the water when the trailer’s submerged. As the boat moves slowly into the space above the trailer bed, the JCB driver reverses the JCB pulling the trailer with, hopefully, the boat sitting on top of it in the right position.

Once the boat is safely on the slipway the hull is pressure washed to remove the organic growth then given a thorough scrubbing with a man sized mains powered wire brush to remove any loose paint and to key the surface ready for the new bitumen.

Once the hull has dried, any rusty areas, normally along the water line, are treated with Miogard anti-corrosion paint before two or three coats of bitumen are applied.

With my boat safely out of the water I could get on with the dirty job of hull blacking and tackle a few other essential out of the water maintenance jobs.

My rudder needed some remedial work. The cup which the rudder rests in had worn so often when I turned the tiller the rudder would slip across the cup with a grating squeak. The worn cup isn’t detrimental to boat handling but the noise is slightly annoying.

I also needed a new set of sacrificial anodes. I don’t know when they were last replaced but they haven’t needed doing in the five years that I’ve been on the boat. I was hoping to get them fitted on Sunday but there wasn’t an engineer available.

Last on the list of slipway jobs was to repaint the tunnel flashes, the two brightly coloured bands around the boat’s stern. One band is often white, the other red. However, looking across the marina now I can see white and blue, yellow and black and a rather fetching cream and pink.

My tunnel flashes were quickly and poorly painted when I had the boat out of the water three years ago. I ran out of time and the energy to paint them properly so the paint on the lower flash was quickly covered in bitumen and the top flash repainted in cream very quickly. I asked our then boat blacker Johny to paint the tricky flash curve for me but he was having an off day. The same standard could have been easily achieved by a blindfolded chimpanzee.

With the boat safely on dry land the first job was to pressure wash the hull. The work took an hour which included removing the weed hatch to give that a thorough blast too.

Any flaky bitumen then had to be removed with a powerful electric wire brush. Another hour and a pair of aching shoulders later the hull was ready to treat with Miogard. Unfortunately the Miogard had to wait. The first of this season’s hirers arrived at 4.30pm, running late, slightly stressed and eager to begin their holiday.

By the time I had discussed the best route for them, walked them through the boat and taken them through the top lock to where they wanted to moor to wait for guests dusk was upon us so we retired to a warm and comfortable cabin and drank wine instead.

On Sunday morning I started painting at first light. A very eager Sally joined me at 8am more than happy to do her share and, I have to admit, looking very fetching in a too large pair of blue Calcutt Boats overalls. Sally’s first job was to point out all the bits I had missed. She’s much more thorough than me so we made a good team. I did the donkey work, splattering everything in sight with thick tarry Miogard. Sally followed me smoothing out the drips and runs and cutting in to the Mauritius Blue gloss on the gunnel very neatly indeed.

We had a quick visit from Dale Willoughby. He came to take measurements for a new rudder cup to replace the rather worn original. He came to the conclusion that the rudder would need to be cut off to get at the cup so suggested a temporary fix he tried very successfully on another boat with a worn cup twelve years ago.

He told me to make sure that the rudder was sitting in the middle of the worn cup then pack the surrounding gap with stern tube packing and grease. After Dale left, I spent an hour with a screwdriver and lump hammer forcing as much packing as possible into the cup. I won’t be able to tell is the repair has been effective until the boat is back in the water. If the solution doesn’t work, I’ll probably wait another three years until the boat is out of the water for blacking again.

Soon after Dale left, Rob arrived to work on the tunnel flashes. On the first of his four visits he sanded the thirty eight year old much abused hull steel as flat as possible and applied an undercoat. After two more visits to apply two more coats to the cream and red flashes he spent the last hour of the day hand painting the curves on the flashes. The flashes are finished now and are a huge improvement on the mess that was there before.

Sally and I finished painting the hull in Miogard by 11am. The rust treatment is usually just used to spot treat bare metal, usually along the water line, but I decided to cover all of the hull with it for maximum protection. Had I known at the time that Miogard is three times the cost of bitumen I would have been a little more economical with the roller.

We decided to eat out as a reward for the morning’s hard work so we drove five miles to Staverton to the Skylark Farm cafe for brunch. After two farmers’ breakfasts we popped into Calcutt Boats’ chandlery to buy two ice creams which we enjoyed sitting in the sun on the garden decking overlooking Calcutt Top Lock.

We spent a couple of pleasant hours in the afternoon putting the first coat of bitumen on before downing tools for the day and climbing the steep steps up to our home high above the surrounding boats in the marina.

Our home doesn’t feel quite the same at the moment. Of course, the view is different. We’ve moved away from the tranquil setting next to the bottom lock we’ve become used to since we moved on to the dump barge mooring two weeks ago, but we’re only here for three nights so that doesn’t bother us. Another change which is of far more concern is the shape of the boat. It appears to have bent slightly.

The boat is sitting on the slipway trailer on two railways sleeper covered bearers thirty feet apart. The hull appears to have flexed slightly in the middle. The door to our bathroom is now catching on the sill when it opens and the bottom draw in the five draw chest next to it won’t open at all. I’m hoping that the steel will spring back into shape when the boat’s back in the water on Tuesday or we’ll have to consider renaming it The Banana Boat.

On Monday morning after a frantic couple of hours work at my laptop to get the newsletter out I had to go to work leaving Sally to apply another coat of bitumen. What a girl! She told me that she’s enjoying blacking the hull and that there’s no point in me taking time off work when she has all the time in the world to do the painting.

I’m really happy that she’s prepared to roll up her sleeves and tackle the dirty jobs. She’s champing at the bit to start touching up the cabin paint. I’m sure she’ll do a better job than me. I wonder if I can persuade her to tackle the engine bay?

Long Term Narrowboat Hire

I often receive emails from aspiring boaters who would like to live on the water but can’t afford a floating home. They ask about the availability of narrowboats for long term rental. In this newsletter

I said that there were only two companies I knew which offered boats for hire for months at a time rather than for a holiday week or two. One of those companies was Sheffield Narrowboats. They offered well appointed boats to the top end of the market. With the monthly rental charge ranging from £2,000 to £3,000 their boats weren’t a realistic proposition for most people thinking of living afloat but even if the cost didn’t put you off they’re sadly no longer an option. Tony Bowyer emailed me a few days ago to inform me that Sheffield Narrowboats ceased trading last year. He contacted them after reading my article.

If you want to live afloat you’re just going to have to start saving your pennies.

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 this year. As spring approaches more and more site users are booking the relatively few discovery days still available. April is now fully booked apart for one date for a single person, and just three of the thirteen June dates remain. August onwards is still relatively free. 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 Brent Smith. Brent spent a day with my last November as part of a two week trip to England from his home in Australia. Because he was traveling light, Brent didn’t bring the appropriate gear for the very wet start we had to the day but I had spare waterproofs on board. As a seasoned narrowboat hirer Brent was quite comfortable handling my boat. His aim for the day was to find out about the practicalities of living on board and to brush up on his boat handling skills.

Brent Smith keeps dry in his borrowed waterproofs

Brent Smith keeps dry in his borrowed waterproofs

“The day was very good; good intro to your boat/home, proper cup of coffee, making friends with the dogs; then outside for launch. Appreciated the knot tying exercise; I’ve always wanted to know how to tie a half hitch! Good tips on single-handed locking, how to use the centre line to good effect etc.? All my questions were answered.

 I have had a bit of experience as I’ve rented narrowboats for holidays in the past, but I still learned a fair bit; and it would be indispensable for a newbie.”

 

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 March 2015

Five live aboard case studies – I added four new case studies to the site and updated my own which I had written three years previously

8th March 2015

Water pumps and security – Bits and bobs from a life afloat

1st March 2015

Narrowboat ownership on a shoestring – How to cut your boat ownership costs

22nd February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 2 – More great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

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.

 

 

2015 03 15 Newsletter – Five Live Aboard Boaters Share Their Experiences Afloat

Seventeen days to go. Only thirteen of them are working days. Just thirteen days of full time employment after thirty eight years of working sixty hours a week. For many years they were very stressful working hours. For the last half decade my work has been stress free and immensely enjoyable. Stress free and enjoyable but still work.

On 1st April 2015 I will clock off for the last time before eight months of gentle relaxation and exploration along 2,000 miles of muddy ditches. I am looking forward to it very much indeed.

We’ve spent much of the last week settling in to our new mooring. It’s far from perfect, but we love it.

The rusting, semi-submerged open topped wide beam barge we’re moored against had no nearby electricity supply when Calcutt Boats first agreed that I could moor here. I’ve had to run a cable from the meters used to serve the temporary moorings we have between The bottom and the middle lock, then dig it in along the full ninety five metre length to protect the cable from enthusiastically wielded gardening equipment.

There’s still no water supply to the barge, which now that I’ve spent weeks tarting it and the immediate area up, is referred by the office staff as “the mooring barge” rather than “the dump barge” label it’s been stuck with for the last forty years. The nearest water point is 100m away so we’ve had to buy two 50m Hozelock hose reels. Topping up the water tank is a bit of a pain now that we have to roll out a hundred metres of hose rather than ten metres to the nearest tap on our pontoon mooring.

Managing our coal and bottled gas supplies and our twice weekly cassette emptying is similarly painful. The closest we can get a car is also a hundred metres away so my monthly ten bag coal purchase will be a bit of a chore. I’ll need some more next week. I’m not looking forward to the exercise.

The dump barge, sorry, the mooring barge, is far from perfect either. At thirty six feet long, it’s far too short. At the moment the engine room can only be secured by padlocking it from the outside. Our boat is moored level with the front of the barge so that Sally and I and our two dogs can step off our front deck on to the barge’s flat front. Consequently, we have twenty six feet of boat sticking out into the marina. The only way to reach the engine room is to walk along the gunnel which, since I had the cabin over plated in 2011 is now just two inches wide. Sidling along it on a dry, warm day is bad enough but I’m not looking forward to getting anywhere near the back of the boat during the winter months.

Despite the mooring’s weaknesses, it’s a stunning spot. It looked a bit of a mess a couple of months ago but now that we’ve raked out the choking mass of decaying reeds and brambles from the marina bank, trimmed back a couple of waterside willow and removed several truck loads of semi-submerged branches, it’s starting to take shape. I hope to take delivery of fifty oak whips next week. Half a dozen of them are destined for the bank adjacent to the stretch of canal beneath the bottom lock. The mature oak will look wonderful in years to come. They won’t be up to much for the next couple of decades, but I hope that we’ll still both be around to enjoy them.

New and Updated Case Studies

I wondered what I had done with all the time spent tapping away at a keyboard over the last week until I realised that much of it was spent adding four new case studies to the site and updating my own case study which I added three years ago. The case study section is a useful resource if you’re considering living afloat. The answers to many common boating problems are here so a few minutes of your valuable time is a worthwhile investment in your boating future. I’ve updated my own case study considerably. I didn’t realise how much the boat has changed until I read my answers from three years ago.

The Lady C – After forty years of working in the USA and South Africa, John and Brenda Rogers purchased a narrowboat rather than a much more expensive house then set off to continuously cruise the inland waterways network.

Eleftheria – Single boater Stuart Inglis cruises the network extensively and continuously during the warmer months then escapes to a more pleasant climate for damp and dreary winter. It’s a cruising plan which many boaters would like to copy.

Mister Smith’s – Darrell, like me, moved on to a narrowboat thinking that his floating home would be a low cost housing option. He was wrong about the cost, but his lifestyle choice was spot on.

Mr. David – After decades of international travel during an army career, Brenda and David Scowcroft have settled in one spot. They now live on their narrowboat, Mr. David, in Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham. It wouldn’t be my first choice for an idyllic mooring spot, but they’ve been there for ten years so it must suit them.

James No 194 – That’s my own boat. I’ve been living aboard it on a mooring at one of the prettiest marinas in the country for five years now. I answered the case study questions three years ago. At the time, January 2012, I had been living afloat for just under two years. Most of the time I had been living alone but I answered the questions within a month or two of Sally and her two dogs moving in with me. This morning, 15th March 2015, I reviewed and updated the answers to reflect any changes to the boat, my outlook or my future plans.

Narrowboat Galley Survey

Ex professional chef Alan Cranford currently lives in Mexico but aspires to narrowboat ownership on the tranquil UK waterways network. His culinary career includes a spell as head chef for the Canadian Coastguard, so he’s used to cooking in small spaces. Alan has been busy over the last couple of months adding exotic but easy to cook meal ideas to the new recipe section of the forum. Although Alan has a great deal of experience on boats, he’s not familiar with narrowboats’ galley layouts or the equipment owners keep in them. He’s created a survey which I’ve linked to below. If you are a boater, please spare a few seconds of your time to answer this very short questionaire,

http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=7fyscyyaeai4ks5502791

Alan has promised to share the results with you and to use them to add recipes for delicious narrowboat meals to the recipe section of the forum.

Pearley’s London cruising guide

If you own a narrowboat at some stage you’ll probably want to visit London to see the sights and to tick the capital off your narrowboat to do list. Mooring in and around the capital isn’t easy so you need all the help you can get. Fortunately for all of us, Peter Early has a memory like a Mastermind contestant and a desire you share the contents with you. Here’s his very useful four part London cruising guide.

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 this year. As spring approaches more and more site users are booking the relatively few discovery days still available. April is now fully booked apart for one date for a single person, and just three of the thirteen June dates remain. August onwards is still relatively free. 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 Andrew Leppard. I took Andy and his cruising pal Dom out for the day on Friday. I called Dom, short for Dominic, “Don” for the first hour of the day so we weren’t off to the best start. Once Dom realised that I wasn’t rude, just deaf and stupid, we were back on track. Andy and Dom are two of three males in a three couple group who often hire a narrowboat together. They wanted to home their boating skills so that they could enjoy their annual boating experience more and ensure that they weren’t a hazard to other boaters on the cut.

Discovery Day attendees Andy Leppard and mate Dom

Andy and Dom at the helm. Dom is a lot happier than he looks usually, apparently, after his own body weight in Carling Black Label

“We enjoy boating and have a holiday booked in May and will book a further holiday in September.  We wanted to improve our experience in boating.  We are looking to buy a boat one day.

We had a great day, learned lots and you catered for everything we asked for and more.

I think that you provide the real experience of living afloat and all it’s good and bad points, costs etc and everything that’s involved which is needed to make boating fun.”

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.

8th March 2015

Water pumps and security – Bits and bobs from a life afloat

1st March 2015

Narrowboat ownership on a shoestring – How to cut your boat ownership costs

22nd February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 2 – More great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

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.

 

 

A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat The Lady C

After forty years of working in the USA and South Africa, John and Brenda Rogers purchased a narrowboat rather than a much more expensive house then set off to continuously cruise the inland waterways network.

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

John and Brenda Rogers in The Lady Cs galley

John and Brenda Rogers in The Lady Cs galley

My name is John Rogers and my lady wife is Brenda, we have two dogs Rosie a 12 year old Border Collie Tri-Colour and Pip a 10 year old Rough Collie (Lassie Dog), we are both into our retirement years but young at heart and also young in attitude and body both still very active.

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

We have spent the last 40 odd years living in the US, then South Africa then France.  The US and South Africa were career moves (actually I was transferred to the US from the European Head Office then to South Africa to help our distributors establish a stronger market share especially with new products.

In 1964 I joined IBM and have spent the next 40 years in IT directly related roles, primarily marketing related for the last 20. Then I moved into general business management, in the end moving into renewable energies.  Then during Christmas 2013 my wife’s niece who lives in Basle in Switzerland said that a friend of hers was being transferred to the US and had a house just over the border in France wanted a House Sitter.

Brenda was really quite homesick and we always intended to come back to the UK so this was a fairly cost effective way of getting back to Europe and being close to our sons who also live in Switzerland.  This was a great opportunity to be a springboard back to the UK and gave us time with them and our grandchildren so we immediately decided to take the jump.  This amazed our niece as we during the phone conversation said YES.

One big challenge we had was the value of the South African Rand compared to the Pound so we knew we would have quite high challenges to find a house we wanted in our price range.  Also, as we hadn’t been here very often over the previous 50 years we also wanted to see more of the UK before we decided where to settle done.  An option we always considered was a Narrowboat.  While the living costs aren’t any cheaper than living in a house, the purchase price was markedly less so we started looking for a boat in the autumn of 2013.

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

The Lady C on a marina mooring

The Lady C on a marina mooring

Our Boat is “The Lady C”, and we inherited the name but quite like it, nothing to do with our recollections of D H Lawrence.

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

No, we purchased the boat thru ABNB at Crick so moored there for a couple of months while we got used to life aboard. We actually moved onto the boat from France in May of 2014, so had the benefit of stunning weather for our indoctrination.

What is you boat length and style?

The Lady C is a 60ft traditional Style

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

The Lady C is our first boat, but I have been on them before on holidays with my parents also quite au fait with boating in general with yachts etc.

How did you finance your boat?

We were lucky enough to be able to pay cash from our savings and pension nest eggs.

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

We are currently among the jolly band of Live Aboard Continuous Cruisers, so on board all the time.

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

Not yet but would really like to be able to use my IT experience especially with Microsoft Office products to help others build presentations, business plans with Word and Excel as this was my particular strength in the US and South Africa.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Probably the lack of space, which isn’t helped by having two dogs, if we end up staying afloat we would most likely go for a Widebeam.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The freedom (especially when cruising) and the ability to be independent of all.

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

Probably have a semi trad or cruiser to give space at the back while cruising so it would be easier for us both to experience the glories of the countryside OR change the kitchen to be a U shape, currently we have units each side so walking past each other when one of us is in the Kitchen makes the lack of space more evident.

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

Planning and clever shopping. The bigger issue is Water Points

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a Candy Washing Machine and a Drier so not a problem, just exacerbates the water situation.

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

Pump out and much prefer it to those folks we see trooping up and down with their slopping cassettes.

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

We have been quite lucky in this regard, we first asked (on your blogs) which provider we should opt for and went for “3”, unfortunately Crick is one of their weakest areas so initially is was difficult, then I purchased a signal booster, and since then that combined with their MiFi unit we have had god or great reception at least 95% of the time.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Tough question, we have cruised extensively over the last 4 months, covering The GUC Leicester line, the GU up to Coventry, then the Coventry, on to the Ashby, then the T&M up to the Macclesfield including the Cauldon then up across through the Cheshire locks to the Shroppie and back along the Warks to the GUC then back along the T&M to Barton Turns for our wintering.

Given all of this we probably would vote for the Ashby.

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

We have the following onboard equipment:-

1. Alternator – Prestoilite 90 Amp
2. Batteries – 4 new 105 AH
3. Inverter – Victron Multiplus 3 KVA
4. Power Management – Battery Monitor

When we were cruising we used about 5 pounds of diesel per day on average and that covered our cruising and power needs, if we stayed in one place then we ran the motor for about 3 hours which gave us enough power for our basic needs, lighting, television, fridge (12 v).

We have Diesel Central Heating that we didn’t really need too often.  At the Marina for Winter we are using about 0.46 pounds a day for our electricity, not yet sure how much diesel, but we have a calorifier with three coils so have multiple ways of generating hot water.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

We are used to the cold, in the States we used to sleep with our windows open and the year we left (1994) it never rose above zero day or night from late December until early March so quite hardy souls Too warm, as yet we haven’t fired up the Morso Squirrel and turn on the central heating several times a day to top up the warmth.

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

Make sure you can live without life’s luxuries most of the time and are happy with your own company, especially if planning to be continuous cruisers. You also need to be quite practical as you will most likely have to some general maintenance.

____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Mr David

After decades of international travel during an army career, Brenda and David Scowcroft have settled in one spot. They now live on their narrowboat, Mr. David, in Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham. It wouldn’t be my first choice for an idyllic mooring spot, but they’ve been there for ten years so it must suit them.

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

Brenda and David Scowcroft

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

David was the Army for approximately 35 years and I was a civil servant.  We met in Berlin and served in Northern Ireland, Germany 3 times, Poland, England 4 times, Hungary, Scotland, and Cyprus ending up in central London.  So, not having a “base” as such and a wanderlust that had not been fulfilled a boat seemed a good idea.

After visiting several boat shows and lots of second hand boats we decided on a new build and as I fell in love with every Warble boat that I came across. We took the plunge in 1997 to order our new home.  Never having actually been out on a boat we were at the mercy of our builders and Janet and Kevin Wadsworth guided us through our desires and we came up with, for us, the perfect boat.

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

The boat is called “Mr David”.  Because David has an unusual surname and many foreigners couldn’t pronounce it he usually ended up being called by his rank and David – so on leaving the Army he became a Mister.

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

We are moored in Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham.  We were on the waiting list for 2 years and have been here now for 10 years.

What is you boat length and style?

Mr David's pretty galley

Mr David’s pretty galley

Mr David is a 17.5 meter traditional style boat.  It has the usual layout, Seating, fire, galley, single berth bedroom/office, walk through bathroom, double berth, engine etc.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

The boat was launched in 1999 – so 15 years now.

How did you finance your boat?

David’s Army gratuity and savings.

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

We live on her all the time.

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

Fortunately, David retired from the Army at 52 and apart from winter jobs for the first 5 or so years, we have not had to work since we got the boat.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Um….

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Everything.

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

Mr Davids lounge

Make the “walk in” wardrobe not “walk in” and use up the wasted space for more storage.

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

We shop in local shops, take a bus to the nearest town or at a supermarket if it is beside the cut.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

We have a Bosch washer/dryer, the original one was  great as we could fill with hot and cold water, but the replacement one only uses cold water and the element is too strong for the batteries, so only use the cold water wash.  Launderettes if there is one handy.

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

We have a macerating toilet with holding tank.

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

We have a 3G dongle.  It is very reliable.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

How long have you got?

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

We have 3 solar panels and the rest is by using the engine.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Very.

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

It is not for everyone, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Mister Smiths

Darrell, like me, moved on to a narrowboat thinking that his floating home would be a low cost housing option. He was wrong about the cost, but his lifestyle choice was spot on.

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

Darrell Smith

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

I’m 51. After a long term relationship ended I didn’t want to get another mortgage so opted for a narrow boat, thinking life would be cheaper Ha! Ha!

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

Mister Smith's resting after a hard day's cruising

Mister Smith’s resting after a hard day’s cruising

It may appear vain but I wanted a good old fashioned English name but couldn’t find one that I liked. Most were Germanic. A colleague at work suggested my name for the boat name stating that it’s as English as it comes and being in a rush to register with CRT it stuck. Boat name;  Mister Smith’s

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

No I don’t have a permanent  mooring but would love one but paying back my loan for the next few years it will be difficult the moorings near me are either full or prohibitively expensive. CRT were unhelpful when I tried to get a winter mooring.

What is you boat length and style?

The boat is a 57″ cruiser style

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

It depends on how you look at it. I ordered the boat a lined sailaway in January 2014 and took delivery in August 2014.

How did you finance your boat?

I took out a loan to top up my savings so that I could get a new boat that I could personalise rather than take on a used one and have to refit to my style and carry out repairs.

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

I’m a living aboard at the minute

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

Yes I’m working. I’m a carer with disabled young adults.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Having to move to meet the terms of my licence then be told I might need to do 500 lock miles a year. This is ok if you are retired or unemployed (as there seems to be  few round here) who have that free time but as a carer who works long hours time and money are precious and not that plentiful. I could be forced off the water by the CRT.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The tranquility and quiet lifestyle the people you meet and being able to cruise when I would like not to meet the needs of the CRT.

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

I would make it seven feet shorter so I could get a mooring.

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

I used the local merchants.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I use my mother’s machine when visiting or launderettes.

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

Cassette toilette

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

I use the personal hot spot on my phone and link it to my tablet.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

I’ve not seen too many but having done the Cheshire ring and Llangollen my favourite is the Macclesfield Canal beautiful country side not many locks great transport links and towns to re supply friendly people.

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

I use the boat alternator at the minute but am looking into solar panels. I don’t know how much I use as the Lec fridge freezer I got second hand doesn’t seem to state what power it is although it is a 12v one.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

 

A solid fuel stove is essential on any live aboard narrowboat

A solid fuel stove is essential on any live aboard narrowboat

When my coalbrokedale little wenlock multi-fuel burner is on its lovely and warm. But if I return to the boat and it’s not been lit it can be very cold and take a while to warm up.

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

Make sure you look it’s what you want. Look into moorings in your area re cost availability and location before choosing your boat. I bought the biggest I could that will be able to navigate all the UK waterways when I retire but will pay premium until I do.

____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

2015 03 08 Newsletter – Gas, Paint And A New Mooring For James No 194

It’s been a busy week as always. I can’t believe how quickly the days are flashing by now. Being the sad individual that I am, I installed a countdown on my phone last October to remind me how many days remained before my release from the daily grind. At the time, one hundred and eighty days seemed a lifetime away. Now just twenty four remain. I’m closer than ever to a life on the cut and I’m now physically closer to the canal itself.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been tarting up a little used section of our older Locks marina. The north east finger of land between the marina and the canal has been unused since the marina was built twenty eight years ago. There’s a rusting dump barge sitting in the mud eight feet from the bank. Over the years it’s been used to moor our out of season hire boats to free space on the wharf for passing trade but apart from occasional visits by marina staff to check and move the boats there, this side of the marina entrance is very, very quiet.

Initially, I wanted to return to Calcutt to moor for four months over the winter. The company agreed I could have a mooring, but didn’t know where to put me. The dump barge was jokingly suggested but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. I like peace and quiet and solitude. So does Sally. We’re both happy being antisocial together. A brace of marinas crammed with more than two hundred and fifty boats wouldn’t usually be our first choice for the solitude we crave, but the dump barge offers us the best of both worlds. We decided to take the mooring full time so that we have somewhere to call home when we’re not out cruising.

My mooring in Meadows marina is paid until the end of April so the plan was to move to the dump barge then but marina owner Roger Preen suggested that if moving earlier suited me, the move would help them too. A number of other boaters were waiting for me to move before they could switch to new moorings. My move would set the ball rolling. Sally agreed that sooner was definitely much better than later, so we moved house last night as soon as I finished work.

In my previous life I remember all too well the misery involved in moving from one bricks and mortar home to another. Days, sometimes weeks, of careful packing, a long and tense day ferrying unwieldy packages between house and van and then between van and house, the inevitable breakages, arguments and tears, and then weeks before everything was in place in the new home.

We moved house yesterday in ten minutes. We loaded half a dozen bags of coal on to the front deck, disconnected the shore line, untied two ropes, moved the boat three hundred metres from one mooring to the other, tied the boat up, connected the shore line and offloaded the coal. All done, no stress and no tears.

The mooring is in Locks marina but doesn’t feel part of it. To the port side is a hundred and fifty feet of open water to the boats moored opposite us. On the starboard side is a narrow grassy bank and then the Grand Union canal. If I turn away from my laptop and look behind me, I have an unrestricted view of Calcutt Bottom lock. The nearest boats in front of us are one hundred feet away to the north of the marina entrance. It’s a beautiful spot. A picture paints a thousand words so I’ve just popped out to take the four below…

Dump barge port side view

The new view from my office window. Watching the boats passing is fascinating but very distracting

Dump barge front view

Here’s our new view as we step out of the boat into the well deck

Dump barge starboard view

Looking over the rusting dump barge to Calcutt Bottom Lock

Dump barge stern view

The closest boat to us is directly behind so we can’t see it unless we’re in the engine room

Now the mooring preparation and boat move has been completed I can concentrate on the dozens of jobs remaining on my groundsman to do list.

Late winter and early spring at Calcutt is a time of frantic preparation for the coming season. Our fitters and engineers are working frantically to ensure that our own twelve hire boats and the four we look after for the Royal Navy are working properly and looking good. Pat and I have very little to do with that side of the business other than move the boats from A to B, but there’ still plenty of pre-season site preparation for us to do.

My job isn’t always lazy days sitting on a ride on mower whizzing over grassy banks thick with sun kissed wild flowers. Sometimes I have to get my hands dirty like I did this week. I was on bin painting duty. It’s not a glamorous aspect of my job but it’s very satisfying.

In the yard adjacent to our wharf is a battered blue cubic skip for the site’s non recyclable waste. Our paint supplier made a mistake with the custom green paint we use on the four sixty two feet long narrowboats we maintain for the Royal Navy. The dark green paint wasn’t the right colour green for the boats, but it was just right for tidying the skip. I painted the skip, painted the scrap metal bin beside it and, in a moment of madness, painted the rusting back of our site truck as well.

Another essential but dirty job is removing accumulated oily water from the trap which collects contaminated slurry from engines being worked on inside a brick bund next to the engineering workshop. Pat and I sucked the stinking liquid from the brick lined trap with the site’s man sized “Big Brute” wet vacuum cleaner, hoisted the vacuum cleaner into the air, then drained the contents into forty gallon drums ready for collection by the company’s waste oil collection contractor. It’s not a job I enjoy but given that it’s rarely done more than once a month and I leave in just over three weeks, it’s probably the last time I’ll have to do it.

On Friday another one tonne bag of Cotswold Buff stone was delivered while I was off for the day so on Saturday I had the pleasure of shoveling it into a wheelbarrow, dumping it on to the now very smart path up to the dump barge then raking it level ready for compacting. One more bag will complete the path to our new home.

More containers also arrived on Friday; two for our moorers’ storage area next to the tip and a forty feet long container to store engine parts in the yard next to the wharf. We’re now just waiting for one more container to complete the set in a now very smart wharf-side storage area.

Life on the boat has been equally busy.

At the end of last week I noticed that the underside of the rubber mat on the cabin floor at the bottom of the steps leading up to the front deck was soaking wet. I pulled the steps out to look under the front deck and saw water seeping in to the cabin from a damp area under a jumble of pipes leading from the water tank.

There was a possibility that the damp patch had been caused by an overflow from the deck above after an enthusiastic deck cleaning session by Sally a couple of days previously. She didn’t think much of my habit of emptying the stove’s ash pan into our galvanised ash bucket in the covered well deck while she was away. The ash pan is normally emptied in to the bucket on the jetty rather than inside the enclosed front deck space, but I chose the easiest option when left to my own devices. An option which resulted in a thin grey film of ash on the blue plastic deck matting.

Sally had spent an hour spring cleaning the front deck with some vigorous scrubbing and a steady stream of icy water from our hose attached to the marina water supply. The water on the cabin floor could possibly have been an overspill from the deck above’s liberal drenching so I mopped everything dry and, as is usual for me, tried to hide the problem and forget about it. Unproductive denial in this particular case was easily achieved by pushing the wooden steps back into place so they hid the damp patch in front of the water tank.

Of course, the water under the mat wasn’t Sally’s doing. It was back again Thursday morning, pulsing from the water tank’s pressure pump each time a tap inside the boat was turned on. I did what I always do when common sense and the use of the most basic tools is required. I panicked and called for help.

Russ, our underpants-on-the-outside plumbing super hero, arrived just before 5pm to diagnose the problem. Using my own DIY problem solving abilities as a benchmark, I expected him to need half a day and much head scratching and teeth sucking before he had found a solution. He didn’t. Within twenty minutes he had replaced my old pump with a new one I collected for him from our chandlery.

Russ told me that a pressure pump on a narrowboat usually lasts a maximum of three years, providing the boat has been winterised to protect sensitive water bearing parts from freezing over the cold winter months. My boat had been pretty much left to its own devices on one mooring or another on the two marinas here for thirteen years before I moved on board in April 2010.

Russ suspected that my pump had been in place for much longer than three years. He was right. The date stamp on the dusty pump indicated that it was twenty five years old. The date wasn’t necessarily indicative of the pump’s fitting date but it was certainly installed before the boat came to Calcutt full time in 1997. I don’t expect the new pump to fair nearly so well but I live in hope.

On Thursday I also had a visit from marine electrician Dave Reynolds and his  ever-smiling wife Alex. They’ve worked on the boat half a dozen times now and I really look forward to their scheduled visits. I know they’re going to turn up when they should, I know they’re always going to be cheerful and I know the work will be done to the highest standard.

They replaced three defunct and unattractive ceiling lights with smart seven inch LED domes, installed two new 240v sockets in a cupboard to hide a rat’s nest of wiring behind the TV mounted on the shelving built in to the front starboard bulkhead and installed a 12v ceiling fan inside the cabin and a key safe next to the front doors on the front deck.

The ceiling fan is a solution to the problem I have pushing the warm air from my stove down towards the back of the boat. Those fortunate enough to have a Morso Squirrel stove on their boats simply stand an Ecofan on the stove’s top plate then wait for the stove’s heat to turn the fan blades so rapidly it’s in danger or taking off. My own stove has a double skin on the top plate so even if there’s a raging inferno inside, I can still rest the palm of my hand on the stove without discomfort. An Ecofan simply wouldn’t work on it.

The new 1 watt duel speed 12v fan is a success. It’s not as quiet as the silent Ecofan but the gentle hum is bearable, as is the cabin temperature at the far end of the boat now that the fan has increased it by four degrees. I’m hoping that the multi directional fan will also provide us with a cooling breeze in the (hopefully) hot summer months ahead.

The key safe – here’s the one I purchased from Screwfix – was an idea I picked up from a forum thread I read about a guy who had been locked out of his boat. He’d stepped outside for a moment when an excited dog had jumped up at the front doors, pushing them shut and engaging the Yale lock. He spent a few anxious hours and a considerable amount of money before he could get back into his floating home. The least expensive option had been to ask a local locksmith to break into the boat for him.

We don’t have the same problem as this unfortunate boater. Our doors are secured from the outside by a padlock or by four bolts when we’re inside the boat, which is just as well because we certainly have two excitable dogs. Our main problem is my inability to keep hold of my key ring as I step on and off the boat. I’ve dropped my bunch of keys in to the water twice now. On both occasions we were fortunate because either Sally had her keys with her or we had access to the back of the boat where I keep my recovery magnet and reel of Paracord.

A recovery magnet is an essential piece of boating equipment. So far I’ve used ours to retrieve keys, shackles, a length of fender chain and a couple of windlasses. It’s more than paid for itself but it’s no use at all if it’s locked in the boat.

Our new key safe is now fixed firmly to the steel bulkhead and contains spare keys for the front and the rear padlocks. I don’t know whether we’ll ever need it but the relatively low cost contingency measure has afforded us a great deal of peace of mind.

Gas Central Heating

In last week’s newsletter I mentioned the prohibitively high cost of gas central heating and the fact that gas heating increases the humidity inside the boat. On the forum GM kindly pointed out that my statement wasn’t quite correct. You can read his post here. Boat owner Steve Carter also emailed me regarding the cost of running gas central heating. Here’s his email…

“Not sure I can agree with you on the gas central heating . . . we run ours for 1 to 2 hours in winter and that’s enough to warm the radiators (2 in the saloon, one in bedroom and a towel rail) and give us hot water.

Our boiler is an Alde compact, no increase in humidity in the boat and it uses at worst 0.5 kg gas an hour so on this regime, a 13 kg bottle will last 26 days.  The boiler is thermostatically controlled – I installed a wireless and portable gadget and this will knock off the boiler if the cabin is at the right temp.  With the Squirrel going, we only need the CH on in the mornings.  Friends with diesel CH do the same and spend exactly the same, in money terms on their fuel.  The gas boiler never needs servicing unlike the diesel ones plus it’s near silent and doesn’t stink of diesel . . .  just my views!

I pointed out to Steve that he was using his gas central heating to supplement the heat from his stove rather than use it as the only source of heat on board and that if he used the gas central heating for just one or two hours a day without the stove on, he would have a very cold boat.

He mentioned that his gas central heating uses 0.5kg an hour when it’s on its highest setting. A 13kg cylinder costs £27 here at Calcutt so his heating would cost £1.04 an hour to run at this setting. My stove isn’t a particularly good model but a 25kg bag of coal briquettes lasts me for two and a half days on average or roughly £5 a day. Coal briquettes offer much more cost effective heating than gas.

Primer Painted Narrowboats

I’m not always right, and I’m wrong again. Former professional boat painter Graham Kennison emailed me regarding protecting boats long term using primer…

“I’m part way through reading, and enjoying, your latest newsletter and I’ve got to the bit about painting.

I’m very concerned about your idea of multiple coats of the same colour primer being a cheap way of keeping a boat painted.  The primer coat, on anything, is designed to give a good key between the material being painted and the subsequent coats of paint.  It is the critical coat of paint in any system, get the primer wrong and the top coats will not do their job properly and the paint film will break down prematurely   Worse still, water will get behind the paint and invisibly rust the boat away.

Primer is not waterproof, it’s not designed to be and that is not its function.  Any steel left for long periods in primer will start to rust.  Even the best holding primers have only a limited life. Primer must be overcoated with the appropriate top coats if the material beneath is to be properly protected.  When I was involved with boat painting, good practice dictated that, in order to ensure that we got a full paint film over the entire area being painted, that we should use paints of a different colour for each of the base coats.  A simple but very effective way of ensuring that the job was done correctly.”

I replied to Graham telling him that my view was based on advice from an inland waterways boatyard painter and the dozens of primer painted boats I regularly see on the cut. I also asked his opinion on the effectiveness of Danboline and bitumen as a protective cabin paint. Here’s his very useful reply…

“I think that I would be brave to counter the information you have been given, as my experience is slightly different from yours.

The boats I was working on were sea going so we were using appropriate coatings.  However, I see the same paints by manufacturers such as International and Jotun being used on the canal, so I can’t imagine that the primers used on the cut would be any different.  I was always told, by the paint company reps and the marine superintendent who advised us, that primer ( we usually used International Interprime 198 above the water) should only be considered a holding coat as essentially it was porous.  If you can think back to the times when cars used to rust much more than now.  You would often see cars where the owner had started enthusiastically, usually just as winter was about to set in with dark nights and bad weather.  The rust was removed and a coat of primer applied but then the enthusiasm waned and the top coats were never applied.  The result was that the rust not only came back but accelerated. I suspect that the boats you have seen in primer might be the consequence of the same syndrome with the owners saying that they really must get and finish the job – sometime.

The golden rule with any paint job is, as you know, preparation.  I was working on heritage craft and we used to go back to bare metal, on the inside as well as the outside of the hull, as boats rot from both sides!  On a typical narrow boat, I admit, that would be difficult to achieve with all the fitted accommodation.

I’ve never used bitumen or Danboline so can’t comment.  I have often wondered what I would use should I ever get my own boat.  I know that bitumen for underwater is traditional but I think I would consider a two-part epoxy, as that would give better protection to the bottom plate for longer.”

I suspect that Graham’s advice is more accurate than the advice I was given so I am grateful for his contribution.

Remote Boat Monitoring System

I spent February 2014 in the Philippines with Sally. While spending the coldest month of the year on a tropical island in a bamboo hut at the base of an active volcano was both a welcome change and a wonderful adventure, I was slightly worried about my floating boat being unattended in sub zero temperatures.

Fortunately, even though I was over six thousand miles away I was able to check the temperature and humidity inside the cabin and the boat’s precise location thanks to a new remote boat monitoring system, Maxmon.

Earlier in the week Maxmon’s developer Martin Lambert emailed me the press release below. When I tested the system my only reservation was that the device needed a constant 240v supply, something which many narrowboats don’t have access to when owners are away. Maxmon can now be powered by the boat’s 12v supply so it will now work wherever you are providing your batteries aren’t flat. Here’s the press release…

PRESS RELEASE BEGINS

UK startup transforms cheap Android phones into affordable boat monitors

Oxfordshire, UK – March 2015 – Worried about water ingress when away from your boat? Or strangers on board? Or the state of your batteries?

By adding a custom app, a little ‘black box’ and sensors to a low-cost Android phone Oxford engineer (and boat owner), Dr. Martin Lambert, has come up with a new and affordable way of watching over the security and condition of your boat while you’re not there.

For prices from £0-£360 you can receive daily email or text reports, or immediate alerts, providing you a raft of information about what’s happening on your boat. The app is free and you can install it yourself on a spare Android phone or he can supply you with a pre-configured phone.

“When my own boat suffered water damage I searched for boat monitoring systems,” said Dr. Lambert, “but as with many ‘marine’ products I was put off by their high cost. In this age of the Internet and smart phones I thought remote boat monitoring should be more affordable.”

His MaxMon app tells you whether your boat has been moved, or has visitors, whether water is getting in, the state of your batteries and shore power, and can even email you pictures of your boat’s interior. Add the appropriate module and you can turn battery- or shore-powered equipment on and off remotely.  It’s all there, and more besides. And it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

For full details, visit the MaxMon website at http://maxmon.co.uk/boats

PRESS RELEASE ENDS

I found Maxmon very useful indeed. We don’t have any immediate plans for spending an extended period away from the boat but if we did I think Maxmon would be on our shopping list.

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 this year. As spring approaches more and more site users are booking the relatively few discovery days still available. April is now fully booked apart for one date for a single person, and just four of the thirteen June dates remain. August onwards is still relatively free. 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.

1st March 2015

Narrowboat ownership on a shoestring – How to cut your boat ownership costs

22nd February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 2 – More great advice on choosing and buying your first boat

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.

 

 

A Case Study Of Live Aboard Narrowboat Eleftheria

Single boater Stuart Inglis cruises the network extensively and continuously during the warmer months then escapes to a more pleasant climate for damp and dreary winter. It’s a cruising plan which many boaters would like to copy.

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

Stuart looking very stylish on a summer Thames cruise

Stuart looking very stylish on a summer Thames cruise

My name is Stuart Inglis and I am 62. I have two ex significant others and no dog, for reasons that will become apparent (the dog that is not the exes!)

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

All my life I have been a sailor and had always harboured the ambition to stop working and sail away into the sunset. This may have been just a dream originally but, with my three children grown up I retired (gave up work) in 2000 and set sail from London, down the Channel and then across the Bay of Biscay to Northern Spain.

For the next five years I sailed slowly around the western Mediterranean spending the first year in Portugal and southern Spain, another year exploring the Balearics, followed by Corsica and Sardinia and ending up in Italy. The plan to continue cruising to the Adriatic and from there on to the Greek Islands came to an abrupt end when I had a problem with the boat mechanics which necessitated sailing the boat back to Menorca.

Having decided to return to England I then tried to rejoin the rat-race but, after a couple of years, decided that working was not something I enjoyed. During these travels I never found any other place that I would prefer to live. I have always loved England and what better way to see the country than on a narrowboat travelling at 3 mph.

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

Eleftheria heads towards Tower Bridge

Eleftheria heads towards Tower Bridge

My boat is called Eleftheria (I had to Google it up!). She came with the name which means Freedom in Greek. Perfect as far as I was concerned for the lifestyle I was seeking.

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

I am a continuous cruiser (in the truest sense) and have been since August last year.

What is you boat length and style?

Eleftheria is a 58 foot cruiser stern.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

I have owned Eleftheria since January 2013. Having carried out lots of research and searching websites for suitable boats, I drove up to a well known marina and viewed about half a dozen boats. I returned home without having seen anything suitable but there was one boat which was fairly basic but had possibilities. Two days later, after a cheeky offer which was surprisingly accepted, I was the proud owner of a narrowboat.

How did you finance your boat?

I paid cash. My pension from my previous career kicked in when I reached 60 and I was able to take out a lump sum.

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

I am a full-time continuous cruiser so spend the majority of my time on the boat. My plan is to take advantage of the CRT winter moorings and go somewhere warm for the winter which is why I do not have a dog.

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

I was able to retire (finally) when I was 60 but have rented my house out since 1997 to finance my travels.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Winters!….. and the narrowboaters, certainly around London, who overstay on visitor moorings so genuine visitors cannot stop.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

The freedom.

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

I am currently looking into ways of providing instant-ish hot water without using a gas heater or running the engine so if anyone has any suggestions.

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

I have a small car which I move from one spot to another, moving the boat and then cycling back down the towpath on my fold up bicycle to pick up the car. This works really well until the time when I cycled the 10 miles back to the car only to find I had left the car keys on the boat! Still it ( and working the locks single-handedly) keeps you fit.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

I have a washing machine on the boat but have not used it yet. I visit my daughter and take my bags of washing to her – it’s called divine retribution!

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

I have a cassette toilet with a spare cassette. Apart from my initial concerns about emptying it I am now happy with this system.

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

I use the 3 mi-fi and am happy with the service although I do have some problems with reception in the more remote parts of the system.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

Stuart breathes a sigh of relief after a lengthy lock flight

Stuart breathes a sigh of relief after a lengthy lock flight

Having now completed all of the southern canals I have loved each of them for different reasons but if I was pressed it would have to be the Wey Navigation

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

When not running the engine I have two 165w solar panels which provide me with enough electricity during the summer and a trickle charge during the winter. This keeps the batteries topped up and the fridge going. Apart from the fridge and LED lighting I have a 240v TV/DVD which I use occasionally. Anything that needs charging( lap-top, i-pad, phone, razor etc.) is done while I am on the move.

How warm is your narrowboat in the winter?

Vthe boat came with a diesel fired central heating system. I had a solid fuel stove fitted last December with an eco-fan which is fine in the main area of the boat but does not quite reach the bedroom area.

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

Do your research………then do it!!

____________________________________________________________________

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.

 

2015 03 01 Newsletter – Narrowboat Ownership On A Shoestring

The days are racing by. In a month’s time we’ll be off on our travels with nothing to do all day, every day, other than relax, enjoy ourselves and, of course, worry about whether we have enough money to live on. I’m sure that we’ll have no problems. My online income plus the remains of the rental income from Sally’s house after all the property insurance, letting agent fees, furniture storage costs and maintenance bills are paid should suffice. We’re not in a bad place financially but I suppose fear of the unknown is unsettling me a little.

As a belt and braces exercise, from April onwards I will be studying travel writing and journalism in my free time with a view to improving my writing skills which will help improve the quality of this site and also increase the chances of me selling articles to the travel sections of newspapers and magazines across the land. That’s the theory anyway. I’ll let you know how the plan worked in real life at the end of the year.

The worry about making ends meet without a regular income and without the benefit of a pension, state or otherwise, has prompted me to write about boating costs this week and how to keep them as low as possible.

This week at work (only another five to go) has been quite tough. I twisted my back last week doing something very trivial  but I have to work to earn a living so staying off work to nurse my injury wasn’t an option as far as I was concerned. Anyway, the cure for a bad back is often exercise. I think it’s supposed to be gentle exercise rather than brutal hard labour but I’m pretty sure that Calcutt Boats wouldn’t want to pay me for prancing around the garden for hours on end practicing Tai Chi.

Preparing two railway freight carriages for removal was part of my exercise regime. Last week Pat and I stripped the heavy planking from the sides and floor of one of them and used our versatile Merlo fork lift to move the one tonne steel frame into the yard by our wharf. The initial plan was to have the frame taken off site and cashed in for the scrap value. The powers that be decided that it would be of more use sheltering the engineers in an external engine test area next to their workshop so we had to lift the unwieldy frame down a steep slope and over the roof of an adjacent store with the Merlo teetering on the brink of its safe operating limit.

We dropped the frame into place without mishap, which probably came as a surprise to everyone given that I was driving the forklift, then returned to the laborious task of moving tonnes of engine spares from another of the dilapidated carriages. By Wednesday the second carriage had been emptied and taken off site so now we have a clear space for our smart new forty feet long steel container. The new storage container should be with us next week.

Just to make sure that my aching back had all the exercise it needed, I spent Wednesday afternoon removing several hundred paving blocks, two dozen paving slabs and a tonne bag of sand from the walled garden of our lock-side cottage.

I was sentenced to more hard labour on Thursday but this time I had an incentive. Two tonnes of creamy “Cotswold Buff” stone eventually arrived to dress the 100m long path from the north Locks marina access road to the dump barge where I will moor occasionally during the summer months and permanently throughout the winter from April onwards.

To compact the six inch depth of road planings I dumped in the two feet wide clay trench I used to make the path a couple of months ago, the company hired a compacter, a heavy petrol engined Wacker. I collected the Wacker from a small plant hire company on an industrial estate in Southam first thing on Thursday morning then spent a couple of hours compacting the loosely packed road scrapings.

I had to take an hour’s break to run a low temperature resistant “Arctic blue” power cable 100m down to the dump barge from the nearest available meter next to our temporary moorings between Calcutt Bottom and Middle locks. The cable had to be laid in a trench under the path and threaded through heavy duty hose to protect it from the site’s grass cutting equipment and stray spade thrusts.

The stone turned up at 3pm so Pat and I had a couple of hours to wheelbarrow into piles along the path, rake it out to an inch and a half depth and then compact it with the Wacker. Fortunately the driving rain which tormented us all morning had stopped so we didn’t have to overheat in our rather ineffective padded waterproof jackets.

Two tonnes of stone wasn’t nearly enough to finish the job. We now have fifty metres of black footpath leading on to another fifty metres of aesthetically pleasing cream coloured stone. We’re hoping another two tonnes will be delivered early next week so that we can finish the job.

`Boating On A Tight Budget

Living afloat is a wonderful lifestyle, but it isn’t particularly cheap. The cost of buying a boat to live on is far less than that of a home on dry land but the cost to run and maintain a “fully loaded” live aboard narrowboat is comparable to that of a small family home.

Many live aboard boaters buy fairly large boats to live on then struggle to maintain the lifestyle as the bills mount up.  A smaller boat and a simpler way of life means smaller bills and more time spent enjoying the lifestyle rather than worrying how to afford it.

The feature which will have the most impact on the ongoing running and maintenance costs is the length of your boat. The boat’s length will have a direct impact on the cost of license fees, mooring and heating costs, cabin painting and blacking expenditure and, indirectly, your electricity generating costs because of the number of power hungry appliances you can cram on board.

Here’s a breakdown of your boat’s areas of expenditure and what you can do to reduce the cost.

License – The cost of your annual waterways license is determined by the length of your boat. The longest boat you can buy for the inland waterways is seventy feet. The maximum usable length is determined by the length of the locks on the network. A seventy feet long narrowboat will allow you to travel widely but you won’t be able to cruise on some canals with short locks. The current cost for a boat of this length is £1,056 with £100 discount for prompt settlement.

The most common length for a live aboard narrowboat is between fifty and sixty feet but there are quite a few boaters living aboard narrowboats as short as thirty feet. A boat of this length will cost you £641.89 for a year with a £70 discount for prompt payment.

Mooring Fees and Moorings – Mooring fees are often but not always determined by the length of your boat. We have two different marinas with two different pricing structures at Calcutt Boats. Moorings on thirty year old Locks marina are charged at £35.46 per foot per year. A thirty feet long boat would cost £1,063pa rising to £2,482 for a seventy footer. On the newer Meadows marina moorings are charged according to the lengths of the piers rather than the length of the boats. The majority of moorings have sixty feet long piers costing £2,346pa. There are a dozen seventy feet long piers costing £2,737pa.

I’m concentrating on narrowboats rather than wide beams in this article but if you wanted a mooring on one of our seventy feet piers for a wide beam, because you would need two narrowboat moorings you would be charged £5,474 to moor in Meadows marina.

In addition to the basic mooring fees, you need to be aware that some marinas also charge a joining or reservation fee, high usage fees and electricity infrastructure charges.

It’s possible to avoid mooring fees completely by continuously cruising all year round but you need to be mindful of cruising restrictions due to essential canal and lock repairs, getting stuck in ice for brief spells during the winter months and the logistics of spending extended periods negotiating extremely muddy and unpleasant towpaths, again, usually over the winter months.

Blacking – Your boat needs to be lifted out of the water roughly every three years to have the hull repainted. There’s usually a flat fee for removing the boat from the water, £200 at Calcutt Boats, plus a cost per foot for the combined pressure washing, wire brushing and hull painting. The current rate  (I think) is £5 per foot so a seventy feet long boat would cost £350 to paint plus £200 for lifting in and out. The total cost for a thirty feet long boat would be £350.

You can rent a slipway or a wet dock so that you can do the work yourself but by the time you have factored in the cost of the dock/slipway hire and the cost to hire a pressure washer and industrial wire brush you probably won’t have saved much money, but at least you would know that an important job was done thoroughly.

Painting – Getting your boat professionally painted it very expensive. As a guide, you should budget £100 per foot. You don’t have to have your boat painted by professionals, but you do need to make sure that the steel is always protected by a good layer of paint.

I painted my own 62′ long boat in April 2012. The finish was far from perfect but doing the work myself saved £4,000 after materials paint tent and equipment hire was taken into consideration. Now, after three years, I need to spend some time touching up numerous scratches, scrapes and flakes but I’m still quite pleased with the work overall.

Sally and I are considering repainting the cabin sides but I don’t think that the ten days we’ve booked a tent for April will be long enough to do everything. Painting your own boat is quite time consuming and there’s a fairly steep learning curve but like everything in life, the more you practice, the better you get.

You don’t have to paint your boat in a variety of colours or adorn it with fancy sign writing. Just paying a professional sign writer to add my boat name, James No 194, and this web site address to both sides of the cabin is going to cost me £500. I could buy adhesive vinyl lettering for much less than that.

If you really want to save yourself money, and you’re not bothered about aesthetics, you can simply keep your boat protected by several coats of the same coloured primer. If you want to save even more money you can do what the owner of two boats featured in many of the national boating magazines has done.

He had a boat built to his own design and high specification. The first boat, Valhalla, looked like a stealth bomber, especially he painted everything, including the cabin, with bitumen hull paint. Several years later, he had a wide beam boat built, also along the stealth bomber lines, and also totally protected by bitumen. He told me that he repainted his boat every year at a total cost of under £200.

Cabin size/heating – The cabin of my 62′ traditional stern narrowboat is forty eight feet long. It’s heated by a single solid fuel stove located on the starboard side four feet from the forward bulkhead. Three gravity fed radiators are heated by the stove’s back boiler. The cabin is always warm at the front of the boat but can be ten or fifteen degrees colder in the back cabin because of the distance from the stove.

If I had a typical boat stove such as the Morso Squirrel, I could use the very popular Ecofan to push warm air further down the cabin. Unfortunately an Ecofan won’t work on my stove because the stove’s double top plate doesn’t allow the top of the stove to get hot enough to power the fan.

As far as I’m concerned, and I’ve not met any live aboard boaters who disagree with me, every live aboard boat should use a solid fuel stove as its primary heat source. Central heating systems are often far more convenient to use, especially during spring and autumn periods with warm days and cold nights when you just need a quick burst of heat at either end of the day to take the chill off the boat, but mechanical systems can and do go wrong, usually when you need them most. My stove has been in my boat since it was built in 1977. The flue has been replaced several times and the glass changed quite often but, apart from that, it has been providing a reliable heat source now for thirty eight years.

I use coal briquettes in my stove. It’s a more effective fuel than unseasoned wood which is often used on boats and easier to light and keep alight than coal. I use about two tonnes of the stuff each year but, partly because of the size and layout of the cabin and partly because of the boat’s insulation, the boat is rarely hot.

Having effective insulation, a central stove, draught proof windows and a smaller cabin will drastically reduce your annual heating bill. My insulation is polystyrene which isn’t very effective. Spray foam insulation is used these days. It’s far more effective than mine.

I also used to lose a great deal of cabin heat because of the wind which whistled through the poorly fitting hopper windows. I’ve completely resolved the problem now by fitting secondary double glazing panels. I used to dread windy winter days on our exposed mooring because I knew we’d be living in a wind tunnel. Today, I can see banks of grey cloud scudding across the pale blue sky propelled by a 30mph south westerly, but not a breath of it is sneaking into our cabin to steal the heat.

A small solid fuel stove is all you need to heat a narrowboat with a small cabin. Even with the stove on its lowest setting, you’ll have the front doors open on the coldest days to prevent the cabin from overheating.

Another cost cutting benefit of a solid fuel stove is your ability to use it for cooking. Foil wrapped potatoes placed in the ash tray beneath the stove will bake to crispy perfection in a few hours and the hot top plate will allow you to slow cook casseroles or keep water hot for drinks or washing up.

If you are going to rely on a central heating system on board, try to steer clear of gas. Gas central heating has two disadvantages. Firstly, it is prohibitively expensive to run if you are going to use it for extended periods. I know several people who have purchased ex hire boats to live on. They have been horrified to discover that they needed to replace a 13kg cylinder every three days at £27 a time.

The other disadvantage is that unlike a solid fuel stove which removes moisture from the air and so helps reduce condensation, gas heating actually adds moisture to the air so increases your chances of having problems with damp.

I’ve just about exhausted my boat heating knowledge now but here’s some additional information for you if you want to know more.

On board electrics/battery bank/charging regime – This is a very important aspect of your floating lifestyle to get right. If you’re going to be on a static mooring with a shore power supply permanently plugged in, you can ignore this section and pretty much run the same equipment on your boat as you would in a house. However, as soon as you unplug your shore supply and start cruising you need to be very careful what electrical appliances you use and how often you use them.

A narrowboat’s on board electrical capabilities range from a basic setup with two or three batteries to accommodate a simple 12v supply to a combination of built in generators and large battery banks to allow a wide range of appliances to be used on board, including electric cookers.

Batteries are consumables so you need to budget for their replacement. Lead acid batteries will last you two to three years. AGM batteries cost about 50% more but will last up to three times as long. AGM batteries also need no maintenance at all because, unlike lead acid batteries, you don’t have to check them regularly to ensure that the distilled water is kept at the right level.

It’s possible to live a simple life with just two or three fairly low capacity batteries. One is usually reserved exclusively for starting the engine while the rest will supply your 12v needs. The basic 12v electrics on your boat will probably be the fridge, internal and external lights and the water and shower pump.

With a basic setup like this you won’t be able to run any 230v mains appliances, but you can buy a 12v television which will run directly from the battery bank and you can purchase an adapter so that you can charge your laptop.

Our own electrical needs fall somewhere in the middle. When I first moved on board, the boat had a very basic 12v supply with just two 110ah batteries. There were also 230v sockets throughout the boat but they could only be used if the boat was plugged in to a shore supply.

Over the last four years I’ve enhanced the electrical setup considerably with the long term goal of making the boat fit for long term fairly high electrical use off grid.

I started off by having a battery charger fitted so that I could keep the batteries topped up when plugged into the shore supply. The I replaced the single 110ah battery in the domestic bank with two larger capacity 135ah batteries. About eighteen months later I realised that the two batteries weren’t enough so increased the domestic bank to four.

I also added a 1600w pure sine inverter so that I could use mains appliances while we were cruising. Then I had three 100w solar panels fitted. I am delighted with the solar panels. Even on a chilly but sunny late winter day like today, the panels are generating 10-15amps which is enough to keep my 12v supply topped up. If you’re interested in solar power, here’s an excellent guide.

Last month I decided to replace the four 135ah lead acid batteries in my domestic bank with long life AGM batteries. With careful management, the new batteries should last me seven to ten years.

Careful management is the key. An essential tool for keeping your batteries healthy is a battery monitor. If you are away from a shore supply, you will usually top up your batteries by running your engine. Running your engine to top up your batteries is a very expensive way of generating electricity. Unless you have a battery monitor, you don’t know how long to run your engine before the battery bank is adequately charged. Run the engine too little and the batteries will be insufficiently charged which will shorten their life and increase your maintenance costs. If you run the engine for too long, your batteries will be fully charged but you will be wasting expensive diesel.

My battery monitor is a Smartgauge. It’s been fitted into the bulkhead between the engine room and our bedroom with the digital display facing into the bedroom. The display shows me the number of volts going in to the battery bank which, to be quite honest, I don’t understand, and the battery bank’s current state of charge expressed as a percentage which, thankfully, is a figure which I do understand.

I check the display twice a day, first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon. I have to run the engine twice a day anyway when we are away from a shore supply to replenish the hot water stored in the calorifier (immersion tank) under our bed. An hour is enough to heat the 55l tank and usually more than enough to top the batteries up but, thanks to the monitor, I know whether I need to run the engine longer.

The final weapon in our electrical arsenal is a suitcase generator. The 1,600w inverter we have isn’t powerful enough to run four of Sally’s essential appliances;her hair dryer, hair straighteners, vacuum cleaner and iron. Personally, I could do without all of them but that’s probably because (A) I have very short, easy to manage hair and (B) I’m a typical male slob.

It’s misleadingly called a suitcase generator because it’s supposed to be portable. However, the 35kg dead weight isn’t something I would like to haul around with me on holiday. Getting it out of the engine room on to the towpath to run it is as far as I ever want to carry it.

The generator is rated at 2,600w so it will run all of the appliances Sally wants plus my own personal power hungry weakness, my Nespresso coffee machine.

I could spend hours talking about boat electrics if I had the time and knowledge to do it justice. I have neither. Fortunately for both you and I, someone who has probably forgotten more about on board power use than I could ever hope to learn has written comprehensively about the subject here. It’s a subject you need to get your head around regardless of whether you use a boat for recreational cruising or as a primary home and the article I’ve linked to is possibly the clearest and most easy to understand explanation I’ve read. I know you’ll find it useful.

Engine maintenance – Your engine is the heart of your boat. It needs looking after and looking after your engine means regular servicing.

I’m going to be running my engine this year much more than I have in previous years. The 50+ discovery days scheduled for this year will account for at least four hundred and fifty hours. When I’m not hosting the training days we’ll be cruising continuously from April until the end of November. I realistically expect to run the engine for 1,000 hours or more in total this year.

With a recommended service interval of two hundred and fifty hours I will require four or five services before the end of the year. If I ask a boatyard or River Canal Rescue to do them for me, I will need to find £500-£600 for the labour plus the additional cost of any parts required.

At the beginning of last month I paid RCR £175 for a “one to one” engine service. The engineer spent five hours with me explaining how to do a full service. At the end of the service, he gave me a comprehensive list of tools and engine spares to keep on board. I’m not the most practical person in the world, but I now realise that servicing my engine isn’t rocket science. I now have the confidence to do all the basic engine servicing myself and save a sizable chunk of money each year.

If I can do it, I have no doubt that you will find servicing your own engine a piece of cake

Toilet costs – There are three different types of narrowboat toilets; pump out, cassette and composting toilets. Composting toilets are the least popular because they require you to get much closer to your processed food than you probably want and because they usually need adapting to make them work in our humid island climate. Normally, you’ll find either a pump out or cassette toilet on board your boat or, for those adopting the belt and braces approach to on board waste management, both.

Each toilet type has its pros and cons. The pump out toilet is the closest you’ll get to a toilet in a house. The big difference is that boat toilets don’t have the same volume of water available when you flush them to get rid of any residue. I’m afraid, this is something you just have to live with on board but a pump out loo is best if you want a normal toilet experience. Another advantage of the pump out toilet is that, with a coffin sized holding tank, you can last a month or more before you need to empty it. The two main disadvantages of this type of toilet is that you have to take your boat to a pump out station to empty the holding tank, which can be very difficult or impossible if the canal is frozen, and each time you have the tank emptied, you have to part with £15-£20.

Many boat owners with pump out toilets also keep a cassette toilet on board. Cassette toilets are usually free to empty. The downside is that you have to carry a holding tank weighing up to 20kg through your boat’s narrow walkway then hold the upturned tank quite close to you while yesterday’s meals gush into an open sewer, and you have to do it two or three times a week.

Foraging

 

 

Deck covers

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 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 five 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 attendees Katrina and Mark Urch.

A narrowboat training day in February 2015

Mark and Katrina on an enjoyable but rather chilly February discovery day

“We purchased our boat during the summer last year and plan to travel the canal network for a year starting end of March this year. Apart from a very hurried couple of days when we hired a boat for the first time last Easter and a maiden voyage on our own when we first bought it, we had no experience of boating.  We realised we didn’t know very much at all and thought some tuition and guidance before we set off would be a good idea.

Despite it being a cold winter’s day we received a lovely warm welcome (and coffee).  Your boat gave us a few pointers on how we should maybe change some things on ours and some food for thought.

Both Mark and I said how patient you were and your instruction were very clear (even if I did still keep steering the wrong way).  I am more confident now that in time I will relax and enjoy our journey and the “step” is definitely on the list to purchase/make.

The day was definitely worth doing. Your knowledge and expertise were very welcome and seeing how you have adapted your boat to living aboard was extremely useful.  The hands on experience on the day has set straight a few things we were doing wrong and given us some information to take forward with us.

Thank you once again for a very enjoyable day and the use of Sally’s step.   The weather was definitely on our side, even the hailstones and snow didn’t last too long.   You never know we may see you on our travels this summer!”

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.

22nd February 2015

Buying a narrowboat Part 2 – Some more advice on choosing and buying your first boat

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.

 

 

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