Beginners guide to Narrow Boating
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Mon Feb 27, 2017 at 3:26pm

1. What is it really like living on a narrow boat?

Living on a narrow boat can be a fantastic way of life, if you enjoy the outdoors and being close to nature then this style of living is going to suit you down to the ground. The other great fact is you are able to travel the UK canal network at your leisure, taking the time to discover parts of the UK many others don’t have the opportunity to enjoy via the canal. Also there are never any traffic jams on the canal so travelling is trouble free!

Living on a narrow boat is really a life style choice and it doesn’t always meet people’s expectations. Having said this if you do your research and even hire a narrow boat for a long weekend/a week, you can get a feel of what life would be like living aboard first hand.

It may not be ideal if you are claustrophobic, as space is rather limited in a narrow boat however a wide beam also known as a broad beam may be an option if you did find the interior of a narrow boat too limiting.

Living on a narrow boat requires you to be organised and it general helps if you plan things in advance. As you are not connected to the mains you need to think about water, electricity and gas.

Owning a narrow boat is a great way of enjoying a more relaxed way of life everything on the water is so much slower and more relaxed. It has become increasingly more popular with younger people who are looking for a different home solution.

If you are just going to use the narrow boat for leisure purposes; weekends and holidays then this is a different kettle of fish all together as you won’t need to consider all the things that a liveaboard has to.

2. Where will I keep my narrow boat?

There are a few options open to you when looking for somewhere to moor your narrow boat. The first option which can be the most expensive is to moor at a marina, mooring at a marina does have a lot of benefits though which includes security, pump out facilities, chandlery shop, and other amenities like wash rooms. Having these facilities on hand helps to justify the mooring bill.

The 2nd choice is to moor along the canal to do this you must apply to the Canal and River Trust for a long term mooring licence. This is a very economical mooring solution but unfortunately quite difficult to obtain. The other down side to this option is there are no facilities on hand.

And the final option is to join a club, becoming a member enables you to apply for a mooring within the clubs facilities. There are responsibilities that go with becoming a member of a club but you also have the benefit of mixing with other members and becoming part of a new community.

3. How much does it cost to live on a boat compared to a house?

This depends on many factors including where you keep the narrow boat, the length of the boat, the boats age, the on-going costs for fuel (heating and propulsion), blacking (hull protection), pump out, engine maintenance, general service, licences and insurance. Also the amount of time you spend on the boat will determine your on-going costs. So it’s hard to compare a like for like here as every situation is different, but by taking in all of the above you have a base to calculate the costs you need to consider to suit your usage and boat.

4. What appliances can I use on my boat?

You can use all the appliances you would do in a brick home, but the consideration is how you run the appliances. This website describes the different types of options you

For example using a ‘normal’ kettle is more difficult in a narrowboat, a kettle on a hob using gas may be more effective.

5. Where can I get water?

Most marinas will have a water point where you can fill up, at Venetian marina we don’t charge for this service but other marinas do have a charge of around £5.00. There are also stand pipes which can be found along the canal side. You need to obtain a British Water ways key to open the stand pipe these cost around £5 -£6 and will also open washrooms along the canal system. The average size of a water tank is 40 gallons and depending on the water pressure in the area will dictate how long it will take to fill up.

6. Is it safe for pets and children?

Yes, it is totally safe we recently wrote two other articles about these topics  Living aboard a narrowboat with children, and Living aboard a narrowboat with pets,  as you can see it’s quite possible. One thing to consider is some marinas do not allow residential moorers to keep pets.

7. What limitations are there when cruising the canal network?

Cruising limitations apply if your boat is over a certain length and also if you own a wide beam as there are areas along the canal system that will not take these boats, although there are restrictions to cruising in some areas there are plenty of other parts of the canal system where you can cruise. Speed is another limitation – the max speed on the canal system is 4 miles an hour and this is the limit not the target (4 miles an hour is a fast walking pace).

8. When can I use my narrow boat?

All year round, owning a canal boat is not based around the seasons. In fact if you live on your boat throughout the year you really get to appreciate the different seasons and the challenges the weather brings with it.

9. Do I need insurance?

Yes just like you have home or car insurance the same applies to your narrow boat. We recommend talking to Collidge and Partners who specialise in inland waterways craft insurance. Again the insurance costs will vary from boat to boat and your usage, but as a guideline you will be looking at roughly £250 - £500 per year

10. If I decide I don’t want my boat any more what can I do?

This is easy you can simply sell it! You can either use a brokerage company or try and sell it privately. The advantages of selling your narrow boat through a broker can outweigh those of selling the boat yourself. Using a good brokerage company gives the narrow boat additional exposure through their established marketing medias such as; the company’s website, Face book, Twitter, mailing systems and offline marketing like magazines and papers. Marinas like Venetian and Whilton also have facilities where a boat can be surveyed and any work necessary carried out by professionals, such as boat safety examiners, engineers and welders.

Happy boating.


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