Now Traveling around the UK in the Campervan, and Living on a Narrow Boat
Our Interactive map link below may help you find spots we have visited
(Click on this link for our interactive map) https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1XjysbbSnwSWyLvUaD4OAHUKmgzEDoCSL
Written 2020 and revised 27/06/2021 (featuring our new Mini Trips)
Well its time for a different page! Times they are a changing.
Were not planning the Waterways trip this year, (2021) that we thought we would. Due mainly due to covid restrictions, quarantine etc. There is no way in Hell we want to get involved with all that. but as soon as we think that its ok, we will start some UK exploring. in Trusty, our Camper. So we will wait for this to blow over although I doubt well get back to anything near normal for a couple of years..or more. ETIAS Visa coming in..(No travel in the Shenzhen zone for more than 90 days in 180 ) If your not sure of it, or never heard of it! read the Link to the site below
Also if I had to hazard a guess, vaccination passports will be needed as well.
Better locked down in the Marina than on a remote towpath some where on the Canal.. CRT winter moorings are mostly not very user friendly, mostly in places most folks don’t want to moor, miles from water etc, and cost more than our annual one here. We are trying to work out if keeping the Marina moorings , and just cruise next year, will Work out better for us. Which I’m convinced it will.
This is an Idea we came up with a couple of months ago. and there will be posts on the main page when and as we do them. £100 in the the pot, is the figure per trip. So what we intend to do is base these UK mini trips with this as starting figure. to include fuel, (not food shops) as you have to eat where ever you are. but can include up to two meals a trip in either takeaways or pub stops.
We will be using Free stops as much as possible, although some paid places will have to be included. Trips may include 1/2/3 nights or more. The aim is to see how far we can get and how long we can stop out for this sum. Teresas Job will also dictate when we can do these mini trips. She works very odd hours. so some will be in the week and some, weekends. Any cash left over from the trip. will be bunged to the next one. any over spends will be deducted from the next one, and so on. Hopefully it will be a bit of fun in these bleak times. link to mini trips will be on the main page blog. Or link here if you dont want troll through all of the main blog
What type of boat should I buy? and a bit on Narrow Boating after owning 3 different ones over many years
The answers to this are many and varied. First of all it will very much depend on what you want to achieve. For instance, do you want to liveaboard permantly or just keep her as a day boat. Your budget and where you want to go.
Again it depends on your preferences and budget. Low end or high end. We went for a low end boat to fit our needs. size does matter, but we found that a smaller older boat would suffice. and as it has turned out, it has very well. Bigger boat. more cost. much bigger boat? much bigger costs. Licence fees. blacking, dry docking, mooring fees. all are calculated on length.
Now CRT has brought in charges for width as well, mainly for wide beams, but fibre glass cruisers and some steel boats qualify for this rip off, as well. I can see the need on Narrow canals, but most of these type of craft wont go on them, But?? the Gloucester and Sharpness?? built for ships this one, so a wide beam is small potatoes to this canal. look before you leap, is the rule of thumb with most boats. especialy with wide beams.
57 foot narrow boat is the ideal length for a boat according to most, especially if you want to cruise all the canals. Anything bigger will not do all the waterways. 55 foot is probably the best all rounder for cruising the system. It is all very much a matter of suitability and budget.
There is not much space in a narrow boat (the name gives that away) does not matter how well you choose on this account, there never will be. Trying to cram the half the contents of even a bed-sit would give problems. and would be nigh on impossible. None of your house furniture will really fit, and if it did. on most boats, you wont get most of it through the doors. so when your viewing boats, keep this in mind. The layout of the boat is important in many ways, suitable amount of cupboard space, wardrobe space.. the bigger the better if you have a Lady living with you.
We find our open plan combined with our heating package, is ideal, and of course the length of the boat also factors in, a 70 footer has much more space, but is much more costly and difficult to heat than a 35 footer. Is the kitchen big enough ? does the shower suit your needs. Headroom throughout the boat, no good if you have to stoop in it, becomes a low top van on water.
Internal layout has a big effect on the warmth of the boat and how easy it is to keep all the parts warm. open plan is better than bulkheads every where. It allows the air to free flow around the boat. Bulk heads can make the bow warm and the stern cold, or vice versa. Heating systems. We took out our stove, infact it was never fitted correctly by the previous owner. As most of the time our boat is on the Marina, we opted for Diesel Blow air heating, run on heating oil (kerosene) and infra red electric panels (2) for our boat. Which we hardly ever use. The diesel air heater is Brill and more than sufficient. Although this suits us. I would advise a solid fuel stove for continuous cruising in winter as a back up. if your stuck in the middle of no where iced in. could be a life saver.
Some of the costs
Living aboard is not expensive or at least isn’t if you don’t make it so.. but of course its no longer as cheap as was when I first started boating 25 years ago. The Boat license for instance, used to be for a 55 foot boat, was around 350 quid. now over 3.5 times that. A big difference there alone. I know things have to go up, but it gives you an idea of just how much boating and boating costs have increased. Back in the Days. Insurance was not compulsory, and the boat safety certificate was none existent.
Live aboard boating, is still way cheaper than living in a house or flat. Living afloat has is advantages and disadvantages. But for us, its the way to go at the present time, its possible in the future, we may decide not to do it anymore. That is the way of the nomadic life we lead now.
Our Insurance is £120 a year, Third party, and a word of advice here.. Comprehensive insurance on boats as old as ours, 42 years require a full hull survey every time you insure. As does anthing over 20 years old. Very very expensive. and not practical at all. and as boats don’t often sink or catch fire, not necessary in our case. Note: We would not like to loose the boat, but it would not break the bank if we did. Hence budget boat. With surveys costing upward of 500/800 quid, you can see why we wont do it. But if your boat owes you Tens of thousands, we understand why its better fully comp.
The Boat safety certificate is around . The same price, as the third party insurance, give or take 50 quid but lasts 4 years, works out annually, around the same price as your car mot.. We use this one. Insure4boats. and find it adequate, (note we don’t get any money for recommendations on this site.) Its just our opinions, although if the company reads this and gives us 50% off, we wouldn’t scream.. Cant see that happening ! can you ?
Although some of the costs have increase five fold in 25 years..on the plus side, our license fees for our 35 foot boat plus the marina fees, set us back around £50 a week. Kerosene around £6 a week. Winter. Electric coupled with our solar panels, costs around £3/6 a week, and in the summer . electric costs go to around £2 a week. Cooking on gas, (propane) 38 kg bottle lasts a year, and I fill them myself from the auto gas stations for around £11.
So around 75 quid a week all in. Only things left to buy is food and beer, and wine in a certain persons case. No water rates. no council tax. no meter charges, no brown letters demanding money with menaces Whats not to like ?? Its still so much better for our pockets than houses or flats. and so much easier on our health and mind.
Standing charges on your meters at home are 14% of our typical energy costs. around 1200 quid a year on all 3, and thats before you use any power gas or water. can be higher or lower depending where you live, and who your suppliers are. These charges saved, pay our boat license and Insurance and with £400 change. Rip off power companies!!
The Marina has Good clean hot showers, spotless toilets, 25 meters from the boat..no need to use ours. and the total upside is Beautiful surroundings, close to Nature, with walks and scenery to die for, peace and quiet, If you Dont like the neighbours ?? Move !! Turn of a key!! new neighbours, or none at all.
Our boat engine runs on red diesel which is currently around 75/85 pence a litre, but soon to be faded out, and white diesel or electric will be the only fuels, allowed for Propulsion, But for continuous cruisers, that means a 35% increase in engine fuel costs. and a small fortune if going over to electric..
That wont really affect us much, as we are not planning now, to do much if any cruising very soon. and if we do. we will absorb the increase, Again on the plus side. our boat engine is a single cylinder 10 Horse power Vintage engine which is an absolute miser on fuel..and will go twice as far as most conventional four cylinder diesels which are mostly fitted to new boats these days.It was a great favourite years ago with the lifeboats. Like Trusty, old tech and easy to fix, so easy in fact. it all comes apart without lifting the engine out of the boat. Red diesel will still be sold for heating the boat..
Also factor into it, the cost of moorings if you want or need one..and fuel, maintenance, Dry docking, painting, blacking, insurance, license, Boat safety, Breakdowns, and much more, this all mounts up. Not a problem for some with big bank accounts. but this is not about them. its about the every day budget boaters.
You will definitely need some basic skills to do this.as well as enough money to maintain the life, Road transport can be a hard thing if you are continuous cruising. Parking a car while continuous Cruising and jumping it along as you go is both impractical, and almost impossible, most times. Downright iffy in some areas, breakins are not common . But no fun coming back to your wheels and finding them broken into, or worse. Not there!
Not a problem if you are on a Marina mooring. Most Marinas have good security, and most of all, boaters with respect other peoples property.
Push bikes are the norm..and a good way to get about, and good for the exercise. Although after you have negotiated/navigated 10 locks in a day, you might not have the energy to ride miles for grocery.So we have a small motorbike as well, which we carry on board when and if we do this..and not strictly legal to use on a towpath. but plenty of places you can moor and get more or less onto a road.
You wont be able to do continuous cruising with a normal job. unless you work from a PC. or have a trust fund, or in my case and many others, a Pension. The cruising rules require you to move every 14 days. and no return to same spot . until you have covered 20 miles one way (not in one go) you cant go backwards in theory, until you achieve this, although many do. Another weird, not thought out rule the CRT have recently introduced.
I can see the need of it for some..but the Gloucester Sharpness canal is only 18 miles long, with a sea lock at one end and River lock at the other. The latter can only be used mainly in summer.or extremely low tides. and river levels, the sea lock for obvious reasons, is a no go for narrow boats. So 20 miles here is not really possible. or safe in the winter. Anybody who has seen how quick the river rises in bad weather will know what I mean. Take heed !! stay off rivers in wet weather.
Living aboard is great for us, but can be a problem, depending where you are moored. it can be done with a permanent residential mooring. but these are like hens teeth and expensive. and to be honest, the only reason to get one, (if you can) is to be cheaper than the house you lived in, and of course the freedom and surroundings.
Most Marinas normally have time limits on how many days you can stay on your boat in a year, again depends on their planning permission. Some turn a blind eye to living on your boat more permanently, , or overstaying, others don’t, but its not your right to do it. Local city councils cant really police it, but busy bodies are always too willing to complain. Local Parish Councils are the worst for this, but they are not alone. Plenty of busy bodies everery where.
Boating and Continuous Cruising, is great in the summer. Its Beautiful and very rewarding. (The Rosie and Jim effect) But winter brings a whole new set of challenges.
With Ice snow, Rain, we all get that.!! but its totally different with a narrow boat. Some towpaths become almost impasable, with mud, snow ice, all not good when your trying to lug a toilet cassette or a bag of coal to your boat. Iced up canals, well again a pain if you cant boat to a water or sanitation point. Heating or mechanical failure. Finding shops, Fuel and many other things you take for granted
Then the added Pleasures and woes of navigating, along the cut, in Winter, with strong winds and rain sleet and often mist or fog, makes it very interesting. Standing out in the weather , without a pram cover on a cruiser stern, (we have one) Frozen and wet, Great fun. However its a thing every boater at some point does, its all about boating after all ?
I once in High summer on the K&A canal I ran into a swarm of biting horse fly’s. lasted for 3 miles. some freak weather situation made it ideal for them.. spent an hour and a half swinging a towel around my head,, like a windmill while steering the boat to get through them, Loads of other boaters got bitten to buggery, me? not a bite.
So all this brings the Rosie and Jim concept into Question. Doesn’t it ??? Not many TV series delve into the neg side. Its a great life, but I feel people need to know more about the pitfalls as well.
Of course if all you need the boat for is summer, you will encounter wall to wall hire boats on a lot of canals. especialy on the narrow canals, the K&A ETC. Normally piloted and crewed by Idiots who don’t care about the boat, because they don’t own it..There are some good ones, but more than 70% are daft. They get an hours tuition before being set loose to bang into your boat. and laugh about it. Multi Males on a beer boat, the worst offenders. well that’s another story. Finally if you can accept some or all of this, I still recommend it to you. The marina way is the best option for us this year, but next ?? who knows??
ICED OVER Winter 2021
For those who might be contemplating refurbishing a boat, this link will take you to our voyager rebuild Hope it may give you some ideas on how or how not to do it. The one underneath that, The Narrow Boat Lynton Dreams. Will take you to another boat I rebuilt in a land and time far far away, and when I had more money.