There are now thousands of canal boats on Britain’s inland waterways, although it’s difficult to estimate exactly how many of those are liveaboards. The inland boating community is diverse, and includes middle-aged divorcees, retired couples, young professionals, people on low incomes, and canal heritage enthusiasts. Some people like the alternative lifestyle, others hope it may be a cheaper lifestyle. Some are foreign tourists exploring England’s canals, and some boaters are able to continuously cruise because they work from home. Recent TV programmes like Canal Boat Diaries and Travels by Narrowboat show the pros and cons of living aboard.
If you are thinking of living on a narrowboat, here are some things to consider: You will have to declutter your possessions in order to manage living in a smaller space with limited storage. Extra chores will include disposing of your own domestic waste and sewage, and regularly refilling the water tank. Engine maintenance is essential, as your 12volt electric supply and even the running water in the taps will depend on it. The changing price of red diesel will affect your home budget and you will need to buy propane gas in bottles. If your work or personal commitments make continuously cruising impractical, you will also need to find a mooring.
At Foxboats marina, we have a mooring stipulation from our local authority of no more than 10 months out of 12 occupancy of the boats on site. However, many liveaboards choose to continuously cruise during the summer, and take a mooring in a marina like ours for the winter. This way you enjoy the convenience of a mooring for half the year, and exploring the waterways when the weather is warmer. Many moorings have a good sense of community where you can get to know your neighbours.
Taking the Plunge
If you have considered the potential challenges of life afloat then you are ready to take the plunge. It can be quite freeing to live with less material possessions. Consider the sense of independence and accomplishment knowing that you are responsible for supplying your own gas and electric. You’ll enjoy feeling connected to nature when watching swans, ducks and moorhens glide by outside your windows. You will become more economical with water and you may like to learn new skills such as marine engine maintenance, boat refurbishment or painting roses and castles. The towpath may now be your running track or cycle route if you want to get fit. Will you settle down on a mooring or will you consider a new career as a roving canal trader?
I love it when I discover a fictional character that lives on a boat. Here are three that you may not have heard of: Movies That Feature Narrowboating Life.
You may also like: The Truth About Living Aboard A Boat: 3 Books You Should Read
I spent 13 years living on canal boats and during that time many people I met assumed that I was bravely living without any modern comforts. People would ask me if it was cold in winter, and whether living aboard was a bit like camping? But nothing could be further from the truth: Modern narrowboats are extremely comfortable. Here are four surprising creature comforts you will find on a Fox narrowboat.
Read: Is it Cold in Winter? The Answer Might Surprise You!
If you’ve already enjoyed a few hire boat holidays and now feel ready to take the next step towards owning your own boat. Here are our top three suggestions for getting a boat: Get Afloat! 3 Ways to Get a Boat.
But if you’d like to ‘try before you buy’, check availability now for your next narrowboat holiday, to see if this is the right lifestyle for you.
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Credit: Deposit Photos Narrowboat on the River Cam