Category Archives: Pre Narrowboat

Why a Narrowboat? A Combination of Things…

As the time fast approaches our move aboard and we visit canal sites to perform our last duties as gongoozlers, we’ve realised rather than standing by canal bridges, we will soon be going under them

Combination - Great Bedwyn - Bridge image

We’ve also started to analyse what it is that makes the move aboard so appealing. The conclusion is it’s a culmination & combination of things.

Culmination and Combination

It seems to be that moving aboard a narrowboat is a culmination of things we have experienced in the past

Glastonbury – the trek in, the excitement of the alternative, the sights, smells & sounds, the Green Fields of Glastonbury, setting up camp. Lots of different areas to explore.

Camping – under canvas, making a home in the outdoors and moving from place to place. Oh, and tea from a Ghillie Kettle.

Holidays in a Campervan – setting off on an adventure with all you need, packed into every little nook and cranny.

A Land Rover Defender – its strength, engineering and industial heritage.

Outdoors – walking, exploring, map reading, photographing

In some part, living aboard a narrowboat is a combinations of the essenses of the above experiences.

Well, that’s what we keep telling ourselves 😉

Combination - Great Bedwyn image
View from a bridge at Great Bedwyn

See you on The Cut.

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

We’ve Got a Date To Move Aboard!

Yes! We’ve got a date to move aboard!

Express Delivery

I’ve just got off the phone from the marina and everything is on track for the weekend of the 28th April. The boat will be taken out of the water late afternoon of Wednesday 25th, a series of mechanics & assorted tradespersons will swarm over it from roof to bilge, working their various kinds of magic and all being well, we should take delivery Monday 30th 🙂

Suddenly, it’s all very real.

A Canal Visit

We visited the Kennett and Avon canal yesterday.

Daste - B-O-A - canal towpath I image
Bradford-On-Avon

Firstly, we visited Bradford-On-Avon for breakfast at The Lock Inn Cafe and then to gongoozle at the lock. Two narrowboats passed through together – A hire boat paired with a 70ft Traditional with a Lister HR2 engine (a god amongst engines). The thoughts that we will have to manage this in three week’s time were sobering. However, I’m sure a tot of rum will help with that (only joking, it will probably be two 😉 ).

 

Date - Great Bedwyn image
Great Bedwyn Wharf

Secondly, we visited Great Bedwyn and its canal wharf. It’s mooring of barges & narrowboats, bridges and a lock in the warmth & sunshine of a snatch of Spring, re-enforced  why we’re doing this thing. We were inspired to visit there by pouring over Jim Batty‘s excellent book; Narrowboat Life – Discover Life Afloat on the Inland Waterways from Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd. If you are contemplating a life on the ocean wave canal, or just curious there’s no better resource. It gives a real insight.

 

Just think, with that date – it’s only a few weeks time and we’ll be walking those towpaths for real!

 

Date - Great Bedwyn - mu image

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

The Waterways of England and Wales

The Waterways of England and Wales?

No, we’ve not actualy moved onto the narrowboat yet, we’re not touring the canal network, it’s just that over the weekend, it felt like it.

We travelled to Norwich in Norfolk on family business and had a wonderful time in the City of churches (which was fitting as it was Easter).  We took the opportunity as once we move aboard, we won’t have the time to go off, on a whim as we will be wedded to the bilge! The stern gland will hold sway and the deck will need swabbing  ;-).

A Wacky Race

However, I digress. The journey up from Wiltshire (more across than up but you get the picture) was marked by torrential rainfall. Almost the whole way!

Waterways - Driving in the Rain II image

It was like we were in the Wacky Races vehicle; the one where a cloud continually follows them, pouring forth rain and lightning (there wasn’t any lightning) – I think it was The Gruesome Twosome). A grey, continual stream of rain, torrented against the car and drove visibility down to 1.5cm (well, maybe it was a little better than that). Ardous was a word that sprang to mind.

Open to the Elements

The grey motorway was awash and after a while, it looked like we were on a canal. It was effectively a waterway.  The same happened, to some lesser degree on the way back down. We suddenly thought, this is what it will be like some days, except there’s no pram hood cover to hold off the rain – there’s very little room on a Traditional Stern narrowboat to afix a hood, we’re open to the elements. I have purchased one of the most waterproof coats I could; Mountain Equipment‘s Janak jacket. I figure if it’s good enough for Anapurna, it’s good enough for the canal.

It’s only a few weeks away now until we take the helm, sorry – the Tiller (does that mean mu becomes a tiller girl?). The journey in rain focussed our minds on the tasks at hand. There’s a seismic shift coming in the way we’re going to live but that’s a good thing. We’re looking forward to the challenge

Waterways - Driving in the Rain II image

Now, where did I put that water sealant?

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

By Hook or By Crook

By Hook or By Crook We Will*

Hook image

Hook

By Hook or By Crook‘, ‘Captian Hook‘, ‘Hook, Line and Sinker‘, ‘Well and Truly Hooked‘, ‘Phone off the Hook‘, ‘Hooks In You‘ (nice Marillion song, a single from the fifth album).

We’re buying a narrowboat and if there’s one thing we need on our narrowboat, it’s a hook. A narrowboat, by definition is narrow and so has little floorspace. So, we can’t spread out but we can think vertically. A hook is the ideal.

Luckily, we have a hook. It’s that brass one up above. I think there are two.

We’re gonna need more hooks…

 

*From my favourite television series – The Prisoner

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

We Are Talking Morse Code

Talking Morse Code

Morse - creamtone image

Aboard our narrowboat, there are lights, switches and buttons of whose functions we have no idea. We do however know what the above lever does.

 

Morse Throttle

It’s a throttle. In fact, I believe it is a Teleflex Morse single lever, with dual action for operating both the throttle and the gear shift. I think it’s an Ultraflex B85 because I found one remakably like it on a New Zealand marine website.

I don’t have to tap it with short and long taps, nor is it in anyway linked to the musings of John Thaw in Colin Dexter’s creation in Oxford. It actually links through to a cable on the other side of the board it’s mounted on and controls the speed in both forward and reverse motion. A Narrowboat only has forward and reverse gears and travels at approximately 4mph. It is in neutral in the upright position. See, I almost appear knowledgeable about such things 😉

dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

The Navigator’s Log – final entries – Hic Sunt Dracones

Navigator’s Log – final entries – Hic Sunt Dracones

Navigator's Log - logbook III image

Navigator’s Log – Day 9 Since Making Way

It’s been days now since we were becalmed. We had made good headway, out from port and the crew had been in good spirits. After a few days, a dark mass of cloud, tinged with a green of the deep water had built and although a ways off, it seemed to follow at our backs, as if driving.

It was the Narwhals that first alerted us to the fact that something was wrong. They headed, en masse ahead of the boat and soon outdistanced us. I had never seen so

many together. The cold then came. It seemed to creep across the water, brought by no wind, for it had dropped. It ate into our bones like some kind of sickness and with that cold, came fear.

Navigator’s Log – Day 10 Since Making Way

A flock of birds passed overhead, high today.They move at speed, as if fle

eing but then, without warning, one by one they fell from the sky. Several landed on the deck and upon inspection, were found to be distorted and rotting. A foul unnatural smell issued form their putrefying bodies. I got the crew to swab them overboard but the deck boards were stained and the smell remained. The fear is mounting.

Navigator’s Log – Day 10 Since Making Way

We are becalmed in the middle of nowhere. The compass spins continuously and

unnaturally and we have no way of knowing in which direction to head, even if we could make way. I got the bosun to try to take depth soundings but to no avail. The line tangles around a green/blue bloom that is developing in the water and he cannot make any depth. Some of the crew have become ill; vomiting and cramping and then frothing at the mouth. After this a listlessness has come upon them that no encouraging or cajoling can address.

Navigator’s Log – Day 10 Since Making Way – supplemental entry

I have released extra rations of rum in a vain attempt to boost morale. I fear it will have little effect in these strangest of circumstances.

Navigator's Log - Rum image

Navigator’s Log – Day 11 Since Making Way – supplemental entry – afternoon

The lighting is now failing and it is early yet. Several of the sick crew members have died, most of the others are gripped by a fearsome dread. There is a sound, a deep thumping that seems to emanate from the deep. The bosun says it may be the giant Kraken but I fear it is something far worse.

Navigator’s Log – Day 11 Since Making Way – supplemental entry – evening

With so few crew left it is impossible to post an effective watch. It was a scream that awoke me from my daze (I could not truly sleep) and I feared that a man had jumped overboard but upon closer inspection, something had clearly dragged the poor soul to his death in the cold deep. I saw several other similar marks at points of missing men. The thumping continues. Maybe it is the giant beast; the Kraken, I know not. I have brought all the men into my cabin. We sit and wait. I feel there will be no rescue for us. I hope this ship’s log makes it back to warn others to avoid this area.

Navigator’s Log – Day 11 Since Making Way – supplemental entry – night

The thumping is louder. The cold bites ever deeper. I hear slithering and a cracking of wood above us – Hic Sunt Dracones

This is our end…

Navigator's Log - Logbook I image

Imray produce the Navigator’s Log Book.

 

If you have enjoyed this little little diversion in any way, please feel free to check out The Mission – another nautically-themed rambling from yesteryear…

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Tour of the Narrowboat (sort of)

“A tour of the narrowboat?”

OK, don’t get too excited. I’m going to piece together a ‘walkthrough’ from the photographs we have so far. You may have seen some of them in the past but bringing them together will put it all into context, I hope.

We’ll start at the pointy end (or the prow, as  being a boating professional now, I know all the special names) and walk through the ‘Saloon’ (two shots of red eye, Barman!), on to the ‘Galley’, past the ‘Dinette’ (Burger and Fries, hold the Mayo!), quickly past the ‘Head’ (tee hee), to the ‘Stateroom’ (it will be in a state) and out through the ‘back door’ (not an official boating term) and out onto the ‘stern’ (but we will be smiling).

So, not quite the 4K video footage, on pro camera with drone camera shot inserts you were all expecting. That will come with time but funding is a little way off yet 😉

(Remember to stop and click the photos.)

The Tour

Tour - Approaching the Narrowboat image
Approaching the Narrowboat

 

Careful not to stumble as you step aboard. Hey! It’s easily done, I nearly went in.

 

Tour - Narrowboat Interior image
Lux Interior

(Ignore the rubbish on the work surface, we’ll tidy that up later.)

 

Yes, The Head. Well… Oh, no. That’s not actually The Head, it’s the sink, you don’t use that…

 

 

This is what we’re all waiting for – ‘The Beast’

Tour - Heart of the Beast II image
The Heart of the Beast

 

I think you’ll agree, it was like we were really there!

Next Steps

Unfortunately, it’s just a waiting game at the moment. Whilton Marina have work that needs doing, scheduled in with a completion date at the end of April. At this point we will take delivery (sounds important and grown up). Technically, it will be ready; it will float, move, have the ability to provide electricity & heat and will have BSS certificate. That’s when we have to make it into a home 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little oldschool walkthrough. My eventual aim is to get to the point where I can vlog some ‘Tales’ on YouTube and maybe even get a Patreon account up and going. All good stuff.

Thanks.

rp – peace and narrowboats

 

 

Product Review – Kingfisher Toothpaste

This is the first, of what is hopefully going to be an on-going product review series of Earth-friendly, People-friendly products. These reviews will tie in closely with our reasons for living on a narrowboat. They will encompass items that help towards leaving a smaller footprint on the earth so that hopefully, at least some of it is left for people in the future.

 

Limitations

Living on a narrowboat brings with it certain ‘limitations’ shall we say. This is in no way a negative, in fact, we think (and hope) it will be defining, liberating and beneficial. The limitations are directly in line with our philosophy of the way we want to live.

Some of the limitations I’m thinking of are

  • Getting rid of water waste. Grey Water i.e. washing up, sink, bath water is allowed to be put into the canal whereas Brown Water i.e. the toilet is definitely not allowed into the canal
  • Not wanting to put noxious chemicals into the canal infrastructure and affect the wildlife ecosystems that are in place.
  • Not having space to store up waste for recycling. We will recycle what we use but the sheer physical lack of space precludes bin bags piling up on the fore-deck.
  • Being more economical with resources – due to financial limitations and again, due to space limitations.
    Being responsible for sourcing water, heating & energy and removing waste.

What this means is that we will have to Reduce more of what we use, Reuse everything we possibly can and Upcycle before Recycling, where we can’t.

 

Product Review – Product X

The products in question for review will be items we currently use, items we are starting to use and items we want to use/are thinking of using in the near future.

Product Review - Kingfisher - Toothpaste I image
This is the Way we Brush Our Teeth

I’m starting with Product X, where X = Kingfisher Toothpaste. Normal toothpaste, whilst it is not a product containing the deadliest of chemicals on the planet, I think we can do better (I suppose a by-product would be swans with really shiny teeth).

We purchased the product at earthfare in Glastonbury. The company; Kingfisher who make it started in 1988 and focus upon making ethical tooth care products. The Kingfisher Mint Natural Toothpaste – Fluoride Free’s active ingredients are as follows

  • Calcium Carbonate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Aqua,
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate,
  • Hydrated Silica,
  • Cellulose Gum,
  • Mentha Piperita,
  • Citrus Limonum,
  • Foeniculum Vulgare,
  • Limonene

 

Performance

So, how does it perform? It’s good. It cleans our teeth and the strong mint taste leaves them feeling fresh, even using a small amount of it. The tube is a good size (I object to paying the earth for a small amount of product just because it’s ‘Eco-friendly’) and packaging is from ‘card made from sustain-ably managed forests’. It has a modern ‘stand upright’ cap and the only thing I could say about it is that when you take the cap off, there’s a bit of toothpaste flow. It’s minimal and hardly worth mentioning but I have to put something in this blog 😉

This particular product doesn’t contain Fluoride but Kingfisher do sell a mint toothpaste with Fluoride. They also sell other flavoured products including; Fennel, Aloe Vera with other flavours mixtures, and even a Charcoal version so plenty of variety. See the full range at their website.

Their products are Vegan, Gluten Free and GM Free and have BDHF approval.

 

Recommendation

We recommend this toothpaste. The Fluoride version will probably be our next purchase and we will probably intersperse non-Fluoride with Fluoride to keep those teeth in tip top condition. We will definitely be buying some more.

All in all, I think the swans will be very happy.

Product Review - kingfisher Toothpaste image

 

Availability

Kingfisher Toothpaste can be purchased at most Health Food Shops. As mentioned above, we bought ours at earthfare, Glastonbury. It is also available from Waitrose and Holland and Barrett. It can be purchased online from sites such as Green People. As ever, however you should shop around for offers.

Well, that’s the first one over with. What do you think? Was this of use? Did I cover what a review should have? I’d be interested in your comments.

 

rp – peace and narrowboats

Why do You Want to Live Aboard a Narrowboat?

Why do we Want to Live Aboard a Narrowboat?

Want to Live Aboard - The Galley I image
It’s a Narrow Boat

Why?

It’s a good question and one that’s going to get asked quite frequently if I’m not mistaken. It’s not for everyone. Some people would never want to live on a boat. Period. Some may take a holiday and find that it assuaged a desire. Others may say they’d like to but when push came to shove, they would back down. Others again may venture onto the water only for a short period of time and then head back ashore (or ‘abank’) or may moor a boat in the confines of a comfortable marina, with all the comforts that offers, visiting at weekends. All of which is fine. There is nothing wrong with any approach. However, there are those who say “Let’s live aboard a narrowboat”. And their partner says “OK”. We fall into this latter category. To be fair, mu and I had talked about it several times in the past, over many years, in a nebulous kind of way. Then suddenly; we had decided.

It was like a coming together of disparate thoughts to create a realisation.

The key defining aspects of why, are as follows

  • A lower footprint on the environment
  • Being more responsible for daily living, being in control of more/most aspects of life
  • Being closer to a more natural way of life
  • The ability to move
  • A simplification

 

A lower footprint on the environment

It is acknowledged that living on the canal, aboard a narrowboat can support a low footprint on the earth’s resources, at least when compared to most houses.

I found some of the reasons for why include

  • The fact that you have to source things like water and fuel and have little room to store them, mean you are more frugal with them
  • A smaller abode means less resources used (narrowboats are small in comparison to most houses)
  • Not having a car (although many narrowboaters do own and run a car)
  • Not travelling abroad

The caveat to this is that your approach has to be in line with wanting to reduce your footprint. It would be foolish to just assume we were living a low carbon footprint life, just because we went to live on a narrowboat. We feel it will be easier to realise though. It’s something we will have to continually evaluate and work at.

 

Being more responsible for daily living, being in control of more/most aspects of life

By this statement, I mean that we will be more in touch with activities of daily living. These activities, as expressed through the Roper, Logan, Tierney model of nursing, namely;

  • Maintaining a safe environment
  • Communication
  • Breathing
  • Eating and drinking
  • Elimination
  • Washing and dressing
  • Controlling temperature
  • Mobilisation
  • Working and playing
  • Expressing sexuality
  • Sleeping
  • Death and dying

are much more apparent in the confined environment of a narrowboat. A lot of the activities listed above are ‘supplemented’ in modern daily life, they are more convenient and it is this convenience that can, albeit unwittingly remove some of our responsibility. This removal means we can end up living lives without enough thought on consequence.

Want to Live Aboard - Multi-fuel Stove image
That fire won’t make itself!

 

Being closer to a more natural way of life

On a narrowboat, you are physically closer to nature. Bird life abounds above and around; Swans, Moorhens, Coots, Mallards, Kingfishers and more. Below, a large variety of fish; Roach, Carp, Dace, Minnow beneath, live in the canal. Alongside, people walk dogs. Dogs & cats are also found living aboard narrowboats.

Aboard a narrowboat, we feel you are closer to a natural way of life in that the pace of life is slower. Walking is more natural than driving or flying and a narrowboat travels at not much more than walking speed.

We also feel you are closer to the natural rhythm of the seasons and closer to the elements; physically closer to them.

Want to Live Aboard - Nosey image
Nosey

 

The ability to move

Have boat, will travel

Being able to move from place to place and position your living space to a different view, at will, is liberating. It addresses the nomad in us. We have lived in several houses previously and moving to a new location, satisfied a need for change. The ability to move more frequently, with minimal cost and on a whim, appeals.

We both love setting out on a journey. This way of life affords the ability to set out on lots of journeys, to places we have never visited before.

There is also the ability to base yourself at a marina for a period of time, should you want to. The flexibility is there.

 

A simplification

A narrowboat, by definition is narrow and no matter how long it is (ours is 57ft long), you have to simplify your life. You cannot just transfer all land-based equipment, belongings, fixtures & fittings to your narrowboat – it won’t fit!

The simplification can be seen as a constraint but constraint fosters creativity. We want to be able to capitalise on this and murpworks Afloat will be the creative outlet from it. This appeals greatly.

Moving onto a narrowboat makes you think about what is really important. This is not just in terms of physical possessions. We have found the process extends naturally, into all areas of life. Simplification is something that is liberating; we will be getting back to when we first started out.
(It is painful having to get rid of collections, built up over many years but that’s just the hoarder in me).

 

Conclusion

So, in conclusion the answer to the question “why do you want to live aboard a narrowboat?” requires a multi-part answer. We hope the above has started to answer this question, at least in part. It will require re-visiting and we are sure the answer will be added to and that emphasis may change but we hope the basic premiss laid out above, will still hold true.

The journey has only just started.

Want to Live Aboard - rp n mu image
rp and mu

 

This was a question post, one of the several ‘big topic’ questions that get asked of all narrowboaters – see here for another

rp – peace and narrowboats

I’ve Got the Tuesday Evening Porthole Blues

Porthole Blues

Porthole Blues image

“Woke up this morning,
the rain running down my window pane.
Went back to bed, when I woke
the view was still the same.
I can’t win,
I only lose.
I’ve got the
Tuesday Evening Porthole Blues.”

Portholes

I love portholes and they’re going to feature heavily as we have three of them on our narrowboat. They seem to give a totally different outlook on life. I suppose it’s because we are so used to looking out of square/rectangular windows most of the time. Compare it to my previous porthole photo of the ‘neighbour’s’ narrowboat on a drab day.

Photograph

I took this photograph on the 10 February 2018 at Whilton Marina. mu and I were aboard to take some more measurements (you don’t realise just how many measurements you have to take).

Hopefully there will be more warm sunny, summery shots compared to the rainy one above.

 

rp – peace and narrowboats