Tuesday, 12 July 2016

If you’ve dreamed of living aboard a narrowboat or canal boat ever since you were a nipper, then Boatshed is here to tell you, you can now make that dream a reality! The internet is full of great learning resources but it can take some time to locate the good ones. If you’re new to boating, remember that no question is too silly; and your local Boatshed broker will be happy to help. In the meantime however, check out these seven essential tips and get ready for your next adventure!

1) The Canal and River Trust website will tell you many of the basics you need to know about becoming a boat owner on the UK's inland waterways. Their introductory article Living on a Boat covers mooring options and continuous cruising, and info on buying second hand boats.

2) Speak to Boaters. Head for marinas, the towpath and canal-side pubs. Most people are friendly and liveaboard folk love to talk about boats, and show off their expertise! It won’t be long before you’re debating whether a pump-out or Elsan toilet is best! Boat festivals are also a great place to meet boaters, find your nearest one here Canal Festivals: The Ultimate Guide.

3) YouTube. There are plenty of videos made by boaters, for boaters, answering commonly asked questions. My favourite channel is A Sort of Interesting Life, by Dan Brown. Young Dan lived on board his narrowboat Tilly for four years and has made many videos sharing useful information, presented with inspiring and joyful enthusiasm! Be nosy and have a look around inside all sorts of boats on the Boatshed YouTube channel.

4) Hire a Narrowboat. Don’t head for a holiday hot-spot which could get busy or see you queuing for locks. Try somewhere quieter like Fox Narrowboats in the Cambridgeshire Fens, for stunning scenery and lots of space. Consider hiring in winter, to check that you still like the idea when the rain is coming down! Snuggling up beside the wood burning stove is idyllic, but remember you may sometimes have to travel to a water point or sewage disposal point in adverse weather conditions when you’re living aboard.

5) View Boats. Find your nearest Boatshed broker and book some viewings. There’s lots to think about when buying a boat: Layout,toilet type, heating options, number of berths, bath or shower, solar panels and inverters, and stern type for example, so have a look around to see which type you prefer.

6) Boatshed Budget Tips:A boat licence price depends on the length of the boat, a Boat Safety Certificate lasts four years, and you will also need insurance. Blacking is a personal choice but aim for every two or three years at a cost of between £500 to £1000 depending on the length of your boat and who does the work. You’ll also need to set aside a fund for engine maintenance and services.

7) Living on a Boat – The Boatshed Guide. Last but not least grab yourself a free e-book written by Peggy Melmoth and Phil Bassett of Boatshed Grand Union.

There is a lot to learn, but don’t overthink it. I’ve heard of people spending years doing research before taking the plunge, but in my experience (13 years living aboard) it’s much more pleasurable actually living the lifestyle and learning some of the things as you go along! You only live once.

Peggy Melmoth

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