A Narrow boat story

My other half and I have been struggling with saving money since the dawn of time. Joe, my other half, is fine with saving money and never spends money on new clothes. What a typical man. I, on the other hand, love to spend money on things I don’t need. Granted, at the time I love them and it’s every thing I’ve ever wanted, but right now I don’t need anything and everything.

I’m coming up to being 25 this year and it’s about time I moved out of my dad’s house, and like many of you lovely people, it’s a really bad uphill struggle. But there was one thought in my mind, there must be more to life then getting a massive mortgage and working all my life 24/7 to pay of a bit of brick and mortar.

My mum is one of many who believe life shouldn’t be this way and has always taught me to think outside the box. She is one of a few people who would drop everything to do something crazy. This is when it started to dawn on me that alternative living might be the answer. There are hundreds of youngsters who are in the same situation, but why do us youngsters have to live by an old fashions rhetoric? The answer to that will come in the following paragraphs.

After many a chat with my other half, discussing the awful situations the world is in, and after one particular late night chat where we set the world to rights and decided we should be prime minister (move out the way Borris, I know what I’m talking about and have a better hair cut), we set our minds on a narrowboat. Vans are too small and don’t have all the facilities we are after, but a narrowboat. Yes it’s narrow and yes it’s on water, but what a tranquil and beautiful life we can have with all the same comforts of a house ( I will go into more detail soon).

So the descent began, to overwhelming feelings of “what the hell are we doing” and “I have no idea what that means”, but through it all, we have had brilliant feelings of “we can do this” and “it’s actually possible”, which is a feeling most of us millennials don’t usually feel till a lot later on in life.

To start, I will tell you there is actually no stigma to narrowboats. Everyone I talk to says it’s an amazing idea and it actually sounds like heaven. Yes, you have the following: Toilets, showers, electric, heating, beds, TV and WiFi.

I started by joining Facebook groups called Canal Marketplace and Narrowboat interiors. They really helped me to understand certain things about boats and after a lot of research into narrowboat finance on Pegasus Marine Finance (which has a calculator), and research into mooring and all sorts, it made more sense to me. From there I decided to start looking on places like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and the most popular by far…. www.apolloduck.co.uk

The first boat we viewed was beautiful: A 50ft boat in Hertfordshire. The second was a 52ft boat, and so on….we have viewed 5 so far and I have looked at hundreds online. The thing about boats is, it’s best to get one under 57ft as some of the locks on the canal are rather small. A widebeam canal boat might also be a struggle and the same with a Dutch barge.

The First boat we ever viewed…

The first boat we had put an offer on fell through as the guy in charge at the marina had sold it to his mate without us knowing…this started the first ‘What the hell are we doing”. From there, the length and breadth of the south of England from Hertfordshire to Wiltshire was travelled most weekends, and is still ongoing. We found it best to camp somewhere overnight to save the long drives.

We have now found a boat that we have put a deposit down on ( deposits vary by boat. If it’s a independent seller there may be no deposit and if its from a marina or brokerage it might be 5% or 10%, which on a 30 grand boat is manageable). This boat is in Wiltshire and it’s absolutely lovely. I will attach photos below for you all to view. The marina that we will be mooring at has free wifi, a launderette, showers and toilets (even though we have one on board). From here we have to wait for a survey to be done on the boat, working the same way as it would if we were buying a house. You must pay for the boat to be taken out of the water and surveyed to ensure it is insurable and that there is no major damage. At this point you can still pull out of sale, but you loose the money you paid the surveyor with.

When looking at boats, if they have an old survey to show you what the Hull ( The underneath) is like, it’s handy to have a look. After all…No hull…no boat. You will need to research where the boat was made, this will give you an understanding of how thick the boats hull was when it was made, meaning you can see how much it may have already corroded via an old survey (HINT, Always Get A Survey Before You Buy).

We have even gone as far as researching how to fit solar panels. Solar panels have been known to be able to power most people’s stuff during summer (obviously you can have hair dryers and toasters and TV on all at the same time). Most marinas have electric hook up the same as a caravan site ( but you must check beforehand) meaning you can have computers and all your creature comforts.

Let’s talk hygiene….The water comes out of a tank in the boat that must be filled. A lot of people say they fill it once a month…if you’re conscious of the environment you might find this handy, watching the water you use. The water for us is heated via the engine, which means we must run the engine regularly, and its powered by diesel. On our boat we have a pump out macerator toilet, this means we can flush it as normal. There is a thing in the boats that cuts up the poo and bog roll like a game of fruit ninja, this has to happen (as the name suggests) you have to pump out the tank. There are stations up and down the canal that do this for a small fee. I also found you can get a pump out machine and save yourself money, but you must find an appropriate place to pump, like a good man hole. This, I have been told, is also a monthly thing, depending on how many people live on the boat, and how much you go!

What a Lovely view!

There isn’t a washing machine…that’s a lot of electric and water, however there are wide beam boats that have these, so it is possible!

Storage: The boat we picked is surprisingly spacious and the storage solutions were well thought out. Some boats are not and you may have to adapt some space to make it more your own, but you can’t take down walls willy-nilly in your parents house now can you?

When looking at second hand boats you will find some in the 30 grand range look a lot like an old caravan, but if you look on Pinterest and narrowboat interiors, they can be painted and made to look nicer than most people’s houses.

Pairing down: You WILL need to throw out your God knows about many heels. You won’t need those and you won’t have space. Right now I’m in the process of selling everything I own and only keeping things I use A LOT and are beautiful. This has taken me a long time and I have had to be brutal. There are some audio books, including Joyful Frugalista and The Year of Less, which have given me so much inspiration. You will need to be 100% honest with yourself about the stuff you own.

Me testing driving a boat, apparently this is my concentration face….its not a good look!

This is a lot of information I know but I will keep you all updated and tell you everything I learn, as and when I learn it…keep posted for more.

At the moment we are struggling to find someone who will lend us the money fo the boat even though we are adamant we can pay it all back, but I will recommend going through this process before hand, we expected it to be easy, but even though I have a good credit score, there can still be some problems so go onto pegasus finance, or promarine and apply for a finance just to see if you can get it and then turn it down until you find the boat, then apply again. I think that would be the way I would have gone if I had known .


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