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Living on a Narrow Boat

(37 Posts)
Theoddbird Mon 25-Jul-16 11:37:52

I retire next year and am thinking of buying a Narrow Boat to live on. At the moment I rent an apartment. I am fit and healthy and still have most of my marbles...well the most colourful ones anyway.

I am not going into this blind and will spend the next year planning and even doing a helmsman course. I can make my dream come true. It is scary of course. So at 65 am I too old to start a new adventure?

gardenoma Mon 03-Feb-20 08:23:37

Theoddbird, did you but your boat?
And what did you go for? Wide beam or a narrowbeam, which gives you much more space if you're planning to moor her and not cruise?

boat Thu 27-Jun-19 12:28:53

I'm 75 and have lived on a narrow boat for just over two years. It's been a great experience.

I have a sack barrow (trolley) to cope with heavy weights.

I don't take the boat out on my own because I'm not agile enough to leap off holding a rope but there is a queue of relatives and friends eager to stay on the boat and do that bit. (Sometimes I even let them steer).

Dinahmo Thu 27-Jun-19 11:50:32

You're not too old. I remember hearing a lady on the radio talking about travel. She was in her seventies and was doing long haul travel. She planned to ravel in Europe during her eighties and the UK in her nineties.

Chloejo Fri 21-Jun-19 23:37:18

Go for it but make sure it’s all checked out underneath as we were told can cost a lot to put right if not good as have to lift out of water. wood burning stove makes them so lovely and cosy in the winter. It will be an adventure and a lovely life

jura2 Mon 10-Jun-19 13:07:45

Narrowboats are wonderful- when the sun is shining and the birds singing - but year long, cold, rain, etc- in such a cramped space. Really not for me/us.

But whatever floats your boat smile

jeanie99 Sun 09-Jun-19 09:00:32

You're never too old for an adventure so long as you are reasonably fit and healthy.
We spent a long week on a narrow boat with friends and I can honestly say for me NEVER AGAIN.
If you are on your own probably ok.
Our issues were you can hear everything that goes on in the boat the noise carries, not for me.
You have obviously set your heart on it but just bare this in mind.
Best of luck

JayneSA Wed 05-Jun-19 15:11:02

Hi Everyone. My son moved to Oxford a year ago and I miss him terribly. (I live abroad) The only way, at 63, I could afford to live on my own is to live on a narrow boat or a rented flat(not for me), or a caravan (NOOOOO). So does anyone have any advice. I'm thinking of coming in Jan or Feb 2020 (to test the winter) I have under 15 PGB for a narrowboat. I'd really like to rent for two months, is that possible??? without paying holiday rental fees???? Any advice????????

MrsTiggywinkle1010 Tue 21-Feb-17 15:41:50

I would love to know how things have progressed for you. I am 69 and in the same position. I wanted to live on a narrowboat many years ago but circumstances were not in my favour. Now I am able to do so, I wonder if I am too old to make the leap.

Waterboatman Sun 14-Aug-16 16:27:18

First off, your not too old, I've meet continuous cruisers(boaters that don't moor in marinas) that a much older than you, with the oldest being 92. I would recommend hiring a boat out first to see how you like it, and if your on facebook join "Canal Market Place" on of the more friendly FB group and ask away, most boaters are more than willing to help you with advice. You can hire boats for a week or a few days, have a look at this website . There are many canal festivals around the UK, take yourself down to one and have a talk to a boat owner, they are always happy to chat.

Theoddbird Sat 30-Jul-16 11:09:39

What wonderful stories everyone has. Of course my dream would be to find a male narrow boater who would moor his boat next to mine.... hahaha... how cool would that be. Mine would be the one with the bunting on smile

petra Fri 29-Jul-16 09:10:45

Theodbird Are you buying an empty hull? Usually these are already lined out. But if your buying with raw steel don't scrimp on the insulation. I know it's a lot of money and you can't see it but it's more than worth it.

whitewave Wed 27-Jul-16 21:55:36

I really have a yearn to live on a narrow boat. But probably too old at 70 to start.

alchemilla Wed 27-Jul-16 21:54:37

I've been inclined to do this too. But concerned about keeping an engine going, ballast, methane and water. And then went on a website which said there are two times a boat owners happy - the day they buy and the day they sell.

janeainsworth Wed 27-Jul-16 21:12:14

Margaret we had one or two incidents with 'youths' too, and on one occasion we were going to moor up on the Curly Wyrley when another boater, already moored, strongly advised us not to stay there. We moved on a couple of hundred yards away, but later, going out, saw two very large cars parked on this remote country lane, with several men standing around and what looked like money changing hands. shock
And once on the Oxford Canal going through Banbury, passing some flats, someone came out and hurled a water-filled balloon at us shock
Never a dull moment!
Jess we've spent several of our weeks in February and November and winter has a charm of its own because the canals are so quiet and you can get nice and cosy in your boat - fuel isn't a problem as you can buy coal or wood from passing fuel boats, though the boat we shared had central heating which ran off hot water heated by the engine, so if we were travelling the boat would be very warm from that.

MargaretX Wed 27-Jul-16 18:26:08

WE did our boating pre 1990 and it wsa a safe environment, you could leave your narrow boat moored up while you were at work or in the pub or shopping. Then things began to change and when youths set the boat free by undoing the mooring we woke in the middle of the night to find we were going downstream. It was a frightening experience and actually my brother never really got over it and soon sold up. Just because he felt he couldn't cope with the youths -he felt too old. 10 years younger he would have carried on.

If you are really fit, can jump and balance on footholds of 20 cms, sometimes slippy and can swim fully clothed then go ahead.

Theoddbird Wed 27-Jul-16 17:22:24

At the moment I live in a tiny cowshed... no central heating... just a wood burner. When wood is delivered at front I have to carry it through and stack on patio. In winter it is so cold I can see my breath... means I know I am alive... hahaha. So I am very strong and hardy. I have stayed on a boat in high winds and driving rain. I just love the peace of being on water. When my boat is out of water the first time she will be renamed Circle of Peace. 😊

cornergran Wed 27-Jul-16 11:15:16

We lived by the Gand Union Canal for a while and I developed a real urge to live on a narrowboat, but circumstances didn't allow. I do still have that itch, but mobility would preclude it now. I wonder, is it possible to rent a 'living' narrowboat (rather than a 'holiday' one) for a year to check out the reality in all seasons? It could settle your thoughts one way or the other and at least you would have tried.

JessM Wed 27-Jul-16 09:53:57

I think there is a lot of carrying heavy stuff involved, depending on your mooring an the distance from car park etc. I think you should ask your friend if you can borrow his boat for a couple of weeks in the depths of winter to see how you fare. Including doing all the grunt work yourself, whether it be getting water, fuel for heating or getting rid of waste. Something that seems idyllic in the summer could prove pretty grim in the winter.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 27-Jul-16 08:49:38

And how is your balance?!

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 27-Jul-16 01:56:59

How does your chest stand up to cold damp air?

janeainsworth Wed 27-Jul-16 01:13:43

Looking forward to hearing about it all theoddbird smile

Theoddbird Tue 26-Jul-16 22:45:14

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful advice. I really appreciate it. I plan on getting a residential mooring so doctor/dentist will not be a problem. I have spent time on a friend's narrow boat and can make a tank of water last near on a week even with a daily shower (damn important). Looking for a residential mooring and then will buy the boat and fit it out to suit me.

You are all lovely and will add to this as things progress x

petra Mon 25-Jul-16 22:08:34

I lived on board for 20 years, not a narrow boat though. If it's your dream, go for it.
Narrow boats are very easy to stear and manoeuvre. I never had a problem with doctors or dentists. The only problem you might encounter is when the water taps freeze up in the winter, but you soon learn to keep an eye on the weather and make sure the tanks are full. We carried a lot of water so it was never a problem, but narrow boat tanks are small.
There will always be plenty of people around to help and advise. Enjoy.

granjura Mon 25-Jul-16 19:24:13

When we enquired about renting a narrow boat, a 4 birth needed a minimum of two, and a 6 birth a minimum of 3 people.

MargaretX Mon 25-Jul-16 19:15:40

we were brought up as children to sail etc and later my brother had a Long Boat for 20 years and after retirement lived on it for 6 months. I often accompanied him and its hard grind at the locks and you have to be able to climb greasy ladders in the rain and jump back onto the boat when the boat is in the lock going down. Actually it needs two people but occasionally we saw a single person but they were people who had been boating for years.
My brother couldn't have managed at 65 on his own.
A helmsmans course is Ok but soon learnt, its the emptying of toilets and filling up with diesel and water where you have to manoevre your boat in a queue of other boats waiting.