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Our first month living on the canals

Submitted by on July 24, 2012 – 12:2810 Comments

Its been a month since we moved onto our live aboard narrowboat and its been a great experience and a manageable learning curve thus far. Now we’re a bit more setup i thought id have a go at a boat blog to share some of the more interesting bits and a few pics we’ve taken.


We started up in Leamington spa and thanks to great help from my dad and our mate martin we had everything onboard within an hour. Equally helpful has been Ian who we bought the boat off, whose taken time out to not only take us for our first cruise before we bought the boat, but also to go through the whole workings of it which was as entertaining as it was informative. He’s since been on hand to answer any of the more tricky questions and feels very much like a good friend than the guy we bought our boat from. I’ve just noticed he’s got a profile on linked in where plenty of people recommend his work, and he’s a top human being, so most probably well worth getting in touch with via his website if you have any physical ailments.


We didn’t move from our place for the 1st two weeks, and i got to explore the lovely surroundings of leamington spa. One thing i love about us living on a boat is being able to live (albeit temporarily) in places that i would not be able to afford, and i’ve enjoyed walking our dog, and cycling around the area getting a feel for the place and developing my geographical awareness. Leamington spa has some beautiful places and more inner city areas. We were moored up by student type area which was real nice as it had a real mix but wasn’t too far from the more green parks in the centre.


In terms of the actual living on a boat we haven’t found it as much of change as we expected. Our gas bottles powers the fridge and the cooker. We have a huge water tank which pumps to the bathroom and kitchen (with a filter for drinking water) and engine heats the water when its run to charge the 4 leisure batteries which provide electricity, or of course drive the boat. Both of us are pretty on it with using the amount of water, gas, electricity, etc we need, but i guess we are now doing it as well as possible to try and make things go as far as they can.


The first challenge with the boat was the starter battery was flat and needed to jump start the engine from the leisure batteries. Ian had thoughtfully left us some tractor jump leads, and talked me through the process. One of those things (with me never having owned a vehicle) that seemed fairly perilous but in fact was just a case of making sure you clip the positive/red to the red and the negative/black to the black (and making sure they don’t touch in anyway) When the engine fired it was a good feeling and one of those many moments of feeling like more on top of the new life style.


Other “new challenges” have been things like when the gas ran out, or buying and replacing the starter battery, through to things like replenishing the water tank or just adapting to different systems which are more plug and play in a house. All of which are very simple, but when you don’t know how things work that helpful assistance from people who do proves invaluable.


Perhaps the biggest test has been our first outing driving the 60 ft steel boat to our 2nd mooring, and parking it on our own. For the first half hour it was pretty plain sailing and quickly get adjusted to how the boat moves and how to navigate it thorough the narrow bridges or when passing other boats. We had a couple of very minor brushes against the canal sides a couple of times and pretty much “missed” our first attempt at parking the boat on a set of forthcoming mooring rings!


After that though, everything was plain sailing despite encountering our more testing times. For example a 90 degree turn with boats moored up and a boat coming around the corner was something we hoped we wouldn’t see on our 1st voyage but it went really well, as did pulling into the small parking space for our 2nd mooring.

Narrowboat Double Rainbow

Our 2nd place to moor was in a boatyard, which means we’re basically on the other side of the towpath in whats classed a secure temperary mooring. We were going to get acquainted with our 1st two locks, and hope to find somewhere in warwick, but decided to take a few weeks out so that pyn had a stable place in terms of being close to a train station for finishing her remaining 3 weeks of workshops and for me to get the boat setup and my own workflow back on track. Its also been really good for our dog lucy. Lucys quite a muscly lurcher and we thought she was crossed with a doberman or a maybe a staffie. I’ve met a couple of breeders when walking around warwick who have informed me she’s a 1st generation bull lurcher which might explain her reaction to other dogs.


Lucy’s very fast being a lurcher with the added in bred nature of being an effective fighter it would seem unfortunately. We had her from a rescue and they haven’t told us much about her background, but she’s always seems to go for other dogs and so we have her muzzled harnessed. She walks beautifully, responds excellently to training, and is an amazing dog but her socialisation / potential breeding characterics mean that the towpaths with its off the lead staffies can prove challenging. We’re meeting with dog behaviour supremo hannah molloy soon to get some clear answers on how best to address it but til then having a stretch of grass outside our boat has been great for her to run and do her business without distraction.


Some of the other things i’ve loved about the canals is seeing a family of swans, seeing double rainbows surrounding our boat, the beautiful scenery at different times of the day, and being able to experience towns that are really beautiful days out. I’m loving the work on the boat and getting to know how engines work and the various systems which run things. And creating beautiful spaces in, on and around the boat itself to drink wine in is always nice. Had a few more testing times with some real painful sciatica & my asthma unexpectedly returning with avengeance, but aside from that life is great and i’m feeling very blessed.


We’ve taken a few photos over the last month some have come out really well so if you fancy a look the flickr set is here. Otherwise if you have any comments or  questions about life on the narrowboat do feel free in the comments below.


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10 comments on “Our first month living on the canals

  1. composite on said:

    Hey Mark, nice to see you are enjoying a change of life style. I used to ride the canals a lot before I discovered other off road riding round South Birmingham. I can understand the attraction.
    Anyway good to hear from you mate.

    ps. In that picture Lucy looks like she might kill you while you sleep. :)

  2. Guy on said:

    Some lovely photos there – good luck for your new home!

  3. Stevie Lopan on said:

    Wow Marc your livin my dream! how much does a narrowboat cost? I want one! all the best mate, happy sailing x

  4. marcreck on said:

    Ha ha yeah she looks even meaner in her full (muzzled) ninja outfit but very loyal though. :) Really enjoying riding the towpaths too man. Great way to travel and surprising how fast you can get places. All the best mate

  5. marcreck on said:

    Cheers fella. Hope alls well with you :)

  6. marcreck on said:

    Hey steve :) hope alls well. We got lucky with this one and it cost £22 grand (down from 30 original asking price) but generally other ones we’d seen were about 30 – 40 for 60/70ft, and get more expensive the more plush they are. Apollo ducks a good place to look and ebay. We found this one by a mate’s mooring. Took ages to find and get a loan approved and had to borrow a bit from other places but repayments over 5 years work out to be around £350/400 a month so cheaper than renting. Quite a bit of stuff to buy for the boat but feels much better as paying into own home. Plus you being skilled at building means you could look for even cheaper one and do work yourself. Def get a survey if there isn’t a recent one though as can be all sorts structurally wrong with them by all accounts. Let us know if you got any questions anyway mate as learnt lots over last 6 months. Mx

  7. Rich Batsford on said:

    it looks beautiful bro, nice one

  8. marcreck on said:

    Thanks mate – Lookin forward to seein you soon for that floating cuppa :)

  9. John R on said:


    Those pics are pure utopia.. You n Pyn have earned this.. Beautiful xx not gonna mess with Lucy though..
    she’ll get it sorted x

  10. marcreck on said:

    Ah cheers bro! Lucys seems to be settling in now we’ve found her somewhere to run too :) Mx

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