Retro

Living on a boat

I was asked recently to do a case study of our life afloat, answering questions in word and pictures. So I thought you might be interested in the questions, my answers, and the photos I submitted…

Who are you? (and your significant other and, of course, your dog if you have one)

Heather and David, aka Heth and Dave. No dogs, no cats, no ties.

  Heth…

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Dave… 

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Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to live a life afloat?  

 
How we got to where we’re at now: We’d lived in the same place for 25 years, our kids who we’re very proud of had left home with careers to follow. So there we were, happy together but rattling round a big house with nothing left to offer us… Even with great memories from our past in that place, we needed to move on, besides you can take memories with you wherever you go… And we also had our precious dreams, so why not do something about it? What had we got to lose? We both realised it was time to get away from the suburbs and make the move to a more rural area, this was what we wanted to do… So we made the decision to sell up and started discussing our options…

  • Buy a house in the country? Too expensive when you want a 360 view...
  • Buy a narrowboat? Too small… 
  • Move to Florida – our second home…? It turned out to be a Visa nightmare, with a waiting list of up to 2 years…

So we bided our time and concentrated on getting the house ready to sell, neither of us panicked about it – like we knew there was something out there for us, all we had to do was wait…

We’ve walked the canals for years, and after ruling out a narrowboat, the 27th June 2007 was the day that changed our lives.

We almost didn’t go for a walk that day along the Rufford canal because I wasn’t feeling very well, but we did.

We almost didn’t stop for a brew at St Mary’s marina cafe afterwards, but we did.

We almost walked past our (unknown) dream without looking back.

But something made Dave turn his head. He saw a boat on the end of the pier with a “FOR SALE” sign in the window. I carried on walking away (dream on), but something made me turn around and look. We both walked down towards it and noticed it was wider than the others, for all our travels down the towpath we hadn’t noticed WIDTH. We asked the owner if it was still for sale, “Yes and it’s not yet a year old” came the reply. For them, circumstances dictated the sale…

 

We got the guided tour of this boat called “Takey Tezey” and we were totally in awe of it. The magic of the lifestyle, the boat itself and the space on-board captured our imagination, it was exactly what we’d been looking for, even though we didn’t know it! We stayed there for a couple of hours just talking to the owners about their life afloat. It was intriguing and surreal…

During our drive back to the house that day we were like a couple of kids in a schoolyard chanting “WE CAN DO THIS, WE CAN DO THIS…!” All the way home… Then we had to remove the rose tinted glasses and discuss the reality of it all. This wasn’t something we were going to rush into and potentially regret later, it needed a lot of thinking about first.

Handover date was 30th November 2007. However due to work commitments we were “part timers” for 18 months till early retirement came along…

Something I’ve learned over the years: You’ve only got one life so make the most of every day…

In December last year we had Takey Tezey moved from St Mary’s marina in Lancashire (where she’s been “based” since she was launched) to Mercia marina in Derbyshire. We really enjoyed our time at St Mary’s, we miss our friends, but it was time for a change, time to move on again. On 5th December 2011, TT was lifted out of St Mary’s marina and put on the back of a wagon.

 

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The following day she was put in at Mercia marina, 100 miles further south at the heart of the canal system. Just over a month later we’re settled in here now. Being “fair weather boaters” we spend as much time out on the cut as we can in summer, take off and return when we please. Meet up with friends and enjoy the social side of living afloat. It’s a wonderful lifestyle and we’re really looking forward to exploring unchartered waters for us later this year…

What is your boat called and why did you decide on that name?

 

“Takey Tezey” aka “TT” we didn’t name the boat, but someone had a sense of humour just like mine…

 

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What is your boat length and style?  

57ft x 10ft, widebeam, cruiser stern, reverse layout.

How long have you been a narrowboat owner?

Wide beam – 3 years.

 

How much time do you spend on your boat each year?

Our boat is our home.

Are you still working? (If so, what do you do?)

Retired.

What do you like least about narrowboat life?

Nothing to do with the lifestyle, although the spectre of the canal system falling ieven further into disrepair is a concern.

What do you like most about narrowboat life?

Freedom and happiness.

If you could change just one thing about your boat, what would it be?

Not a thing, as “newbies” we learned the hard way and spent a fortune improving tech specs on the boat. It can’t be improved on now, not after all the work we’ve had done,, well, that´s what we thought! How wrong can you be?! 

When you are cruising how do you resupply (How do you get to the supermarket without a car)?

We have a fridge freezer and never go out cruising long enough to need food deliveries. If necessary we’d do the online Tesco thing and meet up at bridge number whatever.

How do you do your washing when you are cruising?

Washer / Drier on-board.

How do you connect to the internet when you are on your boat and are you happy with the service you receive?

Marina Wi-Fi & Vodafone 3G dongle on the canal.

What is your favourite canal or section of canal?

So far? Has to be the Leeds Liverpool – away from Liverpool.

 

How do you generate electricity when you are cruising and how much do you use?

If we moor up in the same place for a few days, we run the engine for half an hour morning and night to keep the batteries charged via the alternator. Average used: Probably considered a lot! All electrical appliances are 240V except for a 12V TV in the bedroom. However we swap the plug in kettle for a whistling gas stove kettle when we’re out.

What advice can you offer someone considering living on a narrowboat?

Do your homework / research in depth and if you’re not sure about something, say no. If you are sure, have a survey done before any money changes hands. Or find a friendly boater with experience to share.

What obvious questions have I missed from this list?

Interior Design?? (One of my very few talents). Tried and tested successfully aboard TT. Till whatever it is falls to pieces for no apparent reason…

 

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Here’s some of the photos that weren’t used on the website, but still worth an airing on here… 
 

A heron on the roof… 

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Another cheeky visitor…

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Mirror image of a summer sunset…

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What a contrast – memories of last winter…

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I’ve been meaning to do this and send it off for ages, just haven’t had time. So that’s another thing to cross off the “To Do” list, till something else crops up tomorrow of course…

4 thoughts on “Living on a boat

  1. Hi Paul,

    Yep, will mention the idea to a couple of friends who don't have boaty blogs but might be interested.

    Sent you an email about adding the photo of Dave (in this post) to our “case study.” It's not right that he's not on there!! (Bless)

    Heth 🙂

    Like

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