10 tips and tricks I have learned so far as a Newbie in the hunt for the perfect Narrowboat for sale in the UK.
So I am by no means an expert yet in the world of Narrowboat and Houseboats but I have now climbed aboard (and vehemently rejected and or fell in love with) my fair share in the last few months since moving back in with Mum.
Here's what I've learned so far in the quest to find the perfect liveaboard Narrowboat for sale in the UK.
1. First decide how permanent your residency on board will be and how many bodies will be sharing the space. For us it will be our permanent home and needs to house me, Mr B, little B on weekends, at least 1 future mini B and 7 cats. After looking around some various sized vessels we determined 47 feet is the absolute minimum we need. If it's just you as single skipper in the summer months, a 32 ft would be perfect. Check out your local marina and get a feel for the sizes, most are very happy to let you look at your leisure after registering your details with them.
2. Once you have an idea of the size you need get in touch with your local marinas to get an idea of the costs you will incur when mooring up. Unless you want to cruise 24/7 where you can moor up for short periods along the towpath from a night to 2 weeks depending on signage in the area, you will require some kind of mooring with electricity and water hook ups. In the Narrowboat world most moorings are calculated at a price per ft. The longer the boat, the higher the premium. Compare your dream size with your budget and meet somewhere in the middle.
3. Determine which style boat will work best for you and your family. With future young children and pets we love the Wheelhouse and Dutch barge design as it provides an extra level of security but if you want to be right on the water look at traditional sterns where you can perch right on the back of the boat and soak up the experience. For something in the middle, semi-trads are slightly more enclosed. Do you want a Widebeam even? Look around and get on board different style boats, every one is different and you need to feel which space works best for you.
4. Where do you plan to travel using your beautiful new Narrowboat? Some canal systems are slimmer and shallower than others. Here on our system a wide beam would scrape and lose chunks on it's way through a tunnel and that would be that, game over. But if you are planning on a permanent residency mooring and happy to pay the 10 to 30% premium then go for it! The same applies for us to the Wheelhouse, if we want to travel a lot we will need one with a flotation tank which fills up with water and lowers for boat in the water when passing under low bridges.
5. Take your budget and add £10k lols. Firstly you are probably gonna fall in love with a boat just up from your price range and 2 you need cash for a survey, boat licences, insurance and safety certificates plus mooring fees before you sail away into the bohemian dream. Not forgetting of course you will want to put your own stamp on your new home and some electrical appliances may need modifications. Don't forget to check out all hidden costs too, for example a main residency will incur council tax at band A and blacking needs redoing every two years which must be done out of the water.
6. Disregard the existing layout of the Narrowboat you are viewing. I have not yet entered one were I don't want to rip out oversized kitchens, turn a toilet so as not to bang my knees every time I pee or create amazing compact living storage solutions in every piece of what I see as wasted space. Use your imagination and focus on the blacking, certificates and potential of the vessel.
7. Consider buying either a Sailaway shell or project boat. Because I seem to have the overwhelming urge to go all destruco-girl on every live-aboard houseboat we have seen to date, we have now looked into buying a mechanically sound and water ready shell and start from scratch. If you are a little too eager with a sledgehammer like me, be sure to check out boat builders and projects on eBay.
8. Make yourself an inspiration board either on Pinterest or on your actual real office wall. A scrapbook is a great idea too where you can keep all your information and figures in one place. It will motivate you and is a great keepsake once you are living aboard. It can be overwhelming so having an organised go-to place for morale boosting and information is a great idea.
9. Pick up as much free information as you can. Talk to other Narrowboat owners, ask questions of the salesmen in your marinas, read the free Boating papers and magazines such as The Tillergraph and the Canal Boating Times both of which are free. There are some great boating magazines to subscribe to at a bargain price too such as Waterways World.
10. Treat your lifestyle change as a course of study. We currently pick a new topic to research every month. It's not just moving house, you need to know what you are doing first to save unnecessary expense, upset and upheaval. Learn about engines, eco toilets and space saving gadgets... it's great fun and opens your mind to what can be possible.
I'd love to hear any advice you have too! We are still pretty much major newbies to the world and constantly learning.