First Impressions To Live On A Narrowboat




Now I am on the boat since one week. I am so thankful for the owner Emma that she spent the first 4 days with me to explain everything and train me how to moor and go through locks. Her boat is already 30 years old, but in a good condition. The “Cockney rose” is blue and red, with a nice flower painting on her side, and no obvious rust. The engine seems to be quite new. The interior looks like an alpine hut from Austria, with a lot of wood and red curtains. There are big stars everywhere, and when its dark you can turn on small LED lights inside – then the boat looks like a cave with stars and fireflies. I felt welcome from the first moment ..

There is a small room, a fireplace. And still a lot more of luxury: electric light, a bed, a shower, an oven, a fridge, .. Like a huge motorhome.

There is spare for everything on board. Ropes, pumps, batteries, pipes, ceramic, colors and so on. In the last days I went like a child for a journey trough the boat interior, and discovered treasures everywhere. Treasures like a small wind chime, that I want to hang outside. Or poker-dices. Or a lot of interesting food, and cleaning stuff.

All this thanks to the former owner, an old man who lies now in hospital or maybe is already dead. I have found a picture of him inside a case for glasses. He looks strong and sad at the same time, but also cute with his sea dog beard. His spirit is still here, he just left a half year ago. I can see what he did on board, how much love and appreciation he had for the boat. I’ve put his picture inside a frame to honor him. Now he can always see what the new renter is doing.

When the engine runs, he warms up water too. I had a quick shower, enjoying the hot water. Have you ever had a shower, while watching ponies standing on a sunny hill? I can assure you, it’s unbeatable.

Water is rare, because you have to carry it in a tank. So you start to wash your hands in phases of two: One, wet your hands. Close the pipe. Put soap, wash. Two, open the pipe, rinse your hands. Also the dishes can get clean with just a minimum of water. And you shower just as long as to make you wet and then clean off the soap.

Electricity is very limited, too. Its just enough to empower lights, water-pump and the 12V fridge for around 12 hours. If you plug in the laptop for an hour or use the radio during the day, it will earlier. And then you need to run the engine again for at least one or hour. Because that’s the way you refill the batteries.

The oven runs on gas – which you get in every bigger marina along the way. You leave them an empty bottle, and get a full one.

The life on a boat is really easy. I discovered how everything inside me started to slow down with the slow motion of the boat as well. My eyes started slowly to open from the pain of being separated from Mel, washed by a lot of tears and the beautiful nature around me. When you drive a boat, you have to be aware always. The bow is moving to the side immediately if you don’t steer. Or a boat could suddenly come around the corner. Its unbelievable relaxing to steer and be fully awake. There is plenty of time to let your surrounding enter completely inside you, with all your senses.

On a boat there are always things to do that keep you busy and need alert attention: take the ashes out of the stove, take care for the fire, bring in wood and cole. Refill water, check electricity, check engine oil, water and grease, check ropes, switch out everything that you don’t need for the moment. Really, if you are not wired you have to live sustainable! When your battery is completely empty for the first time, a shift in mind happens, and you rethink every action twice.


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