The Narrowboat Check List

So once we finally understood that a Narrowboat isn’t just a Narrowboat  and the budget was set it was time to start our search.

Searching for a boat is much like searching for a second hand car. With the option of brokerage companies (Much like your used car forecourts) and private sellers. There are a number of websites which allow you to search through and find your perfect boat, and my gosh did we search, we looked through boats till we could barely remember where we had started.

It proved to be a great learning exercise, at the beginning of this grand idea, we had been of the belief we would want a low cost do-er-upper boat, but our searches found us looking more at boats that were liveable, with only a few changes we would want to make (Mainly on a cosmetic front). Good news there seems to be a good number of great boats out there!

So after a week or so of looking at anything that floated, we started to construct our list of requirements, and with this a select list of boats began to tick the boxes. There are so many things to consider.

Liveable Space 

So there is the two of us and two dogs to fit into our home on the water, therefore the way the space has been thought out is super important. From ensuring their is enough kitchen space to be able to house the various pots, pans and Kirsty’s addiction to baking gadgets, to a lounge area that actually feels like a lounge. Looking online at how people have innovated these spaces we have clear ideas on what we like, and we are not afraid of a bit of work in order to get to there.

Of absolute importance to us in this, is that the space works as a house, sounds obvious right? But we think one way to make home not feel like home is having to build your bed, out of a sliding sofa every evening. Whilst the multipurpose furniture works great on a two week cruise or a caravan holiday, it just simple doesn’t feel like home to us, and as such fixed fixtures are a definite must! Whilst a lot of this can be achieved by updating a boat with our own cosmetic taste, the basics of the layout has to be there for this to be workable for us.


Storage, Storage and more Storage 

Kirsty loves to collect trinkets, has a wardrobe full of clothes and a loft full of clothes that won’t fit in the wardrobe, and did we already mention the love of baking gadgets? Quite simply we have A LOT of stuff, something that would have to change for Narrowboat living. But also an area where the boat needs to perform. Now we are trying to be realistic, we understand a lot of these boats have been used for a lovely two weeks cruising the waterways, but for living aboard, space is a premium and anywhere that storage can be incorporated or an item can have a double use is great. Whilst this may not already exist on the boat we go for, the potential for this is a must.


Light my Fire

Now despite being from the North originally, we both feel the cold something awful, and honestly cold and damp is something that comes straight to mind when thinking of a Narrowboat. After our research we know this to be on the most part unfounded. A lot of boats will come with a solid fuel burner, and these can also have a back boiler attached, which can heat your water and radiators throughout the cabin. Add to this a diesel or LPG powered boiler and you have a toastie floating home, in fact it’s often known that in the winter you’ll see boats all down the canal with windows open to combat the heat pumped out of the fuel burner!



Lets talk plumbing

It’s said that a well thought out bathroom can sell a house. Well it can certainly sell a boat for us!

One thing that has raised a few brokers eyebrows on the list of what our boat needs is ‘It needs to have a normal bathroom’ sounds odd right? This is so important to me (Well to Kirsty at least which by default means it’s important to me!). You look at a lot of boats and see a lovely power shower, fancy ceramic sink and then OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT! A floating toilet/bucket/box in the corner.

So what we mean is that whether the bathroom has a pump out or cassette toilet we don’t really mind, we just want a bathroom that looks like a bathroom, that is a bathroom, not peeing in a moveable, oversized tupperware box in a cupboard.



Let there be light 

So whilst we want our house boat to be warm and cosy we also want it to be light and airy (Not a contradiction at all!), but from the boats we have seen, those that do allow a a good amount of light in really do help a small space seem a lot less claustrophobic.



So when you look at it we don’t want that much! Hah! But on a more serious note, trawling through the classifieds as eye bending as it was at time, has really helped us to settle on the things we really can’t budge on. And helped us to define the points we need to consider in any potential floating home. Even if they are not there in the first place, at least being able to see, how can we adapt it, to make it work for us!

So armed with our list we are off to find a potential Narrowboat home!

James & Kirsty


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