How long does it take to buy a Narrow Boat? Our purchasing timeline

When we started out with the Living Narrow Dream we were told to be prepared … nothing in the canal world moves fast! But as we reflect on this, on the 19th December we published our first blog, in which we discussed our Narrow Living aspirations, “I’ve always liked the idea of a house boat” She said.. Fast forward two tiny months to the 19th Feb and we are stood on the Stern of our Narrow Home!



Whilst it was all going on I’m not going to lie the two months felt excruciatingly long, however throw into this the Christmas Break and a weeks holiday in Morocco (Did we mention we went and got some winter sun? No? Read all about it here Winter Getaway – See you in a week!).

We know our blogs can go off on tangents, and because we are silly superstitious people we never wanted to jinx things by revealing too much, which meant that some of our blogs are out of sync with real time events.

All of this got us to thinking, a timeline of how this all progressed for us could be really useful, particularly for anyone looking to replicate our journey, or just for any nosy folks who want to understand a bit more about this alien concept.

Week 1 – 19-25 December 

  • After making a shortlist of potential Marinas we got on the road and went to have a look, and began making inquiries about their availability. We fell in love with Yelvertoft Marina which we visited twice in the week.
  • We started to view a selection of boats and our wonderful Fantine found us.

Week 2 – 26 December – 01 January 

  • We ate a lot.
  • Continuously said ‘Yeah go on then it’s Christmas’.
  • Thought about how much we loved Fantine (Our Narrow Boat to be).

Week 3 – 02 – 08 January 

  • Woohoo Whilton Marina reopened from the Christmas Break and we went back to view Fantine again and check she could support our newly gained Christmas bloat. We still loved her, and the next day our families came along to approve her too.
  • We spoke to Whilton to express our interest in Fantine and to discuss the purchasing process.
  • Contacted Zebra Finance and completed initial loan documents.
  • Zebra finance approved our application in principle and sent this confirmation to Whilton Marina.
  • We began the offering process and on the Friday of this week settled on the price.
  • We paid our £1,000.00 security deposit and went to the Whilton Office at the weekend to complete all the required paperwork.

Week 4 – 09 – 15 January 

  • Our boat survey was arranged for the Tuesday of this week.
  • On the Thursday the full survey report was returned to us, with a copy being sent to Whilton and Zebra Finance.
  • Three points affecting the Boat Safety were highlighted as required to be fixed before the certificate could be issued.
  • Zebra Finance confirmed they would still be happy to finance the boat should the issues highlighted in the survey be remedied.

Week 5 – 16-22 January 

  • Whilton began the negotiation process with the vendor to agree to the essential repairs being carried out, at a cost to the vendor.
  • We also booked Fantine in to be blacked before we took full ownership of her, as this was a recommendation to be completed within the next 12 months, on the survey.
  • We started to get excited and began looking at paint colours and furniture.
  • At the end of the week we flew away to sunnier climates!

Week 6 – 23 – 29 January 

  • We rode camels, ate 2 tonnes of ice cream and spent our days relaxing in the sun with a G&T. Who knows what was happening with the boat!


Week 7 – 30 January – 05 February 

  • Whilton confirmed that the vendor had agreed to reduce the price of the boat by the cost of the repairs. And that theses would be completed by the 10th March.
  • We sat around eating the house bare (Missing the never ending all inclusive goodies).

Week 8 – 06 February – 12 February 

  • As the vendor had agreed to the costs of the repairs we transferred our remaining deposit money to Whilton.
  • We contacted Yelvertoft Marina and paid our deposit to secure our mooring there.
  • We looked at paint colours some more.
  • The required paperwork was sent to Zebra Finance by ourselves and Whilton Marina.
  • Cue this week transforming into the week from hell, with concerns over the state of any outstanding finance, see our previous post to realise the anguish, worry and lack of information that surrounds this! Marine Finance – The minefield that is!

Week 9 – 13 – 19 February

  • Finally we managed to gather as much evidence as we possibly could that the boat was no longer under finance.
  • The final loan documentation was sent to us for completion by Zebra Finance.
  • The loan documentation was returned and processed.
  • We arranged our insurance on the boat.
  • Zebra Finance confirmed payment of the balance was due for the 17th February.
  • We received confirmation that this had all gone through.
  • 18th February we went and picked up the keys and cracked on with painting.

We were warned at the start of the process that due to us partly funding through finance everything could take a bit longer, but as you can see from the above time line, everything went through faster than a fast thing, and we are now Narrow Home owners.


Whilst the process was daunting, especially as complete novices, the people that surround the boating world are incredibly helpful, and will go out of their way to assist you. So take that plunge, be brave, the process is quick, and in most places the canal is only 3.5ft deep, you’ll be fine!

James & Kirsty

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