Sometimes living on a boat is rubbish. Today is one of those days. Today I don’t want to choose between having a cold shower on the boat or crossing the road in the rain to have a hot shower. I don’t want to wake up to the sound of rain on the roof and wonder if my kitchen floor is going to be covered in puddles because the roof might be leaking. I don’t want to feel like I’m living life on the edge because I have lit a fire but not yet retiled the area behind the stove. And I really don’t want to have month old excrement spat over my feet by the waste holding tank. 

Today I would really like to have a landlord who I can call up and be aggressive to about the leaking roof. We’re talking screaming down the phone irrational. The kind of unreasonable that would require a sheepish apology text the next day, and maybe flowers. But would still end up with a non-leaking roof by the end of the week.

And the ongoing toilet problems. You don’t get shit like this if you’re connected to the mains water supply. None of my house-dwelling acquaintances has ever complained about having to put their shoes in the washing machine after getting splashed with loo contents when trying to relieve the built up pressure in the tank. And their only use for nappies is for small people who aren’t yet at a toilet-using stage of their lives. Not for mopping up smelly tank leaks (though they are very good for that).

Living on a boat has its challenges. It’s a good thing my bedroom still has portholes. 

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Runnin’‘ by Naughty Boy.


A brave new world

Sawley is very well located – from here I have four waterways in easy reach (the River Trent, River Soar, Trent and Mersey canal and the Erewash canal).  I am now the proud owner of map books for each route, and frankly running out of excuses to diversify from my comfort route to Nottingham City Centre and back.  (I nearly made it onto a different river when a friend – let’s call her Bekky – and her boys came to stay.  But it was windy.  So we went to Nottingham instead.)  But the finest crew in the west were coming to visit and they demanded a new view.

The River Trent was thus ruled out.  Thea wanted some countryside, and the River Soar looked like it had quite a few built up areas along the way, so that map was also put to one side.  This left us with the canals.  Trebble did some research, and found more riverside pubs along the Trent and Mersey, and thus a plan was formed.

Since their last visit, the crew had grown in number, and there was a new Captain in town.


Alex seemed to have great faith in his team – he would occasionally check on the driver’s navigational skills, or make route suggestions, but he largely left us to our respective jobs.  He preferred to evaluate how well the cabin had been baby-proofed, including a full check on how chewable loose items were.  (His survey of the boat interior was more comprehensive than I had bargained for, and he made a discovery in the bedroom drawers that made me blush a little.  But as his father said, you’re never too young to learn about safety.)

This was what boat life was all about – cruising down the canal for an hour or so (preferably with someone else driving) with a ready supply of drinks and snacks, and then mooring up outside the pub.  I had thought originally we might make it as far as Willington that night, but it soon became apparent going that far (a 20 minute car journey incidentally) was going to be a pipe dream.

Instead we stopped at Stenson, eating at the Bubble Inn and manoeuvering through the lock in front of a crowd of dozens.  Dozen.  It was the biggest congregation the crew had ever performed for, and I like to think we passed with flying colours.  No one fell in, nothing got broken.  And that’s all I hope for at any lock.  (Some applause would have been nice, but you can’t have it all.)

That night brought a Double Fracture first – mooring up without any pre-cemented mooring rings.  It was like wild camping for narrowboats – we hammered three stakes into the bank and tied up.  Hoping that it would hold fast for the night, but not so fast that we couldn’t get the stakes out again in the morning.



(Unfortunately the spot we chose was a nettle breeding ground, so getting on and off the boat came with stinging risks, but what is adventure without a little danger?)

The first time the finest crew in the west came to visit, it was raucous (ish) affair with novelty-flavoured vodka, drinking jenga and debilitating hangovers.  I’d like to say that it was Captain Alex who prohibited such behaviour on this trip, but I think it was the combination of sun, low-level all-day drinking and more food than a small cruiseship would carry that meant we were all ready for an early night.  (We’re in our mid-30s.  Don’t judge us.)

The second day was as lovely as the first.  I used to be a river woman, but now I’m all about the canals.  (Plus, I bought a 30-day canal explorer licence for the year, so more canal trips are necessary so I get value for money.)


It was also Trebble’s birthday, and so the boat hosted its first experimental cake making.  (Previous experimental cakes have included the burger cake, cake Laura and a giant Jaffa cake.)  As the Latter-Trebbles had just moved into a new house, Thea and I took this as our inspiration, and came up with this masterpiece (proof that a boat is as good as any place to create baked art):


All future boat trips will now come with a cake.  Promise*.  Applications now open for future crews.

This blog post was brought to you by ‘Cheap Thrills‘ by Sia.


*Subject to availability, terms and conditions apply.

Double fracture – the extension 

2016 was going to be my year of DIY.  But I know my limits.  Well, I have a vague idea of the general area of my limits.  And despite the success of building wonky shelves, I did not feel I was ready to try building something that people would sit on, or that could be easily seen by passersby.  For the narrowboat equivalent of a conservatory, I called in an expert.

The expert was Rich – a joiner with narrowboat-y experience.  I explained what I wanted – he said ‘no problem’.  (Who knew that dealing with contractors could be so easy?)  He even said I didn’t need to do any prep work, but as the cratch area – where the work would be taking place – had become a dumping ground in recent months, I thought the least I could do would be to clear it.

(I think cratch is the right technical term.  Rich was building a cratch frame, which would then eventually support a cratch cover.  Surely a cratch cover covers a cratch?  Google has been next to useless in giving me a definitive answer – it patronisingly speculates whether I really mean ‘scratch’, and offers a non-boaty definition of ‘cratch’ – a long open trough or rack used for holding food for farm animals out of doors.  I mean the porch-like area outside the front door of the boat.  If it didn’t mean that before, it means that now.)

Moving everything out of the cratch meant I could no longer live in ignorance about the state of the floor.  It was rusty.  Damp and rusty.  The non-slip matting had been trapping water rather than letting it run off, leading to the current predicament.  I had a week before Rich started work – I decided it was time to undertake some serious rust management and end the procrastination.

I had been hampered by the sheer volume of information on the internet on how best to treat rust and paint a boat.  And by my own reluctance to risk doing the wrong thing.  This is why my roof was still unpainted, despite being the only job I set myself last summer.  But now I realised there was nothing I could do that would make the wet rust worse.  Chances were I could only improve the situation.

So I picked a method at random, and took the scraper to the rust (it came off in satisfying large chunks).  And then sanded it.  And liberally doused it with rust converter. Next for the arduous painting bit.  Most internet sources recommended at least four coats, with a non-slip substance thrown in for good measure.  Luckily the weather was on my side, and so for four mornings (including a pre-work 5am session), I applied primer, undercoat, top coat, non-slip aggregate and a final topcoat.  And ruined several t-shirts in the process as paint is not easy to clean off anything.

But it was all worth it as Rich complimented the work (he was probably being polite, but I’m ignoring that possibility.  I prefer to think of it as one craftsperson admiring the work of another craftsperson).  And so the boat conservatory work began in earnest – he built some storage boxes that were also steps onto the boat as well as seats for scenic trips down the Trent. Then the piece de resistance – the cratch frame.

My old cratch frame had seen better days, even before the cracks started appearing after numerous low-level crashes.  It probably could not have supported the weight of a hammock seat.  Much less a hammock seat with someone actually sitting in it.  Not so the new model.  I celebrated its installation with a leisurely swing on the hammock drinking a beer (at 8am post night-shift.  Totally appropriate).

My beautiful boat has become a little more beautiful.  Just think what a knock-out she would be if I ever got round to sorting out the roof?

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘My first, my last, my everything’ by Barry White.