Living Aboard a Canal Boat

More and more people in Britain are choosing to seek alternative accommodation types due to the high cost of the housing market. Living on a canal boat is now becoming a viable option for many adults in Scotland, England and Wales. As well as being great holiday accommodation, a canal boat can actually be a viable choice for those who are looking for a place to call home. However, living on a boat is very different to living in a traditional house. Boat dwellers must make some changes to their lifestyle to ensure that they are able to make the most out of their home.

The Cost of Living on a Canal Boat

Most canal boats require owners to have a licence for passage and mooring. The type of license which is required will depend on the intended usage. For example, those who intend to move around a lot may only need a cruising licence; however, these licenses only permit users to moor in one location for a maximum of 14 days. An individual mooring fee may be charged each night. Those who want to moor permanently in one spot, an additional mooring fee may be required. The cost of these fees and licenses can depend on the area of use. For example, mooring fees on any canal in the Greater London are much higher than mooring fees for any other areas of the country.

In addition to lighting and heating, you may also need to buy fuel for your engine. Without engine fuel, you will be unable to take you boat out on the water. Many boats have a shore power hook-up which can be plugged into a generator so that electricity can be used when moored. Solid fuels or gas tanks are normally used for heating. Hooked-up utilities tend to cost slightly more than normal shore utility bills do, because boat owners are rarely able to benefit from the same deals that land dwellers can use. Solid fuel for heating will normally cost around £10 per week in the winter months. Boats can get quite warm during the summer month, due to their construction.

If you are not a DIY type of person, then you may end up spending quite a lot on repairs and maintenance. Canal boats can depreciate in value very quickly if they are not maintained properly. The longer that repairs are left for, the more that they are likely to end up costing. It is possible to cut maintenance costs by learning how to do basic maintenance tasks, such as looking after the boat engine.

Waste Disposal

Proper waste disposal plans are very important when you are living aboard a canal boat. Rules prevent the disposal of “black water” waste into the canal. This included sewage from the toilet. You must empty this waste into special waste disposal and sanitation units which are situated along the canal bank. Some “grey water” disposal is permitted, although canal users should be mindful of the products that they use in their sinks and bathrooms.

Any chemical product that is poured down the sink can cause harm to the wildlife and plant life which lives in and around the canal. For example, cleaning products which include phosphates encourage the growth of algae. Large algae blooms can completely block out all light and oxygen to the lower parts of the canal. This can restrict the types of flora and fauna which can survive below the surface. Boat dwellers should therefore try to buy environmentally friendly detergents and washing products which are labelled as free-from phosphates. Although these products do tend to be more expensive, they will help to protect the canal that you call home.

Proper Ventilation

When you are living in a canal boat it is important to ensure that you have adequate ventilation. This is because the temperature of the water surrounding the boat can make damp and mould more likely. Proper ventilation in the boat helps to reduce the inside humidity levels which are further increased by activities such as cooking, boiling the kettle and taking hot showers. Ventilation will also help to keep air circulating around the boat to keep things feeling fresher.

Adequate ventilation is also required for all boats that use gas or burn solid fuels. These types of combustion can create carbon monoxide, which may poison those who inhale it. Carbon monoxide is clear and odourless, so you may not realise that there is a leak. It is therefore important that you have a carbon monoxide detector installed on your boat to help to raise awareness of any emissions. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include; headaches, dizziness and nausea. Sufferers may lose consciousness and could die. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, then you should leave the boat immediately and seek medical advice.

Space Saving Tools

Space on a canal boat can be quite limited, especially if you are used to living in a bricks-and-mortar flat or house. There are hundreds of space saving tools and storage solutions available to help boat users to make the most of the space that is available. Some of these implements are only available from specialist canal boat shops, however; there are some trendy designer items available to buy. For example, collapsible kitchen implements are now becoming more popular amongst land dwellers who do not have enough space in their own kitchens. Tools like these are ideal for those with small boat galleys.