What an awesome year!

We bought a boat. Moved on board. Figured out how things work on a boat. Cruised some of the canal network. Fixed some electrics. Got up when it was still dark and walked along cold, muddy towpaths to commute to work. Ah, the joys.

Oh, and did I mention – we adopted a super cute dog!

So, as of February 14th 2019, we have officially been narrowboaters for a year! With our vast reserves of knowledge about narrowboat life that comes from living on a boat for a year, I decided to share what our challenges were and the adventures we had in our first year living afloat.

The Challenges

I don’t think life would be as interesting without a few challenges thrown at us!

Moving On Board

Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you think about moving from a house or apartment onto a narrowboat – what will I do with all my stuff? You know, those knick-knack dust magnets in your house that you didn’t even know you had and can’t remember where you got them from.

This, for us, wasn’t an issue – having already moved from Australia four years ago with 3 suitcases containing our lives, we hadn’t had the chance to really accrue much more. The only furniture we had was our king-size bed and 3 desks (one for me, one for Ryan and one for the TV). We donated two of the desks and kept one for the boat so that we had somewhere to work and play games.

Getting the bed on board was our biggest concern – would it even fit? Would we get the mattress through the doors? Luckily the base is in two separate pieces, so that was the easy part. With the help of some handy ratchet straps, we squished the mattress enough to force it through the doors and all was well! We could sleep comfortably!

You could say we up-sized rather than downsized when we moved onto Andrea Rose, as we needed to buy some armchairs for the saloon!

We think moving aboard would have been a lot easier if we had been able to get into a marina nearby, but unfortunately, none of them had any space for a boat of our size.

Cruising and Commuting

Speaking of mooring up, because we couldn’t get into a marina nearby that allowed liveaboards, we had to ensure we stuck to the Canal and River Trust license guidelines and keep moving along the canals.

Seeing as we were still working in a specific location at that time (Telford), we had to try and find moorings along the canalside that had road access and space to park the car. This isn’t actually an easy task as a lot of roads along the canal are tiny back roads that have barely enough room for one car to drive along them, let alone space to park a car for a week or two.

We knew it would only be for a couple of months while we finished up work in Telford though, so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. Now that we have transitioned to online work, we certainly don’t miss the freezing walks along dark towpaths before the sun gets up!

Boat Maintenance

Owning a boat comes with a learning curve – it certainly helps if you have at least some idea of what an engine looks like and how it works! Lucky for me, my dad knows a bit about engines and was able to show me how to service the engine in our boat (a messy job!) so I know a lot more about it now.

We also replaced our five leisure batteries as they were pretty much knackered. At this point, our electrics weren’t working on the boat even after replacing the batteries, so we knew it was something more serious. We decided to find a marina to moor in for a month or two in order to get the electrics looked at and so that we could get hooked up to shore power while we waited for it to be fixed.

In the end, it was the inverter that was the problem, which we had suspected due to the screaming noise it made when we tried to use it… One of the connections was loose and so the power wasn’t getting from the batteries to the inverter. Worryingly, due to being loose, the connection point heated up whenever we tried to use it and had melted the plastic box around it and started charring the wood!

We have a long list of boat jobs that need to be done. It never seems to shrink, either, just keeps growing! Still, it’s the same with a house – there is always something that needs to be fixed.

The Adventures!

Well, from getting stuck in a lock in Birmingham, to cruising along the idyllic Caldon canal, it’s been a pretty amazing year!


In July/August last year, my family came over and hired a narrowboat. Ryan and I took holidays from work and joined them as they cruised up the Trent and Mersey to the Caldon canal. We visited both branches of the Caldon and loved every bit of it. It’s a relatively quiet canal with plenty of twists and turns to test your steering skills!

Quitting the Day Job

End of October 2018, we finally quit and started focusing on our online businesses. We also started doing our YouTube vlogs at that time, videoing our first full-time cruising adventure through Birmingham! If you’re interested in seeing those, you can check out our channel here.

Once through Birmingham – and after refilling a section of nearly empty canal so that we could get out of a lock! – we continued up the Trent and Mersey to get to Aston Marina where we had booked winter moorings.

The past few months over winter have been spent working online and also building our YouTube channel – which we have really enjoyed doing.

Adopting Pixel

We’ve always wanted to have a dog again, especially as Ryan is used to having dogs around. He grew up always having a dog, so he really missed them. We considered getting a puppy and our reasoning for that was it would be much easier for them to get used to the boat if they knew it from a young age.

However in the end, we decided to adopt from the Dogs Trust in Shrewsbury and give a dog a loving home. We met Pixel (who was then called India) and fell in love. She’s an adorable fox terrier with plenty of character and loves cuddles by the fire. She has easily adapted to living on the boat and is comfortable on board, which was our main concern.

She’s a sweetheart and we are very happy we found her!

What adventures does this year hold for us?

We’ve had such an amazing time living on board Andrea Rose so far and we can’t wait to really get out there and start discovering the rest of the country by canals! At the moment, we don’t have much of a plan about where we are headed – but the North is calling us, so that could be our direction this year.

Got any ideas about places we should visit? We’re still new to this, so let us know in the comments the best places you know of along the canalside.