I have to say firstly, my husband had been planting the seed for a number of years now. I was absolutely against it for a variety of reasons, work, family and my imagination running riot thinking about living in such a small cramped space. I was extremely closed minded about the idea and always shot it down when it was mentioned. I believe my husband could see financial freedom and a great ability to travel around the country with your home.
We were extremely lucky to have some really great friends whom already lived on a narrowboat and knew what to look for. When my husband finally convinced me to ‘just have a look’, these lovely friends helped enormously. We went over to theirs and spent the evening with them, toasty by the fire and asking lots of questions which they were more than happy to answer. They were so inviting, we had coffee, biscuits and cake and their narrowboat was beautiful and homely. By this time, my husband had been looking into narrowboats quite a bit so knew a little about what to look for. Our friends kindly offered their time to come with us when looking at boats.
We spent weekend after weekend trawling through marinas, looking at narrowboats and every evening we were looking on for sale websites. When we stepped into our first narrowboat we were looking at, I was surprised at the space it had internally. I thought to myself that I could actually live like this. We would have to be extremely minimalist, no clutter what so ever and going from a 3 bedroom detached house to a narrowboat….that would be a mission in itself. The more I looked and learned about them the more I was falling in love with the idea of it. We were learning about the types of narrowboats, traditional, cruiser stern, semi-trad, butty, tug and more. We went for breakfast/lunch a few times with our friends to discuss the boats and this is where this lovely pic was taken. Our dog Lilly would come with us, her comfy bed in tow.
Initially, we were looking into a cruiser stern and for roughly 60-70ft. Due to my joint condition, we were also looking to have a bath or hip bath. What we ended up with was entirely different! Our friends kept saying that we would change our minds. We made a list of what our ideal boat was and what we were willing to compromise on. We had even looked into having a boat built, honestly though I don’t think we 100% knew what we wanted as we had never done this before.
Now buying a narrowboat isn’t an easy process. You have to have the finances available and depending on what you are looking for, the price tag is big. If you want something that needs a lot of work, you could grab a bargain. We wanted something that was in fully working order and ready to liveaboard straight away. We looked and looked, every weekend for months and our friends came with us as much as they could. I couldn’t be more grateful for them. We had put an offer on one boat which was rejected, it needed a lot of work doing and the sellers were not willing to budge. After a few more weeks, we found another one we really liked. At this point my husband was loving the idea of a traditional narrowboat as it had an engine room! What we found was a 70ft trad which was 40 years old, for it’s age it was a great one. She looked great, her engine was lovely, what we didn’t know was what the hull looked like or if it was in good condition. We decided to put an offer in, subject to survey. Unfortunately for us, someone else had put the same offer in and didn’t want a survey so they went with them as they needed a quick sale. Without a survey, you do not know the true condition of the boat and could have a huge problem that you can’t see. We were not willing to take the risk so may well have dodged a bullet!
This however, had put us both on a bit of a downer. We thought the narrowboat dream was never going to happen and were feeling really down. We looked at our finances again and thought we could stretch our budget a little more if necessary. The following weekend, we decided to just go to a marina and have a look around in hopes of sparking our hearts again and keep looking. We took the motorbike out for a run and ended up at Braunston Marina. The people that work there are a lovely bunch and couldn’t give you more time and information. They were more than happy to give you the keys and have you take a look at as many boats as you wanted. They told us that this is the only way to know what you really want. We took a couple of keys with the paperwork on the boats and off we went. There was a couple of lovely boats, one was WAY out of our budget, beautiful and next to new. We knew we wanted something a few years old, well loved and ready to go. Then we found her…
We stepped onto Te Ara Hou. Within 10 minutes of looking, we knew she was it. She was what we were looking for. The previous owners lived on her for 4 years at a marina, she hadn’t been taken out much and was set ready for living aboard. We were both very quiet when looking around and took it all in. She had everything except a bath which, we could compromise on. The engine looked great, she had room for a washing machine and the plumbing was ready to go. She had 12 volt and 240 volt, a great inverter, calorifier with an immersion for hot water. She could get hot water via the engine running, immersion or webasto. Room for a good sized TV, lot’s of storage under the bed and cupboards, small wardrobe, draws, the portholes in the bedroom in particular were a nice touch in how the were done. We walked out, locked up, looked at each other and I was smiling. My husband asks ‘do you want to put an offer in?’, I didn’t even think and said yes! We both went straight to the office to get an offer put in subject to survey.
The office staff were fab, went through everything thoroughly and offered us to take her for a test drive! They couldn’t do it that day so we were to go back the following weekend with one of our friends to take her out. Now, bearing in mind we had NEVER moved a boat before in any shape or form before, let alone a narrowboat. We had watched a lot of YouTube videos and knew how it worked, it was just doing it now. Terrified was just one of the emotions I felt. We knew if we bought a boat, we would have to move her to our mooring we had chosen closest to Adam’s work.
I will tell you how it all went next week! Thank you for reading 🙂