Living on a Narrowboat: 21 Liveaboard Case Studies

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The canal probably has more pubs along it than the Grand. It has fine stonework, an aqueduct feet in the air, nice harbours and other attractions, including now an automatic lifting bridge at Begnagh, which scans the canal seeking boats and lifts when it sees one coming. The locks out of Dublin, up from Spencer Dock to Cabra, are hard work, but then there is the attractive stretch past Ashtown and Dunsink followed by the dramatic crossing of the M50 at Blanchardstown.

New sector gates are being installed at Spencer Dock to control access from the Liffey and to counter flooding. In Co Longford, where the local authority installed low culverted road-crossings in many places, the last of the culverts, at Lyneen, will be replaced by a fixed bridge. Richmond Harbour will be closed this winter for maintenance and some other minor works are underway; it is even possible that an improved water supply, from Lough Ennell, will be made available.

At first, WI will have to control traffic and monitor the banks closely to ensure that they are standing up to the traffic: But WI suggested, at a meeting in April , that there will be a series of events next summer, from Dublin to the western end, after which traffic will once again be admitted from the Shannon. Unfortunately WI was unable to provide us with any details of decisions made since April, so we cannot say exactly what will be happening on what dates.

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In Northern Ireland, however, the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure holds regular hearings, received reports from the relevant minister and publishes full information on its website http: WI's new HQ building, in Enniskillen, was on time and on budget.

It intended to reopen the Royal in , to improve other navigations and to complete "investigations and construction of extensions on the Shannon navigation". WI has been consulting landowners and other interests along the line of the Ulster Canal from the River Finn Lough Erne to Clones; it has "commenced procedures to have the preliminary design undertaken and [proposes] to take forward the land acquisition in advance of letting the contract". It intends to register all its property, first assessing what the process might need, and it has carried out some marketing. WI's strategy has "five marketing objectives, which are: The Committee discussed the report of the meeting, with questions to the Minister on the timescale for reopening the Ulster Canal, the slight under-representation of Protestants amongst the 76 permanent WI employees in Northern Ireland, potential for development of the Lower Bann and Lough Neagh, the effect of currency fluctuations and of the "pressures on public-expenditure budgets in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland".

Living On A Narrowboat » liveaboard case studies

In that context, it should be noted that Brian Lenihan's budget in October involved cuts in provision for pensioners, in certain education and health services and in the estimates for agriculture, transport and arts, sport and tourism. However, the estimate for Waterways Ireland's capital and current expenditure is the same as it was last year. According to WI's current Corporate Plan, operating revenue — which includes what boaters pay — will amount to e, in each of the years , and ; current expenditure in those years is expected to be e38,,, e39,, and e41,, respectively.

Some people blamed the weather, but we didn't think it was too bad. We had some heavy rain, but for some reason none while we were navigating: I didn't have to don my serious waterproofs once. There was even some sunshine from time to time, which is always a bonus, and the only strong winds seemed to be at night.

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Our fortnight spanned the August Bank Holiday weekend, which we spent in Portumna Castle Harbour, and admittedly that was crowded. There were boats moored on the approach walls every night and at one stage eight boats were rafted inside the harbour. And that's not to speak of the herd of camper vans Except for one night in Dromineer, we spent our other nights at quieter harbours without pubs Kilgarvan, Dromaan, Rossmore and maybe things were more crowded elsewhere, but I was surprised to find that, on one night in Dromaan, ours was the only occupied boat in the harbour.

Even Dromineer was quiet on a Friday night; perhaps the closure of the hotel is making a difference. We had a visit in Portumna from the Waterways Ireland warden, who was checking up on things and ensuring that best use was made of the space available. This sort of presence, whether by land or by water, is a very good thing, using low-key persuasiveness to make improvements. Mind you, I suspect that WI will have to use the heavy hand sometime soon: I have the impression that there has been an increase in harbour-hogging by owners who won't pay for moorings and who prefer to privatise sections of public harbours at taxpayers' expense.

Tommy McLoughlin, the Project Manager, had kindly agreed to stay behind after a hard day's work on the sea lock to show us around. I must admit I was very impressed: So this is a restoration project with some point to it. A restored Boyne Navigation, cut off from the connected inland waterways system, may never attract large numbers of cruisers, but it could justify itself in other ways. A water-bus service would be an attraction in itself; it would also relieve the traffic congestion on the area's minor roads — and perhaps make the other attractions easier to find.

Furthermore, the navigation itself is extremely attractive and some sections of towpath are well used by walkers and anglers; a day-boat service might complement those activities. Unfortunately the Boyne Navigation Branch's trailer was stolen since our visit. It is a twin-axle 8' x 4' steel galvanised trailer with a mesh tail ramp. It is unusual in that it has high sides, of which the top 15" drop down to form a shelf hanging on chains. It has lights and black plastic mudguards. This trailer was custom built by T. Trailers and is used to transport equipment on to the site on workdays. If you see it, contact Tommy McLoughlin at Nineteenth century travellers described the Blackwater as the Irish Rhine, which is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is certainly very scenic and full of historic interest.

There are several 'big houses' along the route; people associated with the area include the Knights Templar, Walter Raleigh, the Duke of Devonshire, the von Thyssen family, Katharine Countess of Desmond said to have died at the age of after falling from a cherry tree , Claud Cockburn, Molly Keane and Richard Boyle 1st Earl of Cork and father of the man who gave us Boyle's Law.

There are some boats on the river, but traffic was very light when we were there: Some of the old quays are used for swimming, but on the whole the river seemed to be under-used. We went with the tide all the way from Youghal to the Kitchenhole just above Cappoquin, and also did some exploration of the Bride and the Lismore Canal by road.

Tony Gallagher runs a trip-boat, the half-decker MV Maeve, from Youghal, although his scheduled trips don't go as far as Cappoquin. Tony is a mine of information about this wonderful river and he brings old photos and documents to show to his passengers: For a photo tour of the Blackwater, see http: Every year Waterways Ireland WI provides an account of what it has been doing and what's next on its list of things to do.

And so to the engineering. WI's isolated navigation is the Lower Bann, on which it has installed 36m replacement jetties at Mountsandel and at Vow, and has applied for planning permission for new jetties at Camus and Portglenone Wood. In WI intends to carry out feasibility studies into new facilities and service blocks. In many cases older timber jetties are being replaced. At Crevinishaughy Island near Castle Archdale WI has installed a larger jetty with a reduced freeboard section for watersports. In Enniskillen, the Round O slipway has been improved and m of moorings will be installed in On the Shannon—Erne Waterway, a new block is being built at Lock 16 Leitrim for the Patrollers, and the moorings at the far end, Lock 1 at Corraquill, will be replaced in The Shannon has had an extra m of floating moorings: Clarendon Lock is being automated, Tarmonbarry Lock House has been refurbished to give keepers a better view of the lock chamber, the Camlin has been dredged and Scarriff has a pump-out, which makes 21 pump-outs at 14 locations on the Shannon.

In , weir barriers will be installed at Athlone and Rooskey. Down the Barrow, the 54m amenity jetty at Ardreigh has been finished, and there is an 84m floating jetty at Carlow Town Park and a new slipway at Bagenalstown. Major dredging work was undertaken in Carlow and Leighlinbridge; the quay wall and landing jetty at Rathvindon Lock, and the retaining wall at Graiguenamanagh Dry Dock were all repaired. The Ulster Canal is now on the list. The project will take six years to complete. Finally, much has been happening on the Royal. A new lifting bridge at Begnagh has been finished and work has started to replace the bridge at Mosstown.

A m section of bank reconstruction and lining was carried out between Ballydrum Bridge and the 44th Lock near Killashee. Investigative works were completed at Richmond Harbour Dry Dock, a major restoration of the 45th Lock was completed and Cloonsheerin Culvert was fully restored. Lighting and railings at Maynooth Harbour were upgraded and deep gate landing jetties were installed at the 41st and 42nd Locks.

Negotiations continued with Westmeath County Council to provide an adequate water supply to the Royal Canal. Spencer Dock was widened from 12m to its original 30m width. Works included exposing and strengthening the original dock walls. All of these works are part of large scale re-development of the area, in which the Royal Canal is an important central feature. Work began on the new Sea Lock, which has the dual purpose of facilitating navigation at all stages of the tide and providing flood protection to the area in the event of high water levels in the adjacent River Liffey.

The project includes construction of new mitre gates and new sector gates, together with a control building for the operation of the Sea Lock. Second, the board pointed out that the Leitrim County Development Plan — sought to encourage location of facilities in or near existing towns and villages, to maximise the economic and social gain for the local community. As Annagh Upper is "an unserviced rural area at a remove from the nearby village of Dowra", the development would be "contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Third, the board said that the local road serving the proposed site was very poor and that the proposed development would endanger traffic safety. I'm not convinced that the rejection of this development is a disaster. Relatively few boats use Lough Allen, and they've had improvements to two existing moorings in recent years.

Does the traffic justify a further development? Or would the money be better spent elsewhere? Perhaps an extension at the southern end of the navigation, through Parteen Villa Weir to O'Briensbridge, would be a better investment. Not that I'm biased. The structure of the book is broadly chronological, starting with works carried out before and then devoting two chapters to the achievements of the Directors General of Inland Navigation up to But most of the infrastructure we know on the Shannon today came after that, based on a survey by Thomas Rhodes for the Shannon Commission and a report to the government in That led to the passing of the Shannon Navigation Act in and the appointment of five commissioners including Rhodes to carry out work on the Shannon.

Between then and , mill dams and eel weirs were removed and bridge arches were unblocked. At Killaloe the bridge was improved, a large L-shaped weir was constructed across the river and the canal retaining wall was built. On Lough Derg the navigation was opened to Scarriff, Mountshannon harbour was built and the Ballyshrule and Woodford rivers were dredged. Upriver, boulders removed in dredging out shallow places were used as bases for navigation markers.

Portumna bridge was replaced and the new cut, weir and lock at Meelick were built. The old Banagher lock was bypassed by a new navigation channel in the river, with a swivel arch in the bridge; Shannonbridge too got a swivel arch. A new lock and weir were built in the river at Athlone, with a new bridge again with a swivel section , and the old canal was abandoned. On Lough Ree the marking system was improved. The old lock at Lanesborough was removed and locks and weirs were built at Tarmonbarry and Roosky abandoning the old Roosky canal.

The bridge and quay were built at Carnadoe and the shallows at Derrycarne Narrows were excavated. Jamestown canal was re-sited and new bridges were built across it, but Drumsna bridge was just strengthened. Carrick-on-Shannon bridge was replaced and some improvements were made in the river to Battlebridge and in the Lough Allen Canal, while on the Boyle Water bridges and a lock were built. There were some small changes to the infrastructure in later years, and they are covered in this book; the most important was the building of Ardnacrusha and the abandonment of the old navigation between Limerick and Killaloe.

But most of the Shannon as we know it today was defined during that twenty-year period in the middle of the nineteenth century, and Ruth Delany brings it to life: Some people may shy away from the prospect of reading a page history book, but there is no need to do so. The book is indeed full of information but it is also extremely well written: But there is more: Sponsorship from Waterways Ireland enabled the publishers to use full colour throughout, with an extraordinary number and range of illustrations ranging from maps and charts, through drawings of the tools used in construction, to early black and white photographs and to contemporary colour photographs.

The result is a magnificent book, whose quality is a fitting tribute to the research Ruth Delany has put in to her subject over the years — and to the work she has done in campaigning successfully for Irish waterways. I have made some suggestions to the Department of Transport: I also commented on the requirement that I display a flag. I don't really like flags apart from our own and I don't see the point when I'm inland.

More seriously, there have been times when boats from Northern Ireland might have been reluctant, for fear of violence, to fly a red ensign in the republic and when southern boats might have preferred not to fly their ensign when north of the border. I hope those days may be behind us, but if the temperature should rise again I think boaters should be free to avoid calling attention to themselves. I am not clear whether houseboats will have to be registered.

And it would be nice to have a register of wrecks: I don't mean boats that have been wrecked while under way but rather those that have been abandoned and have sunk at their moorings in Killaloe, Shannon Harbour or Lowtown. And that brings up the point of how this registration will affect Waterways Ireland and its register: Finally, the big threat in the scheme is in the sentence "Only vessels which meet the applicable standards under national, EU or international law in relation to safety, security and environmental protections in force at the time of application for registration will be allowed to register" and in the requirement for tonnage measurement.

Owners might be hit with any number of demands under those provisions, and there are no details of what we might be in for. I don't like buying a pig in a poke: I want more details. Getting tough Waterways Ireland has issued Marine Notice 25 of saying that boats that have been parked in one harbour for more than five consecutive days, or for more than seven days in a month, may be removed from the navigation.

This would be good, although I don't know how it's to be done. It probably won't be as drastic as the recent removal of sunken vessels from the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. DO Consider the needs of the whole family But there's another difference between inland and much coastal boating: You don't get 15 hefty men sitting on one side of your motor-cruiser; your crew may be parents and children, possibly quite young children.

That has all sorts of implications: It's probably as well to think about some of those issues in advance. Going to the boat has to be enjoyable and relaxing for everyone, not just the skipper. DON'T Spend too much money on a first boat If you have no previous experience of boating, how do you know you and the family are going to like it?

You will learn a certain amount by hiring and by talking to other boaters, but some aspects just won't sink in until you're responsible for every aspect of your own boat. There are lots of issues of layout, equipment, engine size, furnishing, systems and so on that you can't really get to grips with until you've had some practical experience. Then you find that someone else's boat has an alternative set-up, or a different way of doing things, and you're in a better position to compare the two approaches. But it's very hard to do that with a first boat.

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For that reason, it may be as well not to spend too much on a first boat. Treat it as a training boat: DO Take your time and talk to owners Before you buy, talk to people who already own boats. Most inland boaters are both chatty and friendly, and are only too delighted to talk to potential new recruits to the ranks of inland boaters.

They're also convinced that their own boat has the perfect layout, fit-out, engine, equipment and so on, and will explain its virtues to you at great length. You can pick up a lot of information by looking at, and learning about, other people's boats — and by observing how they handle them. DO Get training If you haven't handled boats very much before, invest in some training: You may also need a course in handling VHF radio, and it is useful if at least one person has some knowledge of first aid.

Finally, don't forget the engine and other systems. Keeping that hunk of metal going is vital to your safety as well as to your peace of mind, so it's worth learning more about the beast. DON'T Buy a second-hand boat without a survey Before you buy a second-hand boat, get it surveyed properly. A good survey, done by a surveyor who is working for you and not for the seller, is well worth the money: Anyway, your insurers may well insist on seeing a survey.


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Don't panic if the survey finds faults no boat is perfect: If the surveyor will allow it and they may hate my suggesting this , you could try to be there during the survey: And if there's anything you don't understand, you can seek enlightenment straight away rather than having to ask questions about the written report. DO Start early to look for a marina berth Once you've bought a boat, you'll have to find somewhere to moor it.

On the Shannon, that will almost certainly mean a berth in a marina, and in some areas — especially on Lough Derg — berths are getting scarce. There is no register of vacant marina berths, so there's no alternative to ringing around. The sooner you get started possibly even before you buy a boat , the better. On the Grand, Royal and Barrow there are few marinas; most boats are left at locations where boats congregate e. There is no formal security and there are few services but, on the other hand, the annual charge payable to Waterways Ireland, the navigation authority is purely nominal, although that may change when the byelaws are revised.

Join it to help in lobbying Waterways Ireland and other powers-that-be , to meet other users and join in social and boating activities, and to get access to its services. IWAI runs the biggest Irish waterways website www. Waterways Ireland also has a site at www. DON'T Buy a 'project' A "project" is a boat that has been badly neglected but that would be absolutely gorgeous if it were properly restored. It costs practically nothing — in fact the current owner seems to be glad to be rid of it — and you could save a lot by doing most of the work yourself.

So you buy it and park it somewhere usually on the Grand Canal, where there is no electricity supply and, in September, you start going down to it every weekend to do a bit of work. You also sign up for classes in welding. The first few wet weekends don't deter you; friends occasionally come to help and you find that there are a lot of people none of whom bought it, you notice who know every aspect of the history of the boat, including where it was holed the last time it ran aground and what sort of bus the engine was taken out of and why there is a washing-machine hose on the water intake.

Then you notice that the work the previous owner began all has to be undone: There is mastic everywhere and the inside of the boat is getting mouldy. So you dismantle all that and invest in a large tarpaulin. By Christmas your friends are not taking your phone calls and your spouse and children haven't seen you at a weekend for some months, so you take a break and do a few jobs around the house.

Then there are two very wet weekends in a row, and you're afraid that if you take off the tarpaulin it will blow away and the inside will get soaked again. So you decide to leave it until the weather improves in the spring, which it does around July, by which time you have an angry note from the Inspector asking you to remove the sunken boat from the canal. There are people who have, after much effort, successfully restored very old boats. But far more people have started in hope only to abandon the project.

Unless you are absolutely sure that you have the resources and skills to do the job properly, and you and your family find working on boats at least as enjoyable as boating, don't do it: DO Respect other waterways users So you've bought your new boat with twin hp diesels and you're bombing down the river from Athlone to Portumna. Round the corner there is a canoeist, paddling slowly into the teeth of a strong southerly breeze. You see him and slow down, but it's too late: Although cruisers are the most visible users of the waterways, they're not the only ones, and they don't own the place.

There are anglers on shore and in boats, swimmers, canoeists, rowers, children in sailing dinghies As we get more boats on the system, the potential for conflict increases. It can be avoided by giving some consideration to other users and their needs. Keep the water clean: Keep your wash down on river sections and near the shore, especially during the birds' nesting season.

Respect the waterways heritage and learn about their history. We want the next generation to be able to enjoy the waterways too.


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I live near the old Limerick Navigation, which was bypassed and abandoned when Ardnacrusha was built. Since then, the old route gets the first 10 cubic metres of water per second and Ardnacrusha gets the next If there is anything left over, it's sent down our way. On Lough Neagh, the canal entrance to the Bann at Toomebridge was heavily silted; dredging had to await improved weather. WI warnings welcome Some years ago, I was told that Waterways Ireland could not advise boaters not to go boating. That reluctance has certainly been overcome, and rightly so. WI didn't just inform people about the lock closures; it issued warnings throughout the period, progressing from reminders Masters and owners are reminded that, following periods of prolonged rainfall, high flow rates, increased current speeds and water turbulence especially in the vicinity of bridges, weirs, locks, flood gates and other infrastructure will be hazardous to craft and persons on or near the navigation.

Air draft at bridges will be reduced as water levels rise also. A floating 76m boom is being installed above the weir in Athlone to ensure that boats won't be drawn over the weir. A gap has been left for canoeists. There are expected to be no environmental impacts on fish or other wildlife from the installation or operation of the boom. The effect will be to ban mooring at the same place or within metres thereof for more than five days without a permit.

The intent is that the improved facilities will be kept free for visiting boats. WI has said that vessels should not double or triple park so that the centre channel can be kept clear. Offending vessels and those without permits will be moved. No announcement has been made about the implications for the Erne system. Published in Afloat February Published in Brian Goggin. Climate Change Threatens Canals.

Not just cruising Every boat-owner on the inland waterways benefits from a large subsidy from the taxpayer, who pays the vast bulk of the costs of running the inland waterways system. If that subsidy is to be justified, and indeed to be continued, the waterways must be seen to provide benefits for far more than the few thousand owners of motor-cruisers and the half dozen or so hire firms still operating on the Shannon.

To quote from the report: Every so often, new definitions, or new descriptions of their major purposes have been put forward in order to ensure the continuation of funding by the taxpayer. The Grand Canal Company was very good at extracting money from the public purse, whether for supplying water to Dublin or for building locks on the Shannon.

Charles Wye Williams, probably the first man to come up with a large-scale profitable trade with his Inland Steam Navigation Company to be carried on the waterways, was adept at lobbying the UK government to get it to spend money on the Shannon. Positive perceptions Ireland's waterways are considered unique in European terms, offering a visitor experience that is uncrowded, free of commercial traffic and easy to navigate. Cruising still offers an iconic image of holidaying in Ireland, particularly for Europeans. Negative perceptions In general, hiring a cruise boat was considered an expensive holiday option with Ireland considered particularly expensive for visitors coming from Europe.

If Cruising ie, hire of cruisers is not going to grow, then other activities need to be encouraged instead. Lake Billy Chinook has many little coves to anchor the houseboat. Roughly built float houses are sometimes called shanty boats but may be built on a raft or hull. In historic logging operations workmen sometimes used an ark as mobile dwellings. In Australia, especially on the Murray River and the sunny coastline of Victoria there are many motorized, pontoon -based houseboats with two or more bedrooms; some of these houseboats have more than one level or multiple stories floors.

Some are privately owned as either a primary residence or a holiday shack. Many are also available for hire rent as self-driven holiday destinations with accommodation for four to perhaps a dozen persons. Coomera River , the Great Sandy Straits near the world's largest sand island - Fraser Island and, in recent times, the Tweed River near Barri Island during the popular Tournament Crabbing competitions are especially popular with Queenslanders and interstate tourists.

In New Zealand houseboating is developing as a holiday activity. Whangaroa Harbour [15] on Northland 's east coast is a land locked harbour that provides houseboating. In Maracaibo , Venezuela , there is a big house called La Casa Barco, which was built by a former captain of the Venezuelan Navy in the 20th century. The building resembles a real ship with its anchors, lifeboats, and radars, floating on water. It is located in the neighborhood La Estrella.

Nowadays La Casa Barco has become a city icon for tourists. Many houseboats use gasoline-powered generators. The carbon monoxide CO exhaust from these generators has caused problems for some houseboat inhabitants. Coast Guard , performed a number of evaluations on air quality, particularly carbon monoxide levels, on houseboats beginning in August Since that initial investigation, over boating-related poisonings in the United States have been identified with over of these poisonings resulting in death.

Over of the poisonings occurred on houseboats, with more than of these poisonings attributed to generator exhaust alone. Some houseboat and generator manufacturers have begun working with these agencies to evaluate engineering controls to reduce CO concentrations in occupied areas on houseboats. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the film, see Houseboat film. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Learn how and when to remove this template message. Houseboat at Dal lake.

Houseboats from Floating Places to Humble Dwellings - a glowing tribute to a growing lifetsyle. Archived from the original on 19 January Retrieved 31 May Archived from the original on 10 May Dutch Answer to Flooding: Build Houses that Swim. BBC News, 1 March Financial Times 18 March http: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Retrieved 17 December Retrieved from " https: Boat types House types Houseboats Tourist accommodations. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. This page was last edited on 17 December , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Houseboats. Just look at the view from her new office!

Richard Varnes and wife Valerie have sold their home in Colarado to fund a very different floating home on the inland waterways of England and Wales. Alan had a choice to make. He could either do nothing but feel sorry for himself when his wife sadly passed away, or he could seize life with both hands and move ahead with his plans to buy a liveaboard narrowboat. Although they both work they constantly cruise the network, never staying longer than two weeks in the same spot.

After a brush with bowel cancer, Andy and his wife Sue decided to live life to the full, retire early and continuously cruise the canal network. They now have no fixed abode and love every minute of their new lifestyle. Until last month he was in full time employment. Now his options are open.

Will he cruise the network full time? After testing the lifestyle by taking a narrowboat holiday in the depths of winter, Jaks and Andy have now lived on their own narrowboat for four years on a rustic farm mooring on the cut with no facilities. Tony and Jane Robinson believe in forward planning.