The initial idea behind this blog was to have a medium to store and share notes on the different technologies I worked on in an searchable manner. I have decided to step back from work and take a year out so this new life tab of the blog will be for all things non-IT related. I still plan to write technology based blogs over this time (got a few automation projects and Azure tips to share), however this is unlikely to start happening until later into next year.
I was going to go traveling abroad during my time out but then came up with the brilliant (or possibly loco) idea to buy a narrowboat and cruise the British canal networks. If you are unfamiliar with our canals they were built regionally by private corporations around the industrialised towns for the transportation of goods (horse drawn and then motorised) and used up to the 1970s before roads and trains superseded them. After this time a lot were left in ruin to deteriorate but over the last 30 years a big effort has been into make them once again navigatable. These days they are used mainly for leisure with the network allowing for extensive travel (at 4mph 😁) through the backwaters and countryside of rural England.
The original plan was to buy a boat in london and “sail” (if that is the correct term) all the way up to Manchester. Like most things in London the prices were too high so I ended up buying a boat in Alvechurch (near Birmingham).
The boat needed some work on the hull so I spent 2 weeks sailing it to a boatyard near Leicester where I planned to have it on a hard standing (out of the water in a boatyard) for 6 weeks to do some modernisations as the interior was very old fashioned and it had no real electrics or heating. Five months later (and my savings dwindling) I am at long last near enough ready to set out on my journey.
I originally intended to document the initial buying process and the renovations as I went along but in the end didn’t have the time or energy such was the extent that I underestimated the amount of work required. I am not sure how the proceeding blogs will workout as it is all going to be based on memory but hopefully will paint a picture of what is involved with buying and doing up a narrowboat.
Here are a few valuable lessons I have learnt so far:
- Everything costs more than you think, and I do mean EVERYTHING…..
- You can’t approach boat work in the same manner as a house DIY project, you need to take into account the fact that it is moving vibrating object that is lower down at the rear end (stern)
- You need to be creative at problem solving as normally there is not a standardized way to do things (such as plumbing), everyone has their own botched up way of accomplishing the task
- Object weight is so important for balance, every little thing be it a piece of furniture, stored item or power tool adds up. Don’t make my mistake and forget the batteries (Victron AGM supercycle 170AH batteries weigh a whopping 47KG each)
- Life on the canal is slow, this is especially true for the people you get in to do work on your boat. Expect to be let down, wait for weeks, stood up and not be kept informed. The only reliable factor is that nothing will be done on time
- Don’t attempt to live (or more likely squat) on a boat whilst doing it up, is a total nightmare. The limited space onboard make it very difficult store building materials (half your time is spent project managing deliveries), am sure you can imagine how much harder it is if you are also living on there. It is a constant battle between moving things, losing things and cleaning
- With your tools work of the mantra “everything has a place” and once you have used a tool put it back in its place. This may sound OCD but you will understand, in the end i created a tool wall as I kept losing or constantly moving everything