About two weeks ago my partner and I got the keys to a canal boat. We’re moving from bricks and mortar to an itinerant life on the water.
Yee-haw! That will make our lives a bit different, at least until we adapt and it becomes routine.
While also I felt eager and curious to give it a try, the thought of this move initially threw me into my discomfort zone.
That all changed the Saturday we took possession of the boat and turned around to head south down the River Lee towards London. We also filled the water tank and did a first lick of cleaning, which has also improved my feelings towards the boat.
I still have concerns but I have moved beyond discomfort to where I’d like to be with this advenure – fully excited and open.
The boat has a license categorised as ‘constant cruising’, which despite the racy connotations, in narrow boat terms means having to move on and moor in a new ‘neighbourhood’ every two weeks.
I worry about where we will moor up, the river is already crowded with boats. Bah, don’t worry, I also say to myself: throw that ball of uncertainty up in the air and see it as an invitation to explore new areas.
I also worry about how two time-strapped people like us are going to find the time to take the boat to fill its 1,000-litre water tank, and – just how long does it take 2 people and a dog to use up 1,000 litres of water?
We haven’t yet dealt with the pump-out toilet, I’m less apprehensive about the actual pumping-out (that’s done by a machine and it looks pretty straight forward) but – just how often do two people and their visitors need to empty their pump-out toilet?
Getting fuel, like diesel, coal and wood for the boat – how and how often will we need to do those activities?
And all those switches! What do they all do? What can run at the same time and what must I be careful about?
Ian says, for instance, that we must be careful never to leave the bathroom (yes it has a bath tub!) light on or it might start a fire! Something to do with the fuse. OK, remember that.
And what about how the gas works (on/off at tank, lighting the stove), the water pump, engine bilge pump, 12 volt versus 240 electricity, and just where does the diesel go?
And then there’s the dog. Will he be a good tow path dog? Or will he be, as he tends to be when we’re on our friends’ boat in the West Country, a terror and nuisance barking out greeting to every passer-byer on ‘his’ patch of the tow path? I have been warned by boaty friends that dogs with ‘anti-social behaviour’ are likely to get tossed in the canal. And that’s fine, it might teach him a lesson (probably not though) but I worry about how we’ll get him out! In some places the reach from the water’s surface to the tow path is quite big.
Some things are looking up
I am also shedding some of my concerns. Now that we have new mooring pins, I feel more confident the boat is not going to float away.
I am happy that our hoover worked on board without blowing the system, though apparently, if we ever become obsessed about hoovering and do it for 2 hours, it will drain the batteries. That shouldn’t be a problem.
We’ve put additional locks on the back door, which previously was only locked from the outside, which wasn’t exactly the most security and fire safety-conscious approach. ‘Hey big padlock on the outside door, might that mean the occupants are not home?’ Or just how sensible is it living in such a small place, with so many fire hazards – remember to turn off the light in the loo! – to lock one of the exits from the outside?
The curtains, that had never been washed, washed up fine without any of the dye bleeding. So the next task is to wash the other 9 pairs.
The cleaning, scrubbing and arranging things are coming along. And while I can’t yet see the end of the tunnel to when we move on board full-time and are comfortably settled, I can see that it’s going to be a cosy space!
Now all I’m faced with is emptying the four rooms, a large walk-in closet and the two garden sheds of our current home.
Last year, on my birthday, rabbit invited me to ’embrace uncertainty’. I would say I’ve successful done that, and now, I have to step into the next invitation rabbit offers which is –