Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mayday, Mayday & living more on less

Regular blog readers will recall our toilet disaster in Bristol (click here to read the post) on our 2010 journey, when we were stuck in the docks there with a broken 'dunny' as Kiwis call it.  Well yesterday we had a repeat performance - not a good feeling when we've only owned the boat for less than three weeks!  It's always been a bit of an issue for me, this boat living and the disposal of our 'waste'.  I recall telling Barry in 2008 that if we were ever going to spend time living on a narrowboat that I wouldn't have anything to do with that part of it - I've cleaned up enough s _ _ t in my nursing and midwifery career to last me a lifetime!

One of our 'essentials' on the list of 'which boat' has always been a 'pump out' toilet, preferably a macerator, but Areandare has a vacuum pump out which I guess we're just not used to yet.  Yesterday morning, the ablutions of the day decided to stay stuck and not make their way to the tank - the 'half full' light was on, and we wondered if maybe the 'full' light just didn't work and there was no more room? So we made haste to the nearest boatyard/pump out between Loughborough and Sawley, our destination for the day, got pumped out, and found the problem remained. Without going into too much detail, Barry and the man from the boatyard sorted it out fairly easily, and we think that basically we haven't been working the pump properly and getting the suction up enough with each flush!

I know, not the most tasteful subject is it?  But at least we've fixed it, for only £12. However, we STILL don't know how long we'll last between pump outs, as last time we did it when the half full light was on because we had a visitor coming and didn't know when we'd next get an opportunity.

If you've never spent time on a narrowboat, all this toilet talk may appear odd. I believe there's quite a divide between those who feel pump out toilets are the only way to go, and others who swear by their cassette - mainly I think due to the fact that the latter is free to empty.  We did consider some boats with a cassette, but the thought of having to dispose 'manually' of the contents every couple of days wasn't at all appealing.

We're still getting to know many of the the intricacies of our new abode, as one does with a new house or boat, and we're working out how to save power (will changing to a 12 volt fridge help at some point in the future?), which engine speed works best when (our current configuration only allows 1100 or 1500 rpm), how much diesel we're using, how much gas, etc.

The change in our lifestyle comes at a cost - we currently have very little income, and while outgoings are reduced in some ways there are still many essentials, so good budgeting is now crucial.  In a way we're enjoying our new project - and shocked at how much money we used to spend unnecessarily because we were so 'time' short.  Now we I keep a record of every penny we spend, and at the end of each week categorise it into our spreadsheet.  Hopefully after a few months we'll be able to see how much we 'need' each week, and how much we can cut back on or save for 'emergencies'.  It'll also give us an idea of an approximate figure we need to look at earning, in whatever ways we can.  Filling up with diesel the other day, the lady said "Didn't you know what the word 'boat' means?  'Bring Out Another Thousand'!"  Oh dear ...

Any ideas on this subject are welcome, as we know many boaters have chosen this lifestyle because they love the waterways, are able to live so much more, but do so with a lot less 'money'.

Just to brighten up the post, here's Trent Lock (well the pub by the lock!), looking lovely in the afternoon light yesterday:

This evening I have my first ever coaching session, by Skype, from the boat - marvellous! I hope there'll be many more clients wanting to explore ways of finding more 'life' in their lives in whatever way works for them, in the near future.


  1. Tis a wonderful thing - to dump without the pump! Cassette convert....

  2. Hello Sandra and Barry,
    I have just found your blog and noticed that you are cruising around our part of the world. If you fancy a trip to Langley Mill we are moored top end of the Erewash Canal. Having lived aboard Free Spirit for 5 years we know a bit about tightening ones belt. Hope to see you one day, either at Langley or on our travels around the system.

    All the best,

    Irene & Ian

  3. Ditto on the dunny front with the captain. I think if you are going to have a pump out it should be a big one... tank that is. Our last boat was not so big so we were always concerned about the next place we might need a pump out. Plus coming from shared ownerships boats that had two loos and one would always smell as no doubt someone had used it but not had it pumped out to cut the end of holiday costs. We are at Fradley so say hello if we are about when you come that way.

    Nev & Rachel NB Percy

  4. Hi Sandra
    We've worked out it takes 3½ hours of engine running to recharge the batteries. So that's how long we plan to cruise each day. The idea is to save fuel. Solar (in the summer) then keeps the batteries topped up.
    Do the seals in your vacuum system need replacing?

  5. Andy - lovely that you;re happy!
    Ian and Irene, apologies but we've done the Erewash previously, and though we loved it, we have moved on from there now - do email though and share your tips!
    Nev and Rachel - we'll look out for you at Fradley.
    Tom - sadly that doesn't work with our boat - think it's because we have a 240 volt fridge :-( We must invest in solar at some stage, and Barry doesn't think the vacuum seals need replacing, but maybe one day - and Elly emailed with similar advice so it must be a challenge that we'll have to consider!
    Thanks again everyone, lovely to have so many people commenting and offering advice, really appreicate it.