A Parallel Universe….

Living on a narrowboat is a bit like living in a parallel universe…… I feel that our day to day living, especially while cruising is at such a different pace and so detached from the rest of the world it can make it feel a bit odd when you end up back in a town. I think this feeling has been heightened during this pandemic because to be honest we have avoided large towns as much as we possibly can and while out cruising tried to shop at farm shops and small local shops.


Different things become important. You end up taking far more notice of the weather than you would have done otherwise. You are aware of where the sun will be rising and setting so you can angle your solar panels to catch as much of its sunny goodness as possible. This in turn means you don’t always need to run your engine to generate electricity. You become far more power “frugal”. Unnecessary lights are always switched off. If something doesn’t need to be plugged in it is unplugged and as much as possible runs off 12v so we can switch our inverter off at night (saving approx 5% of our battery capacity). The washing machine is only run while we are cruising so the power comes from the engines alternator.


You don’t take fresh water for granted. Some days you will cruise past two or three water points that you can use to top up your tank. Other times you won’t see one for days and then, when you are really low, a tree will come down and block the canal so you are stuck for an extra few days. This is when you start becoming REALLY careful with the water you use. Showers become a luxury rather than necessity and you really can do a whole days washing up in a single bowl full of water…..

You learn not to waste.

Everything that goes on the boat you have to get onboard. Your shopping has to be carried, coal has to be stored somewhere and your rubbish stays on board until you can find some CRT bins that have space in them. This means I end up planning meals far more carefully and try and generate as little rubbish as we can.

We have limited storage space which means limited space for clothes, shoes etc. This means that everything we have on board gets used because it is useful. Clothes get worn until they wear out rather than just buying a new something and putting the old one at the back of the wardrobe.

Another world….

Even though the canals quite often go through towns they are, on the whole quite well “hidden” quite often passing through the outskirts of towns and I wonder how many people just don’t realise they are there. Or that there are thousands of people that live full time on their boats many of whom are continuously cruising from one place to next. It does leave you feeling that you are hidden and a bit forgotten about. The rest of the world moves on but the pace of life on the canals stays the same….

So, after a few months of cruising, when you do venture in to a town and meet “normal” people again it does feel a bit as though you’ve just stepped on to a different planet. Everyone seems so busy rushing around without the time to be able to stop and realise that the swallows are long gone. Without time to spot and watch the moor hens still busy scooting around. Without time to truly appreciate what we have around us….

2 comments to “A Parallel Universe….”
  1. Well put Lisa, fully understand after living on a small yacht for some time, different environment but similar needs and restrictions.
    I used to row everything out to the boat in a dinghy, on a windy wet day not fun!
    In your piece you can get the feel on the pleasures of understanding how to live less ordinary, and appreciate things around you a lot more, I really enjoyed it.
    Good cruising.
    Not sure about winter though!

  2. Thanks Lisa for sharing this….it’s one of those things that you have on your Bucket List one day, but sadly we wouldn’t get to do here in Australia. So to read about your adventures here gives that you that sense of how different Long Boat living really is!

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