Dominic Miles has owned inland waterways craft since 1981 - from a river cruiser, a Dutch barge to narrowboats. He currently is a broker based in the English Midlands at Stowe Hill Wharf, near Weedon in Northamptonshire. This is an introduction to the many aspects of buying and living on or simply cruising a canal boat in Britain.

This is Dominic's own boat, Ferret, which he lives on with his partner, Helen. At 70 feet it is as long as canal boats get in the UK if you want to be able to cruise the majority of the waterways. It is narrow in beam (or width if you like) being a maximum of 6ft 10in. That is the maximum width of many of the locks on the English and Welsh canal system. Some peoplehere.

Dominic's boat has some interesting features: where many boats are equipped with a gas cooker, Ferret has a diesel fired range which also runs central heating and provides hot water.

And then there is the bathroom, which doesn't have a bath, it has a shower. And finally the bedroom:
This is unusual in that it is below the fore deck and the headroom is limited to about 3ft 6in. Narrowboats with decks like this are known as tug style boats.

Next time Dominic will explore other narrowboat types, and their pros and cons.

Ferret's bedroom might find the narrowness too tight to live with, but it is an adaptable space. This is the saloon for instance.

Inside 'Ferret' - the saloon

It also has a large old engine in it, built by Gardner in 1953. It lives in its own cabin.Ferret's engine

At the stern of the boat is the boatman's cabin. This is a replica of the living space on the working boats, when the rest of it was an open cargo hold. They cooked on a small coal fired range. This is Ferret's boatman's cabin. Note the wheel top right, which is the engine's throttle.Ferret's boatman's cabin

Not all modern narrowboats are like this. There is a wide array of styles to choose from, as shown
My floating home

Things You Will Need

The only stuff you need is an interest in canal boats and the inland waterways and the ability to read in English.

Tips & Warnings