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Henriettamay

Options for larger families ?

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Hi!

My husband and I have been looking into the idea of taking a year to live on a canal boat with our children - obviously if we loved it we could do it for longer but at the moment the idea is a year. We have been on canal boats for shorter periods but nothing long term. 

 

I have been obsessively reading these forums and i think I need a good reality check from people who are doing this!

 

So here it goes!

 

Current situation is we have 5 children who are all homeschooled. Eldest 2 are teenagers and the youngest is 4. (No won’t wont be having any more!) My husband is an IT consultant working for himself and has an office in Liverpool He doesn’t need to go in every day he can work from home but obviously needs to keep some presence in the office. 

 

We rent a 2/3 bedroom house. We have 4 girls in one room and our one and only boy has an attic room. We don’t own a car we use public transport.  We have considered renting a bigger house but it just seems like throwing more money away on something we don’t own - and we don’t stay still long enough to buy a house ! We prefer to be moving around!

 

In terms of money at the moment we pay £750 a month for the house plus council tax and other bills all In all our basic bills come to around £1800 per month . So we would be hoping to keep our monthly bills at that or under on a boat (I have been trying to figure out how reasonable that is but figures seem to vary widely!)

 

we would be looking to buy the boat boat either upfront (so no monthly payments) or with a smallish loan to top up if we went for a higher priced one) 

 

So the major issue obviously is the size of our family initially we had thought a wider/longer boat would be the only option until recently someone suggested we actually had two shorter boats and either split bedrooms between them or had one for eating/living/schooling and the other for sleeping. 

 

I honestly couldn't tell how serious a suggestion this was - so ideas would be appreciated!

 

The idea would be that we continuously cruise around areas where my husband could travel to the office a couple of Times a week for the year then make a choice either we rent another house or carry on as we are. 

 

Any thoughts would be appreciated on this as we are driving ourselves mad thinking of all the risks or things we might hate ?

 

thanks! 

Edited by Henriettamay

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You would have more room on a wide boat, and a reasonable choice of wide canals within reach of Liverpool. Two boats might get a bit laborious if you are taking both of them with you all the time, although two narrowboats can at least share locks on the wide waterways, with the narrow canals available to you if the boats single out (or you leave one behind). 

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The costs of buying, maintaining and licensing two narrow boats will be far greater than that of a wide beam, but the wide beam would place strict limits on where you could navigate it.

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Living aboard a small boat ( 70 by 14 or less ) on the inland waterways with five kids would be my idea of hell. There is NO privacy even on a well built boat. Good luck to you though as some people manage. To give you some idea, we have five kids and nine grandkids. Our 68 foot narrow boat has ONE double bed to ensure they dont want to visit as the floor is uncomfy :D

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4 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Living aboard a small boat ( 70 by 14 or less ) on the inland waterways with five kids would be my idea of hell. There is NO privacy even on a well built boat. Good luck to you though as some people manage. To give you some idea, we have five kids and nine grandkids. Our 68 foot narrow boat has ONE double bed to ensure they dont want to visit as the floor is uncomfy :D

We had two grandkids stay this weekend, 45ft boat, I got to sleep on the sofa. Not good.

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Just now, Rickent said:

We had two grandkids stay this weekend, 45ft boat, I got to sleep on the sofa. Not good.

Stick em in a tent on the towpath next time mate, they wont want to come again ?

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1 minute ago, mrsmelly said:

Stick em in a tent on the towpath next time mate, they wont want to come again ?

I wouldn't bet on it , bloody love camping they do.?

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10 hours ago, mrsmelly said:

Living aboard a small boat ( 70 by 14 or less ) on the inland waterways with five kids would be my idea of hell.

 

Living aboard a small boat ( 70 by 14 or less ) on the inland waterways with you would probably be OP's kids' idea of hell, too! :giggles: 

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Cheapest option would be an ex-hire boat which would have the number of berths you want.

However bear in mind most families are at screaming pitch after a week, let alone a year.

I would think a half-decent wide beam with that amount of accommodation would be well into six figures, and as mrsmelly indicates, may well have you still not speaking to each other.

 

Also bear in mind the amount of water and toilet- emptying you will need for seven people.

Edited by dor

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I would say it’s not really feasible, perhaps if you buy an ex hireboat you might get enough beds but no storage. However you would no doubt be constantly filling up with water, emptying the loo etc . Assuming your husband could find somewhere to work you would need to do a good power audit to ensure you were not running the engine constantly. 

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15 minutes ago, Tuscan said:

I would say it’s not really feasible, perhaps if you buy an ex hireboat you might get enough beds but no storage. However you would no doubt be constantly filling up with water, emptying the loo etc . Assuming your husband could find somewhere to work you would need to do a good power audit to ensure you were not running the engine constantly. 

Or 5 bike powered generators, cause while they are generating they are not fighting?

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1 hour ago, Stilllearning said:

If your husband can wean himself off the need for office space, then a barge on French canals might be feasible.

Ya dont need to go to France to live on a barge. There are some oooge barges on the northern waterways in good old UK. I have a friend lives on and is  a compliant ccer on his 140ft by 18 footer. I still reckon thats not enough room with five kids onboard though, my mate has only two.

3 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Living aboard a small boat ( 70 by 14 or less ) on the inland waterways with you would probably be OP's kids' idea of hell, too! :giggles: 

:P

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I've never been to Liverpool, but would hazard a guess that houses there, renting or buying, would be great value for money compared with anything I'm familiar with down south. So whatever plan you might come up with for living on water, I would recommend that you do the research into what you could rent or buy, then compare all aspects of your plan with those. If you won't be in a marina on a shoreline much, such a comparison must include how you would cope with battery charging, perhaps the biggest problem. Getting water and emptying the toilet is important too of course.

 

Having a pair (a motor plus unpowered butty) rather than a widebeam is not as mad as it might sound, if you learn how to move them. You need enough crew for that, particularly when doing narrow locks, but two adults plus two teenagers would be adequate. But the butty licence would be half that of the motor, and as has been said it gives you the narrow canals as well.

 

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15 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

The costs of buying, maintaining and licensing two narrow boats will be far greater than that of a wide beam, but the wide beam would place strict limits on where you could navigate it.

Its exactly why I only have one double bed on my 57 x 12 boat, do I really want my kids staying?

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2 minutes ago, peterboat said:

Its exactly why I only have one double bed on my 57 x 12 boat, do I really want my kids staying?

Fair commentt, but I'm not sure how it relates to what you have quoted from me.

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A narrowboat with an unpowered butty sounds the most practical option to me.

Saw a boat on the Peak Forest like this towing two boats.The main boat looked like a 50 footer towing a 40 footer towing an open boat.

You will probably need several cassette toilets,and large water tanks.

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Hi 

I suggest you have a look at some of the hire boat websites to get an idea of how they fit in the number of berths you would need.Then have a think about storage space for everyone and think about how small a boat kitchen is ,it can be hard to cope with 4 never mind 7.Ask yourself where is everyone going to sit in the evening and how are your children ,all at very different stages of life .going to be able to have any space of their own. How are you gong to sit down for meals and how big a table do you need so everyone can do their school work ? I speak from experience when I say that if someone is trying to work then everyone else has to be quiet -sound travels in a boat.This is not so bad for us as there are only 2 of us but 6 other people ? The water tank would have to be very large or you could end up filling it every day.How are you going to do the washing and dry it. Remember all the fuel,food and other supplies have to be transported to the boat ,this can be a challenge in a marina and much harder if you CC . You would probably have to have a pumpout which would still need emptying regularly with the associated cost.Living on a boat has challenges which I feel increase in direct proportion to the number of people on the boat .

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You would need well adjusted children, I appreciate they are home schooled, but the chances of relentless bullying are quite high.

Many of our friends brought attempted to bring up children on boats. All had permanent residential moorings.

Whilst some of the parents still live on their boats , I dont know of a single child who has bought their own boat that was brought up on them, and as I said they had moorings gardens etc.

maybe says something.

Having said all that you might have fabulously well adjusted children who might love it. Just remember though that nowadays being a clone is considered desirable by those  teenagers that seek to bully, and diversity a lever for negative behaviour.

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4 minutes ago, roland elsdon said:

I dont know of a single child who has bought their own boat that was brought up on them

 

Oh yes you do ;)

 

You were having a pint with the parents at Alvecote when I joined you. Remember?!!

 

 

Agree with all the rest of wot u rote though.

 

 

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4 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

Fair commentt, but I'm not sure how it relates to what you have quoted from me.

I didnt Alan I quoted mrselly and somehow got it wrong or the site did ?

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We recently bought a 57ft narrowboat for our 3 kids and me and other. 

 

After a week away its safe to say its nice to get some space apart. We have a nice design boat with two bunks at the back but it gets tiresome, I would say even with another 13ft to 70, you will go insaine. Also thinking of water usage for keeping kids clean etc. Also if they are home schooled then great but its even more time on a 70ft long 6ft 10 wide tube without escape. 

 

I would get a widebeam but that limits what you can do or get plus its not cheap 

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55 minutes ago, roland elsdon said:

You would need well adjusted children, I appreciate they are home schooled, but the chances of relentless bullying are quite high.

Many of our friends brought attempted to bring up children on boats. All had permanent residential moorings.

Whilst some of the parents still live on their boats , I dont know of a single child who has bought their own boat that was brought up on them, and as I said they had moorings gardens etc.

maybe says something.

Having said all that you might have fabulously well adjusted children who might love it. Just remember though that nowadays being a clone is considered desirable by those  teenagers that seek to bully, and diversity a lever for negative behaviour.

The home schooling bit always worries me. Keeping kids away from their peers during childhood is not the real World. When they finish school and go into the workplace their social skills learnt by the vast majority of people during school years will be greatly diminished, we cant cocoon our kids for life.

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Oh yes you do ;)

 

You were having a pint with the parents at Alvecote when I joined you. Remember?!!

 

 

Agree with all the rest of wot u rote though.

 

 

 

Err their little one hadnt been born when we bailed out of lunun  and we have never met him so technically, we are both correct. 

However now i am informed i have to retract the statement.

i know only of one child brought up .. etc etc

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On 09/09/2019 at 19:21, Henriettamay said:

So the major issue obviously is the size of our family initially we had thought a wider/longer boat would be the only option until recently someone suggested we actually had two shorter boats and either split bedrooms between them or had one for eating/living/schooling and the other for sleeping. 

Looking at the info you provide, you appear to live in a fairly modest size house.  Nevertheless I expect it still runs in at about 100 MtSq.  A 69 or 70ft narrowboat will offer a cabin of about 33MtSq, or 60ft widebeam will give you about 48MtSq.  In both cases, that is about as long as you can practically buy, and in both cases they come up substantially short of what you have.  So I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, how on top of each other do you already feel, and could you manage in at least half the space?  Also, you need to consider layout.  We live on a 69 foot narrowboat.  She is ex hire, so was built for passenger capacity and is technically a 8 birth boat.  When we got her she had one double, and two sets of two singles that could be made into doubles, if required.  Births 7 and 8 are the dinette converted, and you would not want to do that every night!  Also, the dinette was the only living space and would, I imagine get cramped with 8 wedged in there all waking hours.  Especially in the winter when you cannot spill outside so easily.  Then with 5 kids being schooled around the table, where does hubby work? Our boat, with just two of us on it, now has an extra living space, created from one of the bedrooms, we have a double (well 4ft) bed each, as we are both over 6ft, and one of the two showers was ripped out to make a laundry area.  We did retain both loos, and we fill these in 3/4 weeks, with 7 you would only get a week between pump outs, and let’s not even go down the cassette loo argument!  We also shop twice a week, as storage of dried food is limited, again with 7?

 

so back to your original question. Two 70ft narrowboats would give you about 70% of your current space or two 60 foot widebeams about the same as you have, but in each case the costs will be enormous, and the practicality of moving both boats, with kids who need watching, I would suggest quite traumatic.

 

As an aside, a friend of mine used to manage a children’s home afloat!  Two large narrowboats with 4 staff and 4 children.  An absolutely great place for some of our most vulnerable kids to experience a different life.  Sadly a change in the space requirements for each child, as dictated by the inspectorate, meant them having to close up.  Sad, but I expect the rationale was right, so something you might consider with your decision making.

 

Good luck... 

Edited by The Dreamer

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