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Quirky2

Too old for narrow boat life?

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I am in my early seventies and  thinking seriously about  retiring too a narrow boat but worried that I may  have left it too late in life.

The aim is to find a permanent mooring and occasionally travel some of the canal network, in a boat that will be less than 50ft. I am generally a fit, active and hard working person but wonder if a single person  could manage the physical side such as going through locks on their own. Are there boaters of my age, and above, out there  coping with the normal physical  canal life ? Any information/advice would be welcome.

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Just now, Quirky2 said:

Are there boaters of my age, and above, out there  coping with the normal physical  canal life ?

 

Yes, many, many, many.

 

I'd suggest that the majority of the boating population are probably over 60.

 

(I don't count the floating flat brigade in London as boaters)

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If you are fit then as long as you take your time at locks etc. you shoudl be fine. However I have had  a long term arthritic knee and now probably lower back and painting the boat last year showed that I was no longer up to long term boat owning so we sold it.

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I am sure you cope with it but your biggest problem is the mooring. If you do not keep a  base on land then with all the costs that would bring then unless you buy a freehold mooring you have no security. It can get very cold in winter on a cheap boat as well. Depends on your personal financial circumstances.

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2 hours ago, Quirky2 said:

worried that I may  have left it too late in life.

You may have a point - do it next time.

 

On the other hand, if you haven't already been guaranteed a second life, you may just have to fit all you can into this one... :)

 

  • Greenie 4

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3 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

If you are fit then as long as you take your time at locks etc. you shoudl be fine. However I have had  a long term arthritic knee and now probably lower back and painting the boat last year showed that I was no longer up to long term boat owning so we sold it.

We've been narrowboating for over 40 years, the last 13+ CCing. However I'm 73 with arthritic knees and ankles and my wife has hip problems so have decided that emptying cassettes regularly and making up a cross bed every night is now getting to be  pain. But we are not giving up boating. We're having a widebeam with pumpout and permanent king size bed. 

 

Obviously we have to decide where to base ourselves so have opted for the Great Ouse to be near our son, doctor and dentist.

  • Greenie 1

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As long as you are fit you are fine. Hubby had a stroke at 75 which stopped our boating. Go for it but have a backup plan. Boat share maybe a good option.

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I am interested how a boat share plan works . Is this on the same basis as a property time share , where you get allocated a set period each year , or is it a lot more flexible . Typically, how many shares is an average ?

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Some friends of ours in their late 80's were telling a mutual friend last week that they were getting too old to do locks.

 

We told them that if they want to go further afield let us know and we will work the flights for them.  They are much too nice to let physical infirmities stop them being boat buddies.  The fact we now need to drive 40 miles to do so doesn't matter compared with the years of friendship ...

  • Greenie 2

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73 , arthritic knees, back and maybe hip. Not fit but still going. The last year has been a series of boat issues and jobs that used to take an hour or so now take a day (at least) . Am I giving up  ? NO,NO,NO. Everything is managable with thought, care and common sense. 

 

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5 hours ago, Mike Adams said:

I am sure you cope with it but your biggest problem is the mooring. If you do not keep a  base on land then with all the costs that would bring then unless you buy a freehold mooring you have no security. It can get very cold in winter on a cheap boat as well. Depends on your personal financial circumstances.

I've never been so warm in winter as on my boat ... stove plus Webasto , I suggest you try c.c first, it's more relaxing.

Boat has to be fitted out for liveaboard.

I've not [yet] done any locks on my own!

Edited by LadyG

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The thing about older boaters that have been doing it for years is that they and their boat are pretty much "sorted".

 

If you are a crumbly like me but lacking much experience then the learning curve is steep particularly if it includes an unknown boat. Getting the boat and yourself as "sorted" as the old hands just adds to the time, trouble, worry and expense.

 

The OP is in his early 70's and fit so he says. When I was in my early 70's I too was pretty fit but now in my very late 70's I know those few years have taken their toll on my strength and endurance. Believe me I know 'cos I've been helping out a newby and everything takes twice as long as it once did.

 

In the end it is a matter of can the OP's finances stand the hit if it all goes pear shaped?

  • Greenie 2

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38 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I've never been so warm in winter as on my boat ... stove plus Webasto , I suggest you try c.c first, it's more relaxing.

Boat has to be fitted out for liveaboard.

I've not [yet] done any locks on my own!

Have you been cruising yet?

 

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Please, please, if it's really what you want to do before you peg it, just do it! There are always excuses to be found to not do what you would really like to, ignore them all. It doesn't matter what curved balls may come your way, there is always a way through, always boaters in this community who will help.

Mooring - lots of spaces in marinas for people who "spend a lot of time on their boat", hint, hint.

The under 50ft size will be eminently manageable single handing. Let us all know the name of your boat which you will be getting soon and we'll all look out for you and give you a hand through the locks, if you need it, which after a few, you won't!

  • Greenie 1

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There was a feature in one of the magazine's which we happened to find by googling our intended purchase.

 

The lady who owned the boat before us single handedly seemed to have done most of the UK canals and rivers after her husbands passing.

 

I found there's always a willing hand at locks and the majority of boaters are friendly and willing to pass on accumulated knowledge unless your passing permanent moorers at perceived high speed! But that's different thread or two🤓

 

Our 30ft is ideal for us both and it has the advantage of not requiring a winding hole to turn around

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9 hours ago, pomkitanner said:

I am interested how a boat share plan works . Is this on the same basis as a property time share , where you get allocated a set period each year , or is it a lot more flexible . Typically, how many shares is an average ?

Its not the same as property share as you are a part owner of the boat, usually a 12th or similar. Most syndicates have around 12 owners and you generally get 4 weeks a year (often more if anyone cant do their time). Allocation of the weeks is the bit that varies between syndicates, some have a random hat, others have a list, some have red/yellow zones etc... You purchase your share, then pay a monthly fee for running of the boat - all of this is free to see on share websites such as www.bcbm.co.uk etc...  its a great way to cruise the network as the boats move around bases over time following AGM votes etc.

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11 hours ago, pearley said:

We've been narrowboating for over 40 years, the last 13+ CCing. However I'm 73 with arthritic knees and ankles and my wife has hip problems so have decided that emptying cassettes regularly and making up a cross bed every night is now getting to be  pain. But we are not giving up boating. We're having a widebeam with pumpout and permanent king size bed. 

 

Obviously we have to decide where to base ourselves so have opted for the Great Ouse to be near our son, doctor and dentist.

A wise move. We are thinking of another widebeam. They are just as easy to handle, in fact moreso than a sewer tube and the comfort  far exceed the wildest dreams of any narrowboat.

The one and only drawback that you will miss is cruising range.

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Cruising is dead easy,you can steer the boat untill a week before you shake off your mortal coil.

Locks however,are a different matter.

With age usually comes stiffness of back,hips and knees.I know about this as I am old enough to remember the Romans leaving Britain in 440ad.

At the weekend had a trip from Huddersfield to 'Slawit'and back the next day.40 odd locks in two days on my own.

Some of the paddles needed superhuman strength to operate,and I was quite knackered when I returned.I did sleep well that night.

 

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It's not always the physical side of things that get affected with passing years though is it?

I recently witnessed a local boater in his advanced years trying to turn his boat which left me thinking it was probably time to hang up his windlass.

He'd managed to get his boat stuck in the winding hole, the stern was around 5 feet from the bank and it was running in forward gear. He was on the towpath and preparing to jump back onto the stern deck to recover control! 

I wouldn't attempt that as a relatively sprightly nearly 50 year old, the outcome if he hadn't had anyone around to stop him doesn't bear thinking about. 

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1 hour ago, noddyboater said:

It's not always the physical side of things that get affected with passing years though is it?

I recently witnessed a local boater in his advanced years trying to turn his boat which left me thinking it was probably time to hang up his windlass.

He'd managed to get his boat stuck in the winding hole, the stern was around 5 feet from the bank and it was running in forward gear. He was on the towpath and preparing to jump back onto the stern deck to recover control! 

I wouldn't attempt that as a relatively sprightly nearly 50 year old, the outcome if he hadn't had anyone around to stop him doesn't bear thinking about. 

 

I just wonder why he was on the tow path in the 1st place.

Doesn't one normally stay on the boat to wind ?

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It wasn't a usual winding, I condensed it somewhat. I'd already offered advice and help,  as had someone else, his wife had walked off after being shouted at several times. 

He's a stubborn individual who knows best, which is how he got in that position. Actually thinking about it he's probably been like it all his life! 

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7 minutes ago, noddyboater said:

It wasn't a usual winding, I condensed it somewhat. I'd already offered advice and help,  as had someone else, his wife had walked off after being shouted at several times. 

He's a stubborn individual who knows best, which is how he got in that position. Actually thinking about it he's probably been like it all his life! 

But I still fail to understand why he was on the bankside with the engine in gear, what do you think he was trying to do / achieve ?

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20 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

I just wonder why he was on the tow path in the 1st place.

Doesn't one normally stay on the boat to wind ?

 

depends on past experience, the local situation and how tight the dimensions are.

 

Those with lots of non-canal boat handling experience know how to use the mooring lines plus wind or current to spin a boat round in its own length so in tight spaces may well get off the boat (but not with it in gear) with a correctly laid stern line to spin the boat.

 

Edited to add, not sure why Alan did not think of this explanation. The only stupid thing is he had it in gear. If its a cruiser stern he may not have laid the stern line correctly and managed to catch the line on the control and thereby put it in gear when he was on the bank but its unlikely.

Edited by Tony Brooks

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28 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

But I still fail to understand why he was on the bankside with the engine in gear, what do you think he was trying to do / achieve ?

The hole is very local to me and well known by the boater. Its extremely silted up on the offside and only just 60' at the widest point- I know as I dug it out with a spade to turn my own boat. It is however piled and quite deep on the towpath, so my technique is to charge at the V in the far bank, lift my stern fenders and pull it around from the bank, while praying the level is high enough. 

His boat is 58' so relatively easy but he'd missed the widest point already and as said ignored all advice and was becoming quite jammed. He stepped off the rear deck to attempt to pull it around by the tiller but pushed it the wrong way, resulting in the stern going back almost mid channel,  in gear with nobody aboard. 

Hope this makes things clear for you Alan.

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