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Boater understanding: "can I use your toilet?" can be answered with "no you can't" without being considered rude.


You start buying newspapers based on their get flammability (sorry The Guardian).


Upon entering a pub you can scope out every mains plug socket before your pint is poured.


You buy stuff from pound shops and Maplins *just* because they're 12v resulting in your cabin resembling Santa's grotto crossed with a long distance HGV cab.

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A little list I made earlier on when I had some time on my hands and was feeling ponderful, about all of the little things that I have discovered and learnt since moving on board!



1. All of your clothes will smell faintly of ‘real fire’ or coal, regardless of how recently you washed them. Initially this is an inconvenience but eventually you come to rather like it.


2. If you own any white, cream, or pastel coloured clothes, they will soon take on odd black smudges, regardless of how careful you are about keeping them away from the stove, hod, or anything else coal related. This remains as an inconvenience and does not fade.


3. When visiting another boater, it is uncouth to ask to their toilet, unless you are at least a fifteen minute walk from another toilet facility (for women) or a wooded area/ bush (for men.)


4. If you have boater visitors over for more than four hours at a time, you will find yourself spending the latter half of their visit thinking that surely they must need to pee soon/ is your bathroom so nasty that they are too scared to want to use it/ how much more tea can you ply them with as a kind of pseudo-science experiment just to see what they’ll do in an emergency.


5. Visits from other boaters will seldom exceed four hours without them either departing/ needing to go back to their boat for a minute/ having to ‘pop back to the car for something,’ see point four.


6. ‘Townies’ fill gaps in conversation by talking about the weather. ‘Boaties’ fill gaps in conversation by talking about water levels.


7. Pump out or cassette? Oh hells no. Don’t even go there.


8. It’s okay to insult a man’s wife, children, career choice, hair, or dress sense. But engines must always be coo’d over and spoken of in hushed approving tones, regardless of their size, condition, or maker. Shhhh! She’ll HEAR YOU!


9. If you are expected to go to work in anything approaching smart casual, you have likely got a pair of boots ‘for the journey’ that are generally covered in orange clay- like towpath mud, and also a pair of ‘smart shoes’ that are clean, patent leather, and walk less than ten steps a day. Plus a bag to keep each pair in, separately.


10. You become obsessed with what you can convince your stove to burn... Large, unwieldy or inflammable objects of rubbish will all be graded highly, according to your success in convincing the stove to eat them.


11. Ecofans. Having an opinion is mandatory. Having ever tried one is not.


12. If you have a posh new shiny boat, you are probably king of the marina. Conversely, that may also make you ‘king shit’ and/ or a N00b/ ‘more money than sense joker’ out on the cut.


13. ‘Online’ no longer just means that you have internet access, and committing the faux- pas of confusing the two meanings in conversation is verboten.


14. Portholes or windows? See point seven.


15. It seems perfectly normal to you to have both the stove/ heating going full pelt, and all of the windows open.


16. If you can’t manage to have a thorough shower, including shaving your legs, washing and conditioning your hair, and brushing your teeth in under four minutes/ four litres of water, you have failed as a boater and should probably consider moving back onto land.


17. Whenever you go to work in an office, visit a friend in a house, or have cause to use a hotel, you need an extra bag to haul along all of the things you want to charge up from their mains while you’re there.


18. Irons, microwaves, hairdryers and hoovers are all for posh people.


19. You used to own ten big thick jumpers for use in winter. Now you own two big thick jumpers, and a bottle of Febreeze.


20. And... You can make ten cubic feet of stuff fit into four cubic feet of space.


21. You keep a mop on your roof because everybody else does, but you’re not quite sure why...


22. When everyone else on the train home standing up is swaying about and clinging to railings, you are in the middle of it all freestanding, swaying with the flow and not falling down (until you do!)


23. Your mailing address is the same as your parents, for the first time since you were 16 years old.


24. Rosie and Jim are Bad People.


25. You probably started life on your boat with a novelty neckerchief, captain’s hat, pirate bandana, or “I’m on a boat, Mother F***er!” t shirt. By your third week therein, you have experimented with how that burns on the stove (see point 10) and roll your eyes and snort derisively at the fresh faced wannabe’s who have taken your place in committing aforementioned fashion faux-pas.


26. You have a beard. This is neither negotiable, nor gender- specific.


27. You can answer the question “is it cold on a boat in winter?” sensibly, only a finite number of times, before deciding to mess with people and saying “yes, it’s terrible, I have nearly died of hypothermia twice this year already, and I don’t know how I’m still alive...”


28. You thought you’d save money in winter by using the open bow as a fridge/ freezer for your food... Until you realised just how much alcohol you could actually store there if you stacked it all up right.


29. Upon hearing ‘man overboard!’ you reach for the camera first, and the life ring second.


30. When other people fall in, you are never there to see it/ photograph it. But you know damn well that when YOU fall in, there’ll be a group of Japanese tourists there, immortalising it on film and upping it to YouTube within the hour.


31. You can cook and serve a full Sunday roast for four, with less than two square feet of counter space to work on.


32. You stop thinking to yourself, “there’s some funny people on the cut” around the same time you realise that you are just like them, actually.


33. The 8pm engine/ generator off collective: You’re either with them, or against them.


34. You know that you have to disown any of your former friends who are apt to order “a pint of lager, please” in the pub, and you’re okay with that, actually.


35. Your hands and nails are NEVER clean, no mater how much you wash them.


36. You WILL have some kind of nasty toilet emptying related incident within your first few weeks away from mains plumbing. No one can teach you how to avoid your own personal initiation into boat toilet hell, you’re just going to have to grit your teeth and wait for it to happen.


37. When you started out with the boat, you had a little list of about five things that you needed to do/ buy/ sort out. However, due to a phenomenon I like to think of as ‘boat mathematics’ you learn that for every one item you cross off of said list, another two appear.

Three months down the line, your list has about 30 essential and time sensitive things you need on it, and your earnings for the next two to four years are already committed to it. Oh well, spaghetti hoops for dinner again...



Anyone have any they'd like to add?

One should have bought a widebeam!!!! Ahahahaha!

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When you run out of kindling you start eyeing up breadboards, wooden spoons and then the cabin furniture.

Every single item of clothing you own has a hole in it. Yes, even the posh non boaty stuff,how does that happen?

You cant sleep in houses theyre not bendy enough.

You have ocd about there being water in the bilge and have to keep checking.

You can reel off to anyone who listens, exact figures for how much water and electricity you get through and the correct meaurement in litres of the contents of your cassettes per week. Landlubbers might accuse each other of being 'full of sh*t' but only boaters know exactly how much.

You have to chuck away your spirit level

If you ask if its cold in winter i reserve the right to overstoke my stove and open all the airvents when you visit

If you ever have to go into town and do normal things like go to restaurants or wine bars, you identify with crocodile dundee

What is this hairstyle thing of what you speak?

You take half a ton of laundry with you when you go to stay with someone.

Edited by Lady Muck
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Spot on. You forgot to mention


38. You take a bag of washing when you go visiting friends and family for the weekend. You may even actively select holiday cottages or campsites based on their laundry facilities.

39. You come home from holiday with all your washing done (see above)

40. You eventually try and hide the fact that you live on a boat because you can't be bothered with answering all the same old questions again about being cold in winter, council tax, post etc

41. Over time your wardrobe changes. All your clothes now are dark blues, browns, greens and black. You have no idea when this happened and are not aware that this was a conscious decision.

42. You can identify other boaters by smell

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44. Unlike living in suburbia, you know everyone's name within a 200 yd radius and wouldn't think twice to help them if required.......

And if you ever visit surburbia they all think youre a complete freak because youre overfriendly and have a faint smell of diesel about you.

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Hi Star

Brilliant!! its took me around 15 mins to stop laughing enough to type this reply,when you get out and about on the cut,you may be able to add quite a few more observations. I have had a couple of instances that stick in my mind.

One was at Hillmorton when I remarked to a boater how I liked his leather windlass holder belt in which was a very expensive bronze one,he said he had been boating some forty years,whipped out the windlass,spun it round in his hand and it fled into the lock (being bronze,no magnet would ever retrieve it!!). The other time was locking up with a time hardened "boater" who insisted that it was so essential to have a bow thruster and how good they were at getting you out of trouble, at the next lock he knocked the s**t out of the entrance and and between the next lock some 500 mtrs away grounded his boat twice!.

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Forgot to add:


43: your sole source of news is Radio 4


Actually it's the World Service - R4 is only for the uninitiated.


Starcoaster needs more greenies - a spectacularly awesome summary.

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I am loving all of the additions, please keep them coming... Particularly the one about the inside of the truck cab, and


Landlubbers might accuse each other of being 'full of sh*t' but only boaters know exactly how much.


:lol: :lol:


What has amused me so much about the whole thing is the fact that anyone who has been on a boat for more than a couple of weeks just KNOWS all of this stuff and it's so familiar to them that it doesn't even seem to come up in mention, until you observe it first hand.

Edited by Starcoaster
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