K and I are moving into a narrow boat in two month’s time.
A few months ago, a friend of ours kindly offered for us to borrow her boat – currently moored in King’s Cross – for a year. We’ll add our names to her insurance, pay the yearly boat license and live as "continuous cruisers" - moving the narrow boat every two weeks around London (something done by boaters who can't afford permanent moorings or don't want to stay put.)
There’s a Brazilian phrase that perfectly describes us: marinheiros de primeira viagem (first time sailors). We've signed up to a two-day helmsman course in September, where we'll learn about canal locks, double mooring, triple mooring, safety, engines, ropes and more. We are also looking at replacing the boat's diesel furnace with a coal stove (narrow boats can be freezing in winter), adding solar panels, and studying how continuous cruising will work for us and affect our commutes.
We have handed in our flat's notice and have begun to donate things to charity shops, look at what we can keep at K's studio, what we can sell and what we'll need in the boat. Ultimate minimalism is our goal.
In a way, it’s a bit like camping, but on water: quick showers, perishable foods that need to be used within 48 hours, economy when washing dishes, lighting the fire every night, clearing the ashes in the morning, and a lot of layers to keep away the cold. Luckily for me, I have showers at my office.
I’m hoping we’ll get to discover a very close knit and supportive community, get to see London through another angle after living for 16 years in tower blocks, and get to maybe even take the boat out of London for a little journey during holidays. We even have a few personal projects in mind (mine involves a novel, K’s involves drawing.)
It's an adventure, a year-long experiment. We are excited and nervous, but everyone we have spoken to says it's a great experience and we may even love it so much we’ll never wish to live on land again.
We went for pizzas last Friday with a couple who have been in a narrow boat for a year, and they not only had so much info to share, they offered to help us in so many ways. (This is apparently a very common trait of the community.) As we chatted over pizza and wine, the couple pointed other people in the restaurant: “they are in a boat. They have just moved into a boat. They are thinking of getting a boat…”