Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Cost of Boating

With Patience now winterised and at rest we look back on a successful and interesting year and forward to licensing, insuring and saving up.
So what have we learned about costs?
Don't forget your GOBA subscription!
First, that the initial purchase price is not the whole deal. We were sensible and cautious in having a full survey in a dry dock before buying. The survey threw up some items, fortunately nothing serious, but a useful To Do list. We've carried out all these tasks except painting, which we'll undertake next year, but naturally these tasks have added to our first year costs. We think next year will be noticeably cheaper, but we now have Patience to the standard we are happy with.
We have categorised expenditure in three groups - start up, fixed annual and maintenance, and here is the approximate break down:
Start up
survey £420,
dry dock £130
plus purchase price

Fixed annual costs *
moorings £1000 
insurance £135
BW license £800

blacking, welding, anodes £900 * ** ^
engine service £100 ^
odds and ends £200

* varies according to mooring and length of boat
** a recurring cost divided between three or four years; 
^ cheaper if you diy
Fuel cost is about 0.5 litres per mile or 9.3 mpg (see previous blog entry, 4th May 2010)

So in round figures that looks like £2,500 per year plus fuel, all divided between the two of us.
Frankly, given the fun we've had, I rate that as a bargain!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Chief Engineer's Report

With winter coming on, it's been time to catch up with a few essential maintenance tasks on Patience.

Firstly, I have replaced the seals on the Jabsco WC, as it had stopped working properly over the summer, with rather unpleasant consequences! It now works perfectly!

Secondly, I spent an afternoon servicing the BMC 1.8 litre diesel engine. It was a beautifully still, sunny, autumnal afternoon on the Great Ouse, with only a few swans for company, curious to know what I was up to. I changed the engine oil and the oil filter. Draining the old oil out was facilitated by a very effective sump pump (top left in photo). I also replaced the fuel filter and bled the fuel lines. Finally, I cleaned the relatively coarse mesh filter over the engine air intake and lubricated the throttle and gearbox linkages. In common with many narrow boats, there is no paper air filter element fitted, as the engine compartment is a relatively dust free environment. The filters were obtained from ASAP http://www.asap-supplies.com/ who provide an excellent on-line technical support and parts at very reasonable prices. After all this, the engine fired up first time and seems to be running fine.

I have replaced the dipstick/oil filler on the PRM Delta gearbox, obtained from the very helpful people at Lancing Marine http://www.lancingmarine.com/ The old one looked as if it has been rather mutilated by the use of a mole wrench rather than a correctly sized 18 mm A/F spanner!

Finally, I increased the tension in the alternator belt slightly (to give the recommended +6mm play on its longest length), drained down the domestic water tank and associated pipework and checked the antifreeze mixture in the engine with a very cheap, but effective, hydrometer from Halfords. The inside of the water tank is still in very good condition after its repainting with two coats of bitumen in the spring, although some rust is coming through in one or two places, so it may be worth giving it another coat next spring to keep it in top condition.

Friday, 12 November 2010

James Brindley

I just watched a programme presented by Chris Tarrant about James Brindley "one of the most famous British engineers of the 18th century".
His narrow canals"unlocked the midlands" enabling a horse drawn boat to carry 60 times the capacity of a horse and cart.
His canals created the Grand Trunk or Grand Cross that joined up our four major rivers, the Trent, the Mersey, the Severn and the Thames.
[later ...] They seem to have stopped showing the James Brindley programme on BBC iPlayer , which is a shame, but you can read up about him on wikipedia.
I really enjoyed the programme though!

Thursday, 11 November 2010


We've now just passed the date of our very first narrow-boat-related event. That was the day I took my daughter Sarah to The Lazy Otter and the sight of narrow boats in the marina started us off on this journey. That first event is recorded here on an early blog. I found the original email asking John if he was interested.
Since then we've moved on - Sarah to start her teacher training, John and I to be partners in Patience. It does us good to look back to those early blog entries and see what we've done and then start planning what we have yet to do.
Painting I think is high on the list for the year ahead, as Patience is peeling in places. An annual engine service and replacement of some of the hoses would be important too. But Patience has performed well and we have learned how to manoeuvre her without too many bumps, and use her accommodation to the full. Speaking of which, we still have two cream leatherette swivel chairs for sale, ideal for the trendy boater. Just add a comment to this blog and they could be yours!
So, thank you Patience for a wonderful year. Next year we plan to explore the parts of the eastern region we haven't yet seen. After that maybe we'll head off for the rest of the canal system, but all in good time.