Paul Smith has been living on a narrowboat since 2010 and worked full time at Calcutt Boats Marina until April 2015 when he decided to retire and begin to really explore the canals of England for himself. His website, Living on a Narrowboat (livingonanarrowboat.co.uk) contains a wealth of knowledge pertaining to narrowboat life and the forum that's a part of the website is a place where many narrowboat owners meet to share their experiences.
Paul has written two guides; Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat and Living on a Narrowboat:21 Live Aboard Case Studies. The former guides you through all of the costs you’re likely to face when buying and maintaining a narrowboat, the latter is an analysis of twenty one live aboard boaters, their likes and dislikes and what they consider to be the best configuration for a live aboard narrowboat.
He has also written an extensive budget calculator that will help aspiring narrowboat owners to really understand what the costs are associated with owning and running a narrowboat.
In June 2014 he added a very popular service for those interested in taking their research to the next level. It’s a combined discovery and helmsmanship training day. Guests join him for ten hours on board his own 62′ long twenty tonne narrowboat which is superbly equipped for living permanently off grid. Guests take the helm for a seven hour, twelve mile, six lock cruise. While they learn the intricacies of handling a flat bottomed boat on narrow canals, discussing all aspects of living afloat from differing layout, designs and equipment to the logistics of living a life on the water and canal etiquette.
In June of 2015 I enjoyed a full day's cruise on the tranquil canals of rural Warwickshire with Paul learning how to handle a narrowboat and video recorded much of the experience. It's difficult to squeeze 8 hours of cruising into a 26-plus minute video but for those not familiar with the canals of England this video will give a bit of a sense of what it's all about.