I’m back at the narrowboat for a couple of days. Last year we left the boat over winter for nearly six months, and when we returned, it felt a little sad. Some surfaces and fabrics had gone damp and mouldy, and it took a few weeks to get it back feeling like home. This year we plan to spend more time on the boat during the cold months. And before that starts we determined that the boat needed a really good autumn spring clean. That is easier without the dogs, so Mandy is looking after them in Scotland while I clean everything, top to bottom. I have even done a bit of indoor painting and the boat is looking great. Our new boat covers have also arrived so we are prepared for the next few months.
Many people ask us how we can stay on a narrowboat when it’s is cold. They are right and wrong. It is true that the boat is single skinned with leaky windows. When we wake up on a cold winter’s morning, the inside of the boat can be nearly as cold as the outside. But it is perfectly cozy under the duvet, and the good news is that the boat has a very small volume of air, which means that once I have started the heating in a morning, it warms up very quickly. We have something called a “webasto” which is a diesel boiler and heats the water and central heating. If we want it even warmer, we have a bubble stove, which looks like a wood burning stove but also runs on diesel, and gets the boat really toasty warm.
We are looking forward to our first winter boat vacation in a couple of weeks. For the six months we were away this summer, I largely wore shorts and t shirt, so it is amazing how quickly autumn has arrived. The boat is in a marina but was getting rocked by wind and rain today, and I had the heater on. The cleaning has gone well and I am very much looking forward to the winter. My favourite mornings on the boat are when the canal and marina have frozen over and sparkle in the dawn light, but we feel safe and warm inside. Having spring cleaned in the autumn, it should be lovely. As the Dutch say “Gezellig”.