Canal Boat Life

There are some neat profiles in today’s Observer of people (couples and singletons) who live on Canal Boats.

Some of you singled out the brief mention of a boat-dweller in Escape Everything! so perhaps this is of interest to you. Their lives are certainly Escapological.


I’m on an army pension and it does not suffice me to live in a flat or a house. I’ve lived on a boat for seven years. Now my rent is cheap, council tax is cheap, it’s cheap living and I can afford it even if I lose all my benefits.


What do our wardrobes consist of? About 10 pairs of dungarees. Matt wears a waistcoat with a tiny vest underneath in the summer. Large party dresses with netting underneath are a big no-no on a boat because you’d knock everything over, and if you fell in you’d sink. 


I use this place to sleep, write, design and then I go to work in my studio. The best bit is being able to have a real fire. It means I can look at the flames and use my imagination to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life, so I don’t need a television.


Living on a boat forces you to be green. I have two solar panels. Our water is in a thousand-litre stainless steel water tank that we fill up from water points. All the wood we use is reconstituted wood and the electricity is run by batteries – we don’t plug in to the short. I think it’s one of the greenest ways to live.


You become aware how much is needed to live and you live a much simpler life. It’s quite liberating.


I went on eBay and bought a boat, just like that. 


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

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