I've found a very useful forum for narrowboaters. It seems to have been going for quite some time judging by the number of topics and comments people have listed. It's called Canalworld and to log in involves a quick and simple on-line registration.
I found a very funny list prepared by a lady called Starcoaster. Her list covers all the things that happen to people who liveaboard their boats. Rather than just reproducing it word for word, I have taken the liberty of deleting/adding a few bits and pieces. So, many thanks to Starcoaster - if she takes offence to my reproducing it or changing bits, I'm happy to change it back or delete it - just let me know. So here goes...
The Facts of Boating Life.
• When you start out with your boat, you will have a list of about five things that you need to do, buy or sort out. However, due to a phenomenon called ‘boat mathematics’ you learn that for everything you cross off the said list, another two appear. Three months down the line, your list has increased to about 30 items, and your disposable income for the next few years is already committed to things like food, moorings and other essential running costs. Oh well, spaghetti hoops on toast again for dinner.
• Also when you started life on your boat you may have been given or even worn a novelty neckerchief, captain’s hat, or pirate’s eye patch and you wore them just as a joke. By your third week, you have discovered they burn quite well on your stove and you roll your eyes and tut derisively at the fresh faced wannabe’s who have taken your place in committing the aforementioned fashion faux-pas.
• You soon learn that you have to dump any of your former friends who order “a pint of lager, please” in the pub, and you’re okay with that, actually.
• Upon hearing ‘man overboard!’ you immediately swing into ‘rescue’mode. When YOU fall in, after the laughter has faded, there’ll only be a group of camera-snapping Japanese tourists left, and your unassisted efforts to climb out of the cut will be on YouTube within the hour.
• You stop thinking to yourself, “there’s some funny people on the cut” around the same time you realise that you are one of them.
• All your clothes, will soon take on black smudges, regardless of how careful you are about keeping them away from the stove, engine, or anything else coal or oil related.
• Every single item of clothing you own will have a hole in it - even the posh non-boaty stuff.
• You remember, with affection, the ten big thick jumpers you used to own for winter use. Now you only have two and you continuously wear them both. They occasioanally get a squirt from a bottle of Febreeze.
• All of your clothes will smell of wood smoke or coal, regardless of time of year or how recently you washed them. Initially this is just an inconvenience but eventually you come to rather like it.
• You start to identify other boaters by their smell. Your discrete attempts to sniff people at the bar often cause offence.
• You take a bag of washing when you go visiting friends and family for the weekend. You may even actively select holiday cottages or campsites based on their laundry facilities.
• If you go anywhere posh in anything approaching smart casual, you will have a pair of boots ‘for the journey’ that are generally covered in orange clay-like towpath mud, and also a pair of ‘smart shoes’ that are clean. You will have a bag to keep each pair in, separately.
• You become obsessed with finding stuff to burn in your stove - large, unwieldy, flammable objects of rubbish will all be graded highly.
• It seems perfectly normal to have both the stove and heating going full pelt, and all of the windows and doors open.
• If you can’t manage to have a shower, a shave and a shampoo in under four minutes, you have failed as a boater and should probably consider taking up something else.
• If you work in an office, or visit a friend in a house, or have cause to use a pub or hotel, you take a carrier bag to haul along all of the things you want to charge up from their mains while you’re there.
• You will grow a beard. This is not negotiable or gender-specific.
• Your hands and nails will NEVER be clean, no matter how much you wash.
• You will never pass an opportunity to utilise a public toilet. You will consider a quick hair wash in a public loo if the coast is clear. You will often chose/rate a bar or restaurant by their toilet facilities.
• When visiting another boater, it is uncouth to ask to use their toilet, unless you are at least a fifteen minute walk from another WC facility (for women) or a bush toilet (for men).
• If you have boater visitors over for more than four hours, you spend the rest of their visit thinking (a) surely they must need ‘to go’ soon? (b) is your bathroom so nasty that they are too scared to use it? and/or (c) how much more tea can you ply them with as a kind of pseudo-scientific experiment, just to see what they’ll do in an emergency?
• Don’t discuss the pro’s and con’s of ‘Pump out’ versus ‘Cassette’ – just don’t.
• Rosie and Jim are not real people so don’t talk about them as though they are.
• ‘Townies’ fill gaps in conversation by talking about the weather. ‘Boaties’ fill gaps in conversation by talking about water levels and stoppages.
• It’s okay to insult a man’s wife, children, career choice, hair, or dress sense. But engines must always be coo’d over and spoken of in hushed approving tones, regardless of their size, condition or make. Shhhh! She’ll HEAR YOU!
• You can only sensibly answer the question “is it cold on a boat in winter?” about ten times, before deciding to mess with people by saying, “Yes, it’s terrible, I've nearly died of hypothermia twice this year already, and I don’t know how I’m still alive.”
• Sharing your opinion about Ecofans is mandatory. Owning one is discretionary.
• Portholes or windows? Don’t bother.
• Everyone knows that irons, microwaves, hairdryers and hoovers are all for posh people, so do really want to spend your hard earned beer money on these?
• You will win mega brownie points when you can prepare and serve a full Sunday roast for four people, using just two gas rings and a kettle (and not feel the need to boast about it).
• You can now tell all your froends (if you still have any) you thought you’d save money in winter by using the open bow as a fridge/ freezer for your food - until you realised just how much beer you could actually store there if you stacked it all up right.