When Grace and I took possession of Kantara on September 2nd last year, we knew that we were embarking upon a new way of life in which there were lots of unknowns. The numerous week-long holidays we had had over the years had only given us experience of handling a narrow boat – very useful experience, of course, but only a part of the whole thing of living on the boat. Furthermore, we had never before been responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a boat, and this was going to be something of a steep learning curve. So, now that we've lived on Kantara for ten of the past thirteen months, what are my thoughts as I look back over them?
In no particular order...
We love the life! We both settled quickly to the new home, and the huge reduction in space after our years in a house has not been a problem at all. Being in the marina for most of the year has not been what we had in mind, but we have met lots of new people, and made friends, and are very glad indeed that we chose Yelvertoft over the several other options in the area. There are so many canal routes easily accessible to us from Yelvertoft, we have years of cruising to do from that base.
Cruising is brilliant! When we have been out, alone or with family or friends, it has been such fun to be taking our home with us as we explore new places. We had this, of course, on holidays, but it is somehow very different now the boat is our home. Waking up in a different place most mornings is magic. Meeting other boaters is great fun (usually!). Seeing the countryside, new towns and villages is fascinating. It's great to have family and friends with us, and to share with them something of the magic of life on the cut. All of our visitors have been really enthusiastic, and it's lovely to experience that.
The suggestion that the word BOAT is an acronym for Bring Out Another Thousand is not just a joke. Regardless of age (and Kantara is 11 years old, remember), things go wrong with boats, and we've had our share of problems on this first year, many of which resulted in us having to forgo cruising, and to spend additional money. But we have learned a lot, and feel much more confident of being able to handle such problems in the future. And now that we've had all of our systems professionally serviced, and problems solved, we're expecting to have less go wrong in subsequent years. Membership of RCR has proven useful already!
We still have to settle down to doing “ordinary” things, particularly when we are in the marina, those kinds of things we would be doing if we were still in the house. Both of us have writing we want to do. Grace has painting, sewing and other creative gifts she wants to be using. I want to write more music, do some serious photography. So far, we've not established those as a routine part of this boat life. Work to be done here.
It may be at least partly attributable to boat life that I have entered my 62nd year weighing less than I have for years, and being a lot fitter and stronger. My blood pressure is significantly lower, so is my resting heart rate. I have established a good routine of cycling and strength training, and have done more walking than ever before. And this has happened as a deliberate response to my awareness that life in a boat could easily be one of little exercise, poor eating, and reduced health and fitness. The book “Younger Next Year” has had a great impact upon me.
So, as we carry on into our second year on Kantara, still not knowing how long we'll be living here, we look forward to a lot more cruising, and to sharing some of the enjoyment of that with others. It's been a good year, and we feel really thankful and privileged to have been given the opportunity to live the dream which we'd had for nearly forty years.