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Maximise space to improve life on your houseboat

Maximise space to improve life on your houseboat
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Living space is at a premium on a narrowboat or yacht so make the best of what you’ve got

When you are a liveaboard, whether its on inland waterways or around the UK coast, storage space is key to an enjoyable lifestyle.

Choose the right boat

Most boats built within the last fifteen years should meet comfort and safety needs of modern liveaboards. Note that hire boats, and those converted from work boats may not be suitable for long term living. For example, they may not have enough water and waste tank capacity; or it might not be possible to heat them safely during winter months. And many of them just don’t have sufficient storage space for things like cleaning equipment, tools for basic maintenance, kitchen goods and out-of-season clothing and bedding.

Also, you may need to turn out the contents of a storage space on your boat to make an upgrade, access a fitting or inspect the hull to check out a leak. And speaking of leaks, you should inspect the cupboards below the waterline from time to time to ensure that your goods are not at risk from water damage.

When you buy a second-hand boat, you can get a good idea of how good the storage is by how the seller presents it. If the cabin is cluttered, there could be a lack of storage space.

Improve your boat to make more room for storage

Boat fitters and furnishers can give you all sorts of clever fixtures and fittings ideas to maximise storage space. Any awkward corner or void can, potentially, be fitted out into functional storage space. Check out houseboat lifestyle magazines for ideas; and when you visit liveaboard friends take note of clever storage solutions. For more ideas, check out Canal Junction’s directory.

Think about security on your narrowboat

It’s a sad fact that narrowboats and houseboats are less secure than bricks and mortar living spaces. So, consider what valuables you are happy keeping in your living space. Break-ins are not uncommon, and you may find that damp is a problem, too. Jewellery and other high-value items are best kept in specialist storage. But sentimental items like photo albums, diaries, artwork and family papers can be placed in self-storage. Self-storage units are secure and will give better protection from theft than your boat.

Seasonal storage

Rather than keeping out-of-season clothes and equipment bundled into a cupboard on your canal boat or yacht, consider packing it up and putting it into storage. A climate-controlled storage unit will keep it fresh, and it will not be in your way if you need to access the hull via your storage space.

Where should I store?

The cost of storage varies from place to place, so if you lead a nomadic life moving around Britain’s waterways you may be able to take advantage of cheaper prices. Do some research and compare prices to see if you can benefit. You will probably want a unit that is easy to access from the canal and consider a place that you’ll want to visit from time to time. Some storage companies will pick and deliver your goods, and this is a useful option if you don’t run a car.

Before you store…

We’d always recommend decluttering before moving your things into storage. That way you know you’re storing items that really want. If you are planning to, in the very long term, go back to a house, then you may have some furniture with sentimental value. But you may find it cheaper to sell things like white goods and buy new when you go back.

If your move to the waterways is permanent, consider whether you really want to store (for example) your grandmother’s linen chest. Many people use self-storage to give themselves time and space to make a decision about a sentimental item, however. And because self-storage is climate-controlled, your valuables are often better off stored than they are in a domestic setting.

Make an inventory of the goods you are storing: it’s really useful when you start shopping for insurance, and it’s surprisingly easy to forget what you actually own if it’s out of sight. An inventory will help you if you want to know what you’ve got stored. Also, organise your storage unit so that goods you want more often are easy to get at. Our blogpost about packing your unit has some advice on this.

Will storage be an expensive commitment?

Many storage companies offer a no-commitment arrangement, so if it doesn’t work out for you, you can come and pick up your stuff. When you use Store and Insure for your self-storage insurance coverage you can pay by the day – if this sounds appealing, get a quote from us today. Some liveaboard people worry about their credit score because they do not have a fixed address, and you should know that self-storage companies may check your credit, but most probably won’t.

Life on the water is even better with a bit of extra space

As well as giving extra space aboard your boat, good storage practices will make life more convenient and improve your peace of mind.