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Canal Boats

While pottering about today there was some sort of show on about a family renovating a canal boat. The boat initially cost £120K and they spent about £50K and several months work on it to turn it into a home. They were intending to use it to sell trips along the canals in France but didn’t finish it in time because they didn’t have the cash. At the end they thought the boat was now worth £325K. Not bad going if it was worth that much.

Boats like this seem a good solution for us neing mobile homes in effect. However, they are expensive to purchase and they are not very secure. The ones around here are alarmed up as much as cars are and probably broken into more than houses. I have a friend who has a canal boat and although he has not been broken into his dog Lucy, short for Lucifer, seems to have something to do with that. He thinks his boat is worth £250K.

I spent some time this weekend down by the canal helping him fix his computer. The kids love the water and they can all swim, so we sat on the bank just keeping an eye on them, knowing they can swim and leaving them on their own are two different things. While I was doing that I was watching what was going on along the canal and although I like the canal boats I was thinking how difficult it would be to defend them against determined attack.

  • They are very slow in real terms. Plodders rather than joggers. You could not just up sticks and run with them
  • They don’t go too far from the banks. Even in the widest spots you can easily throw heavy stones to a boat at the far side
  • They can be boarded at multiple places simultaneously. From both sides as well
  • You cannot escape them easily either
  • There are areas where boats can be easily trapped and traps and trappers can be hidden underwater

In saying that though there were a few areas where you could seal off the bridges, especially those under motorways, and make a very defensible retreat. The motorway provides a very solid roof and protects you from observers. The entrances can easily be sealed up and the canal boats (note the s) can be moved in as housing and storage space.

It means you have to put aside the material to seal the tunnels up although even with that this it would make a very cheap bunker.

As a bonus most people don’t think of the canal network. Those that do of course would need to be watched out for. If you make your barricades look right then it may be mistaken as a derelict tunnel and if it was done right they would need to go into the water to get in. That is what nets are for.

Worth thinking about and I can see it being a viable hidey hole. Lots of fields running alongside for crops as well for longer term. As an added bonus there is a large supply of water, requiring to be well filtered though before human consumption.

11 comments to Canal Boats

  • Northern Raider

    I met a hippy type girl living full time on a narrow boat at Hatton Locks south of Birmingham, he boat and its upper works were all painted steel and the windows all had steel shutters that could be locked closed from the inside of the boat, shes had these fancy knotted rope fenders nicked and the odd potted plant, but no one has got inside her 36 footer. I agree they are horribly slow averaging 4 mph but I guess if a prepper was living full time on one he could have a variable pitch propeller fitted which will take it up to 10 Mph , but controlling such a shallow vessel would be scary I guess.
    To their advantage of course some canals are pretty darn long and run through some pretty remote areas where I’m guessing a prepper boat could park up well away from the towns????

  • Northern Raider

    Now you have me thinking about that Swedish prepper girl who has been living on a sailing boat up the Shetlands and Orkneys for a long time, For folks without kids I guess a yacht or cabin cruiser has a reasonable amount of potential.

  • Lincolnoldie

    That’s a really lateral type of thought, and they are pretty self sufficient as a water craft if you put in the right equipment. Take your point about the accessibility though.

    • Northern Raider

      I would guess that if the boat was not tied to ordinary canals but located in some place riddled with shallow but navigable waters ways like the fens and Broads its got boat loads of potential.

  • iaaems

    Here in the Broads region there are lots of boats – as you might expect. Most are ‘pleasure craft’ but now and again you do notice one or two that do not quite fit in with the floating gin palace formula. They are quietly and expertly handled, the people on board are friendly in a remote sort of way and they are dressed practically – if you get my drift. They are referred to as ‘water gypsies’ locally – a somewhat misleading title in my opinion. They live on board and clearly enjoy life in a way that us landlubbers do not. They are fitter that I – not saying much in that regard – and spend a lot of time walking the area and entertaining themselves in the old fashioned way. Low tech.
    The Broads do have access to the rest of the water network in the UK – or the rest of the water network does have access to the Broads but only if you have a shallow draught craft.
    Yes you can get away from it all here in Norfolk on the Broads – whether you could survive for long is another matter. I’m reliably informed that the fishing is not all that good – mostly tiddlers.

    • Northern Raider

      I get seasick in the bath but I love riverine and estuary type craft, I once met a maritime prepper who lived on an old gunboat of some sort, I cant remember if it was an MTB,MGB or rescue launch but it was big and had been re-engined with a volvo diesel instead of a big petrol engine, I got to ride it from St Helier to Weighmouth and back, sick as a dog but exillerated. I’ve met nomadic ex forces type folks who also live on motorboats and yachts, not something I fancy doing with a family.

  • Skvez

    Boats certainly have potential, although I’d rather be on a lake than a canal.
    While a boat on a canal is vulnerable to missile attack, most canals are wide enough that puttering up the middle it wouldn’t be easy for someone to jump from the bank onto the boat and it doesn’t take very long to move to the other bank. Even 2mph is enough to out pace a swimmer. It’s also hard to swim while carrying a sledge-hammer and relatively easy to repel borders who are trying to climb up onto the boat from the water (assuming you aren’t overwhelmed by a huge numbers and have multiple people, one to skipper the boat and at least one to repel borders).
    Given the uncertainty of if and where a gang could set up, a fixed retreat (house) could be unlucky. A boat gives the opportunity to move on.
    A boat a lot more space for preps than a car or even a motor-home.
    A relatively small percentage of people (thugs) have the skills to mount an attack on the water while nearly all know how to kick down a door or smash a house window.
    If you work near a waterway you can also live with your preps on the boat and be ready to move on if a situation occurs, no need to pack.
    It’s likely the roads would be blocked long before anyone gets round to trying to block the waterways.

  • Skean Dhude

    I see it could be a very popular choice. Certainly in the initial stages where you lived on stored food followed by moving inland and setting up your own place.

    Canal boats are not cheap though. You could buy several acres of woodland for a fraction of the cost.

  • Timelord

    Too canalised for security. Easy to block navigation. Canals are not very deep. Rubbish Or rope/wire strung under water will disable propeller. Much too vunerable. Many people know of canals, especially locals. When their supplies run out, they will go hunting. I don’t fancy being on the end of an ambush turkey shoot. Now if on the navigable rivers or an area such as the Broads, then yes, could be an excellent proposition. 🙂

  • Northern Raider

    The west coast of Scotland with its millions of sea lochs and other navigable water ways would have potential as with the broads.

  • moosedog

    Just got back online after moving house so nearly missed this.

    I lived on an all steel narrowboat for 5 years and they have many advantages, as well as disadvantages. One great thing for long term off grid living is that they’re easy to heat, one wood burning stove kept alight from late autumn to early spring will keep you alive in real comfort. Solar and wind generators should keep lights running indefinitely, though I used candles as they were much more homely. Security is less of an issue than in many other dwellings, at least for an experienced “water gypsy”. Agreed there are many ways to ambush a boat but I don’t think you’d spend all your time cruising the network, especially if fuel was scarce. Just keep some handy for emergency use if you need to outrun attackers (by chugging across to the opposite bank in many cases). Many times when cruising I’d see potential danger ahead and would nip down into the cabin, leaving the boat to steer itself, to get a gun: the sight of an armed boater deterred any trouble. As to cost, well there are Rolls Royces on the roads as well as Reliant Robins: a good all steel narrowboat can be bought for under £10,000 or over £100,000. After a major event with massive die off of the population there would be plenty to be had for free. It’s not Plan A for me but preferable to many other scenarios I envisage.

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