Ruth’s Boat Adventure: Episode Three


It’s been an interesting couple of weeks here on the Thames.

I always knew that it was a bit of a gamble to have a fairly stressful job and move on to a boat, and when I initially met the boat-mates they were very up-front with me about the challenges and potential for things to go wrong. However, for the first couple of weeks everything seemed to be going swimmingly (lets see how many water related puns I can include in this article 😉 ) and I was feeling pretty confident that I could manage the routines of living on the boat alongside fitting in all of my work when the new term started.

Unfortunately, and as Sod’s Law would dictate, it was around about the time I was getting ready to go back to school that things started to go wrong, and the past couple of weeks have been pretty challenging!

First there was Reading Festival. 40,000 people (possibly a slight exaggeration but that’s what it felt like, anyway) trudging past the boat along the half-finished tow path in their wellies-and-teeny-tiny-shorts combination to reach the campsite. Or queuing up for the festival ferries, which departed from the mooring next door, causing the boat to rock dramatically every time they sailed past. The towpath turned to sludge, and getting on and off the boat was treacherous! As the only one on the boat that weekend, I spent much of it darting suspicious glances out of the windows and trying not to think about the prospect that a drunken festival goer with a working knowledge of knots might untie our mooring ropes at 3am whilst I was asleep.

Then there was the WIFI (incidentally – for those of you who are interested in such things – there’s no phone line on a boat, so we have a 4G internet hub – not Wifi at all, strictly speaking), which broke just as I opened my laptop to commence lesson plans for the new term. Thankfully this one was easily solvable, as long as I didn’t mind paying for multiple cups of coffee in Cafe Nero, and is now fixed. Phew, I thought, everything will be fine now. Silly me.

After that there was the search for a new boat-mate. A real shame, as I was just getting to know my two fellow boat-dwellers (both of whom are lovely) and it was good to have two other more experienced tenants on board, but there we are. Some serious boat drama went down over the decision of who would be moving in and when, which I won’t bore you with. But basically, this has taught me that whilst letting agents might be a massive pain in the arse who charge far too much in fees, having a complete lack of any written contract outlining tenants rights and landlords responsibilities is also not a good option. Our new roommate moved in today (in fact, I came home unawares that he’d moved in and found him standing on the deck, which pretty much gave me a heart attack), and it feels very strange to be the one explaining to him how things work, having only been here a month!

And finally – finally – there was the water pump. It was broken, then it wasn’t, then it was broken again, then it was fixed, and now it’s broken again. The on-going saga of the water pump has been one of the most stressful elements of the past few weeks on the boat. Essentially, every time we switched it on it tripped the main fuse for the entire boat, which meant we couldn’t run it, so we had no water coming in. Like I said in my last article, all of our water is pumped in directly from the river, so if the pump breaks you’re in pretty big trouble – once your stock runs out there’s no washing up, no teeth cleaning, no showers, no nothing unless you’re willing to improvise with bottled water. Although I don’t usually think of myself as high maintenance, I’m really not a morning person, and I also have annoyingly fine hair which needs washing daily, so the prospect of having no water for a shower during my first week back teaching pretty much had me ready to run to and find somewhere else to live. Thankfully, after an emergency visit from the landlord, he established that the UV bulb (which kills bacteria in the water) has been damaged in some way and is tripping the fuse, so after unplugging that we can run the pump – but not drink the water. Hassle, but better than no water at all.

Problem solved, right? Wrong. First it started spewing out water every time we switched it on (luckily a super-easy fix – a loose cap on one of the pipes), and now the water pump runs for an hour and then stops completely for a reason nobody can work out. Our landlord is pretty good in a crisis and is sending someone to fix it tomorrow, so I’m quite confident (famous last words?) we won’t run out of water entirely, but like I said last time, i’ve become very conscious of conserving water.  We haven’t had a complete sense of humour failure just yet – instead we’ve created a new game out of it called ‘shower roulette’. It’s very simple: will there be enough water to rinse all your shampoo out or won’t there?
Needless to say, it’s been a pretty difficult couple of weeks. Whilst I’m still enjoying living on the boat, and I’m glad i’ve given myself the opportunity, i’ve definitely come to realise that you can’t guarantee the same kind of lifestyle as you get on land and I’m not sure whether it’s compatible with a job like teaching in the long term. Especially if you’re a massive stress-head like me. I guess that remains to be seen in the coming months.

…I still get to feed the ducks out of my window though 🙂

Over and out.


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