Sam Teale worked and saved hard for a deposit on his first house and by the age of 22 he had reached his target only to have mortgage lenders slam the door in his face.
“I was under 25 and had a single income so they wouldn’t touch me,” he says.
Undeterred, he started searching for an alternative home and after looking at caravans and land, his mum’s partner, Simon, pointed him towards a narrowboat for sale on eBay. “It was stunning. Simon and I drove down to Burton-on-Trent where it was moored and it that was it. It was love at first sight. It felt homely and warm inside, the windows are unusually big so there was lots of natural light and there was potential to make it my own,” says Sam, who used his house deposit and a small loan to buy the boat.
He has lived aboard Friday, which now has a mooring at Shipley Wharf, for a very happy six years but some good things must come to an end so the boat is now for sale for £37,500.
“My circumstances have changed. I’ve moved to York to live with my girlfriend and I’ve got a new job at the Brass Castle Brewery in Malton,” he says
Built in 1969 by the renowned Peter Keay boatyard in Walsall, 45ft-long Friday is a rarity as she is constructed entirely from wood. She has an elm bottom and an oak top, though the previous owner, a steel engineer, put a steel ribcage inside her. A boat survey has confirmed that the elm bottom and the rest of the vessel is in perfect condition.
The engine is also original. It’s a two-cylinder Lister, which is often remarked on by other canal dwellers.
“You can tell it’s a Lister from the sound it makes and they are renowned for being reliable and keeping going forever. It’s also really economical because it runs on red diesel. I take the boat out down the canal at least every other weekend and I’ve only had to refill the tank twice since I bought it at a cost of £100 each time,” says Sam, who adds that while Friday won’t break any speed records, it really doesn’t matter because the limit on most canals is a sedate four miles an hour.
The interiors have been treated to a redesign and refit by Sam, a creative who can turn his hand to anything practical. He stripped out the kitchen and made his much-loved “jam pot sink” from a brass jam pan. The cupboards are made from upcycled pallets and the worktops are made from Iroko wood.
There are plug sockets and a gas boiler, along with an electric oven, a gas hob and a fridge freezer, as Sam, a former chef, likes to cook.
The living area has a wood-burning stove, bookshelves, storage, a built-in bed and seating. There’s also a separate shower with cassette toilet. The moorings have a connection to gas, electricity, water and waste disposal and batteries keep the lights on when the boat is on the move.
The cost of living is low with mooring fees at £120 a month and £16 a month for gas and electricity. There is no council tax but there is an annual boat licence fee of £700 a year payable to the Canal and River Trust.
When considering the upkeep, Sam says: “Think of it as a combination of a house and a car. There’s always something to tinker with if you want to keep it pristine, like filling any nicks in the exterior.”
The bottom of the boat needs blacking once every three years, which costs about £700, while boat insurance costs £70 a year and a boat safety certificate, required every four years, is about £150. Factor in a fund for maintenance and repairs and that brings living costs to about £250 a month.
While Sam is leaving life aboard to become a landlubber, he has many happy memories of Friday who was originally christened, “It’s Friday”.
“It’s a great way of life. I was lucky to get a good mooring, a short walk from Saltaire village and close to Shipley station, and everyone who lives on the canal there is really helpful. It’s a wonderful community,” he says.
“I used to take her out down to Saltaire and Skipton at weekends and have my friends over. It was cool and I am going to be devastated when she sells.”
Finding a buyer may not be too difficult as living on Britain’s waterways is growing in popularity. First-time buyers, downsizers and divorcees are chief among those looking for an affordable and alternative lifestyle.
A recent report in City A.M., a London-based business newspaper, revealed that divorced men are fuelling a surge in sales of houseboats in the capital.
Lana Wrightman, of London’s largest waterside property estate agent, Riverhomes, said it had been a bumper year for houseboats and added that divorced men now make up 70 per cent of buyers.
Licences for boats without permanent moorings, which means occupiers have to move their boat every 14 days, have also shot up 221 per cent in the last six years.
Britain’s most expensive houseboat, a converted 1930s, 128-ft long steel with five double en-suite bedrooms, was sold by Riverhomes for £3.7million last year and is moored at London’s fashionable St Katherine’s Dock.
It makes Sam’s narrowboat Friday sound like a “steal”.
“It’s good value and I really wish I could afford to keep it but it’s time to move on,” he says. “I’m going to miss it but I have so many happy memories of it.”
*For details on Friday, which is for sale for £37,500, contact tel: 07984 858038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*A video of Sam’s boat features on our website www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/homes-gardens and on our new Facebook group Yorkshire’s Dream Homes, www.facebook.com/groups/Yorkshirehomes