I’d owned my narrowboat for just over a week when my engine came to a grinding halt. Distraught, I knocked on the door of the nearest boat and asked for help. Thankfully, Sammy knew how to fix the problem and spent the next two days making my boat ship-shape again, and I couldn’t thank him enough.

“I’ll tell you something about boat life.” Sammy said, as he sipped his fifth beer of the night. “It’s just some old boating folklore, but I think it’s important.”

“It is a tradition that boaters will never eat the last slice of bread from a loaf. Instead they throw it off the back of their boat for the ducks to eat. That way, when you’re broke and you’re on your arse and you have no food, there’s always a big fat duck near the back of your boat!”

It was Sammy’s way of explaining that the essence of boating is all about being part of the community – looking out for your neighbours and helping them when they’re stuck. It’s something I hadn’t considered when I was planning to liveaboard, but after many years afloat it has become the most important and attractive part of my life on the inland waterways. As a seasoned boater with many mishaps and much experience behind me, I try my best to pay it forward as often as I can.

Taken from The Liveaboard Guide – by Tony Jones
A practical guide to living afloat on Britain’s inland waterways
Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 9781408145555.