These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

September 2018. A final summary of nine and a half years of living on our narrowboat, The Puzzler.

We moved to live on our narrowboat, The Puzzler, in April 2009, having sold our jigsaw and toy manufacturing business. We spent the first two years cruising around England, with two very cold winters on the Peak Forest canal, but in very good company.

 In April 2011, The Puzzler was transported to Ireland, with several boating friends suggesting that we keep an online blog about our experiences, so that they could decide whether or not to go too! As a result, this record of our travels began. In Ireland, we overwintered in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, and during the summers, cruised practically all of the rivers and canals in both parts of this beautiful Emerald Isle. This map shows where we went, during our three years in Ireland.

Moving on in April 2014, The Puzzler had a long road journey across Ireland to Dublin, then across the Irish Sea to Holyhead by ferry. Having crossed North Wales and England by road, it was on to the ferry again, to get to Holland, on the other side of the North Sea. We rejoined her at Warmond, near to Leiden, and set off to explore The Netherlands. Again the map shows where we went in the next year, with our winter mooring being at Schagen, in North Holland. As there are so many small waterways in The Netherlands, I could not show them all, but have instead marked places which we reached with The Puzzler.

Once more it was April, in 2015, when we left Schagen to head south towards France. We took the short route across the east of Belgium, via Maastricht, and entered France on 2nd June. This next map shows all of our travels in this wonderful country. There are no small cruising circuits in France, and all the waterways are huge, by British standards. We cruised practically all of these routes shown at least twice, and in some cases, more than that! We learned to keep out of the way of barges of up to 3000 tons and quite enjoyed their company on our travels.

The final map is of Belgium,with both our preliminary passage in 2015, from The Netherlands through into France, and our final journey in August 2018 to Nieuwpoort, on the coast of Flanders.

Here is a cruising summary for the ten years we have lived on The Puzzler. Although we used kilometres on the continent, I have converted them to miles, for a better comparison of distance travelled.

 2009      728 locks + 1273 miles = 2001 lock/miles
 2010       607 locks + 982 miles = 1589 lock/miles
 2011      160 locks + 1093 miles = 1253 lock/miles
 2012       231 locks + 831 miles = 1062 lock/miles
 2013       212 locks + 838 miles = 1050 lock/miles
 2014       119 locks + 1667 miles = 1786 lock/miles
 2015       682 locks + 1555 miles = 2237 lock/miles
 2016       878 locks + 1608 miles = 2487 lock/miles
 2017       671 locks + 1098 miles = 1769 lock/miles
 2018       578 locks + 1510 miles = 2088 lock/miles
In total   4866 locks + 12455 miles  =  17321 lock/miles

So soon we will be back to living on dry land. The strangest thing we find about being in a house is that it does not move!

Many thanks for reading our blog and all the best for the future.


  1. So it's welcome home and goodbye in the same breath then?
    Thanks for all your blog poss Andy & Sally, it's been a most enjoyable journey that you've allowed us to accompany you on.
    All the best for the future! :)

  2. Mum, Dad & Shannon, what an incredible adventure you have had. Have loved following your journey. Looking forward to seeing more of you now that you are back in the UK :) Love Debbie & Matt xx

  3. Wauw! All the best for your "land-future",
    Cu, Cees & Sam + Cheetah

  4. Andy, Sally and Shannon moved back to Norfolk in September 2018 and are happily settled into our new bungalow, near to our old house. Thank you for reading our blog.

  5. Hi Andy & Sally - an amazing journey, well done - do hope you get on the water occasionally. When in Ireland, you created a wonderful ‘album’ of images of all the various waterways. We would like to use some of these to show what the canal and Barrow looked like in 2011 to 2013. Do we have your permission to do so? All images will be marked copyright NBPuzzler.
    Many thanks - Beth - DB Aqualegia, IWAI Nav-Watch Group

    1. Hi Beth. - yes, do use any of our pics. Sorry to have been so long in replying.

  6. Have you got any photos of the fit out of the Puzzler. We are the new owners for the last 18 months and would like to see more of the build of this magnificent craft that you created. Thanking you S and T Lee

    Ps. Something that has baffled us, there's a round piece of 1 inch plywood approximately 12 inches diameter and carpeted on one side and a cutout in it, we would be grateful to know what it's for.

  7. We are pleased to hear from you. Please email us with your email address and then we can be in direct contact. We would prefer this to communicating via the blog.
    We will delete this communication as soon as we receive an email from you.