Normal life revolves around buying a house, creating a family and having a successful career. But for these two men, life wasn’t just about sticking to social norms, they wanted to explore life in a new way; through water. Moored on the Beeston canal, John Dubson, 75, and Jim Goodsin, 64, describe life on board.

Mr Dubson has been part of canal life for 31 years and has had his wide-beam boat, the Neveah, since 2016.

John has had three boats in his life but prefers his dutch-barge styled boat which is bigger than his previous ones with a fitted kitchen and living room area.

He said: “I am limited to where I can go because of the size but I can still go to rivers because they are wide. This’ll be the last boat for me and it is too much for just one person.”

The boater explains how covid has restricted his movement but is now excited for the return to normality.

He added: “We can’t move at the moment. I’ve always been a continual cruiser so you move every 14 days. I’m waiting till later this month to have some repairs done to the boat.”

Jim Goodinson has lived in Beeston since the mid-90s and has had canal boats for 23 years.

The Whirligig is a second-hand cruiser stern boat that Jim got back in 2012.

Jim said: “Whirligig was the name on it, some people believe it’s bad luck to change a boat. I rent my house out and live on the boat most of the time.”

Even with the pandemic, Jim explains last year was the busiest year for him as a painter and decorator as he booked lots of jobs but is looking to retire soon.

He adds: “Covid has slowed boating down and the Canal and Riverside Trust has asked us to try not to move if it’s not essential but you can move for things such as fuel.

“99% of boaters have stuck to that rule.”

Jim with the Whirligig all dressed up for D-Day

The boaters have known each other for over eight years and last summer travelled to Lincolnshire together.

Jim said: “I would say there’s a community vibe, majority of people all know each other in Beeston. We look after one another.”

They both enjoy the benefits of nautical living and how it’s given them the opportunity to experience new ways of life.

John said: “It’s a good life. You just relax and chill out.

“I’ve seen some really lovely places and I’ve been all around England. Boating is a fantastic life.”

Jim, like John, agrees with life being more peaceful: “Living on the water you get a lot of chilled out time and there aren’t as many pressures.

“It’s got a lot of nature, I have swans tapping on the windows most mornings, something you don’t always get to see if you live in a house.

“It’s very peaceful, it’s relaxing and has done a lot for my health”.

Jim Goodinson’s boat in the winter where he has decorated it for Christmas day

The canal cruisers explain the importance of understanding boat life before taking the plunge and buying a boat.

John’s advice is to hire one out first and see if you like it as boating life isn’t always easy.

John said: “People have died on their boat from the cold in winter. If you do like boating but are not retired, hire a boat. You’ve really got to be retired to travel.”

Jim said: “Boating is something you either take to or you don’t.

“You get a lot of people walking around in summer and saying how nice it looks.

“When winter comes those boats are for sale. You’ve got to be a certain breed to get through winter.”

The Canal and Riverside Trust have stated that canal boaters can cruise freely and stay overnight on their boat. No indoor mixing on boats is allowed until 17 May, in line with Government restrictions.

Boat travelling suspensions were lifted 12 April 2021 meaning Jim and John can enjoy their freedom of movement across the waters.