Text and photographs by Eugenio Grosso
Britain has a long tradition of sailing and the first records we have about it date back to AD 550 to a Saxon burial boat. Since then the British navy has developed and in 1660 the Royal Navy was formally established. After the time when Britain was informally called the Kingdom of the Waves the British influence on the sea has known a period of decadence. Nowadays very little remains of that glorious past but the sense of the Britons for the water resists the time. In fact if you take a stroll along London canals, or visit any other canal in Britain, you are very likely to meet a long line of colourful narrow boats, which are home for so many people in the country.
According to a 2013 report for the London Assembly ‘city’s waterways are the permanent or winter home of at least 4,000 to 5,000 residential boats, and 10,000 people’. Along with the old community a new breed of boaters has started populating the canals in these days. Entrepreneurs, students and artists are escaping the dry land to join the fleet. This allows them to have their own place, save some money and be independent. On the other hand to live in a boat means to face new difficulties that were just unimaginable before. Cold in winter, the need to move every 15 days and lack of constant electricity, are all issues you have to deal with. However, despite of all that, most of the people interviewed said that they would never go back to the dry land.