Loner Christopher Saker, who was found drowned in the Kennet and Avon Canal just yards from the boat on which he lived, consumed three-and-a-half times the maximum amount of alcohol permitted for drivers, an inquest heard.

Mr Saker, 65, was found dead in the canal near the Barge Inn at Honeystreet on March 11 last year when police launched a search after friends said they had not seen him.

On Friday Wiltshire Coroner David Masters recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The hearing in Salisbury heard Mr Saker moved his narrowboat Abadus from moorings in Berkshire to a location about 25 metres west of the Barge Inn in September 2007.

Mr Masters said: “Mr Saker had always been a heavy drinker and he started again after moving his boat to Honeystreet.”

Alan Bowery, joint licensee of the Barge, said Mr Saker was a regular, although he had stopped drinking over Christmas 2007 following a warning from his doctor.

Mr Bowery said the boater would go into the pub virtually every day at 11.30am to collect his paper, have a pint of cider and go home.

He would then return late afternoon, have a couple of pints and buy a bottle of red wine to take back to his boat to drink with his dinner.

On March 10, said Mr Bowery, Mr Saker broke his routine and, having been in the pub during the day, he did not return until 9.30pm and ordered a half of cider.

Mr Bowery said he remarked to Mr Saker “It’s not like you coming out of a night time Chris,” and received the abrupt response: “It’s my life”.

Mr Saker sat by himself and Mr Bowery told the inquest: “He was generally a loner but more so that evening.”

After his cider Mr Saker asked for a whisky mac and then had a further four.

Mr Bowery said they had arranged to go shopping together the next day and have a meal at a pub in Devizes.

At closing time Mr Saker had a job to stand. “As soon as he walked out of the door and the fresh air hit him the lower half of his body just went,” said the pub manager.

He offered to help Mr Saker back to his boat and said: “He was stubborn and he refused,” so he left him sitting outside the pub.

When Mr Saker was not seen the next day and there was no answer at his boat police were called and found his body in the canal a short distance away. PC Ivor Noyce who investigated Mr Saker’s death told the inquest he was satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances.