Canal Boats
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Canal Boat Moorings

canal boats Now let's look at the other way for canal boats to be legally used as a floating home and that's finding some canal boat moorings, and I hope that I made the point about continuous cruising strongly enough. No doubt there are many canal boaters reading this who are happily shuttling backwards and forwards on the same stretch of canal, and have avoided the authorities. Well maybe they will never get caught, but one day perhaps they will.

If you want to stay in one place and also liveaboard, then the only legal option for you is to look for a canal boat mooring which is easier said than done. Buying and fitting out your canal boat is the easy part - the hard part is finding somewhere suitable to use as a permanent mooring. So where should you start, what will it cost, and what are the issues you need to be aware of when looking for that all important mooring. Let's take a look ate the issue in more detail.

Canal Boat Mooring

In case you hadn't realised it by now, the biggest problem ( and a substantial cost)  in using your canal boat as a liveaboard, is finding a residential canal boat mooring, which are always in short supply, so my advice would be to start looking for your mooring first, and then start looking for the boat!  Please do remember that a residential canal boat mooring will give you a secure status, so that your boat's mooring address can be used as your home address, giving you the same rights to local services as any other home owner, including schools, medical services, local authority services etc. In addition your address can be used for banking, legal paperwork and for registration of your personal data for documents such as passports and driving licences. They are generally licensed by the Local Authority. In short, a properly licensed residential mooring will give you exactly the same security as if it were a bricks and mortar address on dry land, so if this is important to you, where do you start your search and what are the various types available? - below we've listed some of the alternatives and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Mooring Type Advantages Disadvantages
In a marina Residential canal boat moorings in a marina are at the top end of the market. They are secure, often within a gated environment and CCTV, so your boat and belongings will be safe. It will generally provide you with a full range of facilities quayside. In addition you may find the mooring comes with parking, mail box services etc
They are often very hard to find and will be expensive. In London and the South East prices can be several thousand pounds a year. Naturally the location and services will ultimately dictate the price. Waiting lists are long, months or even years in some cases, so you need to get your name down early. Terms will tend to be fixed
In a boatyard Cheaper than a marina, and will also be more flexible in terms of usage. In addition local maintenance is on hand. Less secure than in a marina and probably offering fewer services. Some moorings may be rented on a casual basis so you will have no residential status. More likely to find one at short notice and with a shorter waiting list.
Canal side moorings Canal side moorings vary as to ownership and terms - some will be dedicated residential moorings run by the waterways authority, others will be privately owned, so you will find a greater choice on offer. They will generally be much cheaper than a marina, and with a private agreement you can negotiate your own terms with the owner. Need lots of research to find them, and the lack of security will be an issue. Rental terms will vary enormously and naturally you will have no quayside facilities.
Riverside moorings Much the same applies as for canal side moorings, and for Dutch barges this will be a more likely choice due to the wide beam Again, you will need to do you research to find them and the terms will vary widely. Finding one on the Thames is now almost impossible and it is probably easier to find a boat being sold with a residential berth already attached.
Swinging moorings Very cheap! Not suitable for narrowboats and generally only found in coastal estuaries etc  No services at all and you will need a tender for travel to and from the mooring. No residential address.


I must stress again that the sooner you start your search for a residential canal boat mooring the better. It is no good buying your canal boat, and then being forced to cruise continuously, simply because you have nowhere else to go, so plan ahead! Equally important, if you are applying for a liveaboard marine mortgage then your lender may well require details of the mooring before advancing the loan. Now let's look at the licensing issues and costs for keeping your canal boat on the water. Canal boats, like all other water craft have to be licensed I'm afraid - yet another cost!

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Marinablu International Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of  Pantaenius UK Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)  - canal boat moorings