Costs of Boating
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Wed Sep 16, 2020 at 10:31am

Costs of Boating

Many of our customers here at Venetian are first time buyers. The primary concern for anyone in this situation is, more often than not, the necessary expenditures that come with owning a narrowboat. Let's discuss the main outgoings you will encounter as a narrowboat owner.


Much like insuring a car, the costs of boat insurance can vary massively. The particulars of the boat will be taken into account, such as age and value. Other considerations will be where the boat is usually based, whether or not you live aboard and the value of the boat's contents. Some insurers will require a hull survey to be carried out on older boats to get a clear idea of the true condition of the craft.


A licence from Canal & River Trust is required on almost any narrowboat using Britain's inland waterways. there are a small amount of waterways which are governed by other organisations, and will therefore require a seperate licence.

Licence fees are based on the length of the boat. There is also an option of whether to licence your boat for canal and river use, or rivers only. A comprehensive list of prices for varying lengths of boats can be found on Canal & River Trust's website.

Boat Safety Certificate

Similar to an MOT on a car, your boat will require a valid Boat Safety Certificate, or BSC. This will require a trained professional to carry out an in-depth inspection of your boat, to determine whether it meets the minimum safety requirements for licencing. A valid BSC lasts for four years. The costs can vary, depending on the inspector's charges, but are usually around the £150-£200 mark. There will then of course be extra expenditures to put right anything that is deemed unsafe.


Moorings can vary in price substantially, often depending on what is on offer. For example, if you only required somewhere to store your boat, with no electricity or facilities, the cost would be considerably less than somewhere offering these added comforts. Venetian Marina offers electricity, facilities, a secure car park, an on-site chandlery and a tea room. All of these factors are taken into account.

Many mooring charges are priced by footage, meaning you will be paying more for a longer boat. If you are mooring your boat in a marina, or on linear moorings along the side of the canal can be a factor too, with the latter often being the cheaper option.


How much you spend on fuel will, of course, depend on how often you use the boat, and how much distance you cover. It is worth noting that you may need to use diesel even when stationary, whether it be because of an onboard diesel heater, or running the engine for power or hot water. This will be affected by whether or not you have an electric hook-up at yuour mooring, and the specifics of your boat. You will need to declare how much fuel is used for propulsion, on which you must pay duty, as opposed to fuel used purely for domestic purposes, which will not incur a duty fee. Diesel prices vary greatly throughout the country, but most fall between 65 and 95 pence per litre.


Waste tanks for pump-out toilets are considerably larger than cassette toilets, meaning you will have to empty it far less often. This added benefit does come with a cost however, as you will have to pay someone, whether it be at a marina, chandlery, or a working boatyard, to empty it for you. This usually costs somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds.


As previously mentioned, some boats will have a diesel heating system installed. This however is not the only option. Many boats will have a gas system on board, or rely solely on heat from a solid fuel stove. Any of these options will incur costs to a degree. A gas system will require the purchase of new propane bottles, as and when the previous bottles run out. The most commonly used size of bottle on narrowboats is 13kg. These often cost upwards of 30 pounds.

General Maintenance

It is impossible to predict what maintenance will be required on any given boat. The cost of any necessary repairs will vary, depending on where the work is done, or if the owner is comfortable carrying out the repairs themselves. Something that should be considered is the cost of hull blacking. On a private boat it is recommended that the hull is coated with protective blacking roughly every three years. How much this will cost, again, depends on where the work is carried out, and the length of the boat.

First time buyers should take all of the above into consideration. If the boat is for leisure purposes only, all these costs should be factored into the decision when it comes to buying a boat. For those looking to live aboard, whilst there are clearly financial considerations, a boat can still often provide a cheaper option than more commonplace accomodation.

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