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A guide explaining the costs of owning a narrow boat

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Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 1:11pm

Living aboard a narrow boat

We have plenty of narrow boats for sale at the marina on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal and we are frequently asked by people who are new to boating, what the yearly costs to living aboard would be. This depends on a few factors including your boats size and where you are intending to moor. But to give you a general idea we have put this guide together. Living aboard is a life style choice and shouldn’t be seen as a cheap way of getting on the property ladder. As with buying a house when you purchase a new or used narrow boat there are going to be costs involved. These costs are divided into two section fixed and variable. 

The fixed costs for living aboard in the UK

Moorings within a Marina
This is more than likely going to be your biggest cost in this section. As you can appreciate the length of your boat and where in the UK you want to moor is going to determine the final cost. Mooring in Central London is going to be far more expensive than say against The Fens. You will also have to take into consideration the facilities that are on offer like security, shops, pump out and other amenities. So the final cost for moorings within a marina will depend on location, facilities and boat size.

Moorings along the canal

The CRT (British Waterways) long-term moorings on the canal network are often an economical proposition. The down side with this option is there are no facilities and you should bare this in mind. It is also very difficult to obtain these types of moorings.

Club moorings
These are often less expensive and bring the advantages of social life - but with responsibilities too.

Licence Fees
Licence fees will vary according to where you keep your boat as well as the boat size. You can register your licence for 12, 6 or 3 months.To down load varies licence’s options follow this link apply or renew a boat licence

Insurance
Insurance costs around £250-£500 per annum, but will depend on your boat and whether you are cruising. There are many insurance companies you can use but our advice is to employee an insurance company that specialises in narrowboats. We have been working with Collidge and Partners for many years now and believe they will offer you a good insurance policy.

Blacking every three years

You would be looking at £700 to £1000 dependant on the length of your boat and if you are doing a DIY blacking or getting someone to do it for you.

The Variable Costs

Estimating the variable costs can be rather difficult, but we will try and list as many things you need to take into consideration and give you an estimated price. Please remember these costs will vary from boat to boat.

Engine fuel and Fuel for Heating
Red diesel will be cheaper than the diesel that you purchase from the forecourt, and prices will depend on the chandlery and the location you make your purchase. You need to declare to the chandlery the percentage of your fuel which will be used for your engine and then if applicable what will be used on your diesel central heating. The typical split of your bill can be 60% for engine and 40% for heating. The chandlery will be able to advise you on the best rates for you depending on your personal use age.

Fuel for Heating and Cooking

If using diesel as your heating supply see above. Other options for heating and cooking are gas bottles and solid fuel. Solid fuel in the winter 10-15 bags a year around £100. Gas for central heating and cooking, using six bottles a year - about £105.

Pump-out
This will depend on the narrow boats tank size. At Venetian Marina we currently charge £15 per pump out. Emptying a cassette toilet is usually free at most marinas. There are also other CRT points along the canal system where you can get rid of your waste

Engine maintenance

The engine oil will need to be changed at least three times a year. Engine Service should be done every year or two and can cost up to £200 plus VAT plus. Parts will be extra.

If there is anything we have missed off this guide and you would like to know the answer please leave us a comment or contact us on 01270 528251 and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.

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2 Comments

Stephen Jarman | Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 4:07pm
Thanks for the above information ,but is there a book or a website forum new boaters or thinkers of joining people can go ?
Whilton Marina | Wed Dec 4, 2013 at 9:43am
Hi Stephen, Apologies for our late reply. The below book on Amazon is a great tool to help you to learn about boating on the inland waterways. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Liveaboard-Guide-Living-Waterways-ebook/dp/B007RYIKHW/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

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