Livaboard narrowboat advice from Ventian marina
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Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 11:38am

Livaboard a narrow boat

So you are considering purchasing a narrow boat for the purpose of making this your main home. In this article we will detail the things you should consider and know about living on a narrow boat full time. Many people have a romantic idea of life on the canal system, cruising from city to city, mooring up in the beautiful UK country side, feeding the ducks in the morning, coming and going whenever the mood takes you and answering to no one.

However the reality of life on the canal is not always that simple. There are still rules and regulations you will have to comply with. There are other aspects of living aboard you will need to consider that would not be necessary if you lived in a brick home. When buying a narrow boat there are many things to take into consideration; the type of boat you require, your budget, new or used narrow boat, where you are going to moor your home and the on-going costs.

In this article we look at moorings and what type of boat you buy then in the next article we will look at buying the boat, and the on-going costs.

Finding a mooring for your livaboard narrow boat

Residential moorings
You have to moor somewhere so I think this is the best place to start before we even look at buying a narrow boat. Finding a residential mooring can be rather difficult, so this needs to be sorted before you do anything else. You need to find out which marinas, boatyards and clubs allow residential moorings as some are non-residential which means you cannot live there.

At Venetian marina we try to offer leisure moorings to all customers that purchase a narrowboat from us. We also occasionally have some residential moorings.

Once you have decided on the area you would like to moor, talk to people who already live in that area. Also visit the boatyards and marinas and contact Canal and River Trust (CRT).
Finally you may be able to buy a boat which already has a residential mooring.

Continuous Cruising
The CRT will tell you that a continuous cruising licence is intended for those who are moving continuously, and they want to restrict boaters from staying more than a couple of weeks in one place or moving to within a few miles of their last mooring. They do not want boaters 'to-ing' and 'froing' within the same geographical area, this is not what the licence covers.

Due to the fact the continuous mooring can be difficult in the winter the CRT have started supplying temporary residential moorings, whilst the weather is bad and maintenance is carried out on the canal system. However once the spring arrives you will need to continue cruising

Avoiding the System

Traveling along the canal system with no licence or a residential mooring is a risking option. You should only consider this option as a short term solution whilst you sort out proper moorings. If you are living aboard you need to consider the security of your boat, as boats moored on the towpath are easy pickings for break in’s and with all your worldly possessions aboard this is not a good solution.

Type of narrow boat for livaboard purposes
If you plan to livaboard for more than a few months you need to consider the facilities you require and how much room you want. Your requirements will be different if you are permanently moored or cruising. The fact that most narrow boats were not designed to live on, but were built for a few weeks stay, you will need to consider the following:
  • The size of the water tank
  • The waste capacity
  • Permanent bedrooms
  • Mains voltage
  • Insulation and ventilation
  • Heating for winter
  • Type of fuel
Most boats built in the past 10 years will be fit to live on as well as cruising for a few weeks at a time (however this depends on if the boat has been looked after). All narrow boats on the canal now have a Boat Safety Certificate, which means that the examiner will check the areas listed below to make sure there are no major dangers. We always recommend you have a survey by a qualified surveyor before you make a purchase.
  • Gas
  • Electrics
  • Heating
  • Ventilation 
  • Fuel systems
By visiting a Marina you will be able to compare many narrow boats in the same location that you may be interested in. Visit our narrow boats for sale page or down load our getting afloat brochure.

In part two we will discuss buying a narrow boat and on-going livaboard costs.

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