Mooring Advice – Finding A Home For Your Narrow Boat
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Thu Jun 9, 2016 at 9:41am

Which comes first; the moorings or the narrowboat?

Our advice is to get the moorings sorted before you purchase a narrowboat!

It is not uncommon for marinas to have a waiting list for moorings, so make it a priority to find somewhere to keep your boat before you buy. Knowing how much your moorings are going to be before you buy is also a wise decision.

It’s a sensible idea to work out all the costings related to buying and owning a narrow boat before you make this commitment.

As far as we are aware there is not a definitive list of all the mooring places in the UK, but you can use the following resources to help you find a mooring for your narrowboat;

  • Use national magazines such as; Waterways World, Canal & Riverboat and Canal Boat.
  • Contact The Navigation Authority for the waterways - Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency, National Trust, and the private navigations such as the Upper & Lower Avon Navigation Trusts, Bridgewater Canal, Basingstoke Canal etc.
  • Purchase cruising guides such as Nicholson's, Pearson's etc.
  • Browse the Internet
  • Ask other boaters for recommendations
  • Explore the towpaths in the area of your choice.

Mooring Costs

Moorings are usually priced according to the boats length. Rates vary according to: the location, facilities and demand. London prices where location and demand are at a premium are considerably higher than in say rural parts of Northern England.

Mooring on private land along the towpath with no facilities and no parking may cost £15 to £20 per foot per year.

The average mooring fees for a marina in Northamptonshire with basic facilities such as water, electricity, pump-out, diesel, gas, parking may cost in the region of £30 to £50 per foot per year, depending on the boats length.

A marina with full facilities including 24-hour security, secure parking, water & electric on each pontoon, pump-out, laundry, shower rooms, chandlery, dry docking, diesel & gas sales, servicing would cost between £40 to £60+ per foot per year, again depending on boat length.

Types Of Moorings

There are different types of moorings which we will explain in this article, but basically there are residential moorings, short term and long term moorings and continuous cruising.

Short term moorings - a place a boat can stay for a few days to two weeks at most. Long term moorings - is where you pay to keep your boat 'offline' at a marina or 'online' along the canal for  longer periods of time.

In both situations you would be able to stay on the boat for a few days or a few weeks at a time, but not permanently. To live aboard you need either a residential mooring or you will need to continuously cruise the network.

Residential Moorings

The Canal and River Trust are trying to set up more residential places, as the demand from boat owners is increasing. It has to be said it is not easy to find residential moorings but not impossible either. If you require residential moorings then it is vital that you have your moorings secured before you buy.

Note; a residential mooring is NOT guaranteed if you buy a boat with a mooring. The potential new owners are usually vetted for suitability by the marina or landowner.

Marina Moorings (Also known as Offline Moorings)

There are many benefits of mooring within a marina, not only have you got some great facilities on site but you have the added security. This makes leaving your boat for long periods of time a lot easier giving you peace of mind that your boat is safe. Each marina will offer different levels of services/facilities so check this out when you make your enquires.

Some facilities may have an additional charge, so ask what is included in the mooring costs and how much the other facilities are to use.

Some facilities which can typically be found in a marina include;

  • CRT Keys / Windlasses available
  • Chandlery
  • Dry Dock
  • Marine Engineers Workshop
  • Chemical toilet disposal
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Grocery shops
  • Laundry
  • Pub/Café
  • Parking
  • Pump out
  • Elsan
  • Rubbish disposal
  • Showers/Toilet
  • Water point
  • Free Wifi
  • Security

Contract lengths for moorings within a marina can vary from a full 12 months to short term stays of a week or two. Boaters who continually cruise will often choose to moor in a marina over the winter to avoid the worst of the British weather and to make the most of the facilities onsite.

Online Moorings

Online moorings usually mean those alongside the towpath (or opposite side of the canal). Facilities vary dramatically from none whatsoever, to water/refuse and electric points. Security can be a cause for concern as unlike a marina there is nothing to really deter a thief apart from the security you have in place.


Some online moorings are owned by The Canal and River Trust, Local Authorities or Park Agencies and some are owned by private landowners.

Continuous Cruising

The Canal and River Trust have published a very helpful guide ‘Guidance for boaters without a home mooring’. The guide is to help you understand what exactly is involved if you apply to be a continuous cruiser.

Summary of the definition of a continuous cruising;

you don’t have a home mooring for your boat, so you’re registered as a ‘continuous cruiser’. This means that throughout the period of your licence you must ‘bona fide’ navigate and not stay in the same place for more than 14 days.

The definition of navigating implies a journey of some length, so you can’t shuffle to and fro in a small area, just because that’s where your work or other commitments are.' You must use your boat to genuinely cruise in a mainly progressive fashion (A to B to C to D rather than A to B to A to B) from place to place and must not stop for more than 14 days in any one place, except in exceptional circumstances beyond your control.

If you need to stay in one location for; work, school or other commitments then you will not be able to class yourself as a continuous cruiser.

During the winter when the weather may affect your cruising The Canal and River Trust will offer some temporary residential moorings for those who wish to stay in one place for a short period of time find out more here

From 1st May 2015, there are stricter rules for those who are permanent cruisers. CRT (The Canal and River Trust) are going to ensure the rules are upheld and persistent offenders will have action taken against them. This could lead to being refused a new licence unless they take a home mooring.

The Canal and River Trust states;

Our statutory right to refuse to renew a licence arises from section 17 of the BW Act 1995 which states that we can refuse to issue a licence if we are not satisfied that a boat either has a home mooring or intends to continuously cruise.

More information can be found here

Please do not hesitate to contact our team at Venetian Marine if you require any assistance.

Happy Boating


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