Ask yourself: do you want the freedom to roam or the security of a home base?
- Do you need to stay in the same neighbourhood all year round for work/college/kids at school?
- Would you find it hard to find the time to look for a new mooring every couple of weeks?
- Do you want to feel settled in one place?
- Are you particularly concerned about your safety and security?
If your answers are YES, then you'll probably be after a 'home mooring'.
- Do you like moving through different neighbourhoods?
- Are you able to move your boat every couple of weeks?
- Do you need to economise as much as you can?
If you answer YES to these questions then you will like being a 'continuous cruiser'.
Next, find out about having a permanent home mooring or being a continuous cruiser...
Permanent home moorings
Permanent home moorings are usually on the off-side (i.e. on the opposite side to the towpath) or in marinas, and usually behind locked gates. They're hard to get, especially in Southeast England. It's common to start off as a continuous cruiser for a year or two while you look for a home mooring.
Navigation authority moorings
The largest provider of home moorings is usually the navigation authority. The Canal and River Trust auctions mooring rentals as and when they become available or, more usually, offers them at a fixed, take-it-or-leave-it price. The mooring's then yours for good as long you keep paying the rent on it. Expect to pay at least £1,500 per year to moor a 40' boat out in the sticks and as much as £10,000 per year (godzooks!) for the same boat in a hotspot like London. That said, you can turn up a bargain from time to time. CRT's moorings outfit is called Waterside Moorings (presumably to distinguish it from moorings that are far from the water). Register at WatersideMooring.com to get an email when a mooring in your favourite 'hood comes up.
If you buy a boat on a CRT permanent mooring you can't usually transfer the mooring into your name, which means you'll have to leave the mooring behind - so be careful when buying.
There are thousands of private mooring sites for rent across the land.
When you buy a boat on a private mooring, the mooring can usually be transferred into your name, but check this with the owner of the mooring (not just the owner of the boat you're thinking of buying). Often, when the sale goes through, the owner of the mooring charges a percentage of the boat's sale value (a 6% rate is common) in order to transfer the mooring to the buyer. In addition, the vendor tends to hike up the price of the boat when it comes with a mooring, since they can be hard to get. It's not unheard-of to pay to double the value of the boat just to get it with the mooring. The good news is that you can get much of the money back if and when you sell.
Residential and non-residential moorings
There are two types of permanent home mooring: residential and non-residential.
Residential home moorings usually come with good facilities, including water, electrical hook-up, a phone line, and a postal address. They're as close as you can get to living on a boat without losing the convenience of living on land, but these moorings are pretty expensive and are also liable for council tax.
Non-residential home moorings usually don't have many facilities, although a few come with water and/or electric. Council tax isn't charged on these moorings.
On CRT waterways
On the Thames
In theory, you can't be a continuous cruiser on the Thames. But if you have a Gold Licence (combined CRT and Environment Agency licence) then you can be a continuous cruiser on the system as a whole including the Thames. The Thames is a gorgeous river to explore, but you can usually only stay in one spot for 24 hours at a time, which is a rather awkward. There are a few spots where you can stay for two days or up to five days, too.