If you are new to living on a boat, it can be very confusing as to how and where you can moor up.
There are lots of rules to follow and a lot of misconceptions about mooring up. If you don’t follow these rules you could lose your boating licence, be fined and even eventually end up with having you boat seized! Something you really don’t want if you live aboard full time.
Take a look at our handy guide on continual cruising vs residential mooring to understand the differences.
There are many reasons why people chose to continually cruise the inland waterways.
- Cheaper – As you will need to pay little to no mooring fee’s, continual cruising is a great way of saving money.
- More freedom – Be wherever you want, whenever you want!
- Identify issues faster – If there are any problems with maintenance, the issues can be found and dealt with faster.
- Get through fuel faster – If you are staying only a few days in each place, you will get through a lot more fuel than being stationary for months.
- More effort – You will have to put in the time and effort to plan and move on when necessary. Even when the temperatures plummet below zero!
- Mooring – Finding a place to moor where you can also fill up on water or electricity isn’t a guarantee.
If you like the sounds of never being in one place for too long, the continual cruising may be for you.
As the name suggests you will almost continually be on the move. Most canals will allow you to stay for up to 14 days before you have to move on. However, this isn’t always the case and sometimes there is a 24 or 48 hours limit. Check the signage to be sure.
You should also know that while it is called ‘continual cruising’ this does not mean you can go from ‘A to B’ then back to A and onto B again. Continual cruising means you must travel from ‘A to B to C to D’.
Although continual cruising may seem like the way of life for you, there are several things you need to take into account.
Remaining constantly on the go is hard work, especially in the Winter months. Having freezing cold wind blowing in your face as you try to find somewhere to moor can be less than enjoyable.
You also need to be paying close attention to the water levels, battery levels, emptying out your sanitary tanks and so much more.
Constantly being on the move can make life difficult if you have other commitments. Work commitments may mean you will struggle to find the time to move on. If you have a car you need to factor in how and when you can go and get it after moving on, especially if your first choice of mooring is unavailable.
There are a few common misconceptions about continual cruising that are not true and easier to solve than you would think.
- I can’t receive post – You can still receive post when you continually cruise. There is such a thing called “Royal Mail Poste Restante“. It is a free service that allows you to collect your post from almost any post office in the UK that you choose; They typically hold the mail for 2 weeks.
- I can’t have a GP – Most people who require long term medication will go to see their GP and get enough prescriptions to keep them ticking over until they can next return. If you don’t require this service, then you can sign up to be a “temporary patient” in a lot of GP’s. This will typically last for 3 months but it does vary. There are also emergency GP services available in some hospitals.
- I can’t register to vote – Contrary to popular belief, registering to vote is actually allowed and easier than you would think. You simply need to fill out a form for “no fixed address” and that’s it! You can find more information about this on your vote matters.
If you can avoid or live with all of these things, then this may well be the lifestyle for you. Just don’t go into it thinking it is a walk in the park!
Residential may suit your wants and needs better than continual cruising.
- Certainty – You know where and when you will be able to fill up on necessities. Depending on the mooring, you may well have access to a toilet too, so you don’t need to worry about emptying the cassette!
- Community – The boating community is extremely friendly and laid back. You will soon find yourself settling in quickly and easily.
- Easier – Once you have moored up, you are all set! You will not need to worry about finding somewhere else to stay potentially for years and you can set off whenever you are ready to go.
- Expensive – Some moorings are very expensive, especially in sought after areas. You will easily pay double for staying the same length of time somewhere up North when compared to somewhere in London!
- Short supply – If you are looking for a long time and permanent mooring, sadly they are in short supply. You may have to wait a while before finding one.
- Less freedom – If you cancel a long term mooring, depending on when you cancel within your lease, you could be charged and so may feel more restricted.
There are around 130 canals across the UK spanning 2,200 miles. There are also many rivers you can moor up on that are approximately 15% of the overall inland waterways. So, as you can imagine, there is a lot of space for mooring up!
There are many locks, marinas and toe paths that allow you to moor up. You need to abide by each of the mooring spaces rules and understand that each one may charge more or offer different services.
What are the different types of mooring?
Short stay mooring
As the name suggests, these types of moorings are to be used for short stays. This varies from place to place so you will need to check signs, but usually, it is between 2 and 7 days.
Long term mooring
If you are looking for somewhere a little bit more permanent, but not a residential mooring, then a long term mooring may be best for you. These types of mooring could potentially have you for 3 months even to three years.
There are some fully serviced marinas available, as well as quiet and simple spots.
This type of mooring is only for the Winter months, typically from November through until March. You will need a certain licence for Winter mooring and will require to book online at a first come first served basis.
These types of mooring are directly managed by the canal and river trust. They are permanent or long-term mooring and are designed for you to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Again, each place varies in price and will offer various things such as car parking, showers, electricity etc.
What’s the difference between canal and river mooring?
Mooring on a canal
Mooring on a canal is easier and more common than on a river.
A canal tends to have more facilities available and are in popular areas where you can get things you need. River moorings are more like rural camping and tend to be cheaper.
A common misconception is that river mooring is free. Whilst this is the case in some places, it is certainly not a given. If you have moored up outside a farmers field or a pub, they may charge you to stay. Generally speaking though, the prices are very low (around £5).
Try not to get frustrated if you are asked to pay, the river banks do belong to them after all and they reserve the right to ask for payment.
Mooring on a river
Cruising and mooring on rivers tend to be trickier than on canals. This is because they tend to be wider and have a flow. It is definitely not impossible to do, but you will need to have a knack for it and also have the right equipment.
If you decide to moor up to a floating pontoon, if possible you should moor up against the flow of the river. Doing this will help with manoeuvrability and allow you to moor up safely.
It can be tricky to moor up on a river as is not advisable to moor alongside the riverbanks. This is because there may be rocks under the water or there may be shallow mud.
Mooring to a non-floating pontoon can be tricky. Be aware that river levels can rise and fall overnight, particularly if there is heavy rainfall. It takes time for the water to filter down, so make sure you are aware of this.
Safety also has to be taken into more consideration when mooring on a river.
Ensure you have a good size anchor with a sufficient length of chain. If your engine fails, you will not be able to stop due to the river flow and could end up in a lot of trouble!
We recommend you obtain a ships radio licence so you can have a VHF radio on board. These are always handy in an emergency situation.
Last but by no means least, make sure you have a life ring with a good amount of rope on board. You can easily become tired and go into shock if you fall overboard, so this is a big necessity.
Here are some websites for more information.
We hope you found this guide on continual cruising vs residential mooring helpful. If you have any other tips, tricks or advice, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!