Learn about life afloat the easy way

Life on a narrowboat can be as peaceful as it is idyllic BUT you need to understand the pros, cons, highs, lows, and day to day logistics in living on England's inland waterways. Let me help you find out all you need to know before you commit to what could be a very expensive mistake.

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Choosing A Marina For Your Narrowboat

This article was written for narrowboat owners but whether you own a seagoing yacht, a barge, a cruiser or a narrowboat, you still need somewhere to moor. Many, if not all of the following considerations will apply to you.

There are literally hundreds of marinas to choose from. Not all of them will be able to offer the services, facilities or location to suit your needs. Think carefully before you make your decision. You will have to commit to a minimum term wherever you moor so careful consideration is a must.

Type Of Mooring

Are you considering living on your boat? It’s probably not for you, but if you are considering a life on board, make sure that you do your homework before you even think about buying your boat. Good residential moorings are VERY hard to come by. Most marinas will not allow you to live on board. And even if you find one where residential moorings are allowed, make sure that the terms suit you.

Mooring Fees – Beware Of The Hidden Extras

Make sure that you understand what you are paying for. Does the mooring fee include all charges or are you likely to receive bills for services that you thought were included?

Many marinas now offer Wi-Fi or even wired broadband. Is this included in the price? It’s also worth checking with other moorers at the marina to establish the signal strength and download speed. Many marinas offering Wi-Fi are in areas where the signal is likely to be poor.

What is the charge for mains electricity to your boat? Are there any additional charges other than the electricity you use?

Some marinas charge an additional sum for “high usage” moorers. What is the high usage criteria and the resulting charge?

What is the charge for sewage disposal, gas and coal?

Make sure that you fully understand the total cost that you can expect to pay for all of the above. If you aren’t sure what consumables you can expect to use, ask another moorer at the marina.

Choosing Your Marina Location

How often are you going to use your boat and how important is it to you to have your boat moored close to your home. A marina that is perfect in every other respect may have to be discounted if the journey there and back is long and painful.

You also need to consider whether the marina’s location gives you easy access to the routes you want to explore on your boat. The more central the marina is to your intended area of exploration, the less time you will spend getting there


Many people use their boat to get away from the noise, and thethe hustle and bustle of day to day life. Make sure that your intended marina offers the peace and quiet you crave. How close is it to the nearest railway or main road? Is the marina on a flight path and, if so, how often do planes darken the skies?

How close is the marina to PEOPLE? If you want peace and quiet on your boat, the last thing you want is large numbers of people passing you. Find out where the nearest housing is. Find out if the marina is close to any night spots which might spoil your evening tranquillity. Ask other moorers if there is a noise problem.

Marina Site Security

If the marina IS close to housing or evening entertainment, what security is in place to ensure that both you and your boat are safe?

Marina Facilities

What facilities will you need when you are on your boat? Of course you will need sewage disposal. You will probably want mains electricity and you will probably need a ready supply of gas and coal. Does the marina provide these basics?

You may also like to have a chandlery on site. You might prefer the marina to have a cafe, bar or restaurant. If the marina can’t accommodate your off-boat wining and dining, how far do you have to go to find somewhere to eat and drink? Will you need to get a taxi there? ARE there taxis available? Where is the nearest grocery store?

You will probably spend a fair amount of time just relaxing on your boat at the marina. If you have a dog is there anywhere to go for a walk. Some marina sites encompass additional woodland or pastures for you to use as recreation.

Calcutt Boats Marina woodland walk

Calcutt Boats Marina woodland walk

Medical Care

Are you likely to need to visit a doctor, a dentist or a hospital? How far are they away from the marina? If you need to use public transport, how easy are they to get to?

Marina Management

You may want to leave your boat at the marina year after year so you will probably need to interact with marina staff or management on a regular basis. Ask other moorers how they feel.

Access To Your Boat

How close to your boat will you be able to park your car? No matter how fit and active you are, you don’t want to carry provisions and luggage great distances to and from your boat. Some marinas offer baggage carts for moorers to transport equipment but you need to make sure that they are practical to use. Make sure that the walkways are wide enough and obstruction free and that the ground is firm.

Mooring Space

Will you have your own pontoon giving you clear access to the marina entrance or will you have to ask other moorers or the marina management to move other boats so that you can get in and out?

You will have invested a considerable sum in the purchase and upkeep of your boat. If you choose a mooring that is less than idea – or if you fail to find a suitable mooring at all, you may find that you use your boat less than originally intended. But if you pay attention to the above considerations, your marina selection should be successful and your boating a pleasure.

Useful Information
Paul Smith

After six and a half years living on a narrowboat on England's inland waterways, Paul and his wife Cynthia now wander Europe by motorhome during the winter, and on the Dutch and French waterways in the warmer months on their 32' Dutch motor cruiser.

  • treepoet Tuesday,4 January, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks for such informative information 🙂

  • Gary Saturday,15 January, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    The information here is very helpful. Marina websites only tell you what they want you to here and not what you actually want to know – nice to know someone else can provide.

  • Zoe Wednesday,26 January, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Hi there.
    We are a young couple who are very interested in living full time on a narrowboat/barge. Does anyone know of any residential moorings in the shropshire/west mids are. Also, what types of fees we could expect from this? Totally new to this lifestyle but both serious about wanting to begin our plans. All and any information/tips/advice would be most welcome.

    Many Thanks

    Zoe & James

    • admin Wednesday,26 January, 2011 at 7:25 pm

      Hi Zoe… If you use the menu a the top of the page and click on marinas by waterway/canals/Shropshire Union canal you will find the marinas there. At this stage I don’t know if any are residential but I do know of one couple at Overwater marina who live on board when they aren’t cruising. As far as mooring fees are concerned, you can expect to pay £2,000 – £2,500p.a. for a marina mooring. Please note that some marinas charge a premium if you live on board. If you haven’t done so already, make sure that you subscribe to the Living On A Narrowboat newsletter. I will be publishing a post soon detailing all the costs you can expect to incur living on a narrowboat.