Three types of mooring
Marina moorings are the most convenient with high levels of service and access to the boat by way of a pontoon alongside. They may also have a convenient water supply and some will have 240v electricity hook-ups at hand. Fuel may be available on site and some will also have workshop facilities, slipways, pump-out, and convenient car parking. They are also likely to have a high level of security with staff and perhaps residential boaters on site, even during the winter months. There are a large number of marinas, either in private hands or managed by British Waterways. Mooring fees vary with the level of service - and with geography - generally more expensive in the South East and central London.
British Waterways and other authorities also have simpler linear or bankside moorings on suitable lengths of the waterway. These are less expensive but will have fewer facilities, perhaps one shared water point and pump out facilities near-by. They are often in fairly rural settings and have a quiet charm of their own. Whilst most of them are on the non-towpath side of the waterway, and sometimes accessed by way of a locked gate, the level of security is obviously lower.
A number of waterway clubs have moorings of their own, on the canals and more often on the river network. They are usually linear moorings and of course membership is necessary.
Finding a mooring. Sources of information
Your first source should be your boatbuilder. Next, contact the authority on whose waters you intend to moor. British Waterways own much of the canal system and their website at www.waterscape.com has a list of moorings which is accessible by region. BW local offices are always helpful and know their region well. A series of leaflets is available from BW Customer Services (01923) 201120 describing various canals in detail usually including lists of both BW and commercial moorings.
You should also contact the Yacht Harbour Association which publishes a free information booklet, obtainable by telephoning Sue Lambert at the YHA at (01303) 814434 or by emailing her at
and visit their web site at www.berthsearch.com which lists availability of berths and provides a direct email address for each. The British Marine Federation website at www.boatingadvice.com. is also helpful. Of course you can make contact directly by visiting a major boat show.
Taking over an existing mooring
When you plan to take over a mooring - or buy an existing boat on a mooring - then you should ensure that the owner has the right to transfer that mooring to you. Not all berths are transferred automatically to the new owner. It is also wise to check with the moorings operator that the present owner has paid his mooring fees, and service charges up to date. These are sensible precautions and will apply anywhere in the country. Most berths are let on short-term agreements, usually payable quarterly and renewable annually, although in some cases leasehold arrangements may be in place.
Residential and long term moorings
Residential boaters may decide to live in one spot on a permanent residential mooring, building up a life style amongst the local community. Some owners may negotiate a permanent residential mooring in, for example, a commercial marina, for the Winter months and cruise extensively during the Summer. Most commercial operators are flexible in negotiating fees for a mooring of this kind.
Residential boaters may sometimes find a permanent berth at a marina when space is available, because they add to the general sense of security of the marina during the off season. Boat builders are also an excellent source of advice on permanent moorings (or moorings of any kind), since they know their local areas well and some may be able to offer places in their own marina or boatyard.
Some permanent BW residential moorings are available. If you intend to live afloat and take over an existing mooring belonging to BW or any other waterway authority, then you should check that the mooring is in fact a designated residential mooring and that the current owner is not simply living permanently on a “cruising” mooring.
Obtaining a residential mooring will require a good deal of
research and the important thing is to find a
mooring first. Central London moorings are
always in great demand and we have included a special section about these.
You will also need a
To moor on any managed waterway you will require an
appropriate waterways licence. Since
British Waterways manage over 2000 miles of our canal and river system
including many of the waterways in and around London, we make a
start with their arrangements. Other
waterways authorities will have similar requirements. An
application for a waterways licence must include evidence that the boat meets
Boat Safety Standards, has suitable third party insurance and complies with
BW’s mooring requirements. These are
explained in detail in BW’s General Licence Conditions.
… or a licence for a residential boat
The permanent resident or the boater who is settled only
during the Winter months and cruises during the Summer - for either of these
lifestyles you will require a Home Mooring in order to obtain a licence. Others will decide on a continuous cruising
lifestyle which does not currently require a Home Mooring.
For the ordinary residential boater the fees are the same as
those for a Pleasure Boat Licence, but start at 10.49 metres. Owners will also require
a Boat Safety Certificate and Third Party
insurance when they apply.