How does it work?
There are two ways to live afloat. Continuous Cruising is when you do not have a mooring, and move every couple of weeks. We did this for the first couple of years, and in lots of ways it was the best time. We usually had a few friends along on the sailing day, we got to meet some weird and wonderful people and make new friends, and it was great to spend a couple of weeks at a time in so many different places (and so many different bars & restaurants).
We then took a mooring at Hackney Wick as our work commitments had changed. Moorings are let and managed by the Canal & River Trust, and you pay a monthly rent. If you wanted a mooring you would have to do this through CRT. The likelihood is, you would start of as a Continuous Cruiser before a mooring became available. Obviously outside London moorings are available, even within commuting times of London – but if you wanted a central London mooring you would have to wait for one to come up.
More info: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/boating/moorings
Is it safe?
I lived as a solo woman on the boat from Mondays to Fridays for six years and never, ever, felt unsafe, for two reasons. First, Peg is like Fort Knox. Once the doors are shut and locked it would take a stick of dynamite to get in. Second, the boating community is very strong, and people watch out for each other, both in person and online via FaceBook groups (the women’s boaters group is incredibly friendly and supportive – there’s literally nothing you can’t ask for help with). Also, the towpaths have been absolutely transformed in the last ten years or so, and the constant back and forth of cyclists, joggers, dog walkers etc means you never feel unsafe or isolated.
Isn’t it cold and damp?
I don’t do cold and damp! So the short answer is no. There is no damp whatsoever, and between the woodburner and its radiators along the one side of the boat, and the diesel-run radiators along the other (both of which run independently of each other so you can have either or both at the same time), you are guaranteed to be toasty. A couple of years ago we upgraded to a bigger woodburner which is the maximum size for the space.
What help is there for boaters?
Boating is a whole parallel economy, and people have set up every imaginable service to cater to boaters. You send a text and coal/firewood/Calor Gas/diesel suppliers will deliver to you. There are electricians, mechanics, laundry services, cleaners, carpenters, upholsterers, and even professional boaters who will move your boat for you if you need to move while you are away. Boaters’ FaceBook groups have an extensive list of people offering every conceivable service.
What are the costs of running the boat?
Everyday expenses are pretty negligible. You generate your own electricity, and mains water is free, so you only need diesel for the engine, Calor Gas for cooking and fuel for the woodburner. In total the running costs come to around £2,000 a year.
1. Insurance (just under £450 a year)
2. CRT Licence to sail on the waterways (just under £1,000 a year)
3. Dry dock for blacking and maintenance (around £1,500 every four years)
4. Boat safety certificate (around £250 every four years)
5. Annual engine service (around £150)