Buying and owning a canal boat as a holiday home provides unprecedented freedom and holiday opportunities without the huge costs of international flights and expensive hotels. If you decide to take the plunge and buy a boat (prices are typically £20,000 upwards) there are ways of ensuring you get the most from your investment so here's some useful tips.
Give thought to where you'll moor your boat. This needs to be a location that's secure but close enough to your home to make sure you'll use it without having a long journey to get there. Towns and cities, especially major cities like London, have very high mooring costs and you'll also have to pay council tax and on-costs such as electricity charges. Budgeting for these costs can help make ownership less financially stressful and your boat ownership more successful!
Just like owning a property, canal boats need maintenance, especially since the wood's exposed to water and other harsh elements all year round. The best way is to have a rolling maintenance plan (e.g. painting, replacing parts, servicing, upgrades), as well as funds stowed away for unexpected repairs.
If using your boat as a holiday home, you'll need to know that it's safe when you're not using it. Just as at home, have good door and window locks and consider a mooring that has CCTV. Insurance is a must and it's important to identify what type of cover you'll need from the various options available. As a minimum, you'll need third-party with legal expenses but it's sensible to include fire, theft and claims for weather-related situations. Top protection includes accidental damage, personal accident protection and a breakdown and rescue service.
A narrow boat is 7ft wide and up to 70ft long whereas barges are up to 12ft wide and 50ft long. Whatever size of boat you choose, it's critical to make it feel like home to make you look forward to using it for holidays. Fixtures and fittings are fabulous these days, with comfortable beds, dishwashers, washing machines, flat screen TV's, central heating and wood burning stoves. Everyone has different standards and requirements for living accommodation but the main joys are to be found in cruising along the waterways.
The more you plan your boat holidays, the more likely you are to maximize its use. The UK's awash with fabulous canal routes, for example the Stourport Ring, a series of connected canals around Birmingham, The Black Country and Worcestershire. One of the most famous features is the Dudley tunnel, the second longest tunnel on the UK canal network. If you fancy a challenge, visit the route that takes you via the Caen Hill Locks, a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal near Devises in Wiltshire.