The charity making life better by water

How we monitor boat movement

As part of having any kind of boat licence, all boats need to move every 14 days (or sooner depending on the mooring sign), unless you’re on your home mooring of course.

Licence Support Officer checks boat licences in London

One of the great things about boating is the freedom to tie up almost anywhere. But with around 35,000 boats sharing 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, some rules to fairly share the mooring space are helpful.

These rules are set out in your licence terms and conditions – and mooring time limits apply to all boats - no matter what type of licence you have.

Please respect the time limits

Whether you are a continuous cruiser or cruising away from your home mooring, everyone's boat licence includes permission to tie up for a short time along the towpath. These are either:

  • 14 days (no longer)
  • 7 days
  • 48 hours
  • or whatever length of time the sign along the towpath shows if you're at a visitor mooring

Share the mooring space

If you need to stay somewhere longer, please be sensitive to other boaters' short term mooring needs and if need be, find a home mooring.

Tell us if you have an emergency

If you need to stay longer because your boat's broken down, you've had an incident or accident or become ill, please contact your local boat licence customer support officer or contact us using our web contact form to request an extended stay.

Recording all boat movements

Have you met one of our local monitoring teams or rangers on the towpaths?

They monitor all boat movements (not just continuous cruisers) and help to make sure everyone keeps to their licence terms and conditions. When our team record the location of a boat, they mark which kilometre of waterway it's on.

Boat Sightings on my Web Licensing Account. FAQs.

Customers can now see their recorded boat sightings on their web licensing customer account. Below are some frequently asked questions we hope will help you use this information.

How do you take sightings?

We have a team of licensing rangers, who record sightings of all the boats across our 2000 mile network. We aim to cover the whole network at least every 14 days. We also have other colleagues, including mooring rangers and volunteers, that support us by taking additional boat sightings. The details of boats are input to a tablet and uploaded to our system, where the sightings are recorded against each boat.

What is a Functional Location (Floc)?

We use functional locations to identify each kilometre of our network. A Floc is made up of Two letters, denoting the waterway, followed by three numbers, which denote the kilometre length on that waterway. Some Flocs will include a second set of three numbers, which indicate a specific feature on the kilometre length.

For example, a mooring site on the 50th kilometre of the Grand Union canal may look like this: GU-050-011.

If your boat is sighted when not at a recorded feature, the Floc will only contain the first set of three numbers, for example, on the 106th kilometre of the Kennet & Avon canal: KA-106

How can I find where a Functional Location (Floc) is?

Our interactive map allows you to search by inputting your Floc. This will show you where a particular Floc is. If you know a location and want to find out its Floc, you can search by place name or zoom in on the map. Clicking/tapping on the canal or any features (bridges, locks, etc.), will show you the Floc number.

Can I see all my sightings?

You can see sightings since the boat has been allocated to your Web Licensing account. We will delete data once no longer required for the purpose it was collected.

Because licences are issued monthly, you will not be able to see sightings from the last 28 days. This ensures that a previous owner’s data is not shared with a new owner in the event of a change of ownership mid-month. These sightings will become available after 28 days, on a rolling basis.

Please do not contact us to request the 1st month’s sightings as the time taken to provide them will exceed the time in which they are available on your Web Licensing account.

What do I do if there are missing sightings?

Our sightings are taken regularly and reliably, but because of boat movement and the schedule our rangers maintain, we sometimes miss each other.

We only need to know about your missed sighting if you continuously cruise and the sighting would extend the overall range of your cruising, or if the missed sighting has resulted in you receiving an overstay reminder or other notice from us.

We can update your record when you provide us with the details of a missed sighting with the appropriate evidence (see How should I log my cruising?)

What if there’s a sighting I don’t recognise?

Don’t worry straight away! We may not use the same names for mooring sights or bridges, for example, as are used locally. Check the sighting against our interactive map to check if it is correct. This should resolve most concerns.

On occasion, there may be an error at the point of the sighting being captured. This is rare, but our rangers are human and sometimes mistakes happen. If this is the case, we’re sorry, and will spot the incorrect sighting in our review process and mark it accordingly. You do not need to take any action.

If you still have concerns, or are seeing repeated or numerous incorrect sightings, please contact your local officer or our customer service team on 0303 040 4040.

How should I log my cruising?

We recommend that all boaters, particularly continuous cruisers, maintain a cruising log. This helps if there is ever any concern about our sightings.

A cruising log should record the locations where you moor your boat and should be evidenced by photographs with date and location data. Most smart phones allow you to record the location and date information within the photograph file. You may need to turn on location data in your camera settings (for android turn on “add location” in camera settings. For iPhone open the settings app, select “Privacy”, “Location Services”, and then “Camera”, allowing location settings “whilst using the app”).

If you have a digital camera, or do not want to turn on location settings on your smart phone, please take photos showing the boat at an identifiable location, for example a local landmark or by Canal & River Trust signage. Date stamps can be included on digital camera photographs in the camera’s settings.

We may accept other documentary evidence of cruising, but only if we are satisfied of its suitability.

Without evidence to support a written cruising log, we may not accept any additional cruising recorded in it.

If you need to provide us with additional sighting information, please contact your local officer or our customer service team on 0303 040 4040.

What if I can’t access my Web Licensing account sightings?

If you cannot access your sightings data, please contact our team by email at [email protected] or our customer service team on 0303 040 4040. It is important that you let the team know that you cannot access your sightings, so they can provide them in a different way.

Continuous cruising monitoring process

Early in 2015 we introduced a new process to monitor the movement of boats without a home mooring (continuous cruisers). Here you'll find some information about how we monitor these boat movements, why we have to do it, and what it might mean for you:

What happens if boats don't move on?

If our boat licence customer support team record that a boat hasn't moved after 14 days (or less depending on the visitor sign), whether they're on a visitor mooring or just mooring on the towpath, we'll send that boater a 'reminder' letter asking them to either continue their journey or to get in touch with our team if there's a problem preventing them from continuing their journey.

Last Edited: 08 December 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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