Continuous cruising

Continuous cruisers are a big part of the draw to our waterways and bring a sense of vibrancy to our canals and rivers.

Crick and Grand Union Canal Crick and Grand Union Canal

It’s not just the vibrancy of this section of the boating community that everyone loves. Continuous cruisers also bring more tangible things such as improved towpath security and early identification of maintenance issues.

But what is it really like?

Hard work. Could you honestly say you'd enjoy trudging along the towpath with firewood when the rain is horizontal and the wind chill is -5C. Of course, it’s not like that every day, but you should expect as many depressingly cold, wet and grey days as well as gloriously sunny ones.

There are other factors - monitoring battery and water levels, emptying sanitary tanks, the list goes on – that make it a more challenging lifestyle than you might first think.

What rules do I have to follow as a continuous cruiser?

The law says that you must not stay in the same place for more than 14 days and that you must use your boat 'bona fide' for navigation - in other words 'in good faith'. If you can't do this easily, you should choose the home mooring option instead.

We care for 2,000 miles of canals and rivers so we have to interpret the law relating to continuous cruisers. We have to translate it into something that not only creates a framework for our Boat Licence Support team to apply consistently, but also something that is clear for boaters. This has been done, and revised over many years and it’s called the ‘Guidance for boaters without a home mooring’.

Do read the guidance in full, but in a nutshell, it explains that you must use the boat to genuinely cruise (A to B to C to D rather than A to B to A to B) from place to place and must not stop for more than 14 days in any one place. If you're planning on continuously cruising then it's best to get an idea of the movement pattern we'd expect you to be doing over the course of your licence period.

What happens if I don’t follow the rules?

If your cruising pattern isn’t wide ranging enough or you stay in one place for too long then initially we would restrict your licence. If you continue to break the rules we might refuse a future licence without a home mooring but rest assured that we will always contact you beforehand to give you as much time as possible to get in touch with us.

Ultimately, we want every single continuous cruiser to understand that, while we don’t like doing it, if you consistently break the rules we might have to remove your boat from the water. We don’t ever do this lightly and it is our last resort after a series of clear written warnings.

Despite the hard work, continuous cruising can be an incredibly liberating and rewarding lifestyle. It’s your responsibility to ensure you know the rules but, that said, if you’re considering it talk to your local licence support officer who’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons. Alternately, get in touch with the Residential Boat Owners Association – they're a great source of advice and information.

Boaters make our waterways what they are. Together we can keep our canals and rivers flowing and open to all.

Last date edited: 26 November 2018