Getting afloat: a beginners' guide to boating

If you've been dreaming about cruising our canals and rivers in your own boat then you've come to the right place. Here's a handy guide for everyone new to boat ownership.

Lots of hire boats on the move Lots of hire boats on the move

Before you buy your own boat, check out our check list:

  1. Take a boating holiday first - just to see if the lifestyle is for you
  2. Research all the costs: licences, mooring fees, marina fees, insurance, safety certificates, fuel - try putting together a budget before you buy to see if things add up?
  3. Size is everything - if you want to stay in one place and need just that bit more room then a wide beam may work. But if you want to explore our 2,000 miles of waterways (and beyond, as there are over 3,000 miles of navigable inland waterways in England and Wales) then you'll need a narrowboat
  4. Mooring or moving? If you have a regular job, your children go to a particular school or you need to be near facilities such as a hospital then continuously cruising the canals is unlikely to work for you so you'll need to think about where your home mooring will be
  5. Starting a business - perhaps you're considering a life afloat because you also want to start a business? Read our boating business information first

Taking to the water is a major lifestyle choice. One that can bring a calming sense of wellbeing thanks to the water lapping against your boat as the sun beams across your deck of a morning. But in the middle of a dark, rainy, cold winter's night and you're out of electricity, things can seem very different. So take a look at all our advice, guidance, boaters' handbook and boating blogs - much of it inspired by real life boaters - before you embark on your own personal journey of a lifetime.

Last date edited: 7 January 2021