When we got into boat ownership back at the start of the millennium, one of the first things we were told was to find a mooring as a priority – and then hold on to it like your life depended on it. Nonsense, of course, as we actually found a mooring – and then moved moorings – with relative ease for the first two to three years. Yes, it needed some effort and planning, and yes, it needed the old spondoolicks, but it wasn’t difficult. And then the wave of new marinas came and simplified things even further, massively reducing the need for adroit orchestration of our boat movements, and instead leaving us with the headache of ‘Well, we can go and cruise/stay anywhere now, there’s a marina. Where do you fancy?’
That liberation has seen our boats pushed around the system, up and over the Pennines all three ways, up the Trent, round almost every ring, in and out of the BCN labyrinth, down the Severn, up the Avon, setting our furthermost corners – as it currently stands – as Gloucester, Liverpool, Keadby and London. Still plenty to go at, mind, but it’s not a competition, we just enjoy the A to B and the thrill of actually ‘going’, using the boats as they were intended.
Putting into a new marina for two to three months or sometimes longer, and then using that as a base to explore the area with ‘out and backs’ before moving to a new destination, that suits us very well. Of course, such a strategy also means a fair bit of time on the road to get to whichever marina is in play, but as we live in Suffolk and want to be based on the canal system rather than the Fens, there’s a minimum two hour drive anyway. So what if sometimes that is three or four? As long as there’s a Costa on route, it’s not a problem (says she who was kicking off something rotten at the six hours it took us to get to Shropshire – well, it should only have taken three and a half!). And as long as there is boating at the end of it, when that first touch of the tiller makes it all better, well, a car journey is a small price to pay.
Obviously this isn’t something that suits everyone. I’ve seen boats in the same marina for years presumably because it’s convenient for home but if you’re one of these unlucky people who still has to work and only has holiday time to play in, doesn’t going over the same old ground start to pall after a while? And some don’t even make use of what is available to them…I was chatting to a lovely couple a few years ago in Diglis and I was asking them questions about the Severn down to Gloucester ahead of our trip. They assured me I had nothing to worry about, they were based on the G&S and had been coming up and down to Worcester and Stourport for years and years in their diddy 30 footer without a problem. I then ventured a question about the Avon, as we would be going up it on our return from Gloucester. They looked blankly at me – “Oh no dear, we’ve never done the Avon”. Well we did, and if I see that couple again, I’m going to tell them that they’ve been missing out big time! Of course, should incriminating and embarrassing webcam footage of a boat that looks like ours in Wyre lock ever come to light, I shall deny I was ever there…