Friday, 16 September 2011

Living Aboard Part 3: Continuous Cruising

My last article on living aboard explored the mooring options that you have when deciding to live aboard. When you are looking for canal boats for sale you may be also be looking for a residential mooring. However, if you intend to become a continuous cruiser you could have some questions about the practicalities of being constantly on the move.

First, you will need to purchase a boat license for your boat or narrowboat. This is often a ‘continuous cruising’ license from British Waterways. This allows the boat to travel widely around British waterways without staying in any one place for more than fourteen days (or less where local BW signs indicate a shorter period). The Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers state that you must be engaged in a genuine, progressive journey around the network or a significant part of it. In submitting your license application, you agree to comply with the guidelines. If you want to live on a navigable river you will need to purchase a license from the appropriate local navigation authority.

For healthcare on the move you can keep your existing GP and visit a local surgery as a temporary resident as and when needed. For administrative purposes the NHS often require a local address, whether you are visiting the GP as a permanent or a temporary resident. If you cannot use the address of a local friend you may be able to offer the name of your boat, accompanied by the postcode of a local business or canal side pub.

It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a boater is eligible to pay council tax. However the British Waterways license fee covers the cost of a number of utilities a continuous cruiser may use, such as water supply and waste disposal. Boats on fixed residential moorings are liable to pay council tax and this may or may not be included in the mooring fee. Council Tax is charged on a domestic property or ‘dwelling’. Whilst a boat can be a dwelling, it cannot in law be a property.

British Waterways pays the Government a composite levy in respect of Council Tax and Business Rates. So, anyone who pays a boat license fee to BW contributes to this composite levy. BW also pays the local suppliers of sewage disposal and water and pays private contractors for rubbish disposal provided for boaters. In this way, continuous cruisers indirectly contribute to council costs.

To use a local library you will need to prove your home address or have a mailing address of some sort but it does not have to be in the area where you currently live and you do not have to register to pay Council Tax locally.

You can register to vote if you make a declaration of local connection. Contact the electoral registration officer at the council where you wish to declare a local connection, and they will supply a form for you to complete.

If you're looking for a boat to buy in London, Hertfordshire or the surrounding areas there are a number of boats for sale at Boatshed Grand Union that are ideally suited to living aboard and continuous cruising.

Disclosure: I was commissioned to write this post for the Boatshed Grand Union website. It was my choice to re-publish it here where I hope it is of interest to some of my readers.




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