Your questions answered


If you’ve yet to buy a boat, a good place to start is to have a look at our boats for sale. We act as an impartial broker for a private party who wishes to sell their boat. Viewings are available at all of our marinas 7 days per week.

Visit ABC Boat Sales

When buying a boat, you have the option of marine finance, which is much like a mortgage you’d have when buying a house. Most banks and other third parties offer this service. We can advise however marine finance is not something we offer as a company.

We are a member of The Boat Retailers & Brokers Association and would always recommend that you buy a boat from a reputable broker.

Every time we sell a boat for our clients we do so under contract in a transparent fashion so every transaction is legally binding and above board.

Before you buy any boat, we always recommend that you buy it conditional upon a survey. The surveyor should always be impartial and not under the employ of the broker you’re buying from. We suggest a full out of the water survey and valuation for all of the boats that we sell on behalf of our clients.

The basics

Whether you buy a boat new or used, you will need a Canal & River Trust Licence. There are various types of licences depending on what you use your boat for, for example, continuous cruising licences differ from non-continuous cruising licences.

The CRT licences cover all Inland Waterways governed by the Canal & River Trust and do not cover waterways run by other authorities, such as the River Thames and the River Avon.

For more information on licences, go here.

All craft on the Inland Waterways have to be insured. Various companies offer comprehensive boat insurance across various packages. They will take into account the age of the boat, the type of boat and where the boat is located. To obtain a Canal & River Trust licence, your boat must be insured.

As well as having a licence and boat insurance, your boat must also have a valid BSS (Boat Safety Scheme) Certificate. This is very much like having an MOT on a car, only the BSS has to be done every 4 years. Being awarded a BSS certificate signifies that your boat has conformed to all relevant and up to date standards.

The BSS certificate is a requirement.

If you’re new to boating and would like to learn more about how to correctly handle them and navigate the waterways and so on, you can do an RYA Helmsman course.

Click here for more information.


Residential moorings enable you to have a permanent home for you and your narrowboat and is sometimes referred to as a ”live aboard”. These moorings are subject to all conditions set out by the local authority / council.
This means that you have a permanent home for your boat, but you do not live on board full time.
There are many mooring locations around the whole system that allow anybody with a CRT licence to moor there freely on a temporary basis. The amount of time varies from 24 hours, to 2 weeks. There are places, such as wharfs and marinas that offer temporary moorings however because these are private facilities, a daily charge will apply.

Moorings are charged monthly or annually. The costs vary depending on the location of the mooring, the type of mooring and the length of the boat. As a guide only, between £30 to £50 per foot per year is accurate. Residential moorings often cost more. All Canal & River Trust temporary canal moorings are free of charge.

Use our mooring costs calculator


No. Most of them are though, but there are still a few canals that remain ‘closed off’ such as the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal in South Wales and the Forth & Clyde up in Scotland. Should you wish to cruise these canals, you’ll have to get your boat transported by road.
Generally, the canal is between 4 and 6 feet in depth however some are much more shallow than others. The deepest part of the canal tends to be in the middle.
Generally speaking, no. Canals have various ‘run offs’ or weirs that make sure any excess water filters through as opposed to making that stretch of canal flood.
It is not recommended that you swim in the canal.
The term ‘pound’ refers to a small stretch of canal that is in between 2 locks.


Yes you can, however most rivers are governed by a local authority with their own specific rules and licencing requirements – For example, the River Thames has different rules than the River Avon. For specific details, please contact the relevant authority.

On rivers, you can only moor at certain places and not to the river bank. These locations are clearly marked in maps and guides and sometimes carry a mooring charge.

Because rivers have currents, it’s always wise to moor facing against the current.

Cruising on a river is different from a canal, as rivers almost always have a current.

These currents can have an impact on your cruising when going up and down stream. When going up stream (against the current) you may need to use more throttle power to compensate for the flow pushing against your boat, and likewise when you’re heading with the current so as to keep control of the boats speed and direction.

Not all, but some rivers are tidal. You will need to factor this in when mooring by only mooring to floating pontoons at designated mooring locations.


A towpath is a ‘path’ running along side the canal which was historically used for the horses to walk on when they pulled, or towed the engine-less narrow boats through the water.
The towpath is free for anyone to use whether you own a boat or not. You’ll find walkers, cyclists, runners, boaters and fishermen along the towpaths on a daily basis.
No. There are some areas where the canal towpath stops. For example, some long tunnels do not have a towpath running through them. These areas are clearly marked in all maps and guides.
You can fish on the towpath however you may need a rod licence to do so. These can be obtained at any post office. Some areas of the canal are reserved for ‘members only’ fishing groups and your standard rod licence will not cover these areas.

Still have more questions? Contact us.