London’s waterways reach crisis point

Published: Wednesday, 23 August 2017

WITH a massive influx of boats on London's waterways they have reached crisis point with genuine visiting boaters unable to find moorings anywhere.

Two separate instances have caused the problem—people unable to afford the high property prices in the capital now living on boats and more and more continuous cruisers descending on its waterways.

Very attractive

A boat can appear a very attractive alternative for people struggling with ever rising rents and house prices, plus Canal & River Trust state that there are now nearly 2,000 continuous cruisers now populating  the city's waterways, though perhaps another of its exaggerated statistics.

Jess Liberty and her partner Barry bought a rather run down 45ft boat for £7,000, moored in Little Venice, she tells Inews, that all it costs is the price of a licence of £700 a year, just a fraction of what they were previously paying in rent, with no mention of all the other expenses or any mooring charge.

Romanticised view

But another, Jon, tells that passers-by are liable to hold a romanticised view of boat dwelling and may attempt to make the transition 'because they think it’s cool, rather than because they truly understand the lifestyle, but they don’t realise how much hard work is involved—they don’t think about when it’s pissing rain and you have to move on'. 

Others tell of having to move then encountering the problems of finding somewhere to moor, which is becoming impossible on the city's waterways.

The Chairman of the Residential Boat Owners’ Association, has his own view:

"Buying a boat in hopes of getting a foothold on the property ladder is not a wise move, a boat is a chattel, and it’s a depreciating chattel. There’s only one sensible reason to live on a boat and that’s because you really want to do it."


People making the change from land to boat living little realise that there is no mains water supply, but a tank that has to be constantly filled; gas bottles that have to be transported and changed; coal bought in if the boat has a stove and of course maintenance.

It was just two weeks ago that Evelyn Goods told us that she and her partner gave up boat living after Porta Potti problems, realising they hold very little so require changing very often that was too much of a chore. She had expected mains sewage connection.

One person living on a boat in the capital, Alan, solved the problem by installing  a lavatory where he kept solids from liquids, pouring the liquids into the canal and the solids in a container emptied once a month...