The terms of my boat licence mean I’m not allowed to stay in any one place for longer than 14 days. The Canal and River Trust specify certain areas that you’re supposed to move between but as long as you move a reasonable distance they tend not to mind. If you stay in one place for too long, or stay around the same area for too long, they give you notice – then you have to move otherwise you’ll receive a fine.
My boat is quite easy to drive, once you get the hang of it, despite its length (60ft). I didn’t have to prove that I could drive it before I was granted a licence. It seems anyone can buy a boat and set themselves loose on the waterways. You learn pretty quickly how not to crash.
Moving the boat can be a pain (poor weather, have to go to work, can’t be bothered) but it’s also one of the best parts of living on the river – why have a boat if you never go anywhere? If I decide I don’t like my neighbours I can move on to the next spot. If I need to be in a particular place for work then I can move my whole house there. I tend to cruise with a group – we’ll all park our boats near each other. Most of the time friends will come on board for the ride – I appreciate the help and they love the adventure. The most people I’ve had helping me was seven people on board – with nine bikes on the roof.
I’ve been as far north as Hertford, as far south as Limehouse, and as far west as Little Venice (Paddington). I love mooring up in new parts of London that then become home for a couple of weeks.
My favourite part of cruising is waking up for the first time in my new place, and stepping onto the deck in the morning with a cup of tea to see my new view.