Choosing a Marina For Your Narrowboat
Choosing a marina for your narrowboat is one of the most important decisions that you need to make before you actually buy your boat. Apart from the cost of the narrowboat it will also be one of the largest expenses.
Alternative moorings are available, such as residential moorings. These are often on-line moorings on the banks of canals or rivers. Some residential moorings are available at marinas, but the majority of marine berths are leisure moorings. If you intend to use your narrowboat for leisure purposes and are new to boating, then a marina will probably be your first choice. There are hundreds of marinas across the country, so this guide is here to help you narrow down your choice.
Marinas are usually purpose-built and have finger pontoons, which extend into the centre of the marina. Berths are located on shared pontoons and priced according to boat length. The location of the marina will also affect the price. In addition, some marinas may offer ‘luxury berths’ with their own pontoon and facilities, and these tend to have a ‘luxury’ price tag.
Location of the marina
When choosing a marina for your narrowboat, how you intend to use your boat will influence where you want to keep it. For instance, will it be a weekend retreat for short breaks? Or do you want to take long cruising holidays in the summer and keep it moored up in the winter?
If you’re intending to use your narrowboat for frequent short breaks, then a marina located within easy reach of your home will be a better option. This is less important if you’re expecting to be travelling to your narrowboat less frequently, but using it for longer trips.
Another key factor is the marina’s location on the inland waterways network. How close is it to areas that you want to explore? How far can you realistically travel on a short break and what are the options? Do you have to take the same route every time, or is the marina close to canal junctions, giving you more choice?
In turn, your choice of marina may actually influence how often you use your narrowboat. If it’s easy to get to, and the marina has great facilities and is well-managed with a sense of community amongst boaters, then you’ll be more likely to go there as often as you can.
Choosing the right marina for your narrowboat will help you to get the most enjoyment from it. It’s important to compare like with like: A marina with lots of facilities is likely to command higher fees, so you need to make sure you’re getting value for money and paying for what’s important to you.
Value for money from your mooring fees
When you’re quoted mooring fees, check what’s included in the price and what is charged extra. For example:
- Mains electricity – how is it charged? What are the usage rates, are there any additional fees for ‘higher usage’ and what does this actually mean? If you don’t know how much electricity you’re likely to use, talk to boaters at the marina and ask them how much they pay?
- Coal and gas
- Wifi or wired broadband – see if you can find out what the signal strength and broadband are actually like. Some marinas are located in areas with poor coverage so it’s important to check if you need to stay connected
- Water supply – is it metered?
- Sewage disposal
- Waste disposal
Access to your narrowboat berth
This is another important factor when choosing a marina for your narrowboat. Consider the following aspects:
- How close is the car park to the berth?
- Are there baggage carts available to use and how effective are they?
- Are the walkways wide enough and well-maintained?
- How easy is it to navigate the marina and find your berthing space when you’re operating your narrowboat?
The importance of security will depend on your own personal views and the location of the marina. If it’s close to a large residential area with local night-time entertainment then security is likely to be more important. Consider the following:
- Is there CCTV?
- Is the Marina Manager based onsite?
- Are there 24-hour security staff?
- How secure is the car park? You’ll want to be comfortable leaving your car onsite while you’re cruising along the waterways in your narrowboat.
Facilities at inland marinas vary so you’ll expect to find some or all of the following at a marina.
- Toilets and showers
- Boatyard/narrowboat maintenance services
You can check out the marina online or call up and ask what’s available, but the best advice is to go and have a good look around and see if you like what’s on offer. Also, if you’re likely to be bringing your dog (or cat) with you, then check that the marina is pet-friendly.
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