It's easy to get into a mind set that the things you are familiar with are best. A year or two back I was certain that canals were better for boating than rivers. Now having done half a dozen rivers in the last year I'm not so sure. Quite apart from the scenic delights, historic interests, navigational benefits and disbenefits of each, there is one thing that really hit home this year, which was the vast disparity in mooring costs.
Now marinas are pretty expensive whether on the river or the cut, but rivers, having more space seem to have a lot more boaters clubs where you can join and share the costs of a non profit making set of moorings. The finest example we saw was the Peterborough Yacht club, but there was also the Middle Nene Cruising club, and a number of others. A boat like Herbie would be charged about £300 a year for moorings in one of these clubs. By comparison, we pay about £1700 at our (good) moorings down the Slough Arm, and would have to pay perhaps another thousand if we moored in the BW marina at the mouth of the Arm. That's a whopping difference, and really makes you think.
Setting up clubs on canals is not so easy. For one thing BW charges for the water under your boat wherever you moor, and space is limited. The the canal is ususally too narrow to allow boats anything excpet linear moorings. There are clubs in Milton Keynes and Cheddington on the southern GU but they are restricted to boats of no more than 40ft length.
What are our options then?
Should we move and try to join one of the Nene clubs? Tempting. But then you have to think of the downside. Last year the Ouse and Nene each lost two months out of the summer when these rivers were too dangerous to navigate because of the current. Likewise the Thames. At least the canal is relatively unaffected by flood. I'm not sure how good I would be at sitting at home wondering if my boat was being swept away. I'm paranoid enough as it is.
The other temptation to move is to have a new canal base for cruising so we get to do some other waters. We don't want to pay for very expensive marina moorings. What we now pay I see as a sort of limit. There are some nice cheap farm moorings like this lovely one up towards Leighton Buzzard. No electrics though, or any other services I imagine. If anyone knows any good moorings up that way I'd be pleased to have details.
There ought to be a mooring swap system, that would be good.
Or we could do what Granny Buttons does and that is move every week or two - a bit of a committment that and a bit risky but Andrew seems to manage it OK.
Or considering we're out on the boat quite a lot, why don't we pay for temporary berths in marinas etc here and there. It might work out no dearer than paying for a permanent berth that we don't occupy for weeks on end as now, although I doubt it.
I suppose it all goes to show there are a lot of options and "you pays your money and you makes your choice ". In my head this one will run and run.