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Moorings and House Boats
Whether you plan to live on board or use your barge for weekends and holidays, it will likely influence your mooring choice and possibly the amount you pay for your new barge.
Moorings are often categorised into 3 different types, Permanent, Residential and Visitors. Permanent and Residential moorings are for your exclusive use only, and will be kept vacant for you until your return, should you decide to go cruising for a few days or even months. Visitor's moorings when vacant are for any boater use, but often have a maximum set time stay limit, maybe 12 hours, or 5 days etc. Visitors mooring may be free of charge are chargeable.
The longer your barge, the more difficult it will be to find a mooring (and to moor it!). If intending to do a lot of navigating in the
, the smaller the barge length the better, but this applies to all boats, not just barges. Mooring a 60ft barge is no more difficult than mooring a 60ft narrowboat, especially if a bow thruster is installed, but finding a mooring for an 80ft or larger barge on the UK canals will likely be much more difficult, especially in popular places. UK
Finding a good permanent mooring for a barge is often a problem, especially in and around
and other popular cities. Moorings are generally priced by length, a 60ft mooring in one of London 's popular dockland marinas will cost over £6,000 per year, but reduces to around £3,500 in some of the slightly further out dockland marinas. Moorings along the River Medway in London are popular amongst barge owners, most of these will be in the £2,000 (half tide) to £3,500 (outside floating pontoons) region, depending upon location and services. The down side is, it is salt water which is not so kind to steel vessels as fresh and that most are drying out moorings (sitting on mud when the tide goes out), on the other hand you do not have to worry about emptying toilet tanks, as this is normally discharged directly into the tidal river. Kent
Most moorings come with some services, likely water and electric, but some will have phone lines available, allocated parking, pump out facilities and some even have sewage connection. Some moorings will charge extra for electric usage etc, others include it in the rent.
Many permanent moorings are classified as non residential only, this may be because the local authorities refuse to give permanent mooring licenses or because the mooring operators do not want live aboards on their moorings. Sometimes these issues can be overcome by doing some cruising during the year and keeping a low profile, thus making it look 'non-residential. But more and more mooring operators are promoting residential mooring because of the natural added security factor it attracts of having people around 24 hours per day, so it is increasing more often only the local authorities who oppose residential mooring status. Many landlords are reluctant to sign any formal 'residential' contract, but are willing to turn a blind eye. Residential moorings are often available VAT free, but then normally Council Tax payments may have to be made. Local authorities vary considerably in their attitudes to residential moorings.
Another option is to purchase your own mooring. Not such a popular option, but they do come up from time to time in canal magazines and local newspapers adverts.
A further option is to not have a permanent mooring, but to 'continuously' cruise, and use 'visitors' moorings. If you have no 'work' ties etc, this can be a very good economical solution. British Waterways do not seem to encourage boaters to stay in one place for long periods at a time without payment, but if you are happy to move from area to area, this is without doubt the cheapest alternative.
Around 15,000 people are thought to live afloat in the
. Some cruise continuously, some are permanent and others mix cruising and mooring. The majority of these people love living afloat and have no desires to move to 'conventional' dry land homes. UK
Some barge mooring options in the South East of England area (around London) are listed under theweb page.
Generally, new Dutch Barges and wide beam river barges do not come under the 'House Boat' Category. HM Customs and Excise (Item 2 group 9) states......"Houseboats being boats or other floating decked structures designed or adapted for use solely as places of permanent habitation and not having means of or capable of being readily adapted for, self-propulsion"
Barges are generally 'capable' of being adapted for self-propulsion (for example by installing an engine or or a propeller or a mast). Barges (and yachts) and are therefore unlikely to be categorised as houseboats for VAT purposes because they are either capable of self-propulsion or they can be readily adapted.
Generally, there is currently no VAT payable on the private sale of a houseboat.
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Last updated 31 January 2012