Friday, 2 May 2014

How To Choose a Mooring III

So now we've chosen our important features and put them in order of preference (see this blog)
We've also created a spreadsheet with useful headings (see this blog)
We first checked through their websites for more details and for a flavour of the kind of site they were describing. A word of caution here, because the flashiest sites aren’t necessarily what you are looking for and the most basic sites may not reflect the site as you see it on the ground. Some moorings simply don’t think a website is necessary and they may be all the better for it!

Now we set out to try and visit each one. Having ordered them geographically (south to north in our case) we entered their post codes on a sat nav, took a road map as backup and also marked the position in detail on an OS map. We did need all three to find marinas whose entrances had been moved or which were often invisible from country roads. Of course you can bypass all of that by simply taking your boat up and down the canal of your choice and stopping at likely places, but being in paid up moorings on the Nene with umpteen locks between us and the Grand Union we wanted to make a recce by car well in advance and plan the date of our move.

We hoped to make our visits in a single day and we wanted to record our first impressions, talking to moorers and on site staff, reading notices and brochures, checking out car parking, the quality of facilities that were of most use to us (are the loos clean? Is there convenient electricity, water, showers, laundry, pump out, gas, diesel). Can we leave the car safely while we’re afloat? Will the boat be exposed to thieves or is it secure - locked, attended? Can we stay onboard overnight from time to time even if the site doesn’t encourage liveaboards), so we made notes and took photographs to add to our spreadsheet and to bolster our memories. It’s surprisingly easy to confuse similar marinas when you’ve visited half a dozen in a day.

We made a further check of the position on the canal, asking people where to go for a convenient day trip, how readily we could access other canals, whether there were any nearby rings for longer circular journeys. Was this a long-established marina inheriting a love of boats, or a new venture intended mainly as a business? How congested does it get in busy periods?

We also noted whether travel to the mooring was conveniently close or just that bit too far when dropping in to check the battery in midwinter or polish and clean in spring. We awarded each one marks out of ten as judged by our own criteria and then talked it over at length.

Finally of course, are there any vacancies for your length of boat and will you be able to move in when you want to, for example when your present agreement expires?

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