Now it’s time to start whittling!
We found hundreds of boats on these two sites, a lot out of budget and a lot were clearly not suitable, but it was simple to refine the searches to our criteria.
Then we arranged viewings, much as you would with a house. As boats are obviously mobile, be prepared to do some serious mileage to find your ideal future home. We didn’t restrict ourselves to the River Great Ouse, just looked for a boat that suited us which we could then move to where we wanted.
As with a house it is important to look in detail at the boat. We saw one that was lovely, except the tiles were coming off in the shower, which would have meant a costly repair job to resolve, plus water would have been getting behind then for a while so there was the possibility of rotten wood. Another that had the entire living area taken up with fixed sofas. Seriously, there wasn’t even room for a small table between them. This would have meant we would have to immediately remove one of the sofas and replace the floor covering. Another expense.
Once we had found one that fitted our décor taste we thought about the documentation. The boat should have a current license and safety certificate. This is important! If there is no license it may be impounded and without a current safety certificate it should not be on the water. Think of it like a car. You wouldn’t buy a car without a current MOT would you? While the safety certificate only says that it was safe ont he day of inspection (much like an MOT) it is less likely that there are major dangerous faults.
We travelled the length of the country looking at a variety of boats before deciding on ‘Apple of my Eye’. Some were clearly going to take some work. Some were ugly. Some were just not right for us. Be prepared to see some dogs before you find your ideal. Also, don’t rush into it. We actually viewed our final decision twice before making the purchase. As this is going to be our home for many years it was important to us that we both could see ourselves being happy there.
Also it is important to think about the restrictions on the river that you are moving to. Consider Lock widths and Bridge heights. It could be a costly mistake if your boat doesn’t accommodate these. Though if you are not planning on taking it out and simply having a floating home this isn’t so much of a worry. Personally, I don’t see the point of living on a boat and not being able to travel a little, but each to his own.