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Mid life crises and liveaboard friendly marinas in the UK

ryanroberts

Active member
Joined
25 Jul 2019
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589
So I have been planning a move back to land (while getting a starter boat somewhere on the east coast) from my cruising narrowboat couple life of the last 8 years and it seems things may turn out to be a little more dramatic than that. The time I would want to dedicate to sailing being one of the many problems (she decided to hate boats some time after we got qualified).

So as I am already used to living in an off grid wooden corridor with marginal home comforts and fixing stuff all the time the idea of scrambling onto the property ladder via a divorce flat doesn't really sit well with me. I'd like to try not sucking at sailing, living a proper cruising life at some point, so would be moving to a coastal town to do favours for sailors anyway if/when things go down.

I'm a software dev, not skint by canal standards despite crashing a startup. Currently working remote but that unfortunately can't be relied on forever so it would be sensible to be within an hour or so train ride of the joys of London (money). I read on this forum that Ipswich Haven was liveaboard friendly, is that still the case and are there any others?
 
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stephen_h

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4 Aug 2009
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229
Brighton always used to have a lot of livaboards and quick links to London and good sailing nearby at the Solent.
 

V1701

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1 Oct 2009
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South Coast UK
Most tolerate the odd liveaboard but yes Brighton Marina is huge and there are many of us living FT here, I have for the last 10 years or so. I work locally so don't have to fortunately but the commute to London is extremely uncivilised...
 

AndrewB

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7 Jun 2001
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Corfu
This question comes up quite regularly but looking back, recent threads are not all that helpful, apart from mentioning Brighton.

A good many UK marinas will tolerate liveaboards even when they have a 'no-liveaboard' clause in their contract. Over the years I was a liveaboard in five such. It is not straightforward to find out which these are, as existing liveaboards may be wary of publicising them - it is part of the unwritten deal that one keeps a low profile, as the marina will be bending council regulations.

The way to find out is to visit them. If you ask about a berth, it is tactless to question straight out if they allow liveaboards. Those that definitely will not allow liveaboards are generally upfront about this, e.g. tell you the maximum number of nights you are permitted to sleep aboard. Also, look round for signs of liveaboarding. At this time of year, evening cabin lights in boats midweek is a pretty good indicator of liveaboards. Fixed TV dishes is another.

Of course, if you become a liveaboard on these terms, you have no council tax but also absolutely no security of tenure. The boat must be kept in seaworthy condition and preferably taken out occasionally. Lack of a registered address can prove a problem in a number of ways, e.g. with credit, insurance, mail. But these are surmountable.
 
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ryanroberts

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25 Jul 2019
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589
Thanks for the replies (and the PMs). The politics seem similar to inland, without the option to practically live on anchor/lighterman's hitch. I'm used to a lot of the issues with life on a cruising boat and think I can handle the lack of a washing machine and huge battery bank with a shoreline during the week. Barcelona seems to be importing a lot of nerds right now, so that's another possibility.
 
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V1701

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1 Oct 2009
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South Coast UK
I know where I'd be going if I had to choose between Brighton (with London commute) and barcelona! I think you'd get away with being a quiet liveaboard in most UK marinas, some of the more snooty south coast ones is where you'd more likely have a problem. I don't think Barcelona is particularly expensive either...
 

Quiddle

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26 May 2003
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Eastern Atlantic seaboard
How often do you need to visit London? There are plenty of marinas with a welcoming policy towards liveaboards within a couple of hours flight, usually for less cost than train fares. Porto, Bilbao, Gib, Algarve, N. France.
 

James_Parrot_3

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13 Dec 2019
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2
How often do you need to visit London? There are plenty of marinas with a welcoming policy towards liveaboards within a couple of hours flight, usually for less cost than train fares. Porto, Bilbao, Gib, Algarve, N. France.
Very interesting the fact that there are several marina's /harbors in Northern France that accept live a boards. If you have time I would like to hear about them and locations as I will be moveing to Calais next spring and will need a permanent mooring.
 

laika

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6 Apr 2011
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Limbo
FWIW Brighton Marina (contract has max 40-odd nights aboard per year) is not "an hour or so's train ride" from London. For a normal-ish start time somewhere in the city or canary wharf you probably want to catch the 6:37 from Brighton. That means the 5:50 bus from the marina (should it be on time) which is 10 mins walk from the east Jetty. If it doesn't show up the next one is at 6:20. The whole walk-to-the-shower-block-walk-back thing adds time over a house-dweller's stumble to the bathroom. If you work somewhere which requires suits and ties ironing is another bit of awkwardness to solve living aboard.

Bottom line: Brighton Marina -> London, a full day's work then home is going to involve *bare minimum* 5 hours per day commute. Oh was it fun during the southern rail disputes.
 

PlanB

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5 Sep 2004
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1,555
Chatham Maritime used to tolerate a few liveaboards (who kept a tidy environment) when my boat was there (2002-5). Provided you don't mind the schlep up the river (and the lock - wind and tide!) it's a well situated, nicely run marina. Five mins drive to Chatham station - 40 mins to London.
 

ashtead

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17 Jun 2008
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Surrey and Gosport UK
You could have a look at a number of Gosport marinas but I would thought somewhere like emsworth with trains from Havant might be worth checking out . Ideally surely a stay at St Katherines avoids all
that commuting if city working needed ?
 

John_Silver

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19 Mar 2004
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211
Location
St Mary's Island
Hoo Marina (on the Medway) is a dedicated liveaboard marina. No need to hide your light under a bushel there - and similar access to The Smoke to Chatham......
 

ryanroberts

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25 Jul 2019
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589
You could have a look at a number of Gosport marinas but I would thought somewhere like emsworth with trains from Havant might be worth checking out . Ideally surely a stay at St Katherines avoids all
that commuting if city working needed ?
Had a berth at Limehouse for a narrowboat for a year while contracting, was a tad heavy on the wallet. I think they are less keen on Liveaboards now not BMWL, St Kat's must be worse. I currently mostly work remote, so it's hopefully not a 9-5 thing any time soon.
 

tinker13

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11 Nov 2015
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19
I've lived in 2 marinas on the south-coast (Solent area) and I'v let them both know that I was going to be a live aboard although they stated that they don't allow liveaboards, both were very happy to take my money and look the other way. I think that the key to being a liveaboard in a marina is to not make a big deal of it, keep a low profile and be nice to everyone. I've seen other liveaboards have problems because of either their attitude and not applying some common sense. Think about it, if somebody parks their pride and joy in a marina and its their down time and happy place where they go to get away, they won't be happy if they're parked next to someone who's making the environment unpleasant for others. The example I can give having seen it, is having a totally unseaworthy boat with 3 big dogs, half covered in a tarp and hogging the washing machines in the laundrette while using the pontoon as a storage area... all things I've seen liveabaords do that have resulted in them being asked nicely to leave. Stuff that's obviously going to get up the nose of other recreational users who also pay a lot to keep their boats there and the staff. I'm in a marina in Portsmouth right now and 'they don't allow liveaboards'.... so far it's been great. I get all my post here and I get on great with the staff. Just apply some common sense and I think that you can live aboard in most marinas. Money talks and they've all got empty berths.
 

V1701

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1 Oct 2009
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3,589
Location
South Coast UK
I've lived in 2 marinas on the south-coast (Solent area) and I'v let them both know that I was going to be a live aboard although they stated that they don't allow liveaboards, both were very happy to take my money and look the other way. I think that the key to being a liveaboard in a marina is to not make a big deal of it, keep a low profile and be nice to everyone. I've seen other liveaboards have problems because of either their attitude and not applying some common sense. Think about it, if somebody parks their pride and joy in a marina and its their down time and happy place where they go to get away, they won't be happy if they're parked next to someone who's making the environment unpleasant for others. The example I can give having seen it, is having a totally unseaworthy boat with 3 big dogs, half covered in a tarp and hogging the washing machines in the laundrette while using the pontoon as a storage area... all things I've seen liveabaords do that have resulted in them being asked nicely to leave. Stuff that's obviously going to get up the nose of other recreational users who also pay a lot to keep their boats there and the staff. I'm in a marina in Portsmouth right now and 'they don't allow liveaboards'.... so far it's been great. I get all my post here and I get on great with the staff. Just apply some common sense and I think that you can live aboard in most marinas. Money talks and they've all got empty berths.
Spot on! I think the 3 big dogs boat is the same one who has been "moved on" from at least two marinas, last time I believe the boat was towed out of one and parked in another marina where he probably wouldn't behave much differently. There's an issue on my pontoon with an inconsiderate dog owner at the moment and there's another owner already in the process of being moved on due to doggy issues. These are the same people you wouldn't want as neighbours wherever you lived but fortunately they can be moved on. I've complained about noise a few times & the marina are pretty good and quick to respond if someone is behaving unreasonably but in 10 years here I've had remarkably few issues, the vast majority of people are friendly, respectful and good to get to know...
 

bendyone

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19 Jan 2003
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5,150
Location
Oxford
Very interesting the fact that there are several marina's /harbors in Northern France that accept live a boards. If you have time I would like to hear about them and locations as I will be moveing to Calais next spring and will need a permanent mooring.
I moor in Calais but not as a livaboard. There are a few there.
 

Njs-Rodrigues

New member
Joined
22 Nov 2020
Messages
8
Hi everyone.
New to the forum so please go easy with me.
Me and the Mrs are in the process of buying a sailboat and we are planning to live as liveaboards. We caught the sailing bug!!
I may have made a mistake already but i did ring around a few marinas around the Brighton and Portsmouth areas for a liveaboard berth.... not surprisingly they all told me that they do not allow liveaboards. So at the moment we are desperately looking for berth for our boat for early next year (hopefully)
Any advise or information will be greatly appreciated.
Please if anyone has any ideas do get in contact.

Thank you for listening everyone...
 

ryanroberts

Active member
Joined
25 Jul 2019
Messages
589
Never mention the fact you are living or intend to live on the boat, marinas rarely have permission for this but many will turn a blind eye.
 
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