Residential Boat Owners Association

Welcome to the Residential Boat Owners' Association

Last Updated: 27th July, 2015

Established in 1963 the Residential Boat Owners' Association is the only national organisation which exclusively represents and promotes the interests of people living on boats in the British Isles.  We represent all those who have chosen to make a boat their home – whether that boat is static or cruises; is based inland or on the coast; has a permanent or temporary mooring (whether residential or not) or continuously cruises – all are residential boaters.  We also welcome as Associate members those not yet living afloat, but who are considering doing so. If you live on a boat, become a member. You can do this online. Or if you don't live on a boat yet, why not start with the Question and Answer section of this website?


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The RBOA's address for all postal correspondence:

Residential Boat Owners' Association, 10 Rectory Close, Crick, NN6 7SY.

Owing to the resignation of chairman Jim Owen, RBOA is now headed by  Interim Chairman Alan Wildman.


Written by RBOA members, our book about life afloat, with 96 pages, including numerous colour photographs, contains pretty much everything you'd want to know about living on a boat.  Members describe a variety of personal experiences, including raising a family, getting healthcare, and keeping pets on board.  There is a wealth of advice, from deciding on the size and type of craft, whether to buy new or secondhand, and what you are looking for inside the boat.

See the RBOA Merchandise page for details of how to order, online with Paypal or by post.

FREE LEAFLET - So you want to live on a boat?

In conjunction with Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways) and the Environment Agency, the RBOA has produced an introductory leaflet for those thinking of living on a boat. If you would like a copy, please send a stamped, self-addressed C5 envelope (i.e. to take a folded A4 sheet) to the RBOA at the address above.  Any businesses requiring multiple copies can obtain these by emailing


Soundings is the RBOA's bi-monthly magazine, which is circulated free to all members. It contains a mix of updates on national and local issues specific to residential boating, and letters and articles from members on a range of matters about life aboard.

Copy deadline for the next issue of Soundings is 1st September, 2015. Please email submissions for Soundings to (or by post to Beryl McDowall, Editor: Soundings, Narrowboat "Wasp", Off Barons Way, Mountsorrel, Leics. LE12 7EA).

If you are considering joining us, and would like to receive a free back copy of Soundings, please email or send an C4 (A4-sized) stamped self-addressed envelope (£1.10 stamp) with your request to: RBOA, 10 Rectory Close, Crick, NN6 7SY

Next Committee Meeting

RBOA members are invited to attend the 2015 AGM on Saturday, 19th September, at The Three Tuns public house in Fazeley, Staffs.  Speaker at 11.00 a.m. and AGM Business at 2.00 p.m.  Full details of meal bookings, etc appear in the July/August edition of Soundings or contact the General Secretary at for a pdf of the Booking Form.

The next Committee Meeting will be held at The Rose & Crown pub, 6 Main Street, Zouch, Leics., on 17th October, 2015 commencing at 10.00 a.m. and is open to all RBOA members. Please confirm details with General Secretary before travelling.


15 July - Environment Agency Customer Notice

Water levels in the upper River Thames

Water levels in the upper River Thames, particularly upstream of Abingdon lock, will be shallower than you are used to in some places, due to below average rainfall this year.

With this in mind we are asking boaters take extra care, especially immediately downstream of locks where the natural gradient of the river means levels are always slightly lower than elsewhere in the reach.

For your safety, we have marked all known shallow areas in the main navigation channel (the middle third of the river, also known as the ‘fairway’) with red and green buoys. Please ensure you are familiar with the rules of navigation around obstructions marked in this way - they are there to protect you and your boat from harm. You may find the diagram on page 13 of the River Thames cruising guide helpful. It is reproduced below.

Remember, boats coming towards you may have to manoeuvre around an obstruction even if you don’t. Also, other boats may be harder to handle than yours, and their skippers less experienced, so please be considerate.

Where we can, we will also mark obstructions that we are aware of, or are reported to us, outside of the main navigation channel. We cannot mark every one however, so do please be vigilant. You can report an obstruction to us on 03708 506 506. Please also remember that a mooring may be shallower than the last time you used it.

We are doing all that we can to maintain the depths of navigation as published on

Actions we are taking include closing all our weirs and placing ‘summer boards’ on those that can accommodate them to raise their height. This means we can hold more water back, so raising levels. We are also carrying out additional checks for any leaks in our weir gates and ensuring they are staunched.

In addition, we have instructed our lock staff in the Oxford area to try to avoid emptying locks unless they contain at least one boat, wherever possible. This ensures we are making the most of the considerable volume of water that is released downstream each time a lock is used.

If water levels continue to drop, it will be increasingly difficult for us to maintain depths, even if we implement additional measures such as restricted lock use. We hope to avoid the need for additional measures but may not be able to unless there is significant rainfall over the coming weeks.

Where possible we will also ask our lock staff to advise you of any known shallow areas ahead of you. To help you assess whether or not to continue your journey, you may want to check your boat’s draft if you don’t already know it. Above Iffley Lock we cannot guarantee the navigation channel will always be sufficiently deep for craft with a draft of 0.9m or more.

We are of course monitoring the situation very closely and will let you know immediately if there are any further developments you need to be aware of.

We hope you have found this communication helpful in planning your cruising this summer, and hope it is not unduly affected by weather conditions.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

River Thames Waterway Operations

Do you live on or near the coast?

Leeds production company True North Productions are currently in production with a returning series for Channel 4 and More 4 called ‘Homes by the Sea’ which is a coastal property series presented by architect Charlie Luxton. The series looks at what draws us to the coast and how the coast shapes the architecture of homes nearby. They have never featured a House Boat or Floating Home before and would love to do so.

If you are interested to take part, click here for more details.

RBOA PRESS RELEASE - 11th May 2015

RBOA issued a Press Release on 11th May, 2015, stating RBOA’s view on CRT’s updated Licence Terms & Conditions. You can read it by clicking here.

Thames Talk Newsletter

Click the banner to read the April newsletter.

6th April 2015


The Canal & River Trust is conducting a survey to better understand what can be done to encourage more boaters to venture out onto the tidal River Trent.

The survey is being developed by the Trust’s East Midlands Waterway Partnership along with The Boating Association and Inland Waterways Association. Together they are keen to attract more boaters onto the tidal Trent, but it’s hoped that the findings will provide useful insights for other rivers across the country.

More details here.

The survey can be found at

CRT Consultation on Licence Conditions, Jan 2015

Over the past few months CRT have been working on some changes to the Terms & Conditions (T&C’s) of boat licences. The changes, in broad terms, are being made to bring their T&Cs up to date and to clear up any ambiguities. This should help boaters better understand their rules and, if they have to, help them enforce more effectively.

None of the changes reflect a significant change of policy by the Trust, but they understand that many of you may wish to understand the reason for any of the changes in detail. So, if you’d like to see every change they’re making, they can be found in this table. The table includes the current version of the condition or clause and also how it will look from 1 April. It also includes a plain English description of the change and, importantly, why CRT are making it.

If you’d prefer, you can just read the new version of T&C’s. After reading, do get in touch if you have any comments you’d like to share with CRT.

BSS - Ten Essential CO Safety Tips for Boats

Over 30 boaters have died in the last 20 years from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Click here to see the 10 CO essentials that will help keep you and your crew safe.

BSS - Wet wood fuel triple-whammy warning

Boaters using damp wood and logs in their stoves could be risking a triple whammy including increased costs, stove damage and carbon monoxide poisoning says the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS). Click here to see the full press release.

RBOA is pleased to help spread the word about the value of the Boat Safety Scheme to those who are just coming into boating and  may not be aware of its importance in helping to keep boaters safe.

Environment groups celebrate judges’ ruling to allow Thames Tideway Tunnel to proceed

Environment groups in London are this week celebrating a High Court ruling to reject four judicial reviews by opponents of the Thames Tideway Tunnel. The decision clears the way for the project, which secured planning consent last October, to proceed.  Full press release here.

Toll increase the lowest on record

Broads toll payers will benefit from the smallest increase in the Authority’s history this year.

The historic 1.7% rise, which will allow the Authority to continue to deliver current levels of service and replace vehicles, vessels and equipment, was recommended by the Navigation Committee and approved by the Broads Authority in November. Further details here.

Canal charity planning action plan for Regent's Canal

The Canal & River Trust is meeting with local councils, boaters and residents, to develop an action plan for the Regent’s Canal throughout Islington and Hackney. By working together they will consider how better to tackle issues such as graffiti and rubbish clearance as well as exploring how to improve the towpath and manage moorings. Further details here.

Canal and River Trust appoints Welfare Officer

Canal & River Trust has appointed its first ever welfare officer. The role forms part of the Trust’s strategy around supporting vulnerable boaters who, due to any number of factors, may be finding it harder to cope with life afloat.  Further details here.

The boater’s handbook: basic boat-handling and safety

Boating basics including essential knowledge and techniques you need to make sure you enjoy yourselves and stay safe on the water. Reading it before setting off will help you spot the risks yourself, and help you take simple action to avoid problems. If you do run into difficulties, this understanding will help you get out of trouble quickly and safely.

To download an electronic copy of the handbook, click here

To order a hard copy of the handbook, please email the Environment Agency mailing house