Residential Boat Owners Association

Welcome to the Residential Boat Owners' Association

Last Updated: 4th February, 2016

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.


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 March, 2016. 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

Canal & River Trust Flood Appeal

On 14th January CRT launched a Flood Appeal, to raise additional funds to help repair the damage to the infrastructure of those waterways most severely affected by the recent floods.  RBOA would encourage any member who is able to make a donation to do this by going to:

Watch Out - Whales About!

Navigation - River Witham - Grand Sluice Lock

Potential Hazard to Navigation: Please be advised that a number of large sperm whales have been washed ashore in The Wash.
It is highly likely that more dead whales will be in the vicinity.
Due to the size of these mammals, they cause a potential hazard to vessels and extra vigilance should be given to a good safe lookout. Any sightings should be reported to the Harbour Master at the Port of Boston (01205 365571) or:

Chesterfield Canal - Diesel Sales at West Stockwith

From the 1st December 2015, all gas and diesel sales at West Stockwith will be managed privately rather than by the Canal & River Trust. The service will be run by Mick Ogden Boating who can be contacted on 07905 704657.
The service will be open between 10am and 6pm, every day except Wednesday.
An out of hour’s service may be possible by agreement.

Message from the Environment Agency

The RBOA has been asked by the EA to pass the following information to boaters with an EA licence:

Possible delays to craft registration renewals
Due to flood damage to the Leeds telephone exchange, we are currently unable to receive calls to our Sheffield office. This is placing an additional call burden on our National Customer Contact Centre at Rotherham where we undertake our registration administration work. As a result, it is likely that we will be unable to process applications within our normal timescales.
We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause our customers and seek their understanding of the unprecedented circumstances in the north of England at this time. We aim to return to our normal level of service as quickly as we can and will update you accordingly.
With regards,
Waterways Operations Team
Telephone: 03708 506506

Journalist seeks boater to interview

Journalist seeking individual or couple to interview about living on a canal boat and happy to discuss reasons for making the change, pro's and con's of the experience. Age range 20-35/40.This is for a mainstream publication with social impact, looking at real alternative living options. Good opportunity to share story. Contact Cat Teague at: Phone interview possible.

RBOA has recently issued the following Press Release:

Issued 17.10.2015

RBOA Moves Forward
The Residential Boat Owners’Association (RBOA) held its AGM on Saturday, 19th September, 2015, at The Three Tuns public house in Fazeley, Staffs. The newly appointed Chairman is Mike Pritchard, who is based in Chichester, along with his wife, Eve, who isnow General Secretary. They bring a new dimension to the Committee, having many years of experience of living aboard and sailing, mainly on coastal waters, plus some boating on our inland navigations.
Mike, after spending time on the inland waterways, took up sea sailing in his mid-fifties. He gained his CEVNI for the inland waterways of the continent. For his sea-going he reached Yachtmaster standard, and became a shore-based Instructor for the RYA, covering navigation, radar, first aid and VHF. Mike has done deliveries, assisted in instruction at sea and taken many trips in the North Sea, the Scottish Islands, Channel Islands, Biscay and generally around the UK. He and his wife moved to liveaboard status around 12 years ago, still on a sea-going sailing boat. Mike has commented that as he is nearing his 80th birthday they are thinking of returning to the cut on a permanent basis.
Alan Wildman, a past RBOA Chairman, is now Vice Chairman. Dave Milne, who has been the Treasurer for the past two years, remains in that post, and with his wife Sue is an Area Representative for part of the Grand Union Canal. Angela Dunham, who, along with her husband David, is an RBOA Area Representative on the Trent and Mersey Canal south of Stoke, has taken on the role of Membership Secretary.
Beryl McDowall continues as Editor of Soundings, the bi-monthly magazine of the Association, and has also been appointed to the role of Publicity Officer, with the aim of enhancing the profile of the organisation. Ivor Caplan, who has in the past held Secretary and then Chairman posts, continues in the role of Planning Officer. Charles Foster has been appointed to the newly created post as Archivist. This post waintroduced to ensure that the vast amount of knowledge within the RBOA is not lost.
New blood has been brought to the Committee, with the aim of developing and furthering the aims of the Association.

Committee Meeting

The next Committee Meeting will be held at The Rose & Crown pub, 6 Main Street, Zouch, Leics., on 16th April, 2016 commencing at 10.00 a.m. and is open to all RBOA members. Please confirm details with General Secretary before travelling.


8 October 2015

The Canal & River Trust is today (8 October 2015) announcing a series of changes to its senior executive team aimed at attracting new visitors and supporters, while strengthening the charity’s focus on customer service, waterway maintenance and repair.
·         Dr Sophie Castell has been appointed as the Trust’s new director of marketing, communications & fundraising and starts on 1 December.  Sophie has over 25 years’ experience working with a mixture of commercial and charity organisations, including Coca Cola, RNIB and Save the Children.
·         Ian Rogers, the Trust’s head of customer services, will step up to become director of customer service & operations, following the retirement of Vince Moran at the end of the year.  Ian will directly manage the Trust’s eleven waterway managers, alongside its boating, museums, engagement and education teams.
·         Head of asset management & performance Julie Sharman and head of asset delivery Simon Bamford will continue respectively to develop and deliver the Trust’s maintenance, repair and asset improvement programme, including the prioritisation of major canal repairs and infrastructure projects, and will step up to the executive team, reporting directly to chief executive Richard Parry.  Julie will also take responsibility for health and safety.
Richard Parry comments: "The changes I am announcing today build on the Trust's achievements over the last three years and put in place the building blocks that will help us deliver our strategic priorities over the next decade.  Our senior team combines a strong mix of experience and expertise of the waterways, with the knowledge of customer service and branding that we need to take the Trust forward.
"I'm delighted to welcome Sophie to the Trust, and her wide experience of the charity and commercial sectors will be invaluable to us.  Bringing Ian, Julie and Simon into their new roles will equip the Trust with the skills we need for the challenges ahead.”

Hartford Marina

The issue between some residents at Hartford Marina on the Bedford Ouse and the Environment Agency is most regrettable, as is a similar dispute further down country. A member of ours on The Broads is having similar difficulty with the Broads Authority.

RBOA is generally supportive of Navigation Authorities, acknowledging that they each have to act within government legislature which is not always transparent or easy to comply with, whilst keeping us residential boaters content. We acknowledge that such authorities could be sued for failing to comply, and their executives penalised accordingly.

In each of these present cases, though, it does seem that the Authorities are being unreasonable and overly dogmatic in their approaches. One might perhaps assume that these cases have become personal against the residents involved.

RBOA has not yet been asked to become fully involved in the present altercations but, if it were to be called upon, we would undoubtedly declare our support for our members.

We are keen to work with and advise those responsible for our navigations but we will always act on the side of fairness and common sense towards residential boating. See the Press Release issued by the residents of Hartford Marina Community Association / GOBA by clicking here.

Environment Agency consultation on Water for Life and Livelihoods

The Environment Agency has issued as summary of responses to the consultation on the draft update to the river basin management plans. Available here.

Have you got a story to tell?

RBOA has been contacted by Suneil Sahota, Producer / Director of Bare Films, who is looking for a family who might be willing to help with an advert. they are currently trying to cast for British Gas. They are looking at what makes a house a home - but not just people who live in bricks and mortar! If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Suneil direct. If you do so, it would be appreciated if you would also let RBOA know that you have done so. Click here for further information.

Press Release: BSS - Safe Petrol Usage

The use of petrol demands huge respect and extreme caution, not least when refuelling, is the succinct advice from the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS). See the full press release here.

Planning Objection - Willow Park floating homes

For probably the first time in its history the RBOA has lodged an objection to a planning application for floating homes. Click here to see the full report.

Thames Talk Newsletter

Click the banner to read the latest newsletter.

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.

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.

Hidden Costs of Boating

Has your decision to live in alternative accommodation taken its toll on your accounts?  Have you foundthat owning a boat has hidden expenses which you did not know about before purchase?

Denise Lewis and Dominic Littlewood are looking for people to take part in this unmissable series that aims to find simple ways to save you money. Do you find you’re always short of cash but unsure where all your money goes? Perhaps you’re trying to free up money for a holiday, a new car, or to plan for retirement. Or maybe you’d just benefit from having an expert give your finances an overhaul. Whatever the reason, we’d like to help find solutions, get you the best deals – and free up more of the cash you need.

To find out more, please email:
Or call 07519894621

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