Despite weeks of consideration, I still can’t get my head around the vast volumes of water and stretches of river bank and quayside in this great city of London… And then how few residential moorings there are on them.
The few there are are fiendishly hard to:
a) find, as there is apparently no helpfully centralised place to find them all listed. The DBA http://www.barges.org/ ostensibly has one that’s member-led, but as most of its members are retired continental cruisers from what I can make out, it makes little provision for residential moorings (and certainly not comprehensively). Maybe when I’m in a more magnanimous mood I should give them ours, it’s been such a schlep to compile… When I was looking for the narrowboat, Inland Waterways gave me a ‘starter pack’ with a list of all the moorings and contacts. It was admittedly a good four years out of date, but gave us an invaluable start nevertheless. It strikes me ten-odd years on that boaters are better with paper than digital, by and large (a rash charge to make I know, but I’m feeling reckless).
The other thing moorings are hard to… is:
b) get onto, because they are either full with a 10-year waiting list, or the people running them are one or a combination of the following:
– Snobby (actually perfectly fair enough if they want to prevent their pretty marina descending into a noisy slurry of rust-buckets and provoking the local land-lubbing community, but funny to be reminded)
– Incredibly rude and unhelpful (no names, but it’s one of the few tube station names which begins&ends with the same letter. And, obviously, near water)
– ill-acquainted with internet technology (through which one is requested to submit one’s petition for any kind of attention) and therefore freaking impossible to get hold of
Occasionally, someone gets back to you and is so nice and friendly and normal that the others (almost) fade from memory. It all starts to feel like it might just fall into place… And that’s where we’re at now: hopeful, and more waiting.
The new mooring managers at Fresh Wharf in Barking have just taken over their duties, and having been for a little nosey on the spur of Saturday morning, we’re now waiting on tenterhooks with all things crossed to hear back from them as to whether the space they think they have free is indeed free for us.
It’s not pretty – it’s on the edge of an industrial estate wedged between the Roding river and the North Circular – but it’s friendly, affordable, within zone4, and they are wholly unbothered by our working on the boat to get her up to scratch. We even saw one helpful-looking chap wielding a welder as we left, which was exciting on a number of levels.
I do have substantial concerns about how Oscar will cope with/survive the industrial estate which I’ve not yet decided how to deal with (especially on top of our pre-existing ‘moving a cat onto water’ concerns), but overall it’d be a vast improvement to our new life aboard, and our finances, if we didn’t have to spend the summer in Kent. Not that it wouldn’t be as blissful and bucolic as anyone could hope for – sadly blissful&bucolic don’t come for free…!
So… While we wait, we are packing our boxes in readiness to move from our gorgeous and happy first home together on the 20th April, putting all our stuff into storage and taking a suitcase to stay with friends up the road for a week, while we wait for the boat to arrive.
Then hopefully on the 27th, we’ll be taking essentials back out of storage again and moving on board, with our amazing family pitching in all weekend to help us get settled -fitting electrics, sanding floors, lending camping stoves and cool boxes and generally being awesome.
And THAT is an extremely exciting thought.