Reflections on Bargee Life 1

It’s a fact, there are more and more people moving onto boats in and around London, for a simple but sad reason: renting has become too expensive.

What do you do, if you lived all your life or a major part of you life in London, have work here, a social network (as in ‘real’ people) – you don’t want to move to some place where it’s affordable to rent and leave all behind?! So, the next step is you get yourself a boat. And some boaters really are poor, so they end up with ‘yoghurt pots’, plastic boats. It’s cold but at least there is a shell around the body and you are not homeless.

We belong to the affluent boaters, we can buy coal, diesel and we can bring Quintessence to the mechanic if something goes wrong, etc. Fellow boaters simply can’t do that and if the engine breaks down, or worse no money for diesel, they can’t move. Then you have the friendly guys from the CRT enforcement team who regularly come with their shiny computerized toys to check our license if we did the moving bit too. And beware you overstayed for a day or two, an email will land in your inbox with the request to move on, else… well, else if you get a reminder once or twice or more, the CRT will issue only a temporary license for the next renewal. The temporary license is more expensive. Boaters are obliged to move regularly, otherwise the license will be revoked and if you don’t get your boat out of the water yourself, they will do it for you. Not only that, it will properly be disposed of, as in compressed like an old car. Good bye.

It is clear to us, the problem the CRT is faced with, is that the housing crisis is being partially rolled over to them. The waterways are quite old and some of them in dire need for restoration. Maybe there are also too many boats in and around the Londoner waterways, but why do get those large Widebeams or massive Dutch barges access to precisely those waterways? They really take up a lot of space and quite annoyingly quite a lot of those shiny new barges (or canal ‘vessels’) belong to weekend boaters. You can see that if you are a live-a-board, no lights during the week, comes the weekend and the light goes no. Frankly, if you can afford such a barge and not live on it, what kind of property do they occupy during the week?! But in essence our point is, large boats should not be allowed in central London.