Continuous cruising or life as a Live-About
The need for winter moorings
In September 2014, a new independent boating organisation came into being, to provide a voice and support to those who enjoy the continuous cruising lifestyle. The Association of Continuous Cruisers (ACC) in the UK will provide support and advice to members and will promote their interests with the Canal & River Trust (was British Waterways). One of the main aims of the ACC is to raise awareness of the positive role that continuous cruisers play within the wider waterways community, and challenge negative perceptions about the role.
Like the UK, Ireland’s continuous cruisers (or as we have been named by a well-known Kildare boater, The Live-Abouts) enjoy a distinct lifestyle. A typical continuous cruiser in Ireland will leave their winter mooring in March, having chosen which area of the waterways they will visit that year. They will then spend spring, summer and autumn travelling to and from that year’s chosen destination, alone at times or in most cases, in the company of other boats. Some continuous cruisers are on board all the time, others return to their homes and work on land for three to five days in a week and still others come from abroad to spend a few months or several years touring the Irish waterways. With access to the internet, many people can work while still on board. Besides a love of our waterways, the thing all these people have in common is a wish to be moving after a time – slowly – and to meet up with the next community or the next event along the canal, river or lake.
In recent years, these wanderers have spent whole seasons doing the six main routes – the Green and Silver tourist ring, the Barrow, Nore and Suir, the Lower Shannon, the Middle Shannon, the Northern Shannon and the Ernes. Some folks will take a trip every year, others will join in occasionally, some take two to three months to do just one canal or river, taking time to get to know people and visit out of the way places and waters.
Some of these communities are not on the regular tourist route and in most cases, benefit from visitors on boats. Not least being the money spent in the community while there. Other benefits are intangible, like joining up with locals to promote the place or an event, getting to know people with a different lifestyle or introducing people to the joy of the waterways on their doorstep. Answering that question – where did you come from – and watching their puzzlement and then understanding, as you show them the map of the inland waterways system.
In Ireland, the proposed Extended Mooring Permit (EMP) does not suit continuous cruisers with its insistence on having a designated yearly home mooring, a concept more suited to boats in coastal harbours. The lack of suitable moorings for the winter and in turn the lack of short-term moorings when cruising, do not suit the continuous cruiser’s lifestyle, because of the proposals to designate them as extended moorings for a Full Year. Why not have continuous cruisers assigned winter moorings instead of yearly moorings, which can be short-term (5-day) moorings during the summer season when vacant and when the demand is at its highest?
In the UK, a number of continuous cruisers successfully negotiated with the Canal & River Trust, to change the allocation process and pricing structure for online winter moorings. This has resulting in lower-priced winter moorings available to all continuous cruisers for the winter of 2013/2014.
Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “Continuous cruisers make an important contribution to the life and vibrancy of our waterways and so the creation of the Association of Continuous Cruisers is a positive step forward which we very much welcome. We hope the new Association will help improve communications and mutual understanding between continuous cruisers, the Trust and other boating groups. The more we all work together the more we can improve the waterways we all care for.”