It’s just a few weeks until the Bristol Harbour Festival gets underway. A great weekend of fun is coming up for everyone with entertainment, family fun, live music and some great on and off water displays. There will also be an array of different boats to see coming in and out of the harbour; some owned and lived in, others hired and brought to Bristol to join in the fun.
It’s at events like these that people watch the boats coming and going and start thinking about the idyllic summer lifestyle of cruising along the rivers and canals or even getting out across the open sea. It may even encourage some to take their first taste of life on the water and consider booking a boating holiday.
The lovely romantic notion of freedom on the open water. Slowly chugging along the waterways, sunshine in the sky, glass of wine in hand waving to passers by on the towpath or riverbank. However, the realities of a life on the water can be a a bit of a shock for some, even for those who are used to caravan holidays. No space for that huge suitcase of clothes you normally take on holiday. Limited space in the fridge and freezer so no stocking up on a week’s worth of food. Those bikes that normally get locked up outside a caravan, will have to go somewhere. Mooring up and operating locks is not easy work. Despite that, if you’re prepared then a boating holiday can be that fun experience you’ve been looking for.
Here are a couple of tips for solving the storage problems when holidaying on a boat.
Hire the right boat
It may sound obvious but just because a boat says it sleeps 4, that doesn’t necessarily mean that 4 people can live comfortably on it for a period of time. Make sure you view the boat and ask yourself the right questions. If it’s pouring with rain can 4 of us survive in the space for a few days without falling out?
Pack lightly, but appropriately
In the UK you’ll have to cater for every weather eventuality, but you won’t have huge amounts of storage space. Make sure you have the essentials like, wind and waterproof jacket, rubber soled shoes, hat, gloves. You may consider vacuum packing a thick jumper or fleece and some extra trousers to save on storage space. Books can be replaced by e-readers to save space space – don’t forget your chargers. Pack in soft bags that be squashed down and stored away when not is use.
In case of emergency
If hiring a boat from an operator, emergency things like life jackets, first aid kits and torches should be provided – but make sure you check. There’s nothing worse than trying to pick your way along a towpath at night. Make sure that torches are stored where they are quickly and easily accessible.
That’s the standard boating holiday sorted, but what if you’ve decided to go all the way and live longer term or even permanently on a boat. You’ll have some additional things to consider.
Long term holidays
What will happen to your property when you’re away? Make sure you check your home insurance as most become invalid if your property is empty for more than 30 consecutive days. If you’ve got valuables at home, you may want to consider leaving them with someone else, or better still, in a secure self storage locker where they will be kept under 24 hour security until your return. If taking this option, make sure you leave your contact details and those of an emergency contact should the centre need to get in touch for any reason.
Permanent move to a boat
The biggest decision will be about what to do with your existing property, unless it’s being sold to fund your new adventure. If you’re not selling then the chances are you’ll be considering renting it out. Again, make sure you have the correct insurances in place. You will now need landlord insurance, not just a normal household policy. Consider if you have valuable items (sentimental or financial) that you don’t want to remain in the property. If this is the case, you can rent a self storage unit to keep your furniture safe until your return.
If you are selling, you have some serious decluttering to do. What’s coming with you? What can be sold and what can’t you part with that won’t fit on the boat? Don’t forget you’ll have drastically reduced storage on your boat. There are some additional tips and tricks in this previous post about using space wisely. Whilst you do need to be brutal about making the decisions over what stays and what goes, there is a solution if you really feel there are things that you can’t part with. A self storage unit can help. However, you don’t want to pay for space you don’t need so a good clear out will ensure you are only storing the things that are important to you.