A big boat needs a big mooring, and hence I have been keeping a watchful eye on the British Waterways moorings auction site for quite a while. Occasionally a 22 metre 'berth' comes up - sometimes even with an available depth of more than 70cm. And when that happens, off I set on a mystery tour... to Weedon, Banbury or Wolverton, say - to see what the mooring's like, and to have a look at the local town and facilities, to see if I could see myself being based there.
And on a couple of occasions I have come back and bid. The policy of auctioning moorings like this is of course highly questionable, but it has to be said that (in my experience at least) the site works very well. Obviously, from the fact that I keep looking, I have not yet bid successfully; I have in fact been outbid on two moorings so far, both of which have gone over the guide price, and the most recent one, that I didn't bid on, went way over. Yet I also hear of moorings not reaching their reserve, including one of these full length ones, the first time it was offered. Taken across all the moorings, the auction system, which sets the guide price at what it's currently bringing in, and the reserve somewhat lower, may not be inflating prices, but my recent limited experience suggests that it might be at the bigger end of the market. Certainly I was priced out; I wouldn't pay over £1,600 a year for a towpath mooring with no facilities and no security and in the case of Wolverton, not even any rings.
I could, in theory, take Chertsey to Bill Fen, where Warrior resides, and pay the grand total, including VAT, of £846. And maybe I'm mad not to. But getting up and down the Nene, and round Whittlesey Dyke, is pretty theoretical in a boat like Chertsey. Not impossible, certainly - ask Fulbourne - but not the sort of thing you want to be doing two or three times a year or more. So I decided to bite the bullet and look for somewhere more central. It's a canal boat, for heaven's sake; it needs to be on the cut. And I want it to be not only within relatively easy reach of home (a lot to ask given where I foolishly decided to be born and brought up) or at least of London, but also of the rest of the canal system.
And I think I've found somewhere. It's not signed and sealed yet, so I'll save that for another time, but I'm glad that I ventured into the world of BW moorings. It was an interesting experience, and a nice excuse for the occasional day out.