My 2004-vintage post 'Narrowboat for rent, handy for muslims' has attracted a lot of comments from people looking to rent boats on a monthly or long term basis.
Most are simply looking to live cheaply in London, and many are pretty optimistic or unrealistic. (One person hoped to rent a boat on a residential mooring in Little Venice for £500 a month - that's boat and mooring.)
I'd not noticed Escape The Rat Race before. Its modus operandi has five bullet points:
- Other legal and insured operators charge huge fees for longer cruises, since they specialise in the short term.
- Our boats are correctly licenced and fully insured for what we do.
- Other companies were reluctant to let boats for a number of months, preferring weekly holiday lets instead.
- Many companies required that you brought your own linen, bedding, towels etc. We found their boats unwelcoming and bare. We prepare our boats such that when you arrive for your “Escape”, the boat welcomes you like an old friend
- Most other boats only travel along common tourist routes. We give you the freedom to travel where you wish, winding your way along many different canals and rivers.
Escape The Rat Race charges £750 - £1,250 a month, which is a third or a quarter of what conventional hire companies ask.
This sounds like a good deal. However, while I'm sure they carry out their part of the bargain, the unspoken other half is that the hirer needs to comply too.
Only one of the boats is stated to come with its own permanent mooring (Beaune Idyll, at Iver), so if you rent the others you might be expected to move them regularly, conforming with continuous cruising guidelines, if you are going to live aboard.
This could come as a disappointment to some people hoping simply for a cheap apartment for a few months.
Still, seems like a great idea. Another indubitable benefit is that all the boats look like private hire boats - some of them characterfully old - so you won't be tarred with the 'holidaymaker' brush - and you can pretend for all the world like you were born on the cut.
Update: On the Waterways World website's 'Boating Q&A' section this month, David Stiff asks where he can rent a boat for several months. The WW answer doesn't mention ETRR, but it could well do.