An Unexpected Year

When news of the global pandemic first surfaced, I had no idea how it might impact on the waterways and how we support our clients.

Would extra restrictions mean people prefer to stay at home and wait until things were easier, or would they still try to escape? Would it become harder to live afloat – with new stoppages stranding clients in obscure places, or easier – due to workers having more time at home to tend the fire and sort supplies? How might it affect our maintenance and upgrading plans?

Would people be able to get the healthcare they need? After all, one survey recently found that long term continuous cruisers were an average of 47km away from their local GPs! It’s worth knowing that since 2015 GP practices and the NHS have been freely available to boaters, even without an address.

There have of course been challenges. This has all lasted longer than any of us imagined. The canals are a dynamic and creative space; creative industries have been hit hard.

But, surprisingly, we’ve had one of the busiest years in our 14 years of operation. From clients who’ve joined us slightly earlier than they planned – sneaking in before the borders closed, to those who have chosen to stay aboard even longer than they’d thought. Thankfully, many people still able to enjoy the waterways and fulfil their long harboured ‘liveaboard’ dreams.

We’ve just added another narrowboat, sweet pea – the 4th major development to our fleet in the last 12 months and the 26th boat since we began almost 15 years ago. The team has grown to help meet the growing demand and we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to plan adventures and escapes well into 2023.

If you’re thinking about living afloat or exploring Britain’s huge canal network over a number of months, why not explore our boats or get in touch. The waterways have plenty of unexpected surprises to discover.

We’ve still been allowed to do “essential” boaty things – unlike some of the stricter lockdowns seen elsewhere in the world. The canal and river trust have done a fantastic job of keeping the core essentials open. Pre-planning our maintenance schedules has helped. We’ve been able to not only look after the clients on our boats, but improve our service and our fleet.

I suppose it makes sense. For all the challenges, covid has caused many of us to reflect on what is important: To appreciate nature and a slower pace of life. The waterways provide that. They are a place of peace and tranquility. There’s plenty of scientific research to show that being near to water reduces stress and slows our heart rate.

Why wouldn’t you want to live on a narrow boat?

Canal and River Trust – Covid Updates

Updated to confirm that the canals are fully operational for normal cruising.

You might be wondering how Covid-19 has affected life on the waterways. Restrictions on boat movement were lifted on 12th April. You’re currently able to cruise freely and stay overnight on your boat, or a holiday hire boat, as long as you are one household or support bubble. There are still restrictions on mingling inside the boat until at least 17 May. After then and subject to any further announcements, you’ll hopefully be able to have up to six people or two households aboard. Further details can be found here at the Canal and River Trust’s website.

If you’re thinking of coming to the UK from abroad then there are also still a range of travel restrictions in place. These require you to quarantine for up to 10 days and get tested for coronavirus before you start to live on the boat. We will know more after 17 May.

In the meantime, and in case restrictions do return in the future, we’ve been working hard to make sure that your time living on the canals is as unspoilt as possible. If something goes wrong while you’re on your cruise we have systems in place to maintain social distancing while we get you cruising again. We’ve been helping people who want to live long term on the canals since 2007 so you’d be in experienced hands. We have wide network of professional engineers on hand to offer you all the help you need.

Don’t just take our word for it – here is what one of our recent clients had to say:

In spite of having occasional limited movements due to Covid restrictions, we still managed to have a far reaching and wonderful adventure for 5 months and at no time did ‘Wind Rose’ let us down.  
The wonderful thing about Escape the Rat Race’s operational model is that they entrust the boat to your care and give you total freedom to cruise where and when you wish without restrictions always knowing there is dependable back up if needed.

Ric and Stephanie – Wind Rose, 2020

New Boats!!

Very happy to announce that we’ve added Grey Nomad and Peter Pan for 2021. Do have a look at their brochures and let us know what you think.

We’ve set them both up with everything you need to make the transition to the ‘liveaboard’ life!

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about an adventure to go on as life gradually begins to return to normal. Maybe you’ve always wanted to live on a canal boat or explore the unique waterways of England and Wales, or perhaps you’ve just decided that now is the time to escape the rat race and you want to liveaboard permanently. Maybe you’ve rented canal boat on short holiday lets in the past and are now looking for something more long term.

Some of our clients have been newly retired, or even ex pats returning to the UK after many years away. Travelling along the waterways is a great way to see the country and catch up with old friends without having to occupy one of their spare rooms!

The canals offer something for everyone. So, whether you’re planning a short trip of a few months or a longer lifestyle change over a few years, why not get in touch with us and we’d love to help.