While some boaters may be fully conversant with the sort of arrangements that can make life easier for all concerned, I am aware that others find the logistics difficult to cope with. In addition, there are worries about safe parking locations and access to the vehicle in ‘emergencies’, such as a need to go home, or indeed elsewhere, at an unscheduled stage of your trip.

These notes are designed to help simplify the logistical thinking and to provide a few guidelines or tips. Naturally, if anyone has any alternative or additional ideas I would be happy to incorporate them.

Firstly some general points:

 Arranging ‘live’ handovers whenever possible enables members to assist each other with car ferrying or lifts to railway or bus services, but there are various other options available when live handovers are not feasible. 

Understand that your chosen parking location does not need to be either your starting or finishing point (especially if you will have ‘live’ handovers at both ends of your trip). It can just as easily be a completely neutral location, or could be somewhere you will be visiting, thereby enabling you to use the car during part of your holiday.

Try to estimate the time needed for the ferrying – it might be unrealistic to start this at 5.00pm unless you are prepared for a late arrival home.  Take account of the implications for the other group as well as for yourself!

Try to avoid tight schedules (e.g. needing to be somewhere else by a certain time) around the changeover time. Traffic conditions, other commitments, losing the way and a host of other variables can easily throw things out by an hour or two.

Keep each other informed. In particular, let people know if you are behind schedule.

Be flexible & patient.

Talk to the people affected as early as possible if you intend to start your holiday late or finish it early – they may be able to use the additional time and still have a live handover.

Please don’t try to be independent of other members by avoiding live handovers – they might need your help even if you can manage on your own!

Treat any driving you do for other members as an investment into the ‘goodwill bank’.

Some questions to ask yourselves (before making plans):

Do we want to use the car (e.g. for non-boating activities) during our stay on board?

How ‘safe’ does our parking location need to be?

Is the car insured for other drivers and am I happy for others to drive it?

Will there be ‘live’ handovers at both ends of our trip?

Do we have friends or family who will visit during our stay on board and if so would they be able to help with car movements?

Do we have friends or family who live in the general area and who could look after the car during our trip?

Do we need to plan our trip in detail or are we happy to improvise once we learn of Wolverley’s location (on the Saturday evening perhaps)?

How convenient is the public transport in the area concerned and can we easily tailor our cruising to make it more convenient?

Example scenarios (live handover car-ferrying):

For simplicity, the group/driver that have completed their time on board will be referred to as ‘old’ and the group/driver arriving for their trip will be referred to as ‘new’.

Neither of the examples offered are exclusively perfect or suitable for everyone’s needs but they may help you to see the potential.

Scenario 1.

Wolverley is at Milton Keynes, ‘old’ crew’s car is at Hemel Hempstead & new crew are travelling to Crick. There will be no ‘live’ handover at the end of the trip.

Hemel Hempstead may have been the ‘old’ crew’s starting point, but equally could be a safe parking location or even their home!

1. Group on board make sure there is a clear area (e.g. the midships-cabin) ready to accommodate the new group’s luggage.

2. New group drive to Wolverley where the luggage and crew are unloaded  (their car won’t be coming back).

3. New driver takes the old driver to Hemel Hempstead for the car.

4. Both drivers take their cars to Crick, where the new group’s car is parked.

5. Old driver takes new driver back to Wolverley.

6. Old group load up and depart, leaving new group to unpack & settle in.

Scenario 2.

Wolverley is at Runcorn, old crew’s car is at Nantwich and new group haven’t decided where they want to end up! There will be a ‘live’ handover again at the end of the trip.

1. Group on board make sure there is a clear area (e.g. the midships-cabin) ready to accommodate the new group’s luggage.

2. New group drive to Wolverley where the luggage and crew are unloaded (their car won’t be coming back).

3. New driver takes the old driver to Nantwich for the car. There is good parking.

4. New group have no need for the car as long as the next week’s driver gets them back to it and they may well end up back near Nantwich. Nantwich is therefore an acceptable place to leave new group’s car.

5. Old driver takes new driver back to Wolverley.

6. Old group load up and depart, leaving new group to unpack & settle in.

Some other ideas that may work for you:

What about taking a bicycle?

I have often taken a mountain bike on boat trips. A day’s cruising often only takes an hour or so by bike and apart from collecting the car (sometimes on a regular basis as the trip progresses) I use it for:- shopping, going to the bank, collecting takeaway meals and working ahead at lock flights.

Most towpaths are bike friendly these days. 

Taking advantage (in the nicest possible way) of friends/relatives:

Inviting friends or relatives to join you for the day  (or longer) can be very helpful for those trips where there is no ‘live’ handover with another member. Planning your route so that they can drop you at the car on their way home or with just a slight detour is always best.

 ‘Safe’ parking:

Ultimately there is no such thing as safe parking: a friend had his car ‘torched’ while parked outside his home! However, there are certainly places that are safer than parking on the roadside:

Canalside parking where boats regularly moor is usually O.K especially if there are liveaboards and you have been able to make yourself known to them. Sometimes there is parking that is gated off by C.R.T., though this is normally provided for permanent moorers. Talk to the local boaters – there may be plenty of space and access often just requires a BW key!

Many Canalside (or nearby) pubs have large, under-used, car parks these days. Publicans are often amenable, especially if you give them some worthwhile trade.

Boatyards and Marinas are usually amenable provided they are not short of space themselves. Spending money in the shop, chandlery or at the fuel pump usually helps. Some marinas do charge for this service.

If you have friends in the general area that you are cruising, they may be able to look after your car during your trip. If your insurance covers them to drive it, why not pick them up on your way and let them drive it back home. Vice versa at the end.

On many occasions I have simply parked in residential or industrial areas for a few days, obviously taking care not to obstruct anyone's access or even block anyone's view. I take care not to leave visible contents and I always use a visible security device such as a Krooklok, as much as anything to show that the car hasn't been abandoned. I usually drive cars that would be a 'last resort' for joyriders and not worth the trouble for dismantlers, and maybe I've been lucky: so far I've never had a car damaged, stolen from or interfered with.