But where to go? It had to be somewhere within 90 minutes by car or not much over two hours by public transport. (Norbury was 2 hours+ by car on a good day and significantly more if there were problems on the M6 and over twice that by train and bus). Obviously it had to be secure - or at least not obviously insecure - there had to be ready access to water, elsan disposal and diesel and close proximity to a friendly local boatyard was also a consideration. Important too was the location of winding holes (My first mooring at Lowsonford on the Stratford Canal was a disaster in that respect and turning round took about four hours!), the choice of routes available and the likelihood of winter maintenance stoppages to disrupt those routes (another problem with Lowsonford, where having bought the boat in November we couldn't actually go anywhere until Christmas and were then "locked-in" again until March!)
There was also the question of on-line v.marina. In all the time I've had Starcross we've always had an on-line mooring: on the towpath at Lowsonford and off-side at Norbury. I quite like not being hemmed in by other boats and watching the passing boats and towpath walkers on the days when I choose just to "go to the boat" and not take it out anywhere. On the other hand those passing boats can be a pain when they pass too quickly or when in the hands of inexperienced steerers they zig-zag down the line of moored boats bouncing off them all as they go along; although those same crews provide endless amusement with their attempts to come alongside and tie-up on the visitor moorings opposite. But I've tried to keep an open mind about a marina mooring, even if it would mean practising those manoeuvring skills currently lying dormant within me.
Lastly, I was also hoping to save a bit of money. The mooring fee is the single biggest expense in owning a boat (which is one reason why so many try to avoid it) and it's also the cost that seems subject to the largest annual increase, although this has moderated a bit in recent years.So, as I hope you'll agree, I think I had given it thorough consideration and had narrowed the options down to five possibilities but as no one reads blog posts with more than four paragraphs I'll tell you how I got on tomorrow!