The ‘lure of the liveaboard’: Rising house prices and restrictions lead to surge in liveaboard vessel finance

Trend sees younger people opting for ‘life afloat’ #BargeLife

Leading marine finance lender, Promarine Finance has seen a near 40% year-on-year increase in the number of finance deals for liveaboard vessels from January 2021 to date.

These customers are also borrowing more with a higher loan to value (within the 80% maximum Promarine allows) compared to the same period in 2020, indicating a new and younger demographic entering the market.

Liveaboard vessels are becoming a real trend in the UK with many customers taking advantage of the affordability, the lifestyle and the freedom they offer. Many types of boats can be considered a liveaboard such as a powerboat or cruising sailboat, houseboats, or barges, even narrowboats.

Promarine Finance offers fixed and variable rate marine mortgages for new and used RIBs, motorboats, sailing yachts and canal boats over periods of two to 15 years and is one of only a few finance providers for liveaboard vessels in the UK.

In March, there were 35,130 people with boat licences for rivers and canals– compared with 34,435 last year and 32,490 in 2012. The Canal & River Trust states that surveys put the proportion of liveaboard vessels on the water at around 25% (a rise from 15% in 2011) nationally. 

Stuart Austin, Director of Promarine Finance, comments: “Our Q1 performance this year has been our strongest to-date. We’ve noticed a surge in demand for boat finance particularly for liveaboard vessels. The ‘race for space’ fuelling the housing crisis is pushing buyers to consider alternative and more cost-effective living arrangements. Customers opting for liveaboard vessels are also getting younger. Liveaboards such as canalboats are no longer considered an option for just the retiree, instead drawing people who are seeking alternative lifestyles with freedom from the traditional housing options.

He continues: “There are approximately 4,700 miles of navigable canals and waterways in the UK. With so much to explore, it’s no wonder people are opting to have freedom. The canals are certainly calling!

Promarine Finance sees spike in canal boat finance deals following Boris’ speech

Leading marine finance lender, Promarine Finance has seen a staggering 300% year-on-year increase in the number of canal boat finance deals in February 2021 and 56% growth in terms of the loan amount for the same period.

Promarine believes this growth can be attributed to a growing demand for people looking to change lifestyle and living arrangements following stringent lockdown measures.

Promarine Finance offers fixed and variable rate marine mortgages for new and used RIBs, motorboats, sailing yachts and canal boats over periods of a few months to 10 years. Canal boat finance has remained consistently strong since 2019 as Promarine has been the only lender financing liveaboards since March 2020. 

Stuart Austin, Director of Promarine Finance, comments: “Since Boris’ speech we have received a surge in demand for canal boat finance compared to the same period in 2020. Our enquiries have also seen a 130% year on year increase, a very positive indicator for a shift in the market.

This highlights the growth in canal boating in the UK and indicates that boat ownership is still popular in the current climate. As a result of COVID-19, we know more people are opting to holiday in the UK and spend their leisure time on the water – a trend that began in 2020 and will continue through 2021. Conversations with new customers have highlighted a wave of COVID-fatigue and people wanting to realise their aspirations of boat buying without any further delay including many opting to switch from living on land, to living on the water.”

Promarine Finance will be attending the upcoming Crick Virtual Boat show from 24-28th March and welcomes attendees to join them for 1-2-1s over the weekend, providing a great opportunity to discuss finance and options.

Promarine Exclusive Crick Boat Show offer: Free professional narrowboat handling course for Promarine customers

We have teamed up with the Narrowboat Skills Centre to offer an exclusive Crick Boat Show deal for this year’s upcoming event.

At Promarine, we know how important it is to have full confidence when at the helm of your own boat, particularly if you are new to boating. 

We will be offering a voucher for one person to undertake a Helmsmans Course (normally priced at £360pp) or Diesel Engine and Boat Maintenance course (priced at £220pp) for all finance applications received during the show (24th-28th March) and who go on to complete a finance contract with us before June 30th 2021. 

Exclusive course offer

To be with a chance of winning a professional Narrowboat handling course

Apply now

The Helmsmans Course

The RYA Inland Waterways Helmsmans Course is for those new to boating or those boaters who feel that they need to brush up on their Helmsmans skills. The Helmsman’s course follows the RYA syllabus and participants are awarded an Inland Waterways Helmsman’s Certificate upon successful completion.

The course includes:

  1. Boating Safety
  2. Pre-start checks
  3. Ropework and knots
  4. Boat control
  5. Getting underway
  6. Slowing down, stopping and mooring up
  7. Locks and using them safely
  8. Navigating bridges and tunnels

It is a highly practical course with the majority of the day spent out on the water or on the bank mooring up or on working locks.

The Diesel Engine and Boat maintenance Course

This two-day engine and boat maintenance course incorporates the RYA Diesel Engine course and expands it to cover all the essential maintenance tasks that can be completed by the average boater without the use of specialist tools. The result is that you will be able to keep your boat in good order and in the long run save money.

As well as the routine maintenance tasks the course covers simple fault finding on your engine, drive train and electrics.

Own Boat Experience Day

For those who want a course run on their own boat and who do not require a Helmsmans Certificate we will arrange for a fully qualified instructor to spend a day on your own boat at your location with up to three people. The course will cover as much of the two day Helmsmans syllabus as is possible given the constraints on time and the limitations of the cruising area. Instructor travel costs and overnight accommodation costs will be the responsibility of the customer. Customers can agree upgrades to the courses by negotiation with NBSC.

Offer T&Cs

One Voucher for one person to complete a Helmsman Course or Diesel Engine or other course of similar value, per marine mortgage.

Travel and accommodation costs are at our customers’ expense.

Open to UK residents over the age of 18. No cash alternative. One voucher is available to one sole customer only. Promarine’s decision is final. Promarine reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any time. 

Applicants must submit a finance application during 24th-28th March 2021 and complete a finance contract with Promarine Finance before 30th June 2021.

The offer is in partnership with NSBC and subject to instructor availability and their own conditions listed on