Before making the decision to sell our house to help finance our narrowboat adventure, we looked at other options for buying a boat.
We had been reading of the travels of Derek and Dot on nb Gypsy Rover NZ and following their success with this option we considered a sponsorship boat. The arrangement would be that you buy a new boat (some hire boat company’s have second hand boats for sponsorship) and a hire boat company “manages” the hiring out of the boat. The income is split between the boat owner and the hire company and there is usually a fixed term of 4 or 5 years.
The idea was appealing because the income would help pay for the cost of the boat. We thought that by the time the sponsorship term was up we might be ready to take over the boat and spend a year or two on the canals ourselves. We’d also get a narrowboat holiday each year in the meantime. During a subsequent short stopover in the UK I visited Kate Boats to investigate the sponsorship option and they were extremely helpful. They had a sponsorship boat being built at the time and let me have a good look around it. I was impressed.
Back in Australia we discussed the idea in depth. But… with an elderly dog to consider we just couldn't predict when the time would be right for us. The cost of the boat was more than we had intended to spend, and we also worried about having a boat built when we lived so far away. The requirements of a hire boat are also not quite the same as what is necessary to live on a boat as a continuous cruiser. We eventually decided the sponsorship option wasn’t for us.
Other hire firms that offer sponsorship :