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5 Genius Canal Boat Business Ideas

5 Genius Canal Boat Business Ideas

Why run a business on land when you can run one on water?

Imagine sailing your café, salon or book barge on the waterways,with the freedom to change locations and open up shop at your convenience.

However, before setting up your business, there are legal requirements to meet.Firstly, your boat has to meet CRT’s construction and equipment standards.Afterwards, you canapply for a business boat licence; which is mandatory for approval from the Canal & River Trust.Next you’ll need to decide whether you require a long-term or short-term licence, as the fee depends on the size of your boat.

Most importantly, you’ll need to consider what business venture you’d like to explore. Here are five innovative ideas that will float your boat…

  • Beauty on Board

If you think you can’t give stylish hair do’s while you’re afloat, think again! A floating hair/nail salon is the perfect beauty onboard idea.

Now, you may think using hairdresser appliances on a boat would be costly, but there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives. In fact, you can run your beauty salon completely off the grid by using solar power and carrying your boats own water supply in a large tank. This water supply is then heated when the engine is running, giving you instant hot water from the large tank.

You will however, need a powerful electrical system that includes a generator, large bank of batteries and an inverter which is vital for using a hairdryer.

  • Ice Cream and Treats

Instead of an ice cream van, how about an ice cream boat? It’s no secret that when it’s sunny outside, Brits flock to local parks and rivers to find a nice place to have a picnic and buy an ice cream. Instead of customers buying an ice cream from a van, they can buy it from your boat. You can find canal boat moorings for rent via BWMLbefore opening up shop.

To make this a reality, you’ll need a heavy-duty freezer that will keep all the frozen treats cold during the day. It might be that the freezer is powered off the grid or via solar panels and just like the beauty salon, a generator and powerful electric system will be necessary.


  • Weddingson the Waterways

Finding a unique wedding venue is a challenge. By creating a wedding venue aboard your boat, you can help couples tie the knot in a completely different way. Vows could be exchanged on the deck allowing plenty of room for a small party of guests and the photographer.

If you’re canal boat doesn’t have enough room for an outdoor deck to hold the ceremony, you can hold the wedding reception instead. Whilst canal boats are narrow, modern canal boats tend to be 6ft 10 inches wide and about 72ft long. Proving plenty of indoor seating to celebrate the happy couple.

Further expansion of the business could mean hiring specialised wedding planners and offering tailored wedding packages.

  • Cocktail Barge

If you’re a lover of cocktails and beautiful scenery, a cocktail barge would be the best business on a boat idea for you. With modern barges being 290 ft by 50ft, which is double the capacity of earlier barges, creating a suitable dining space should be of no difficulty.

There are plenty of ways to make this a unique experience. If you’re able to get a boat with a retractable roof, you can expose your customers to the sunlight during the summer months. Perhaps even in the winter, you could use outdoor storage heaters.

If you’ve got a vintage-style boat, be sure to add modern technology such as WIFI and contactless payment.

A cocktail barge opens up further opportunities to sell food to help soak up the alcohol, such as sharing platters for groups and usual bar snacks.

  • Art Galleries onboard

Having your own art gallery is a great way to showcase yours and other artists’ work You could even set up an art station to create pieces of work when customers enter your boat.

The waterways offer fantastic views and opportunities for aspiring artists, with an ever-changing scenery and tonnes of wildlife.

Be sure to explore all your business on a boat options along with the right business boating licence for you.

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