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A factor worth bearing in mind is that we have had a few very mild winters recently and to some extent have been lulled into forgetting what winter can be like.
Up until quite recently more hire yards sent boats out throughout the year but a series of bad years caused s major rethink.
Floods mean boats can't move, ice means boats can't move both creating disgruntled customers. Both are also dangerous conditions which means a hike in the hire yard insurance premiums , not to mention water systems bursting and engines seizing both requiring call out in unfavourable conditions.
Finally river heights alter which means many boats got stuck the wrong side of bridges they would normally get through with ease.
I am pretty certain the yacht stations and the bridge pilots also shut down for the winter but I might be imagining that.
The yards would also have to stay staffed open to allow the reciprocal mooring arrangement to operate when the chances are very few boats are actually on the water.
Like you I enjoy the winter months but I wouldn't fancy spending my whole week in minus five conditions and not being able to move .
The Met Office are also forecasting a severe winter, maybe the worse for several years with temperatures down to - possibly - minus 15oC. It's all down to a dramatic increase in the effects of El Niño.
" The Met Office are also forecasting a severe winter, maybe the worse for several years with temperatures down to - possibly - minus 15oC. It's all down to a dramatic increase in the effects of El Niño. "
Given their past record in longer term forecasts (non appearing BBQ summers and the like) I would not base my decision on the Met Office rune reading.
I think the thing is in the past there were big problems. Hire boats of ten or twenty years ago were not built with much insulation and it is quite easy for water systems to freeze and burst when it never gets above minus five or the like.
It was only four years ago that Norfolk saw its first snow in November and it did not disappear until March.
Not sure it ever got much above freezing during that time.
For it to be practical think the boats would need to be built to a winter spec and hirers would also need to be prepared to convert to a houseboat holiday if the water flows became too dangerous