You don’t need to be an expert to hire a canal boat and each year around one fifth of narrowboat hirers are new to the waterways.
With Britain’s 2,000-mile network of inland waterways in great shape, and lower carbon staycations becoming ever more popular, there’s never been a better time to dip your toe in the water and set sail on a canal boat holiday.
To help make your first narrowboat holiday smoother, we’ve put together our Top 10 canal boating tips for beginners:
- Do some advance prep – boat steering tuition is provided as part of our holiday packages, but if you’d like to get ahead of the game, take a look at the Canal & River Trust’s Boaters Handbook Video for some sound advice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXn47JYXs44
- Plan your route – the Canal & River Trust has interactive maps online to help you plan your narrowboat journey, including where to moor each night and canalside pubs to enjoy along the way https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/boating/planning-your-boat-trip
- Outside space – if you are bringing your dog, or you simply want a bit of extra outside space, opt for a cruiser stern narrowboat rather than a semi-traditional stern.
- Be greener – remember to pack your re-useable shopping bags as well as re-useable plastic bottles and coffee cups to help limit the amount of plastic you acquire on your holiday afloat.
- Bring some on board entertainment – for cosy nights in, bring along some cards and board games, as well some DVD’s as a good TV reception isn’t always available on the canals.
- Keep to the right – unlike cars on our roads, canal boats travel on the right side of our canals and rivers, so when you meet another boat, keep to the right.
- Watch out for the cill – when in a lock and make sure the boat is kept forward of the cill (step) inside the lock and check all paddles and gates are shut after you’ve used a lock, unless you see another boat approaching.
- Sharing is caring – if possible, always share a lock with other boats to save water and it means you can share the lock operating work too.
- Don’t make waves – there’s a 4mph speed limit on the canals but you’re going too fast if you’re creating too much wash, which disturbs wildlife, moored boats and anglers and it erodes the banks.
- Mooring etiquette – when mooring up at busy spots, make sure you don’t leave a big gap and never moor opposite winding holes, on bends, near to bridges, on lock landings (unless waiting to lock through) or at water points (unless filling up).