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Canal Boating Holidays - Your First Holiday Afloat

Narrowboat Holiday Hire - Canal Barge Holidays
Norfolk Broads Cruiser Boat Hire

Be sure to hire your waterways holiday boat from a licensed operator as this is the only way you can be sure you are covered for support in the case of a breakdown or other emergency and have the relevant insurance cover for your holiday.

Be aware that boating holidays are generally safe holidays, however you must be sensible and be aware that you are in a natural environment, especially if you are taking children on your adventure.

For Your Safety

Never take control of a boat or operate mechanical canal equipment if you have been drinking alcoholic beverages. Everything may seem tranquil but there is an inherent danger mixing alcohol and boating. Some boats weigh many tonnes and canal fixtures and fittings are immovable objects. Impacts, even at low speeds can be sudden, severe and cause a great amount of damage or injury!

If you upset another boat owner or think you might be doing something wrong, it is best just to apologise and explain that you are on a boating holiday. Don't be embarrassed to seek help or advice at any time and if someone offers to help you whilst you are learning the ropes, accept graciously in the first instance. You can always laugh about it later!

Keep body parts from being in between the boat and other objects and other boats. Never fend off with hands or feet, always use a rope, barge pole or rope fender. Watch your head when traveling under bridges, through tunnels and by overhanging trees!

Stay off the roof when the boat is in motion! It may seem like a good place to sunbathe and you may think it is 'cool' to strut your stuff where everyone can see you, but when the boat is in motion it is the highest place to fall or be dislodged from! And experienced boaters will think you are a bit of a pranny!

Be extra careful around locks, wharves and whilst stepping between bank and boat. A slip may end up with an unexpected cold-water dip! But a slip or fall in a lock may be much more serious! Children and non-swimmers should wear life preservers or life jackets at all times when out and about on the boat, wharf or lock areas.

Try not to get canal or river water in your eyes, up your nose or in your mouth. Canal and river water is not the same as domestic water and should not be ingested by humans or pet animals. Always wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with the canal or river water. If you have a cut or graze treat it quickly with a disinfectant solution and cover with a waterproof plaster or bandage before waterborne bacteria or parasites can enter the body.


There is a general speed limit on most canals of 4 mph and there should be no need to try and go any faster. See our article Canal Speed Limit UK - Have you lost your water-skier? Many inexperienced boaters enter locks, bridges, tunnels, moorings, water points, negotiate sharp bends and junctions too fast and end up ramming into immovable objects or other boats causing damage and embarrassment. Slow down early - You're on holiday!

Be prepared to slow down to pass anglers, obstructions, engineering works, moored boats and floating pontoons etc.

Barbecuing On A Boating Holiday

Only use a charcoal barbecue on dry land! We know it's tempting to set it up in the foot well of the boat ore even on the bow. We've seen both. The risk of fire or injury is definitely higher on the boat, especially when it's moving. The Fire Brigade or Ambulance Service can be a long way off when you're on a boat.

Boat Safety - Don't Barbecue On A Boat

Boat Safety - Don't Barbecue On A Boat Just imagine if the skipper of the boat above banged up against anything and dislodged this precariously positioned barbie - there would be hot coals over the two ladies and children on the bow and chances are there would also be damage to the inside of the boat as hot coals cascaded through the open front doors! The guys on the Viking Afloat boat on the left were using a disposable tray type barbeque and may have lost their deposit as it would have damaged paintwork and smoke would have got into the internal soft furnishings!

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