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Top 12 Tips for First-Time Narrowboat Holiday Makers   

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a canal boat holiday, in fact, each year around one fifth of narrowboat hirers are new to the waterways!

It’s easier than you think to take control of a narrowboat, but to help settle any nerves about a staycation afloat, we’ve put together our top 12 canal boating tips for first-timers:

  1. Keep to the right: Unlike what you will be used to when driving, canal boats travel on the right side of our canals and rivers, so when you meet another boat, be sure to keep to the right.
  2. Steering basics: It might sound confusing at first, but really, it’s simple: if you want to go left, push the tiller to the right, and if you want to go right, push it to the left. Put the engine in reverse to stop. You’ll soon get the hang of it!
  3. Lock logistics: Always make sure you have a steerer on the boat when in a lock, and ensure that the boat is kept forward of the gates and cill (step). Be careful of slippery surfaces when pushing the gates open. Take your time and leave slowly to avoid any bumps.
  4. Close the gates behind you: Check that all paddles and gates are shut after you’ve used a lock, unless you can see another boat approaching.
  5. Sharing is caring: If possible, always share a lock with other boats to save water. This works to your advantage, as it means you can share the lock operation, and have a chat with other narrowboaters!
  6. Use your horn: The horn is there to enable you to warn canal boats coming towards you when approaching any sharp bends and when entering a tunnel.
  7. Tunnel tricks: Switch on your headlight before entering a tunnel, and if it’s a one-way tunnel, always make sure there isn’t already a boat inside before you begin to navigate your way through. To be sure, sound your horn upon approach.
  8. Slow down to walking pace: There’s a 4mph speed limit on the inland waterways. If you’re creating too much wash, you’re going too fast. Washes in the canals disturb wildlife and erodes the banks.
  9. Reduce your speed even further: Slow down when you are approaching bridges, locks, bends or junctions, and when passing other canal boats or anglers.
  10. Mooring musts: When mooring up at busy spots, make sure to avoid leaving a big gap between your boat and the bank. Never moor opposite winding holes, on bends, near to bridges, on private property, on lock landings (unless you are waiting to lock through) or at water points (unless you are filling up).
  11. Tying up: To keep your narrowboat secure, you need to tie it to the bank with a rope from both the front and the back of the barge, and on rivers you should fix your upstream rope first.
  12. Enjoy yourself! Above all, relax & enjoy your boating holiday!

For more tips and advice ahead of your narrowboat holiday, check out our YouTube channel where we have a series of virtual boat handover clips: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcFikWqY-NcnYsWpOE7osrA

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We offer a range of different types of holidays such as City Breaks, Relaxation Cruises and Popular Destinations

City Breaks
Rural retreats
Popular places

So why choose Anglo Welsh?

More than 55 years providing unique canal boat holidays.
Modern & spacious narrowboat holiday fleet – from 2 to 12 berths.
Wide choice of narrowboat hire locations and canal.
Canal boat holiday routes for novices & experienced boaters.
Flexible holiday booking, no hidden costs.
Family friendly holidays, pets also welcome.

Anglo Welsh. So much more than narrowboats

...but don't just take our word for it

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