First Time Boaters
Welcome to the world of narrowboating and the charm of our canal system. Steeped in history our 200 year old canal network has become increasingly popular and widely used each year. If this is your first canal holiday please don’t worry – our boat operators all have experienced staff who will ensure that everything is explained and demonstrated to you.
Before you begin your holiday adventures you may want to look at the Boater’s Handbook (download from the link on the left of the page) or watch our boating video (again the link is to the left hand side of this page). The Boater’s Handbook introduces you to the basics of boat-handling and details aspects of boat safety. Our boating video shows you some of the canal network and families who have been on a narrowboat holiday.
Other useful information for the first time boater can be found at http://www.waterscape.com/watch or on the Considerate Boater website (www.considerateboater.com).
Arrival & Departure
Our Boat Operators will always endeavour to have boats ready for collection at 3.00pm on the start day of your holiday. If for any reason you are unable to arrive on time please contact their start base (see Contact section) or the Booking Office so special arrangements can be made well in advance of your holiday. A late arrival charge may apply and the full handover of your boat might not take place until the next day. We cannot allow a boat to depart without a full demonstration.
Upon arrival to the base please report to reception so staff can advise you what to do next. When your boat is ready you will be shown on board, and when you are unpacked your boat demonstration and instructions will begin.
Your boat must be returned and vacated by 9.30am on the last day of your narrowboat holiday. It is very import that boats are not handed back late as the turnaround process depends on boats being available at the correct time. Late returns may be charged for, so please inform the base immediately if there is going to be an issue.
When you arrive at the marina you will be given demonstrations introducing you to narrowboating and your boat, so no previous experience is necessary.
If you are new to canal boats marina staff will answer all of your questions and ensure you are comfortable to start your holiday. Don’t worry, the boats are easy to handle, so take it steady and you will soon be an experienced captain of your boat.
If this is not your first canal holiday then the tuition will be made to fit with what you require and staff will get you started on your holiday as soon as possible.
Each boat has details of its equipment and local information in a manual, so please read this when you board the boat and ask staff any questions. You will also have received information before your hire in documentation, but please look at our downloads for other useful details.
Help through your holiday
Along with the tuition and details on the boat, the base can be contacted throughout the day and our Boat Operators all provide a 24hr emergency helpline. Ask your handover staff for details of what to do if you need to speak to them.
Maps & Guides
To help you with planning we have a number of maps and guides. Maps show things such as locks, bridges, turning points and marinas, and guides will help you locate places of interest, pubs, shops and facilities along your route. They are inexpensive and a worthwhile investment as they will help you get more out of your holiday. They can be ordered direct or purchased at the Boat Operator’s marina on your arrival.
Licences & Restrictions
Hiring a narrowboat is not like hiring a car, you do not need a driving licence and the boat itself is licenced by our Boat Operators for all waterways run by British Waterways (about 2,000 miles). There are a few waterways outside their jurisdiction for which you will need to purchase an additional short term visitors’s licence as you enter them, such as the Rivers Avon, Thames, Nene and Wey.
The start bases can provide details when you arrive to pick up your boat on current procedures and costs. Our Boat Operators narrowboats are not allowed to navigate tidal waterways except the River Thames between Brentford and Teddington in favourable conditions. You can obtain details about this from the marina when you arrive.
There are buoyancy aids available free of charge for both children and adults at the marinas (compulsory for children under the age of 18 and non-swimmers). They do not need to be booked in advance and should be requested upon arrival at the marina so the correct size can be fitted. Our Boat Operators have various sizes, but unfortunately do not supply buoyancy aids for dogs.
A narrowboat holiday is superb for families. Cot-sides can be provided for very small children on standard berths. Simply indicate this when booking.
If you would like to use a travel cot or you are bringing your own to use, please contact the booking office. Space is obviously limited and for health and safety reasons we can advise on suitable boats that they can be accommodated on.
If you would like to bring bikes on your holiday it may not be possible from each base so please send a message to us to check. The only place you can store bikes is on the roof of the boat, not inside the boat. You will need to bring something to protect the top of the boat and secure your bikes and any damage to the boat or bikes is your responsibility.
If you are going for a holiday for a week or more bikes can be used, but from feedback from our customers it would appear that they don’t use them as much as they thought, particularly on short breaks. The joy of canal boating is for all the family to be on the boat enjoying the scenery or helping each other with locks, so sometimes bikes aren’t needed or used.
Freshly laundered bedding is provided on all of our Boat Operator’s boats.
These are provided free of charge on all Alvechurch and Wessex boats and to overseas Viking Afloat and Red Line customers. If you are from the UK and hiring a boat from Viking Afloat or Red Line you will need to bring your own towels.
This really is a holiday the whole family can enjoy together. Our Boat Operators charge £30.00 for each pet. They obviously also request that the boat is returned in a clean and tidy condition and reserve the right to refuse pets or charge for any additional cleaning or repairs required as a result of pets being on board during your holiday.
Fishing is prohibited on British rivers between 15th March and 15th June. Fishing is allowed outside these dates and on canals at any time, but a licence is required. This is available from any post office with a 1-day, 8-day or annual licence to choose from.
For reasons of hygiene, our Boat Operators regret that live bait may not be kept on the boat.
One of the pleasures of a canal holiday is the option to stop off and experience the towns and villages along the way, shopping as and when you need supplies. If you are unable to bring some groceries with you or stop and shop on arrival, there are details of how to get groceries for the start of your holiday in the ‘Holiday Guide’ that you will receive with your final holiday documents.
Mobile phone charging
All of our Boat Operator’s boats have a 12-volt electricity supply with a car-type cigar lighter socket that can be used with a mobile phone car adapter lead (bring your own lead). On some boats there is a 240-volt electricity supply that can be used for your own equipment at your own risk. 110- volt AC supply is not available in the UK .
There is a voluntary environmental offset donation suggested at £5 per car.
The only compulsory charges in addition to the brochure price are a fuel deposit and the cost of the fuel consumed and a non refundable Accidental Damage Waiver Fee at £50.00.
We can also provide details of Personal Holiday Insurance for UK customers if required (strongly recommended).
Other charges are applicable for extra services if required.
If you wish to bring pets, then a fee may apply.
The boat is ready fuelled for your holiday on arrival, but there is a fuel deposit payable with your holiday booking. This is £90.00 per week and is not included in the hire cost. When you return the boat to us the balance is refundable after deducting fuel used. However if you have used fuel in excess of the deposit you will be asked to pay the difference.
There is ample open air parking at the bases which is provided free of charge. Our Boat Operators regret that they cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to hirers’ vehicles