Boating Tips


Narrow Boating around Britain’s canals is a safe pastime for people of all ages – and will remain so, as long as a few basic precautions are kept in mind.

Below, you will find details on narrowboat maintenance, narrowboat safety, moorings and guides to buying a narrowboat. We also explain what it is like living on a narrowboat all year round.

We cover such topics as what to do in the event of an emergency, how to use locks, how fast you should go – and the sort of etiquette that will endear you to other canal users

Living on a Narrowboat
‘Living on a boat’ – or more specifically, ‘Living on a narrowboat’. All sorts of romantic notions are conjured up by those four words. But, before you rush out and buy one, or give up a land base to live on one, I’ve tried to outline (click here for more)

Widebeam Boats
Yes – I know its not a narrowboat, but not ALL boats that travel the canal network are narrow and many people turn to widebeam boats as an alternative to narrowboats when thinking of living on a boat (click here for more)

Narrowboat Tiller Pins
This much ignored piece of kit usually sits astride the narrowboat owners tiller and allows the tiller arm itself to be securely attached to the swans neck which in turn is attached to the rudder (click here for more)

Narrowboat Handling
Narrowboat handling, like all boat handling is simple in principal, but you would be amazed at how many individuals struggle with the basics. I’ve often compared driving or steering a narrowboat to manoeuvring an articulated lorry from the back, with no brakes. (click here for more)

Buying a Narrowboat
Buying a narrowboat is a highly personal decision and I have tried to outline in this article some of the most common areas that potential narrowboat owners need help on. (click here for more)

Inland Waterways Radio Use

Some narrowboaters may question the need for an inland waterways radio (VHF) given that they never venture out onto the open ocean. However, many locks and marinas connected to the ‘traditional’ canal system use VHF radio to… (click here for more)

Narrowboat Safety
Indeed boat safety of any kind – is largely a case of using common sense. However, watch a crew of any boat for long enough, and certain bad habits start to creep in, particularly in the less obvious areas of boating (click here for more)

Narrowboat Moorings
It’s a sad fact, but one of the things many new narrowboaters (or indeed any boat using the canals and rivers of the UK) tend to overlook is the fees associated with mooring your vessel. There is an awful lot written (click here for more)


Narrowboat Maintenance – The Engine Compartment
A guide to some of the more mundane tasks that the average narrowboat owner or anyone thinking of living on a narrowboat has to contend with on a day to day basis. Most of what I will be touching upon should be within the abilities of most people and (click here for more)

How Fast and How Far can a Narrowboat Go
How far can narrow boaters cruise in a day? This frequently asked question can cause all sorts of consternation on a narrow boat – and it is often one of the hardest to answer! (click here for more)

Narrowboat Maintenance – Blacking
One of the most important things to consider, especially if you are thinking of living on a narrowboat, it the amount of time and money needed to maintain your vessel in good condition. Just like a land based dwelling, you will need to consider (click here for more)

Buying a Narrowboat – Construction & Styles
So – you’ve decided to buy a narrowboat! The first thing most prospective buyers need to establish is what type of narrow boat best suits the purpose that they wish to use it for. That may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at the amount of people who have rushed into buying their first boat, often following their first narrowboat holiday, only to discover six months later (click here for more)


Locks and how to use them
The canal system of Great Britain relies heavily on a system of locks that enable the canal to rise and fall over hills and other high ground. Some canal builders tried to avoid putting expensive locks on the stretch of the canal they were constructing, relying instead on following the contours of any hill to maintain a level (click here for more)

Etiquette on the Canals
If, like many people, you’ve decided to hire a narrowboat for the first time for a holiday – or perhaps thought of using a day boat from a hire company for a summer trip – it can sometimes be a bit daunting understanding the instructions on handling your boat that should have been issued by your hiring company (click here for more)

Narrowboat Insurance
There is nothing that raises the blood pressure of a narrow boat owner than the thorny issue of narrow boat insurance. First, let’s be clear – third party insurance is compulsory – and actually forms part of the narrow boat licence issue conditions. But all this form of insurance covers is damage to other people’s property or boats. Imagine crashing into a lock gate so severely…(click here for more)


Narrowboating – What CAN go wrong
Boating – what could possibly go wrong? When you’re at peace with the world, your boat meandering through the countryside, it is difficult to imagine that any problems exist. And with a bit of judicious planning, you can certainly do your bit to ensure that problems are kept to a minimum (click here for more)

Narrowboats and Dogs
Generally, we’ve always found that dogs and boats mix quite well. However, river cruising in a narrowboat needs a slightly different approach than when you are on a canal. Apart from the obvious fact that you may have a substantial flow to contend with, you are not always able to moor alongside the river bank where you want (click here for more)

Use of a Narrowboat Horn
The horn on a narrow boat needs to be a good loud one, and many these days originate from the automotive industry. The important thing is that they work – and this forms part of your Boat Safety examination. Horn signals become even more important when navigating around (click here for more)

Narrowboat Lights
A narrow boat should be fitted with navigation lights, on port and starboard sides as well as a wide beam headlamp and a stern light. Any narrow boater who is contemplating night-time cruising (or indeed is likely to navigate through a tunnel on their journey) will need to ensure these are checked before a cruise (click here for more)