The 3 Simple Rules Every Boater Should Know

Community boatingThe English canals and rivers are a fairly relaxed place to be and there aren’t too many rules and regulations to memorise or keep to. On the blog this week we’re going back to basics with 3 simple rules for trouble free boating.

1. Overtake Slowly

You’ll hardly need to be overtaking other boats that often on the English waterways – many canals are too narrow to attempt it anyway! But if you’re going to have a go make sure that the other skipper knows what you’re doing. Allow them some time to slow down and check if they are indicating which side they want you to overtake. (Usually this would be on the left as canal boats cruise on the right.) It’s your responsibility to stay clear of their boat, and it’s good etiquette to go past quite slowly to avoid creating a big wash, or drawing the two boats together.

2. Give Way at Bridge Holes

You’ll need to slow down at bridges or narrow sections of canal in case another boat is approaching. Whoever is closest to the bridge hole should pass through first, while the other boat should wait on the right side of the Cut giving the other boat plenty of room. If somebody waves you through give them a friendly nod or wave of acknowledgement in return. On rivers the boat coming downstream has right of way.

3. Keep Below the Speed Limit

The limit is 4mph on narrow canals but not many boats travel at that speed. You are going too fast if your wash is hitting the bank and creating great waves as you chug along. On rivers and broad canals you’ll need to check the local information as the speed limit may be different, and you may meet much larger craft travelling faster than a canal boat. When planning a journey remember that a current may increase or decrease your cruising speed. Slow down when approaching bridges, locks, bends, junctions and when passing other boats. And definitely slow down for anglers!

Improve Your Skills

Of course there’s more to it than just these 3 tips if you want to become a navigation ninja! If you’re ready to go beyond the basics, NCBA training provides the skills and experience that staff and volunteers need to gain a better understanding of the people they work with . This means they can bring disadvantaged people onto the waterways who would not otherwise have access to them handling boats safely and providing good customer care. You may like to try a boat handling course, or the CCBM: An intensive two-day course covering boat handling and the management of group safety and welfare. Contact us if you are interested in taking a course.


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