Canal Cruising Skills - How to Operate and Steer a Narrowboat
<< Back to Blog list
Thu Aug 30, 2012 at 5:14pm

What do you need to steer a Narrowboat?

No license is required to steer a narrowboat in the UK.  However, at Venetian Marina we find that customers that are new to boating sometimes struggle to get the hang of it.  This is perhaps not a surprise as it is very different from driving a car as narrow boats are very heavy and slow to react!

The most important thing to remember is don't panic!  A narrowboat's top speed is about 4mph and if you slightly bump in to something then usually this won't cause much of a problem. 

Extra Tuition?

If you are wanting to have a bit of tuition to feel more confident in your abilities to moor, steer or go through a lock in your narrowboat then it is worth looking into getting some proper training that is RYA approved (see the link below).  There are also many sources on the internet that are worth reading/watching such as our sister company's youtube videos

So how do I steer a Narrowboat?

Most canal boats have diesel engine which is controlled by a morse control (see Whilton Marina's video below).  This single lever alters the engine speed and also selects forward, neutral and reverse gears.  The morse control lever is usually at the stern of a narrowboat and near to the tiller bar.  Whilst the morse control enables you to control the speed and direction the boat goes in (forward or reverse) the tiller bar enables the user to move the boat from side to side.  For example if you move the tiller bar to the left the narrowboat will move the the right and vice versa.  This can be very confusing at first and takes a while to get used to!

So the main thing to remember is if you are wanting to learn to steer or control a narrowboat is that you do not need a licence, do not panic when having a go and that practice makes perfect!  But if you feel you need a bit of extra help take a look at our useful links below. 

Narrowboat Hire Companies near Venetian Marina

1. Cheshire Cat Narrowboating Holidays

2. Middlewich Narrowboats

3. Nantwich Canal Centre

4. Black Prince Narrowboat Hire - Acton Bridge


Training Courses

RYA - Inland Waterways Helman'd Course


Other Sources:

Canal Boat - Canal Boating Skills

Canal Junction - Canal Boat Handling Skills

UK Canals Network - Beginners Guide to Narrowboats


Other Recent Posts