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Canal Cruising Skills - Going through a tunnel

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Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:47am

Tunnels were originally built to negotiage large hills.  They can vary in size from a few hundered yards to several thousand.  One of the largest navigable tunnels, Blisworth is near out sister marina, Whilton Marina.

There are tunnels where only one canal boat can pass through but their are also tunnels where two narrowboats can go side by side one another.

Safety Precautions when going through a tunnel

  • You must have a light fitted to your narrow boat and have this on at all times - it is best that the light is angled down and to the side so as to illuminate the tunnel rather than dazzle anyone.
  • Take a spare torch incase the light breaks.
  • Turn on some lights in the cabin.
  • Make sure that no crew members are on the roof.
  • Make sure that children and pets are safe.
  • Do check your engine temperature, oil pressure, cooling water and fuel gage before entering the tunnel.  You do not want to break down when you are half way through the tunnel!
  • Remove all items that are not waterproof from the outside of the boat and make sure that you are wearing waterproof clothing!  You will always encounter drips of water from the tunnel.

Navigating in tunnels

Some tunnels have a traffic light system or set times that you can pass through the tunnel.  However most do not have such a system.  You can usually see if a narrow boat is passing through the canal as they will block the light coming through the tunnel and they should also have a light on.  If someone in front of you has started to make their way through the tunnel then you can follow them through as long as there is no time limit.

When travelling through a tunnel it is important to keep a steady pace at 3mph, keep to the right hand side of the canal and try to steer straight so as not to damage your boat on the side of the tunnel.  In wider tunnels where two canal boats can pass through it is important to go very slowly on approaching them (making sure that you slow down to tickover speed) but do not stop all together.

Be careful of other people in the tunnel if it has a towpath, also fiberglass boats will come off far worse in a collision so remember to be particually mindful of them.

Our blog is for information purposes only and Venetian Marina cannot accept any liability.

 

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