Canal Cruising Skills - Beginners Guide To Cruising A Canal Boat
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Wed Dec 4, 2013 at 9:43am

Before purchasing a canal boat also referred to as a narrow boat or barge it’s advisable to know how to cruise the boat. In this blog we will explain the basics you will need to know.   

Steering the narrow boat is fairly straight forward, there are just two levers one is for the speed and the other allows you to go backwards and forwards these can be found on the control panel. The other control is called the tiller which is found at the back of the boat and this steers the boat to the left or the right. By moving the tiller to the right the boat goes to the left and by moving the tiller to the left it makes the boat go to the right. Which at first may sound a bit confusing, but by taking your time and staying at a low speed you can practice using the tiller and when you feel more confident you can increase your speed.

Once you have left the marina or where ever you are moored you are best cruising in the deepest part of the water and this is in the middle of the canal when you are on the straight sections. When you are going around a corner the deepest water will be on the outside arc so you should move over to that side of the canal to stay in the deep water. Cruising in the middle part of the canal is quite acceptable when there are no other boats around.

When you meet another boat the etiquette to overtake is the same as it is in a car, pull out and overtake on the right. If another boat wishes to overtake you, it is considered good manners to slow down move over so they can pass you by.

When you are ready to bring the narrow boat to a stop you need to start slowing down and aim the front of the boat to the edge of the towpath at about 30 degrees, when you are about 6 foot from the path start to steer the boat in the opposite direction. The boat will then start to straighten up and finally be parallel with the towpath. Once you are parallel you will be able to jump off the narrow boat and secure it using mooring pins or mooring rings.

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