Saturday, 6 April 2013
Tips for a happy canal boat / narrowboat holiday
We've just returned from another week on a narrowboat. I love these weeks. Unfortunately, it was icy cold this past week, but we still enjoyed ourselves. There's something very relaxing about life on a narrowboat. I've been on a few of these holidays now (the picture above was from a brilliant week in 2010), and there's certainly a few tips I've picked up. Things to avoid big time are:
1. Aim not to call your loved one a 'stupid man' (or woman... or worse). Everybody on the bank hears you, stops their stroll, and turns to look at said 'stupid man' who then stares daggers at you for the next hour or so.
2. "But muuuuummm, he looks hungry"... ! Try to avoid feeding a 'lovely looking', 'hungry looking' swan at dusk. That swan will begin tapping on your boat at 2 am in the morning, looking for another snack. And somehow, it knows where your bedroom is - it will not wake the children!
3. It looks faster, but don't cut corners - it's a sure way to get grounded. Everyone gets grounded, but it is certainly avoidable on corners.
Meanwhile, good things to do are:
Check the boatyard maintains the boats well. Most boatyards we've used have been excellent, but there are some things to look out for. If, for example, the sills on the windows are wood and left to rot, they let in a bad draught at night. If the engine alternators aren't maintained, they stop working the day after you take them out and that involves mooring and waiting for someone to come and mend it all. Or going without power all week if not running the engine. And it may sound silly, but ask how old the double mattress is. Most of ours have been fine. The one we had that should have been replaced years ago resulted in a very bad week of sleep (I'm talking feeling the springs had sprung!). The above boat was one of the best we've had, so much so we've used the company twice, but there have been a couple of boatyards I wouldn't hire from again. And I certainly now know the questions to ask before hiring (it's not cheap after all).
I hope that helps if you're considering booking a canal boat for the first time. It's a great holiday, I'd really recommend it, and there's a fabulous selection of waterways to go on in the UK, all lovely in different ways.