Boating holidays are holidays like no other; ones in which you can travel as and when you please, at your own pace, whilst surrounded by nature.
The fact that they might not have never spent much time on a boat often puts people off booking boating holidays, but there really isn't any need to worry; anyone can enjoy a boating holiday, from the most experienced boater to the complete novice.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about boating holidays.
Do I need a license?
There is no requirement for you to have a license to drive a boat. When you hire your boat from your holiday company you will be given a manual which will explain all of the rules of the waterways, which are a bit like the highway code but much simpler. A good holiday company will make sure that you are completely happy that you know what you are doing with your boat before you set off.
Where do I get fresh water?
There will be a full water tank on board, and there will be hot running water for showers and kitchens. You can top your water tank up should you need to on your journey; public moorings offer fresh water for a small charge.
What about locks?
Locks are all part of the charm of boating holidays, and are easy to use. You steer your boat into the lock and use the wooden beams for closing the gates behind the boat. An L-shaped handle for winding will be provided with your boat, and you use this to open the paddle doors in the other gates. These let water out or in to change the water's level.
Then you simply open the gates up and steer out, closing the lock's gates and doors behind you before leaving.
If you take boating holidays in Europe, and on the larger rivers and canals like the Thames, Cambridgeshire Waterway and the Caledonian Canal, there are lock-keepers who will do the work for you. On the Norfolk broads, a popular holidaying network of canals and rivers, there are no locks.
Locks are all part of the fun of boating holidays, and you will often find you attract an audience as you pass through, especially at busy locks such as Camden in London.
Where do I stop?
You can refer to your on-board manual to find information on mooring places, and you will be shown how to moor up properly. Popular places to moor are waterside pubs; there's nothing better than meandering your way towards a country pub on a summer's day and having lunch and a pint beside the water.
Popular moorings beside towns and villages may impose a small charge for the service, but there are lots of free mooring places in quieter areas.
Dom Donaldson is a boating expert. Find out more about Boating holidays and the adventures that await.
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