Sounds unlikely, right? After all, the British weather is unpredictable, and maybe you’re not that confident when it comes to boat handling. So surely a week on a UK canal boat is not going to tick all of your boxes?
Or is it?
After living on a narrowboat for 13 years I can suggest what to wear, what to bring and how fast to travel to make sure that you have an absolutely amazing time. You don’t even need to know anything about canals or boats to make this your best holiday ever.
Take some comfortable clothes and shoes for your day-to-day boating. You may be working the locks, banging in mooring pegs, pulling ropes, holding the tiller or preparing snacks. Space is limited on board so don’t bring too much luggage, but you can of course bring some nicer clothes for those trips “ashore” to go shopping or visit a restaurant. Take clothing for all weathers, and a torch for finding your way down the towpath in the dark. (Tunnels and bridges can sometimes drip water on to you when you’re steering!)
You can bring some basic food supplies with you, but you can also go to the supermarket when you arrive in March, or have a full grocery shop delivered to your boat. There will also be opportunities for shopping along the way as you travel. There is no freezer on board, but our boats come with fully equipped galleys; crockery, cutlery, oven, hob, microwave and fridge.
When I lived aboard, people would sometimes ask me if it was cold in winter, and whether living aboard was a bit like camping? But nothing could be further from the truth: Modern narrowboats are extremely comfortable. Fox Narrowboats are supplied with gas or diesel central heating, fresh bed linen and cosy duvets.
If you’re new to narrowboating you may be surprised at how long the journey takes. While the speed limit is officially four miles per hour, you are likely to travel much slower than that. Locks will slow you down, and you are expected to reduce your speed to “tickover” when you pass moored boats. You can plan your route using the guidebook provided with the hire boat, or our online interactive map.. This will help you choose your planned destination of the end of the day; it can be convenient to moor close to a pub. A spell of rain, or a particularly interesting tourist attraction can also slow down your schedule. So embrace the slower pace of life and begin to enjoy the moment: When planning the distance you can travel, less is more. Don’t spend all day at the tiller; instead make time for exploring the villages and towns that you come across.
Choose Your Crew Wisely
Are you OK about sharing a small space with your nearest and dearest? You may like to assign roles to one another; for example, steerer, lock operator, cook and maker-of-hot-drinks! Be prepared to moor up and take a break if some of the crew need it. Make sure everyone is listening when you get the handover talk from our Fox Narrowboats staff. Perhaps someone will be in charge of working out distances and mooring locations, factoring in water points and shopping stops. Older children can also get involved with being part of the crew.
Even Celebrities Are Doing It!
Boaters on the CanalWorld discussion forums have spotted Matthew Corbett, Toyah Wilcox, Timothy Spall, Nicholas Cage, David Suchet, Heston Blumenthal, Brian Blessed, Camilla Parker Bowles and Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees messing about in boats.
It may be hard to believe, but if you get these few things right, you really can have the best holiday ever. Pack the right clothes and bring some basic food supplies, choose a crew that you love, and take the journey nice and slow. We’ll show you how to handle the boat, and provide all mod cons and creature comforts to make you feel at home. Choose your hire boat now and start getting excited about your next narrowboat adventure on the uncrowded Fenland waterways in 2024.
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