Be A Considerate Boater

A UK Canal Boating Article

Category : How To


Being a Considerate Boat user is simple and allows you to get the best out of your canal boat holiday. The number one rule is always think of all other canal users in everything you do. There is a guide available free from which will explain the Waterways Code or you can purchase The Boaters Handbook.
The rules however are very simple and really just involve a lot of common sense and courtesy. We hope that this advice will help you to understand 'The Rules of the Road' and help you have a better understanding of waterways etiquette.

OTHER NARROWBOAT USERS - The canals are friendly places and a wave and a cheery greeting is the norm on the waterways. When meeting boats coming in the opposite direction slow down to reduce the bow wave and keep to the right. If it is not possible for both boats to pass then one of you will have to give way. In these circumstance priority will depend on the situation but a considerate boater will always give way. When approaching blind bends and bridges use your horn to give a long warning blast to oncoming boats. When passing moored boats slow down and keep well clear as you may cause the boat to rock which is a safety hazard and very annoying for the boats occupant. If another boat is behind you check to see if they want to pass you and if they do when there is a clear stretch of canal move over to the right hand side slow down and let them be on their way.

ANGLERS - Slow down when you see fishermen ahead and let them know you are approaching this will give them time, if needed, to pull in their lines. Try to keep to the centre on the canal if you can. If you want to moor and there is someone fishing nearby give them space as they have as much right to use the tow path as you have.

WALKERS AND CYCLIST - Don't obstruct the tow path when you moor up an if you stop for a picnic lunch or for the night don't clutter the tow path with your equipment. Never allow your ropes to be stretched across the tow path and make sure that if you use mooring pins they are visible and that they are kept close to the canal edge. Dogs must be kept under control at all times and if you bring your pet you are responsible for it when you are on the waterways. Dogs should be kept on a lead as other canal users may be frightened of dogs. Please ensure that you clean up after your dog and that you dispose of the waste in a bin.

RESIDENTS - Remember that boats are home to some canal users and you must respect them when you moor up for the night. Keep the noise down and don't run the engine at night. Think of your 'neighbours' and those living close to the canal bank.

THE ENVIROMENT - The canal bank is rich in wildlife so take extra care not to disturb the animals, insects and plants which make their home there. Keep an eye on your speed as when you go too fast your wash corrodes the canal banks. Keep you distance from any nesting birds and don't moor up on the non-towpath side. Take litter home with you and don't throw anything overboard. If you go for a walk keep to the footpaths and shut any farm gates behind you. Keep your dog on a lead and never let it run loose in fields as sheep or cattle may be grazing nearby. The water waste pipe from the sinks and showers flows into the canal so keep the water as healthy as possible. Try to use environment friendly detergents and try and put cooking waste into the bin.

LOCKS - When approaching locks check to see if there is a queue in front of you and sending one of your crew ahead to look at the situation is a good idea. If there is a queue get the crew to go and offer to help as this will speed up the time you and other boaters have to wait. The locks are a great place to swap tips and information and is where strangers soon become friends. Check to see whose 'favour' the lock is with and always let another boat go first if the lock is to their advantage. This saves time and also saves the precious water. If you are using a double or broad lock always share where possible as it makes less work for your crew and its saves water. Some locks have a Lock Keeper in charge so if there is a keeper always follow their instructions and make time for a friendly chat.

LIFT AND SWING BRIDGES - Check for traffic and pedestrians and if possible allow them to cross before you open the bridge. Close any warning barriers before you begin to open the bridge and don't forget to close the barriers again when you have finished. If there is another boat user approaching wave them through and close the bridge for them.

BRIDGES - Normally one boat at a time passes under a bridge and racing to be then first boat through is not a good idea. You will soon be able to judge who is closest to the bridge and who has priority but if in doubt use the rule that the boat nearest the tow path, where the deepest water is, gives way.

WINDING HOLES - If you see that there is a boat ahead of you turning give them plenty of space and allow them to make the turn. If you are about to turn give any on coming boats the correct signals that you are about to make a turning manoeuvre.

WATER POINTS - Be as quick as you can and only moor up at a water point if you actually need to fill up with water. Try and moor so other boats can tie up too and so that other boats users can also reach the taps. Sometimes it may require that a boat will need to moor along side yours so allow this to happen if needed. Look for any boats that are already waiting to fill up and moor in line as queue jumping may result in unnecessary embarrassment or conflict.

TUNNELS - Switch on your head light on in good time before you enter the tunnel and turning the lights on inside the boat also helps give extra light. As you enter sound one long blast on the horn as this will let boats already in the tunnel you are about to enter. Go slowly through the tunnel as it is easy to steer of course and hit the side when you are in the dark. If you pass another boat slow right down and give each other maximum clearance.

MOORING – You can tie up more or less anywhere you chose on the tow-path side of the canal as this will almost certainly not be on private property. Any moorings restrictions will be clearly marked so please adhere to any such notices. Moor well away from bridges, weirs, water points, winding holes, bends and locks also stay clear of marina entrances or junctions. Be sure that your mooring ropes, and pins if used, are not going to cause an obstruction on the canal bank and never allow you mooring ropes to be placed across the tow path.

SPEED – The maximum speed on the canal is 4 mph but the average speed is closer to 3 mph, remember you have booked a canal boat in order to slow down so do just that. Try not to keep to a tight schedule as sometime you do encounter hold ups or you may want to moor somewhere longer than expected. Do not create a wash as even at a low speed this can erode the canal bank or will cause a moored boat to be bumped. Keep your speed down when you are approaching bridges, bend and junctions, locks or when passing moored or moving boats and anglers. Running the boat engine too fast won't make you go much faster it just make more noise and uses more fuel.

DOGS - Must be kept under control at all times and if you bring your pet you are responsible for it when you are in the on the waterways. Dogs should be kept on a lead as other canal users may be frightened of dogs or there may be farm animals grazing in nearby fields. Please ensure that you clean up after your dog and that you dispose of the waste in a bin.

Remember it costs nothing to be polite and considerate and the waterways are big enough for everyone to enjoy.



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