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10 top tips for boating newbies and aspiring skippers

Sail off into the sunset with our handy guide to all things boating

10 top tips for boating newbies and aspiring skippers
Have you ever been on a boating holiday? | Photos: Courtesy of Hoseasons

The UK is awash with year-round cruising options.

But if you’re a boating novice, you might be under the illusion that it’s difficult (not true) or unglamorous (also, definitely not true).

‘Our first class fleet and luxury boating collection is called Starboard,’ explains Hoseasons’ resident boating expert Jamie. ‘They include your creature comforts, but it’s the little extras that make it special.

‘Fully-equipped kitchens, contemporary interiors, high quality bed linen and towels. Even a bottle of bubbly on arrival! A lot of the boats also have Wi-Fi, so you can get in touch with friends on Facebook and Instagram and share amazing pictures as you enjoy your boating break.’

‘The canal boats go up to 70 foot long,’ he furthermore adds. ‘Our largest vessel sleeps a maximum of 12 people, both cruisers and canal boats. A lot of the double beds can split into singles to accommodate an array of different types of parties. Boating is for everyone, whether it’s a birthday, a stag or hen party or a romantic trip.’

So, whether you fancy the Norfolk Broads, the Birmingham Canal Navigations or the mighty River Thames, here are Hoseasons’ top tips for making a success of your first time on the water…

1 Plan your cruising route before you travel

‘You need to make the most of your time afloat. There are so many options and directions you can go, whether it’s a short break or a two-week trip. Even if you like to go with the wind, semi-plan, and try and fit in everything you want to do. You will have a skippers’ manual on board, which will have general tips and reminders taught to you during your tuition. And it’ll also have information on mooring spots, where to refill your water, and maps too. But it is a good idea to invest in a more detailed waterway guide if you can, specific to the area you’re going to be cruising.’

2 Pack light, pack savvy – and no suitcases!

‘Think about how you’re going to pack. Use soft bags that can be folded away easily to save space on board. They’re much better than suitcases. You also need to consider packing for all weathers just in case. The climate on the water can be so different from on land. Weather conditions in Britain can change quite dramatically.’

3 Bring SPF

‘You can easily burn on the water, because of the reflections, a bit like with surfing. On a day when it’s really sunny or good weather, remember sun protection. With the breeze from cruising, you can burn without realizing.’

4 Go to the supermarket beforehand

‘It’s better to get provisions before you start your boating holiday rather than waiting to be out on the water. Most boat yards have supermarkets within easy reach, some within walking distance. Not so from all mooring spaces. Being self-catering, all our boats will have fully-equipped kitchens. Cookers, cooking utensils, pots and pans, kettles. Some even have coffee machines! They’re more than equipped for a roast on a Sunday, or a three-course meal. But fridges on boats aren’t as big as domestic fridges, so you need to be mindful of what you can store from day one.’

5 Remember, boats don’t have brakes

‘Boats don’t steer like cars, and they don’t have brakes. To stop you need to put the boat into reverse, so while cruising along, you need to be mindful of what’s ahead of you, so you need to give yourself time to slow down if you need to.’

6 But don’t panic – boating truly is easy!

‘You don’t need any previous experience! On boating trips with Hoseasons, you are given short tuition on arrival. You will be given a demonstration. Once you’ve picked up a boat for hire, you will be talked through all the controls and taken onto water for the demo to make sure you’re confident. You’ll be a natural in no time. It’s surprising how quickly you pick it up.’

7 Always wear a life jacket (and non-slip shoes)

‘Especially when manoeuvring around on board. Especially on the cruisers, which have top decks and more space to walk around the outside of the boat. Some sections of the Norfolk Broads can be six feet deep. Even the strongest of swimmers can get into trouble with the fast-flowing rivers. Hold on tight when moving about on board. And do make sure any little skippers are supervised at all times!’

8 Always listen to the skipper

‘Waterways across the UK vary. You’ve got the rivers and canal network. Whereas the Broads are completely lock-free, the rivers and the canals do have locks. Locals are part of the fun of river and canal boating, but they do require full attention so everyone remains safe. You need to be an active person to do the winding mechanisms and opening the lock gates. It’s about taking your time and enjoying the experience. Listen to the skipper. The person steering the boat is in charge at all times.’

9 Don’t be too selective with moorings

‘With mooring spots, especially in busy periods, spaces can be limited. It’s best to go with the first one you find, if it’s in the area you want to be, rather than take a gamble and cruise further down the river or canal, to find there aren’t more spaces. It’s easy to turn around on broads and rivers, but not canals. They’re narrow, so there are designated turning points. So it’s better to moor up at the first one you see, than go for a walk down the towpath to see if there’s one further along.’

10 If mooring outside a pub, think of everyone in your party

‘In the evening and at night, when everyone comes out, is it going to disturb you if you’re a light sleeper? Think about if you want a quiet spot or not.’

For more information about boating holidays in the UK and Europe with Hoseasons, visit the official website.

Hoseasons is a client of Gay Star News   


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