Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Any Questions? V.3

In light of the fact that lots of our new readers are not necessarily boaters, I've decided to start a regular(ish!) feature called 'Any Questions?'. So, if there's anything about narrowboating, or living afloat  that you're curious about then please get in touch, by email, facebook, twitter, comments or formspring! Here's today's question and answer (I meant to get this up on Friday but was too busy with the Bumps!).

Bella asks "I have always wondered how easy it is to navigate one of your boats and whether there is a 'driving test'."

First, there is no 'driving test' for cruising the inland waterways of the UK. Anyone with a boat can just hop in and go boating without any prior experience. I would say it's relatively easy to handle a narrowboat, although I still have a lot to learn! Everything generally happens quite slowly so that you have more time to respond than in a car. However, although it's easy to steer a narrowboat, it's difficult to steer one really well. Manoeuvring into tight mooring spots or reversing require a bit of skill. The type of boat will make a difference - handling a 70ft ex-working boat is different to steering the Duck - as will the type of waterway. Rivers require more skill than canals due to the currents, but once you get the hang of them, you can use the stream to your advantage.

For anyone keen to learn how to handle a narrowboat, I'd say that the best way is just to get out there and do it - practice makes perfect! But there are courses where you can learn in a controlled environment with an instructor too. See the RYA's Inland Waterways Helmsman Courses.

You can see the answers to previous questions about living afloat here!

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