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Canal boat holiday

(12 Posts)
olivesnutsandcheese Sun 16-Oct-16 11:37:18

Does anyone have any tips for a canal boat holiday in half term. Never stayed on a long boat before. DC are 12 and 4. Should we bring lifejackets to wear on deck?

girlywhirly Sun 16-Oct-16 16:14:25

I think the narrowboat company will supply life jackets if you request them and you'll need to specify child sized ones. They usually give you a quick training course in handling the boat before you start. Remember that the daylight hours will be shorter at that time of year, so you won't be able to travel as far as in summertime. Bearing in mind your top speed will only be 4mph and you may need to factor in waiting for locks to fill/empty and time moored up for meals you won't travel any great distance. You will need to estimate how far you can travel in half a week and turn round to get back in time to the boatyard.

I don't think you can drive the boat after dark so you'll need to aim for stopping points near canal side pubs or villages if you need provisions, otherwise any suitable mooring points will do if you are cooking on board. You can buy canal 'maps' that give you distances between locks, towns/villages etc, and have pubs, fresh water points and toilet pump out stations marked in case you need them. Boats do have central heating which is good for the time of year you want to go.

If this is your first time I'd recommend you choose somewhere without flights of locks as they can be very time consuming. However as you travel through the countryside you get to see a lot of nature.

LIZS Sun 16-Oct-16 16:24:57

They will supply life jackets. Wear comfortable shoes/boots with good grip as you'll be jumping on and off and the ground may be muddy. Layers and waterproofs a must as there may not be much shelter at the back for driver or companions. Don't plan on going too far each day , you may meet congestion especially at locks. If you go into town or to a pub to eat in the evening take a good torch as it will be pitch black on your return. Disposable bbq is useful if weather is decent. Ask about water and toilet flushing. If you don't lock off the supply when you flush the waste tank will fill and need draining, plus you'll need to stop to take on additional water.

olivesnutsandcheese Sun 16-Oct-16 23:05:44

Thanks, I think I'm going to need to look at the route & check for pubs/cafes and pack food for meals in case we don't get somewhere in time.

LIZS Mon 17-Oct-16 07:11:21

Check what cooking facilities you'll have. We've had a normal freestanding cooker on the boats we've been on. Some have microwaves and freezers.

Happyinthehills Mon 17-Oct-16 07:23:47

They are narrowboats not barges or long boats.
To calculate how long it will take add the number of locks to the number of miles and divide by 3 - that will give you the time in hours.
You can only turn at 'winding holes' or junctions. Turn on day 3.
Canalplan is a great online planner.
Where are you picking the boat up from?

Dowser Mon 17-Oct-16 12:01:47

We did rugby to Banbury 30 odd years ago.
It was lovely.
It was August and we had exceptional weather.
Would have been a nightmare otherwise .
We had 4 children aged 6 and 4

Would hate to do it again in case weather was bad. Wouldn't be a lot of fun for he drivers. Went with another couple so the men took turns driving. We didn't see much of them as they were at the back, with women and children at the front.
I hated driving, so that put paid to that one.

specialsubject Mon 17-Oct-16 12:34:54

unless there is serious dicking about going on you don't need to wear lifejackets. You have to walk off the boat to fall in. So fit one to the 4 year old who won't have much sense, but no-one else needs one.

sensible shoes, look where going, take time, plan ahead. Biggest danger is getting squashed between boat and edges, not falling in.

make sure boat has heating, CO alarm and so on.

Madcats Mon 17-Oct-16 13:25:37

I hope the weather stays good for you. I would pack the 4 year old some waterproof dungarees and wellies (as there is often long grass alongside where you moor) and gaiters/wellies for the rest of you. One of the big challenges in bad weather is keeping the inside of the boat fairly clean and dry (if you are a "shoes off indoors" family that is a good habit to continue with). Take a couple of big carrier bags to walk "wet gear' through to the shower room to dry. I'd pack a pair of gloves (possibly gardening ones) if you are going to be opening a stretch of locks, rather than just one or 2.

I do the school run along a busy stretch of canal; its getting a bit nippy in the evenings/mornings so make sure you have warm PJs. Many of the boats have wifi. Most have TV a decent (bottled gas) oven and a normal size under the counter fridge. You ought to be able to charge a phone etc, but I think everything is 12 volt, not 24.

I think I was about 15 when our family hired a boat with our cousins; we found it useful to have a canoe and a couple of bikes so we could go on ahead/nip to shops. Yes it rained a bit (but somehow I don't really remember that...I bet the parents did tho)!

Certainly our stretch of the canal has been recorded by Google streetview a year or so ago...not sure how far they have got with that

Ilovepsychology Mon 17-Oct-16 13:43:41

Remember to keep the fresh water tank topped up. If you run out it makes life tricky - cannot flush toilets! I speak from experience. We've been on several holidays on a canal and they are fantastic, potentially exhausting though so take it steady.

olivesnutsandcheese Mon 24-Oct-16 23:40:15

Some really useful advice, thank you. We are currently moored up for the night, heading back in the morning.
Had a great time.
Only negative was DS 12 letting DS4 close the lock with the lock key, queue the key spinning around madly and flying off into the canal. Nearly sh@t myself watching it in slow motion, no harm done though.

In case anyone reads this thread another time, I would say take food as the pubs are notoriously either not open, not serving food, etc. Children and DH's are not very good at long boating on empty stomach.

Steering is hard work but fun and very hard when your DS needs his bottom wiped and everyone else is talking at you grin

Tablets with downloaded films and fireman sam are very very necessary.

Wine is also a necessity

October is very much like winter so take very warm stuff and gloves.

Canal boat holidays rock

specialsubject Tue 25-Oct-16 08:07:24

Excellent - glad you enjoyed it!

For future ref, that was a very near miss with the lock. No way is a four year old strong enough to lower a paddle. The key could have smashed hands or heads, and doing this also wrecks the paddle. So a lost key is a lucky escape.

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