A boating holiday in Norfolk is a unique and thrilling experience. Many tourists considering a boating holiday have limited experience of what to expect on a boat and how to handle it as far as safety is concerned. After all, steering a 70-feet long boat is something that requires a bit of getting used to since we are not born expert boaters.
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Hold back on the speed
On most canals and rivers, the speed limit is about 6 kilometres per hour, which is about our average walking speed. Keep in mind that boats do not have speedometres, yet you are required to observe the speed limit. Regardless, running the engine faster than 6 kilometres per hour will not help you get to the other side much faster. It will just make more noise and consume more fuel. When boating in shallow canals, keep the speed less than 6 km/h if you hear a breaking wave build up at the stern.
Just like the cars on the road, you pass other boats on the right hand side. However, it would be wiser to keep it towards the centre of the canal if you don’t see any other boats coming your way. When passing moored boats, slow down and leave plenty of space on the side. The wash from your boat may bump the moored boat and make it unstable. If you want to turn around, wait for a winding hole (pronounced wind-ing) to come. These special turning places come every few kilometres.
Typically, a canal is deeper on the outer side of bends as well as the centre of straight sections. As long as you keep away from the shallow corners of bends, your boat will automatically steer more easily and quietly. Occasionally, you may come across deeper traditional boats that want their right of way in the deeper water. If they communicate via shouting or a hand signal, give them way by steering to the side. Similarly, if another boat is coming behind you, move over to the side and slow down when a clear stretch of canal comes.
Don’t fear Bridges – Just take it slowly
Make sure all crew is safely below the deck when navigating bridges. Since they are some low bridges around the area, check the height indicated on the boat and compare it with the metre on the bridge. If you can see a significant gap above the height of your boat, it should be good to go. Also ensure the TV Ariel is down.
Although canal accidents are rare, water is potentially dangerous and boats tend to be heavy in weight so you must take sensible precautions in all situations. The most common cause of accidents is falls or bumps for which you have to make sure you always hold onto the handrail when walking down the boat. Also, don’t jump ashore when mooring, rather wait till you are close enough to step off. Make sure you don’t step onto wet or slippery boat floor and use a torch on towpaths at night.
Author Colin McDonald – I am a keen traveller and have spent many years flying around the world in search of something new. Only now I realise that I have all I need in my backyard – Norfolk. Written with the help of the good folk at http://www.ferry-marina.co.uk/