The lighter nights and – slightly – warmer weather mean that the summer months are almost upon us.After the year most of us have just had, thoughts are now turning to getting away from it all for a short staycation or luxury break. Here at Cafwin Cruises, we offer getaways with a difference. Our unique, luxury narrowboats offer all the comforts of a boutique hotel, but on the water. It enables our visitors the opportunity to explore the historic canals and stunning countryside in the heart of the country while taking a leisurely ride along the Great British Waterways. However, if you’ve never taken a luxury narrowboat break before and are unsure what to expect, here are our top tips to help you get the most out of your holiday.
Plan your route
When you’re on holiday, you probably want to do nothing more than relax, soak up some sun and not really work to any specific schedule or timetable. The great thing about a luxury narrowboat holiday is you can do just that. However, before you start your trip, it’s always good to have a rough idea of the route you want to take, what you want to see and how far you want to travel each day. Even if it’s just a loose one, having a plan will help you keep your holiday as relaxing and stress-free as possible. To help you with this, we provide a list of some suggested routes when you book with us. Having given the route some thought will give you a better idea of how many miles you can realistically travel and any potential hold-ups, such as locks, that you may encounter along the way. So, having a firm idea in mind of potential travel times, which locks you will have to contend with, and any other issues you need to be aware of along the way will help take the stress out of your luxury narrowboat holiday, so it goes without a hitch.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If it’s your first time on a luxury narrowboat, you’ll get all the information you need to get up and running before your holiday begins, including a run-down of all the onboard equipment and facilities. However, if there is anything you feel you don’t know enough about, don’t be afraid to ask questions before you set off. When you arrive, you’ll get a complete walkthrough of the boat and its facilities, so you know where everything is and what it does. You’ll also get a boating tuition demonstration covering casting off and mooring up, lock operation, onboard safety, emergency procedures and how to turn the boat, so you’re equipped with all the skills and knowledge you need to enjoy your break. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, just ask.
Choose your crew wisely
Narrowboats got their name for a reason. They are spacious but narrow, which means that you will be in close quarters with your friends or family members for the duration of your break. While canal boating is a very sociable and relaxing activity, it can also get quite stressful at times if you are navigating a lock or bridge. Make sure you travel with people you get along with to keep those potential flashpoints to a minimum. If you’re travelling with family, a luxury narrowboat holiday is an excellent way of bringing you together by all mucking in when all hands are needed on deck.
Respect other boats and water users
There’s lots of etiquette involved in narrow boating, and most of it revolves around showing respect and consideration to your fellow canal and river users. Racing other boats, travelling past moored boats too quickly, making excess noise and not allowing other boats to pass are all considered bad form in boating circles, so do your homework before and always respect other canal and river users. An excellent guide to the nuances of narrowboat etiquette can be read online here.
The whole point of a luxury narrowboat holiday is to try something new and unique while relaxing and enjoying the experience. So, once you have set off, try to relax, don’t stress and enjoy the ride. Our narrowboat is very robust and can handle the odd knock so long as you stick to the regulations and don’t speed. So, get used to the slower pace of life. Focus your efforts on the canals and switch off from the stresses and strains of modern living.
Watch the Cill
When it comes to navigating your first lock – or indeed any lock – successfully, the Cill Marker is the most important thing to bear in mind when coming down a lock. The cill is a ledge that appears once all the water from the lock has drained away. If you haven’t cleared it and the lock empties, the boat could either become wedged on the ledge or, worse and more likely, tip over into the water below. The white line painted on the side of the lock is the Cill Marker. As long as the boat goes all the way past the white line, you’ll have no problems getting through. Everything is easy; you just need to follow the rules.