New to Narrowboating?

Useful Information for beginners

As much as a holiday on water is romantic, sociable, relaxing and just plain fun, we understand that it can seem a little bit daunting to the uninitiated. We at Cafwin Cruises want to assure you that we will be with you from your arrival and will stay with you until you feel confident to set off alone. All our staff have completed Inland Waterway Helmsman’s courses and as members of the British Marine Federation, we, as a hire boat company, are working towards our British Marine Quality Accredited Boatyard (QAB).  Having the QAB accreditation indicates that boat operators are committed to quality, providing recognition for their operators and giving potential customers a label they can trust. The QAB assessment criteria includes:

  • Health and Safety
  • Legal requirements
  • The Hire Boat Handover Scheme
  • Assessment of an operator’s website
  • Arrival and departure procedures
  • Customer service procedures – onshore and when customers are away from the boatyard
  • Boatyard facilitie
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Therefore, as a guest on one of our Boutique Narrowboats you can be assured of the following:

  • Training in narrowboat handling – You do not need previous experience
  • A full boat safety induction both prior to your holiday by e-mail and on the day of handover
  • Escort through a flight of three locks to gain your confidence
  • Advice on how to navigate through bridges and tunnels
  • Provided with life jackets and safety equipment on board
  • Full emergency assistance 8am to 8pm every day of your holiday – on call assistance after 8pm
  • We are fully licensed and insured for hiring out our boats
  • We can provide help with choosing appropriate routes for your holiday.  See the Routes tab for more info

Also, don’t forget that we have provided a Bow Thruster on Arthur Owl since he doesn’t have access through the bow windows other than for emergency.  Steering a narrowboat is all part of the fun, but we are wanting you to totally relax and have time for one another too.  Therefore, with the push of a button at the stern of the boat, jets of water will move the front of the boat sideways. This will make getting out of tight corners or manoeuvring away from the bank, simplicity itself.  Every boat-builder we spoke to assumed we wouldn’t be fitting bow thrusters to a hire boat, but we want you to have an enjoyable and stress free experience, so bow thrusters you have!  With Annie Owl being that much shorter, she doesn’t require Bow Thrusters and you can easily access the bow from inside the boat to push off from wherever you have moored.

Breakdown Procedures whilst on a Canal Boat Holiday

With the boats being brand new, or less than 3 years old, and having a regular servicing schedule in place, we hope you never break down.  However, problems can sometimes occur with anything mechanical or electrical, so we are always going to be on the end of a phone to ensure that you get the support you require.  As an extra safe guard, we have breakdown assistance and recovery.  This means that:

  • A our mechanic will attend your Breakdown and rectify the problem where possible, so that you can continue your voyage.
  • If the boat cannot be repaired at the scene of the Breakdown, arrangements will be made to recover the boat to our Home Marina, Droitwich Spa Marina, (within a maximum of 2 hours cruising).  If you break down more than 10 miles from our Home Marina, and the boat cannot be repaired or be safely towed, arrangements will be made to transport you and your crew back to the Home Marina so you will never just be stranded.


It is highly unlikely that you will ever crash the boat and cause it, or someone else, lasting damage; narrowboats are exceptionally strong, built to last, and have a maximum speed of about 4 miles per hour!  However, we know accidents can happen and if they do, and you have followed our Terms & Conditions and our training instructions, you will be covered. You’re going to receive training on how to handle the boat, and you will have been made aware of our Terms & Conditions, which means that as long as you stick to them you will be covered to prevent extra costs in case of a genuine accident.  Please read the separate Terms & Conditions and information.