What is a Narrowboat?
Narrowboats are so called as they have to navigate the narrow canals which can only take boats up to 6' 10" wide in their locks and these canals make up the majority of the UK waterways, particularly in the Midlands. The bridges have restricted width on the narrow canals.
Narrowboats are usually constructed from steel. The length of the Narrowboats vary, although there is a maximum of 70 feet on most waterways.
Where can I use my Narrowboat?
There are broad canals which have locks of twice the width, or over, allowing wider boats or two Narrowboats to pass through side by side. Major rivers, such as the Thames, Severn and Trent have much wider locks than canals, allowing even larger boats.
Are there any other limitations on the waterways?
There are various limitations when cruising, the main being a speed limit of four miles per hour.You can usually moor your Narrowboat anywhere on the towpath side of the canal.There are, however, a few limitations, such as at lock moorings, under bridges and on bends, etc.
What is a lock?
Locks are used to lift or lower boats from one level to another. They are found on almost all canals and rivers. A lock is a section of canal or river that is closed off by gates which control the water level so that boats can be raised or lowered as they pass through it.
Who controls the Inland Waterways?
There are three main authorities who control the waterways:
- British Waterways who control almost all canals and some rivers including the Trent, Severn and Yorkshire Ouse
- The Environment Agency controls the rivers Thames and Medway and the rivers of East Anglia
- The Broads Authority control the Norfolk and Suffolk broads
They are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the waterways under their jurisdiction, and also responsible for licensing boats.
Can I live on my Narrowboat?
Yes a Narrowboat can be your permanent home, as many marinas have residential moorings, with all facilities and services. However, you will have to pay council tax, which may be included in the mooring charge. You should also inform your insurance company that your Narrowboat is your primary residence.
Do I need insurance for my Narrowboat?
You will need a minimum of Third Party Liability insurance to use the Inland Waterway system.
What type of insurance should I have?
There are basically two types of policy:
- Third Party Liability Insurance - This will cover you if you cause damage to another boat or anyone else's property or if you cause injury to another person.
- Comprehensive Insurance - This will cover your Narrowboat for accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism, plus Third Party Liability.
There are many companies offering Narrowboat insurance. You should check the extent of the cover to ensure that you meet all the company’s requirements and they meet yours. You could end up uninsured if you do not comply with the conditions.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Cruising range - Some companies limit you to non tidal waters only, but you may require tidal waters for access.
With GJW Direct the cruising range is United Kingdom inland waters which means inland waters of the United Kingdom where there are no tides but including broads and fens whether tidal or not. You may travel along enclosed inland tidal stretches for the purposes only of entering or leaving the non-tidal system.
- Houseboat use - If you are using the Narrowboat for residential purposes you need to advise your insurance company as the policy may exclude Narrowboats used as a permanent residence.
The GJW Direct All Inclusive Inland Policy for Narrowboats includes live aboard cover as standard.
- Personal property/Contents - You need to check the extent of the cover you have for your personal belongings. You may require all risks cover similar to a household policy if you are living on board permanently.
The GJW Direct All Inclusive Inland Policy for Narrowboats mirrors a home owner’s policy especially tailored for a boat which forms a place of residence. Contents can also be covered anywhere in the world.
- Single handed use - Some companies exclude single handed use or charge extra.
The GJW Direct All Inclusive Inland Policy for Narrowboats includes single handed use.
What is the Boat Safety Scheme?
The Boat Safety Scheme is owned by the Canal and River Trust and is like a boating version of the M.O.T. It sets standards for Narrowboats, the installations and components, which you must meet before obtaining a cruising licence. The scheme is designed to minimise the risks of fire or explosion on Narrowboats.
The standard combines essential safety requirements and best safety practice advice. They include criteria for Narrowboat systems such as electrical installations, inboard/outboard engines, appliances, ventilation and fuels.
I have heard there are signals you need to make for left and right – What are they?
When cruising the Inland waterways you use a horn blast to signal your manoeuvres, here are the basic signals:
1 blast- Turning to the right
2 blasts- Turning to the left
3 blasts - Reversing
4 blasts- then pause then 1 blast- Turning round to the right
4 blasts- then pause then 2 blasts- Turning round to the left
1 blast- loud and 2 blasts short - I can't manoeuvre
1 - long blast - Warning e.g. when approaching tunnel and bends
What's included in the River Canal Rescue cover?
Equipped with the most up-to-date mapping technology, RCR's qualified mechanics will investigate and, where possible, rectify any breakdown with your boat or tow it to the nearest marina or safe haven.
Nationwide breakdown assistance and recovery
24-hour practical and technical telephone assistance
Crisis coordination and message relay service
Homestart and provision pick-up service
Free WaterNav App for navigation
SOS app to keep you updated when you breakdown
This cover is a pay on use system at a cost of £45 per call out
For more information, please download our RCR brochure (Adobe PDF - 11 MB)
Subject to the terms and conditions of the GJW Direct All Inclusive Inland Policy.