Tips for hirers

There's a lot to think about when hiring an adapted narrowboat - espeically for the first time. We've listed some things to bear in mind both before you book and during your holiday.

Boating Boating

These tips have been kindly provided by Adrian Wedgwood, an experienced boater and IWA member, now hiring boats suitable for a wheelchair user.

Before you go

  • Remember that you must have one able-bodied captain and at least one more, preferably two able-bodied crew members. The disabled person must not be required to control the boat or be alone in an emergency, in locks or when mooring.
  • Examine boat layout plans on websites closely and check on suitability of sleeping accommodation.
  • Arrange to go and see the boat between making a provisional A family taking a boat holiday on the Grand Union Canalbooking and confirming the hire. This also allows you to check on access and parking at the boat location and saves time when starting the holiday.
  • Two toilets are a must, with separate facilities
  • Look for an accessible wet room with shower and WC for the disabled person.
  • Check on steering positions and visibility of the front of the boat from the rear position. This is especially important for wide-beam boats and steerers who are not tall enough to see over the roof to the prow. Some boats have additional hydraulic tillers that are not as 'positive' as conventional tillers. For a semi traditional stern boat ask for a longer tiller handle so you can steer in rain from a sheltered position.
  • Check on outside and inside places (lower windows) on the boat where the disabled person can have good views of the scenery and feel part of the boating activity.
  • Less mobile people often need additional warmth - check on the heating arrangements both for when the boat is moving and when moored.
  • Look at the loading ramps for wheelchair boarding and establish that you can handle and use them
  • Check on provision of sufficient and suitable bedding, including pillows, towels etc.
  • Is there sufficient storage space on the boat for additional clothing and equipment that the disabled person may need?
  • check inside you can store a wheelchair (or small fold up electric scooter) when not in use on the boat. Where can you charge scooter batteries?

Starting your holiday

  • Check that life jackets offered will fit the disabled person. Plan and trial an emergency evacuation so that the disabled person is safe. Three ladies walking alongside a boat
  • If you are offered assistance operating a lock make sure those helping are aware that you have a disabled person on board and listen to your instructions.
  • Insist on a centre long mooring rope for the centre stud, for holding the boat at lock entrances and temporarily when mooring, in addition to those for prow & stern. Also insist on piling hooks for more secure mooring, in addition to mooring stakes. Ask for side fenders to reduce banging against piling (but remember to take these up in locks).
  • Plan your cruising route so you know the number and size of locks along the way, where you can 'wind' and that you can return in time for hand over. Don't be too ambitious - allow for delays at busy places.
  • Check on availability and accessibility of visitor moorings, water points, pubs, shops and laundrettes at locations along your cruising route.

Last date edited: 27 March 2017