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Top tips for a toptastic holiday afloat

It's no secret that Stan Cullimore loves spending time on the water and has been a great ambassador for our canals. With many people taking up a new adventure with boating holidays, Stan has a few words of wisdom to share. Here are his top tips to help make your boating holiday one to remember.

Picture of a man leaning against his boat


Don't be afraid of going in the shoulder months, early Spring and late Autumn. Even Winter is worth a punt. The canals are quieter, the holidays are cheaper and there is a lot of fun to be had in the cooler weather. The countryside looks gorgeous too.


If you do go out on a boat in the cooler months and like to snuggle up in a warm cosy bed, sneak yourself a second, secret duvet, onboard. Put it under the sheet on your bed, snuggle down and get ready for toastie warm nights. It's awesome.


Do, do, do eat in a canal side pub at least once or twice per week. It's an essential part of the whole holiday experience. If you're not sure which pub to choose, ask other boaters. They're usually friendly and nearly always full of good advice. (And if you do ever meet a grumpy boater, don't take it personally. Takes all sorts to make the world go round, as my dear old granny used to say.)

Front of a boat cruising on a sunny day


Make sure you've got at least one set of waterproof gear onboard. Plus umbrella. If it does rain, which it often does in life, there is nothing nicer than being dressed up to the nines in waterproofs whilst outside, steering. Especially if you have an umbrella overhead and a nice hot cup of tea in hand as you chug along. Seriously, it is an oddly delicious thing to do.


Don't rush. Don't make plans that involve lots of hard lock work, long hours cruising and rushing to get somewhere. And back again. Instead, go with the flow. Take each day as it comes and remember that you're here to enjoy yourself. So relax. If in doubt, re-read No. 3 and No.4, as above.


Do try and cook something complicated whilst onboard. It's amazing what you can whip up in those bijou kitchens. I have enjoyed some superb meals afloat. Somehow, things taste even better by boat.


Do moor up in the middle of nowhere at some point in your holiday. Somewhere far from civilisation, noise and street lights. Then, take the time to go out on deck late at night. You can hear and see some fantastic stuff. Birds, bats, badgers and maybe even a sky full of stars. They're all out there just waiting to be spotted.


Don't be shy. If you're not sure about anything; how to work locks, where to eat, or where to moor up. Ask other boaters as you go along. I find they are an incredibly lovely and friendly bunch. It's one of the many charms of canal life.


Don't be surprised if you find yourself planning your next boat trip before you give the boat back at the end of the holiday. It's a seductive pastime.

Last Edited: 17 February 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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