Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a licence to drive a boat and what are the rules?

You don’t need a licence to drive a boat. However, like the Highway Code (but much simpler) there are a few basic rules you need to follow. These are all explained in the comprehensive manual which we provide in every boat. Your boatyard will also advise you when you are given your handover tuition.

Should someone in my party have boating experience?

Absolutely not. When you arrive to pick up your boat, you’ll receive plenty of expert tuition from your boatyard staff. They’ll provide all the training, help and advice you need until you’re happy to take the helm. Your on-board manual gives you lots of tips and reminders, too.

How far can I travel and where can I go?

Depending on the waterway, you’ll be travelling at a maximum of 4mph to 7mph. Cruising about 4 hours a day means 80-100 miles in a week, and you can travel anywhere in the waters covered by your boat’s licence. When you’ve searched our site for your ideal boat or start point, you can click to see details of suggested cruising routes for 3/4 night breaks and week-long holidays. View our cruising route maps, too.

Where can I stop?

The manual on board your boat has plenty of information about mooring places, and your boatyard will show you how to moor up. The most popular moorings are those closest to waterside pubs, restaurants, villages and towns (where a small charge is usually made) but there are many quieter places to moor free of charge. Mooring is free at any Hoseasons boatyard, Environment Agency mooring and on any canal towpath.

What do I do at locks?

These are part of the fun. You simply steer your boat gently in, and use the big wooden beams to close the gates behind you. Then you open small paddle doors in the other gates with the L-shaped winding handle provided with your boat to let the water in or out and change the water level. Then you open the gates and drive out, stopping to close the gates and paddle doors before leaving. In Europe, and in Britain on the Thames, Caledonian Canal and parts of the Cambridgeshire Waterway, there are larger locks with lock-keepers to do the work for you. There are no locks on the Norfolk Broads.

How much will my fuel cost?

Some boatyards (and nearly all on the canals) include your fuel in your holiday price, and the full tank you start with is usually much more than you need for your holiday. If you’re charged, you will only be charged for the fuel used, and this amount will be deducted from your fuel deposit when you return the boat. Typical fuel costs for a week’s cruising (depending on boat and waterway) are between GBP40-GBP100, but in Scotland, costs can be up to GBP130.

Where do I get water for drinking and washing?

On your boat. Of course. Your boat will have a full tank of water and all boats have hot and cold running water for kitchens and shower rooms. You can top up your water tank at any Hoseasons boatyard or public mooring if necessary, for which there is usually a small charge.

What about safety? Do I need special equipment or training?

All you need to bring with you are sensible non-slip shoes, and you’ll receive all the training about safety you need from your boatyard staff when you arrive. We recommend buoyancy aids for children and non-swimmers - these are provided free of charge when you pick up your boat. The boat manual on board your boat contains all the safety information you’ll need, too. Remember, though, that boating is an active holiday. At least two members of your party will need to be able to jump on and off the boat to moor up and work the locks.

Can I use my hairdryer or other electrical equipment?

You must check when you make your booking before bringing any 240v electrical appliances. Some boats have 240v systems, but this does not mean that you can bring any appliances with you. In most cases, it’s only possible to use the appliances supplied on the boat. All boats have shaver points for electric shavers, and most have a 12v accessory socket similar to a car. Any electrical items with a car adapter will operate from this socket, including mobile phones, camcorders, digital cameras and chargers for their batteries. You’ll need to bring your own connecting plugs and leads, though.

Can I bring my dog along?

Most boats welcome one or two well-behaved dogs and pets are free of charge at many canal boatyards. There are many excellent walks along the towpaths and in the countryside close to many moorings. For boating in Europe, the Pet Passport scheme is now well established, so you needn’t leave one of the family behind! Visit for more details about what you need to do. You’ll find other useful information at