New to boating holidays?

Do I need a licence 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 £40-£100, but in Scotland, costs can be up to £130.

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

For Beginners and professionals...

Get shown the ropes and everything you need to know about a boating holiday with Hoseasons. It really is simple - you’ll take to a boating holiday like, well, a duck to water!

What Cruisers are and where you'll find them

Cruisers are the boats you will find available in the UK on the Norfolk Broads, the Cambridgeshire waterways, the Caledonian Canal and the River Thames. These waterways are not narrow like canals, so cruisers are of a normal width and overall shape. Cruisers are also available on the waterways of Ireland and Germany, and many of the boats on the rivers and canals of France and Holland are cruisers.

Cruiser Features

  • Choice of styles and driving positions
  • Sundecks and plenty of outside sitting space
  • Spacious and well laid-out interiors
  • Covered cockpits for all-weather cruising

Dual Steering Cruiser

Available on the Norfolk Broads, River Thames and Caledonian Canal. Sizes range from boats sleeping from 2 to 8 people. These boats feature a choice of steering positions – one on the raised sun-deck and one below, so are ideal for all weather conditions.

Forward Drive Cruiser

Available on the Norfolk Broads, these boats are available in a wide range of sizes sleeping from 2 to 8 people. Forward vision is very good from these craft, which usually feature a single level deck which many parties find more convenient and easy.

Centre Cockpit Cruiser

Available on the Norfolk Broads and Cambridgeshire waterways, these boats are available in a range of sizes sleeping from 2 to 10 people. The feature of this design is a large sliding canopy over the saloon of the cockpit area.

Aft Cockpit Cruiser

These boats are available on the Norfolk Broads, River Thames, Cambridgeshire waterways and the Caledonian Canal. They are available in a range of sizes sleeping from 2 to 6 people. A folding roof (similar to the roof of a soft-top car) provides all-weather protection for the cockpit area.

AFT cockpit boats tend to be smaller than other styles, and are a popular choice for first-timers to boating. They are generally easier to manoeuvre, since all of the boat is visible forward from the steering position.

What narrowboats are and where you will find them

Built to fit the narrow canals which formed the backbone of Britain's transport network in the country's industrial past, narrowboats (or canal boats, as they are often called) owe much of their traditional design and construction to the horse-drawn barges of the period. Narrowboats are available on the canals of England, Wales and Scotland and the rivers Thames and Wey with which they are linked. On the waterways of Europe, narrowboats are available on the Canal du Midi in France and from one base in Holland. Elsewhere in France and Holland, wide beam variants of the narrowboat are available, as are traditional style French barges. French barges and some wide-beam boats feature wheel steering from an outside position on the upper deck rather than the stern tiller which is a feature of all narrowboats (see below).

Narrowboat features

  • Attractive traditional styling – in sympathy with the historic waterways
  • Towpaths for fantastic scenic walking – perfect for people and pets
  • All modern facilities and clever use of space
  • Locks, aqueducts and tunnels – all part of the fascination and fun

The choice of narrowboats

Narrowboats are available in a wide range of layouts, sleeping up to 12 people, and combine their picturesque style with comfortably appointed interiors with modern facilities. Detailed plans are show for each layout so that you can see exactly how your party will fit in on your chosen boat. Narrowboat sterns have three main "shapes" (see descriptions and illustrations below) and all steer by means of a tiller at the back, or stern. There are also wide beam narrowboats on some waterways, and in France some of these have wheel steering, as do French barges.

Traditional stern

Features a small, open rear deck providing space for the operation of the tiller.

Semi-traditional stern

The rear deck has more standing area than the traditional stern and sometimes fixed seats in the enclosed stern area, which is an ideal safety feature for young children who can be supervised by their helmsman.

Cruiser stern

This style of narrowboat has a spacious rear deck area, enclosed by a guard rail.

Wide beam narrowboat

These boats are styled in a similar traditional way to other narrowboats, but are about 50% wider and so offer more convenient and spacious accommodation.

What houseboats are and where you will find them

Houseboats are unique, offering you your own floating holiday home! They offer a completely different type of holiday afloat, since they are permanently moored in a choice of picturesque locations, and most offer day launch hire so you can explore nearby waterside attractions and places of interest.

Houseboat features

  • Static moorings in picturesque locations
  • Perfect for anglers and nature-lovers
  • The complete getaway!

Houseboat plan example

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  • Other Boats within 30 miles of Blue Otter Wootton Wawen (Stratford)

    Alvechurch Marina

    10.8 miles away

    Elegance Narrowboats

    17.5 miles away

    Napton Marina

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    Calcutt Boats

    18.5 miles away

    Worcester Marina

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    Springwood Haven

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    Union Canal Carriers

    23.6 miles away

    All prices are subject to availability and may change. Final price will be verified at the point of booking.

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