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How to drive a canal boat

31st October 2019

Are you looking for your next canal boat holiday? Perhaps you already have one planned, and want to make sure you know how to drive a narrowboat beforehand? Our helpful guide will give you advice on steering a narrowboat as well as top safety tips to remember when you’re out on the waters.

How to steer a narrowboat

The prospect of steering a narrowboat is relatively simple – however, there are a few things to know that will help make your cruise on the waterways as seamless as possible:

How to reverse a narrowboat

Once you’ve got to know the feel of your canal boat, reversing or turning around will become a lot easier. While reversing, narrowboats often have a tendency to veer to one side – however, once you’ve established the optimum speed needed for reversing, turning your canal boat around becomes fairly simple.

Using the tiller to turn about 60 degrees in the direction you want the stern to go, move the narrowboat forward at half speed. This will then push the stern across – at which point, you can select reverse and continue backwards.

Safety tips for steering a narrowboat



Want to know how to steer a narrow boat in more detail? This helpful Boaters Handbook goes through how to steer a canal boat, slowing down and stopping, going around obstacles, mooring and more. Not only does this guide teach you how to drive a canal boat, it also provides advice on much more information for boaters, including boating safety, rules of the waterway and good boating behaviour. For more information, see the boaters handbook video, or get in touch with a member of our helpful team.

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