Discovery Day Information

You should have been directed to this page because you’ve booked a combined discovery and helmsmanship day on board my narrowboat. If you haven’t booked a date and don’t have the slightest idea what a narrowboat discovery day is, you can find out more here.

Assuming you’re still with me, here’s some additional information about your day…

Things to bring with you

 We’re going boating in England. The weather may be good. On the other hand, it may not. Be prepared.
  • Suntan lotion
  • A hat to keep you warm on cooler days or one to protect you from the sun during the summer
  • Sunglasses
  • A waterproof jacket
  • Comfortable casual clothing – You’re going to be climbing on and off a boat and in and out of locks. Wear clothing which will not restrict movement and which you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Warm clothing if you are coming in the cooler months (or on a typical English summer’s day). I’ve now done quite a few winter discovery days. Guests often laugh when they see me at the start of the day looking like the Michelin Man. However, after six or seven hours standing still at the tiller on a frosty winter’s day, they can usually see that aesthetics aren’t nearly as important as comfort. Bring more warm clothes than you think you will need. You can always take some off.
  • Sensible footwear. The boat, the footpath and the locks can be either muddy or slippery or both. Make sure your footwear is comfortable, has grippy soles and is preferably waterproof.
  • Indoor footwear if you need it. The boat is our home and we (Sally) try very hard to keep it clean. We don’t wear our shoes in the house. We wear “slippers”. They’re Crocs which are wonderful for protecting our feet from a floor which can be quite cold in the winter. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to ask you to remove your outdoor shoes before you come inside.
  • A packed lunch. There are very few opportunities to buy food on our route. Don’t worry about hot and cold drinks. I will supply all you need.
  • A note book and pen. We’ll be covering a lot of subjects so you’ll want to write plenty of it down
  • Last but not least, a sense of fun and adventure. Cruising the inland waterways on a narrowboat is all about relaxing and enjoying yourself. You will learn a great deal during your ten hours afloat but the emphasis will be very much on having a good time.

The Day’s Agenda

If you haven’t received one already, in the next day or two you should receive an email from me asking your priorities for the day. I’ll use your information to tailor your day to suit your requirements but your needs will probably be similar to most of my discovery day guests. You’ll want to know as much as possible about living afloat and the pros and cons of different bits of kit, narrowboat styles and layouts. You’ll probably also want to learn how to handle a narrowboat either as part of a crew or as a solo boater.

Your day will go something like this…

You’ll meet me at 8am at my normal starting point on the Grand Union canal above Calcutt Top lock. Before we set off I’ll spend an hour or so walking you through my boat to show you what I think is a pretty robust setup for a live aboard narrowboat designed for long term cruising off grid.

We’ll talk about boat designs, different sterns, heating and electrical systems and of course, the inevitable and lengthy debate about the best on board toilet. Then we’ll set off on a seven to eight hour cruise.

My normal route is along the shared Oxford and Grand Union canal route to Braunston Junction. We’ll cruise into the centre of Braunston where you’ll execute a faultless three point turn in Braunston marina entrance, then we’ll head back towards Calcutt. We’ll stop en route for lunch and coffee so you’ll be able to practice “parking”.

To finish off the day, you’ll take my boat in and out of six wide (double) locks, three downstream and three upstream. There’s always plenty going on at the Calcutt flight of three locks so you can expect an interesting experience.

I’ve chosen this route because of the challenge and variety offered by the twists and turns and narrow bridges of a contour canal and the accessible and interesting three lock flight. There are two other options if you would like more lock experience. However, the lock heavy day means less cruising and less time on the boat walk through at the beginning of the day. If plenty of locks are important to you, please let me know at the beginning of your day.

That’s it. If you want to know anything else, please let me know. If not, I look forward to meeting you on your discovery day.