No experience is required to operate a Canalboat, you don't even need a driving licence, you just have to be over the minimum age required on the booking form.
Before you arrive at the marina you can familiarise yourself with the Canal-boating 'technique' and etiquette by watching some of the DVDs available for you :
But don't be put off as the boats are very easy to use, they only have a forward and reverse gear, they only travel at walking pace , so you cannot get into too much trouble, and if you do you have plenty of time to get yourself out of it as life in the Canal lane is very slow, and fellow boaters are very considerate and willing to help!
When you arrive at the Marina the staff will go through the training DVD again for you to watch and ask questions.
They will then take you onto the Narrowboat and go through all the controls, and switches, including telling you how the heating works, and how to fill up free of charge with water at various water points along the canal.
They will tell you about the easy daily maintenance that you need to carry out, and what to do if something gets caught around your propellor.
The staff are always at the end of the phone if you have any problems, or if you cannot remember how to do something , they will be pleased to help you.
Have a look in your Boat manual as it contains a lot of useful information, and contact telephone numbers should you need to call the Marina.
The Marina staff will also show you how to operate a lock, this is always viewed with trepidation by guests, but is actually almost as easy as filling and emptying a bath! The best advice is if you are really worried , if you arrive at a lock with a few other boats, let them go first and then see for yourself how easy it is!
Remember you cannot cruise after dark as the insurance does not cover this, and if you pass an oncoming boat move to the right to pass, the opposite of driving on the UK roads!
Don't drink and drive, the same rules apply as for cars.
If cruising on a river make sure you familiarise yourself with the different requirements for river cruising: Making your ropes slack when mooring on tidal rivers to allow for the difference in the river level
Carry an anchor and if you break down use it immediately to stop the boat drifting.
It is usually safer to turn into the current when you are about to moor. Then you will have greater control and can ease your craft alongside the mooring.