Narrowboat holidays are pretty unique compared to other holidays. You travel along the peaceful Basingstoke Canal at a walking pace, waving at friendly passers by, spotting kingfishers and other wildlife whilst bringing your accommodation along with you.
If it is your first time it can be a bit daunting trying to think of everything you need to bring with you. Luckily we have many years of experience and can help a little with this. Narrowboats are compact so it s best to pack clothes in soft bags that can be stowed more easily than suitcases. If you only have suitcases, it is best to unpack them then put the empty cases back in the car.
A jumper or fleece and a good waterproof jacket (and trousers) are essential, especially for the skipper and outside crew when helming the boat in wet weather. When the weather is sunny T-shirts and shorts will be very welcome. A hat and sunglasses are also important when you are steering the boat along open stretches of canal and there is little shade. Bring non-slip shoes and walking boots. Flip-flops are fine for chilling but are dangerous when getting on and off the boat and operating locks as they come off very easily! If you are holidaying in Spring or Autumn, bring warm sleepwear as being low to the waterline does get chilly overnight. Cosy socks or slippers are useful if you’re the one nominated to make the morning teas as the floor gets cold. We do provide cosy bedding and there is heating on board.
Bring some older clothes and clothes that are easy to clean, as you may get a bit grubby operating locks or sorting out the weed hatch or just mooring up. Gardening gloves will protect your hands if you have a flight of locks to operate. It is also nice to bring some smart clothes too, if you have meals out in any of the pubs or restaurants along the canal.
Our kitchens are well stocked with utensils etc. and we provide tea bags, instant coffee and sugar but do bring along your favourite snacks to help feed the skipper and crew as you travel along! A cool bag is useful during the day to keep drinks cold and within easy reach by crew at the back of the boat, there is a small freezer compartment in the fridge to chill an ice-pack.
Bring along some card / board games to make evenings fun. A good book or two is also worth packing.
The pubs along the canals are popular so if you have a special celebration or just want to make sure you get a table, book in advance, especially at weekends.
The pace of life on a narrowboat is much slower and you will find yourself winding down as you chug along and watch the world go by. The Canal is full of wildlife so a camera and/or binoculars will help identify birds, insects and mammals that live along this protected environment.
The Basingstoke is a gentle canal, the water flow is very slow and other boat traffic is minimal. Mooring is easy and in a short break there is only one lock to negotiate along with a lift bridge and 2 swing bridges. If you decide to go through the lock flight on a week long holiday you will navigate through 23 locks there and the same back! 22 of these are done over a 3 day period so that is a bit more of a physical challenge. If you take your time everything works out and you will have earned your drink at the end of the day.
As far as living on the boat is concerned there are a few things to bear in mind. All your water is held in a large tank at the front (bow) of the boat. It is large, around 250 litres but you will need to manage it by ensuring you top up at a water point at least every 2 days. The water is drinkable but you may choose bottle water for taste. The toilet waste is held in an even larger tank and as long as you use the toilet correctly, you should not need to empty this as we empty tanks at the end of every hire. The engines are very economical and again, you should not need to top up during your holiday as we ensure the tank is full before each hire.
There are numerous USB charging points on board for phones etc. Mains power is available at the rear of the boat from one socket and is useful for any low power devices that you may need such as laptops, camera chargers etc. It will not power larger devices such as hair dryers or heaters. We provide a small hair dryer which we recommend using with the engine on. Most of our boats are fitted with Solar panels to assist in trickle charging batteries when the engine is off. Lighting is all LED and we recommend not leaving lights on when not needed to conserve your battery power. When the engine is on the batteries are being charged and your hot water is being heated in a storage tank.
If the weather is not so good there is diesel powered heating on board. This has a timer to turn it off after an hour or two