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Our First Narrowboat After A Lovely Week In Winterton-on-sea


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Our first canal holiday after a lovely week in Winterton-on-Sea.


We had a great week at Winterton with little or no rain and the dogs didn't find any adders on the beach which I must admit to worrying about somewhat. 

Had a couple of really good meals in the Fishermans Retreat. Had a sandwich for lunch one day and got enough salad to feed all the rabbits in Winterton-on-sea me thinks!

This was followed by our first ever canal holiday which was booked for a week but lasted 2 full days or 3 nights. See attached but it does go on a bit.

Comments on the rudder/tiller problem would be welcome.

The first canal trip after a lovely week in Winterton on sea.docx


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For users on the app, here goes...


Our first canal holiday after a lovely week in Winterton-on-Sea.


A story of a 2017 built 4 to 6 berth boat that:

1)     Requires the engine to be run 8 hours per day to charge the batteries (even with 2 people on board)

2)     Requires he engine to run if 240 volt system is required. Note: There is no 12 volt circuit so the engine needs to run to charge your phone or anything else. We only hd one adapter for 2 phones, the Bose, The headtorch and the ipad.

3)     Has no working TV or radio

4)     Has a collapsed settee to inflict as much pain as possible

5)     Has a broken fridge and freezer

6)     Has a leaking WC

7)     Has a strange rudder problem

8)     Has lovely wet rooms and comfy beds

9)     Has a cutlery draw 5’ off the floor (Val needed steps to see in it) in a nice galley

10) Has a great, but slow, heating system that we only needed of a morning.


I suppose the story starts when we booked our Hoseasons Starboard collection narrowboat about a year ago.  We booked through the boatyard for no particular reason and several days after booking I was killing time looking through the website of the boatyard and found a sort of “Welcome aboard video”.


Part of this advised that no toilet paper was permitted in the toilet system!!!


I then read a few reviews and some were of the same opinion as me on this subject.


I phoned up and told them I wished to cancel. They then explained this rule was to try and stop wet wipes being put into the system and blocking it up.

They had had a lot of callouts due to idiots flushing them.

Two ply paper only was allowed.


I still checked with the toilet manufacturer who thought I was mad and it was preposterous to think toilet paper could not be used on their systems.


A few weeks later we got a booking form from Hoseasons and we were now on another boat?

I phoned the boatyard to find out why and was advised they had moved me to a more modern boat with improved toilet facility. OK, fine with that.


We picked the boat up last Friday 14th September looking forward to a lovely week cruising up to the head of the Ashby Canal. Only one 12” deep lock. Val could bear that.

We returned it on Monday 17th September.


The first day we got away from the boatyard at 15.30 having watched the iPad video and passed the following exam. It was however stressed that we must run the engine for at least 8 hours per day which explains why the engine was running when we arrived at 12.15 and all the rest of the afternoon.


We cruised for an hour to find a mooring outside the town and tied up at a pub in Newbold. I was pleased to get moored and looked forward to a beer and a comfy seat .


Glass filled I sat down and thought I was going through the seat. The long cushion on the “L” shaped settee was completely collapsed so seating was a perch on the edge or the cross member both of which were not a very relaxing place to be.

I resorted to sitting on the pillows off the bed. To better reach my dinner and drink.


After dinner I reached for the ice in the freezer to have a tipple but it was not frozen properly even though it had been in there since before we arrived at the yard. Hmmm?


Val wanted me to try the TV but there was no reception.

“Try the radio then.” No reception. Hmmm!


Let’s get the ‘bones’ out.


The next day we set off for Hawkesbury Junction at a steady walking pace. I had noticed yesterday that to go straight ahead I would expect the tiller to be at 12 oclock but it was actually at between 10.00 and 11.00 oclock and it pulsed a lot.


An hour or so into the 5 hour trip I met another boat on a right hand bend and our boat got sucked into its 4 mph wake and it would not turn right, sorry to starboard, for anything.


I had 22 tons of canal boat headed for the opposite bank and no amount of tiller flapping was changing it.  Val was not amused!


Full astern was my only resort. We stopped her eventually, reversed and got her around. This happened on 3 more occasions. It was as if there was a giant magnet in the port bow area.  The tiller turned to port easily and with a rock steady smooth feel but pulsed like a mad thing when trying to go to starboard.


We tried stopping for water at Ansty but couldn’t get along side due to an obstruction under the water.

All along the way you could hear the occasional rubbing sounds as objects, both metal and otherwise scraped along the hull.


We moored up for lunch and got grounded but brute force and a lot of throttle got us off.


Five and a half hours after leaving Newbold we arrived at Hawkesbury Junction.

I would have given a lot of money for a comfy seat after 5 hours stood at that tiller but at least I had ice!!!!


No radio or TV but ice!!

Once again Val was not amused.


Val announced her phone needed charging! Oh Dear!!!!

That meant running the engine as there was no 12 volt circuit and the 240 only worked if the engine was running. A 2017 built boat!!!

Val was not amused!


We had a lovely meal in the Greyhound pub and I had a great shower when we got back, lovely wet rooms on board, and to cap the evening off I won at “bones”. Val was not amused about the “bones”. She usually wins.


Morning dawned after a good nights sleep on a comfy bed.


I took the dogs out and got back to find Val was not amused.

There was liqued running from under the WC to the shower drain in the forward wet room and the fridge and freezer were not working properly.


I sat down heavily on the settee with no pillows in place and got the cross member. “Oh dear” I cried. (and I nearly did cry!!)


I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. We had breakfast and cast off. We went though the lock to turn around and set off back to the boatyard.


Of course the turn after the lock onto the Coventry canal was to starboard so another wrestling match ensued and it took 1 hour to get back to where we spent the night. A journey of 500 yards.


We cruised the 5 hours back to Newbold  and along the way, at bridge 24, we passed over a boulder or something that lifted the starboard side up a few inches and we slid across the top of it for the full 62 feet of the boat.


By the time we got to Newbold the fridge freezer had totally defrosted and felt warmer inside than the ambient room. ( The next morning it had started working again and we had a job getting our ice block out of the ice.)


The next day we packed our bags and and we got back to the boatyard about 10.30.  I told them we were leaving due to the considerable problems and I would explain when we had packed the car.


I sat down with them and advised them of the problems. (I had advised Saturday morning about the settee but the ycouldn’t do anything)


They then  told me the fridge freezer didn’t operate properly due to me not running the engine for the full 8 hours each day.  


I told them it was knackered and hunting for gas.


Where did they think the electricity went? The only things drawing would be the LED lights, say 8 bulbs at any one time, from 18.30 to 22.00, the water pump, the fridge, the bilge pump for a few minutes in the morning before setting off (it was manual) and the heating system on 2 mornings.

Why was there not more batteries and another alternator to save running a ruddy great diesel engine for 8 hours every day. Even to charge a phone!


It is safe to say we will not be returning to the canals and we are now looking forward to next March and our stay at Box End cottage and then on board Silver Serenade.


A lot of money totally wasted. Well maybe not totally as we met some lovely people and the boat was very nice or would have been without the problems but I have to admit the rudder problem really knocked my confidence in boat handling and that more than anything made me abandon it.


Was it me or the boat. I have nothing to compare.


The smooth operation of the rudder when going to port as opposed to the rough operation and lack of turning power when going to Starboard says to me it was the rudder but they have not advised even though I asked them to let me know. In fact they promised to ring me by yesterday to offer me some form of compensation but I doubt that will ever materialise.


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It sounds like the battery was knackered, there is no way that you would need 8 hours cruising to keep it charged. On most Broads boats they recommend about two hours to keep the batteries charged.

As to the steering, yes, at times you do get a bit of vibration especially if there is something around the prop. At sharp bends you need to slow right down and then put the tiller down in the right direction and open the throttle to turn the boat.

As to the rest of the faults the boatyard owners should be ashamed of themselves for putting a boat out in that condition, it sounds disgusting. Possibly, if you paid by credit card you may be able to go to them and get some compensation.

With regards to hitting things on the bottom, the water levels are a bit down due to the drought this and preceding years, so this is inevitable considering canals are considered a rubbish dump by some people. Unfortunately the Canal and River Trust (CaRT) do not have so much of the taxpayers money to maintain the canals as they used to. The money they had when they were British Waterways Board was wasted in employing people and not giving them work to do. I have seen this with my own eyes when a dredger crew spent days on end not dredging, making loads of tea and sarnies and disappearing around the pub! That is why there is so much rubbish in the canals and CaRT can't afford much dredging now.

I fear that in the next ten years we are going to see the canals going to rack and ruin due to lack of funding. It is no good CaRT going to the government cap in hand for funds as there are much more important things to spend the taxpayer's hard earned money on.

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Sounds like there’s a serious problem with the rudder, definitely not you.  The rest sounds very odd on a 2017 boat but please don’t let that put you off the canals.  I can recommend Kate Boats, I’ve hired from them twice and both boats and staff are great.

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Well that’s a coincidence just got back  tonight from a first canal narrowboat holiday on the Llangollen canal.

We did Friday to Wed (should have been till Friday but the weather was turning quite bad and also had a few faults with the boat).

Our boat was supposedly new in 2014 but it had seen better days, the new broads hire boats put these to shame.

I have just left the boat yard with a list of problems, TV / radio didn’t work, engine screamed at over 1000 rpm, toilet door latch and lock broken (door swinging open all week, toilet wouldn’t flush proper, it wasn’t to clean inside or out. The boatyard said nothing was reported the week before so they didn’t know any thing was wrong , in fairness we got free fuel and nothing to pay for the dog extra.

We were told to  run the engine for 5 hours min  to recharge the batteries.

The general fit out of the boat was very poor, more oak filler than a b& q warehouse, no gauges what so ever for water, toilet fuel..

But after the above we enjoyed the canal and area going over the aqueduct at Llangollen was quite stunning. We met some nice people from all over the world infact there were more Aussies than English.

On the whole I would give it another go (I just wouldn’t tell the wife were we were going !) also choose our boat a bit more carefully.










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Ive been watching lots of the narrowboat vlogs lately. My favourites are:

Crusing the Cut

Minimal List

The Narrowboat Experience 

Floating our Boat

Journey with Jono

All very different styles of vlogs but Im really enjoying them. All are liveaboards and its sooooo tempting......


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I have hired lots of narrow boats in the past. I may have been lucky but I have never had a problem with any of them.
But I think the best of them have been from Black Prince. The marina at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal have been brilliant and it is a really nice stretch of canal and from the aqueduct to Llangollen is a real experience.

Sent from the Norfolk Broads Network mobile app

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I remember years ago in the stone age I hired a little steel boat from a company in Leicester. I am not complaining as it was quite a nice little boat at a reasonable price for what I got and it had one of the first Honda four stroke outboard motors fitted to push it along. There were no frills, just a basic little boat for a basic price. As I was a keen camping and fishing bod and used to roughing it,  the boat did me fine. I single handed took it around the Leicester/Shroppie ring. In the last few days of my holiday I was having my supper and I noticed water coming up through the floorboards. Oops! I pumped it out and next morning the water had returned.

I pumped it out again and chugged to the nearest boatyard a few miles along the canal. The boatyard told me there was a welder nearby who could probably fix it so I phoned my home boatyard and told them of the problem.

The very nice boatyard owner arrived and happily told me that it had happened before apparently the crusty old previous hirer was most displeased as the boat had completely sunk on him! Well, it was not what he paid for and the boatyard did not supply him with a wetsuit and snorkel just in case when he took the boat out! (my words not his)  It had happened before too!

The problem was that he and his boatyard staff built their small fleet themselves and the stern of the boat had a right angle seam with no reinforcement angle behind it and being bashed about in the locks the seam had cracked thus letting in water.

So! the owner borrowed a scaffold plank from the boatyard and with me sitting on it and levering the stern if the little boat out of the water he happily whacked a load of Plastic Padding into the crack. Well, Plastic Padding is great stuff and what a bodge! The boat did not leak for the last few days of my holiday. I made sure that I did not whack that bit of the stern on my way back.

I did not make much of it when I got back to the boatyard, I was in my late twenties and just put it down to a life experience as the rest of my holiday was perfect and I was and still am a rough and ready sort of person. The boatyard owner who as you may realise was a bit of a lad to say the least told me he will whack a load more Plastic Padding around the damage from the inside as the boat was due to go out again that afternoon.

I still look back on that experience and chuckle, especially as I told the very nice boatyard owner that I was thinking about buying a boat. He phoned me up about a year later and said the boat was for sale. I politely declined for some reason.  

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Thanks for the comments.

I have to add that the boatyard staff were very nice and I have not been dealt with better on any of our very many boating holidays.

Even when stating that the boat had too many faults to continue they were still very polite.

No doubt Hoseasons will be contacting me in the coming days so we will see what happens there.

The reason we picked the original boat was it was almost new when we booked also Val will not do locks at any cost so the location close to the Ashby was perfect. The locks in France were wide and remote controlled or manned and the locks we went through in the Southern Shannon area were wide and manned so these didn't seem to upset her too much. If all locks were like the Hawkesbury Junction lock it would be no problem but at 1 foot drop it must be almost unique.

I suppose the other problem I didn't mention was the overall state of the North Oxford Canal we cruised. What a terrible state it is in generally and as Breydon says above there isn't much chance it will get better. I now know how all the cabin paintwork on the starboard side was so scratched. The overgrown bushes and trees really narrow the the canal so cannot be avoided. David of Cruising The Cut fame agrees it is the section of the system he most dislikes.

Going back to the rudder problem in my defence there was absolutely no problem turning to port. It turned like a boat with a rudder smoothly and under control. Starboard turns were pot luck. 



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I've found canal boats do handle quite differently from Broads cruisers, generally not as well.

You have to use full lock and plenty of throttle sometimes to get anything to happen, and often a bit of 'sawing' at the tiller is required when manouvering.

Threading a 65ft canal boat round a tight bend, under a bridge and into a lock is a bit brown-trousers at times. 

Oh, and bow thrusters really do seem to be seen as 'girlie buttons' on the Canals and few boats have them.

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47 minutes ago, oldgregg said:

I've found canal boats do handle quite differently from Broads cruisers, generally not as well.

You have to use full lock and plenty of throttle sometimes to get anything to happen, and often a bit of 'sawing' at the tiller is required when manouvering.

Threading a 65ft canal boat round a tight bend, under a bridge and into a lock is a bit brown-trousers at times. 

Oh, and bow thrusters really do seem to be seen as 'girlie buttons' on the Canals and few boats have them.

I fully agree with oldgregg. Operation of a tiller is very different to a cruiser. I have been on the tiller of a few 70 foot narrow boats including one which has now been withdrawn on the Oxford Canal, it is just too tight for some of the bends on the canal.

The original poster would appear to have a few complaints, that said maybe a Narrow Boat holiday was not for them. 

Since our first narrow boat holiday (we still go but not every year) I have yet to find a boat that does not have some small fault, we have had heating not working, prop continually coming loose (spline and drift key issues) catches in the wrong place or poorly adjusted. We have never had toilet issues unless the yard starts using a Green based toilet additive rather than using blue loo (the smell was horrendous).   

Our crew all with a few years on our backs can tackle most problems we encounter.




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We've had many canal holiday since 1960 and owned shares in two narrowboats and we can concur with Alan on all his points and more.

We had one Black Prince boat that was slowly sinking - we had moored at Llangollen overnight and when we came to retrace our steps, coming out of the marina we immediately stuck on the bottom in the centre of the channel, right alongside the horse drawn trip boat, quite embarrassing as the trip boat and the canal bank was full of people.

The stern gland was leaking, auto bilge pump wasn't working so when I switched it on manually we managed to move off - after about 10 minutes of pumping.

As Alan says the Oxford is very bendy - especially that b****y bend at Enslow which goes on forever and has a continuous row of moored boats (on the towpath side) through its length.

I managed to get a 68 footer (without a bow thruster) round it without a touch on any of the moored boats. This wasn't helped by the towpath telegraph that goes into action when the first moored sees a big orange thing (Viking) coming down the canal - immediately heads appear out of the hatch of most of the boats and glare at you, daring you to touch them (and probably scrape rust off most of them).

Canal hire boats do get knocked about a lot - its just the nature of the narrow, shallow waterways.

Never had a boat as bad as the OP had though.


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