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Controlling a hire boat


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My grandad and uncle want to come along next summer when we hire a boat and of course they'll want to have a go at driving. The problem is that they've never even been on a boat let alone controlled one. When we got taught how to control our last hire boat boat it lasted 5 minutes max which taught us the VERY basics. Forward, backwards, mooring (excluding how to tie the ropes or an explanation on even what a mud weight was). Luckily we picked up what we needed to and common sense meant no crashes but i would of appreciated more training.

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My grandad and uncle want to come along next summer when we hire a boat and of course they'll want to have a go at driving. The problem is that they've never even been on a boat let alone controlled one. When we got taught how to control our last hire boat boat it lasted 5 minutes max which taught us the VERY basics. Forward, backwards, mooring (excluding how to tie the ropes or an explanation on even what a mud weight was). Luckily we picked up what we needed to and common sense meant no crashes but i would of appreciated more training.

You will find that there is quite a bit of traffic on here about the level of instruction given to novice hirers, and it usually comes down to it not really being enough. When there are several potential helmsmen on a boat it is even more tricky, because normally only the "skipper" gets to actually have a go, and he or she is then expected to pass on thier newly aquired knowledge to the others.

All I can suggest is let them start off driving on the open rivers and let the "experienced" helm take over when it comes to the tricky bits, like mooring or close quarter manoouvering. When I have had complete novices along I have tended to head for one of the broads where you get less risk of getting too close to other boats and then let them do some practice there. I find Wroxham bBroad quite good as they have lots of bouys laid and you can say "OK now go to the yellow one and do a 180 around it", or get them to slalom down a line of bouys. Just don;t try it if the yachties are out on the broad in force...

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Also get the boat handling DVD from the Broads Authority, watch it together and discuss it's contents among you, hireboat instruction can never really be a comprehensive boat handling course, there simply is not the time available, so take on some of the responsibility yourself then you can take all the time you need, the DVD will also help you to understand what is being said and demonstrated at the handover much better.

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My grandad and uncle want to come along next summer when we hire a boat and of course they'll want to have a go at driving. The problem is that they've never even been on a boat let alone controlled one. When we got taught how to control our last hire boat boat it lasted 5 minutes max which taught us the VERY basics. Forward, backwards, mooring (excluding how to tie the ropes or an explanation on even what a mud weight was). Luckily we picked up what we needed to and common sense meant no crashes but i would of appreciated more training.

dont sign the acceptance ticket until you are happy with the tuition. (make sure you read it first.)

there is a checklist you sign against to say you have been shown all the bits and bobs and how to use / operate them..

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Ah SetFair beat me to it so not going down the lake sailor route and posting again! lol!!

Again it is starting to be a bit of a theme this '5' min tuition! It seems some yards are happy with this!? I know for a fact that this isnt the story accross the Broads but there has to be an acceptance that there are some that do... An old saying, when you pay people minimum wage you often get a minimum job...maybe this has a little to do with it?

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Ah SetFair beat me to it so not going down the lake sailor route and posting again! lol!!

Again it is starting to be a bit of a theme this '5' min tuition! It seems some yards are happy with this!? I know for a fact that this isnt the story accross the Broads but there has to be an acceptance that there are some that do... An old saying, when you pay people minimum wage you often get a minimum job...maybe this has a little to do with it?

Nice insult to the hard work & skilled labour that is the Norfolk Broads hirefleet teams there Gav!

Still... as you say, this has come up a few times so my further thoughts are already covered! cheers

Dan

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That's bloody outrageous Gav, not nice at all and more importantly not true. Also this 5 minute tuition thing is a complte nonsense, you can't even get a boat off it's moorings in that time. I do apreciate that the five minutes may be metaphorical but still.

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It isn't an insult and not meant to be. Many companies in recent years have found an availability of cheap labour. On Friday Chanel 4 news reported that nearly 30percent of Britains workforce are on the minimum wage - nearly double that in 2007! This coupled with an ask to get more from workers is leading often a drop in standards due demoralised workers. A good example of that is episode 1 of undercover boss (on 4od) where a certain Gt Yarmouth holiday park was struggling to get their minimum wage cleaners to do the job to a standard where, in contrast, their Isle of White counterparts, who were being paid double that, were doing the job in excess of the minimum standard

It is a fact that this region has very depressed wages and this was my response to the fact that TWICE in a week we have had posters reporting that they had insufficient tuition (and many times previously) and it is no joke the amount of badly handled craft we have seen this year. Boats aground on Breydon, definitely up, boats between the yellow post at Yarmouth, virtually weekly and it is a fact that whilst some yards are making the effort some clearly are not and hirers are being badly let down. To back this up we have watched time and time again as people at Brundal have been dropped off then attempted to precede accross the river and make a hash of it at Coldham - FACT.

So no not an insult, an open question mentioning a posibility as I too earn vey close to that wage at the moment and know how hard it can be sometimes to stay positive about the work you are doing. Or are you saying this doesn't happen? Because if you are I will name and shame and post a video I took of one such dropping off and the ensuing madness, something that I do not wish to do but something that not only I but a number of forumites have witnessed on MANY occasions from said yard (In fact it is becoming a bit of a joke that often the hire staff have to bring the boat back to the jetty themselves in order to get off!

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I dont see the link between minimum wage & boat handling concerns.... I think they are two seperate debates that are maybe being tried to be fused together, for reasons a little beyond me.

For what its worth within all pay structures and levels I think there are people who do differing levels of a great/not so great job, and an absolute mass of scenarios to consider in reaching a balanced decision on that.

Within my working life our lower paid roles do not equal terrible work practices or quality of work. I have seen no difference in Norfolk, infact the skills of many of the staff is quite enviable to my mind.... and using your quoted example - I dont remember reading ANY complaints re cleanliness.

Anyhow.... lets just agree that there should be multiple exams, a three hour driving test and no-one left alone until they wont ever make an error & have been shown every maneouver in every possible weather & tide condition, and then you dont have to post up this damning evidence :naughty:

All the best

Dan

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Yep firstly my point was Why were the corners being cut? And to this I offered the possibility of lack of interest and the further possibility of demotivated staff. The point of the TV program was purely to show how those on low pay can often be so demotivated that they do the job below standard whereas others receiving a more realistic wage got the job done to a higher standard and of course had nothing to do with cleaning.

Whilst I accept that you need no formal qaulifications to helm a boat, obviously some people feel they are not receiving the tuition they require having paid out alot of money - on the other hand i accept that there will always be those that never learn or refuse to accept advice/tuition.

However a few open questions;

1. So you feel that all hire companies are giving their hirers sufficient tuition?

2. Why are some private boat hirers now living in fear of taking their boats to some places for fear of damage

and lastly

3. Are you a private owner and have suffered damage?

In answer to 3. in 2010, I lost a tender at Reedham Quay after it was completely crushed and also later that year had the side of my boat badly scratched at WRC just before we sold it! On tha instance I consider myself very lucky as I have seen much worse!

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The point of the TV program was purely to show how those on low pay can often be so demotivated that they do the job below standard whereas others receiving a more realistic wage got the job done to a higher standard

Hmmmm like bankers do you mean?

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.............I thought the word was realistic!!

I think the question is, one of safety and obligation. Im sure some would happily give instruction for the sheer pleasure of it and love of the Broads. If it is indeed low wages that are affecting standards then surely that has to be addressed.

As for the "five" minutes, that was on the water time David, there was a few of us watching, jaws dropped.

Its easy enough to say "don't sign the acceptance ticket" but if its been five minutes for a first time hirer in a relatively quiet area, they may well be experiencing a false sense of security. More to the point, they shouldn't be offered the "acceptance ticket" to sign after just five minutes surely?

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I know this is not really for me to defend as it is not my yards which are being written about..

but it is a little bit like the whole 'Ban stag parties because we are now married rule' people on the forums say what the

yards should be doing when they have little or no clue as to what we actually do do.

Again it is starting to be a bit of a theme this '5' min tuition! It seems some yards are happy with this!? I know for a fact that this isnt the story accross the Broads but there has to be an acceptance that there are some that do... An old saying, when you pay people minimum wage you often get a minimum job...maybe this has a little to do with it?

I am not sure what other yards pay their staff I only know what we pay, - Do you?

........

Its easy enough to say "don't sign the acceptance ticket" but if its been five minutes for a first time hirer in a relatively quiet area, they may well be experiencing a false sense of security. More to the point, they shouldn't be offered the "acceptance ticket" to sign after just five minutes surely?

Basically I am not sure what acceptance cirtificates other yards use But I know what we do, - Do you?

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Dont sign the acceptance ticket until you are happy with the tuition. (make sure you read it first.)

there is a checklist you sign against to say you have been shown all the bits and bobs and how to use / operate them..

I quite agree Clive, but how many of them know what they need to know to be "happy", and feel it is an ego thing if they haven't grasped what the instructor was telling them.

The company that I hire yachts from in Greece (when I am not pottering around on the Broads), in addition to shorebased briefings on the yachts and their equipment, offer the facility for you to hire one of their guys (or gals) to go with you for the first day to give you a real chance to learn the ropes and get your confidence level up. They don't actually normally do any "on the water" training for the crews, but then most of the people that hire from them have had at least some boat handling experience, after all they are about to take a "rag and stick" out on the sea.

To quote from their brochure:

"In addition to our normal briefings and instruction, we offer those who are ‘light on experience’, on board assistance for the first day on your yacht. There will be a minimal charge of €60 per day to cover the costs involved. This extra charge will be paid locally. Since we began this service, it has become very popular. The charge is simply to cover our costs (wages, taxis, ferries etc). This remains a non profit service. Your ‘extra pair of hands’ will be one of our shore based crew."

I wonder if first time hirers on the Broads would entertain this as an option (and be willing to pay that little extra for it), or would it be too difficult to implement?

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I think it has to be rememberered that the Broads is a holiday area too not just the preserve of private boat owners. There are mishaps which if genuine we can all empathise with; you need to think about some of your early boat handling experience. Even the most comprehensive training is no substitute for practice and the very best hand overs will never allow this, they can set people on the right path but this does not guarantee no mishaps.

You can pass a driving test but the first 6 months while 'road sense' is gained is the period of highest accidents; do we blame the Driving Standards Agency for this?

There will always be an element that will push the limits and get themselves into bother whether that boats, cars or Motor Bikes I am afraid this is down to individuals not the hire companies.

I always found in our time on the Broads you could do things to minimise the risks of collisions by be careful on where you moor and avoiding 'holiday hotspots'. I would suggest Reedham Quay is an area to be avoided. Combination of inexperienced boat handling and tides made this a no no mooring spot for us.

This is not new phenomena but if you can't accept the 'risks' then I suggest the other side of Mutford Lock might be the answer :grin:

I don't also see what wage levels have to do with this; some of the best warehouse staff we have are Eastern European agency staff (whom we use to manage fluctuating demand) their work is eminently more diligent than our traditional staff at lower wages levels.

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It would of been nice to have been sent the link to the broads better boating videos when i hired the boat so i could of studied the videos before i got the boat. I'll definately have the family watch them a few times. The problem was that the technical moves weren't taught but instead were shown in the written package which we read but reading and actually doing are so different. We were in a very large open section of water seperate from main river traffic when we learnt the controls which was good in that we had room to practise but useless as far as then trying to turn round on the main river was concerned.

Also when we last hired we ran out of gas so phoned up and the gentleman talked us through switching to the second tank. I did appreciate being able to phone up with issues.

I don't think it comes down to wages but if an extra charge could be payed to have someone come out on the boat for say an hour to teach you i think that sound a great idea. Im sure 1st time hirers would be more than willing to pay :P

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Hi All,

I do really wonder what would be achived by adding an extra hour to hire boat tuition.

An hour down river from say Stalham will not let you see any appreciable tide so even with that hour you will still have no experience of mooring in a tideway.

Coversley an hour out of say Reedham will not show anyone how to moor without the aid of the tide (IMHO a much more difficult operation when there is any wind).

A demo run from a say Southern Yard will not explore the complexites of stern mooring.

Mooring at Ches Clive I often see his lads in action and in that relitivley short period of time they are underway there is an awful lot packed in.

Departure from a stern mooring, slow speed control in a tight space, sharp turns, constant traffic, and boats really going all over the place on a busy day. That is before they even get out onto the river. Once out on the river its look out for other traffic then turn short round and navigate your way back thru all the above and complete the trial run with a stern mooring into a tight space inviarably in a crosswind. What they cannot do is show anyone how to use a tide.

An hour out on the Northern Broads may show you how to deal with a pack of Hunters taking up the whole river and doing 1mph but an hour on the Southerns will not prepare you for anything like this unless its a weekend regatta.

I still think that half the fun of a broads holiday for the newbies is learning new skills in boat handeling and seeing the improvement over the week. Following a bathtub down the Ant I can see this improvement in the first 20 mins or so when the change from drunken spider to a moderatley straight course is achived.

I will say again that I am amazed by just how well most new hirers actually do. Often the first attampt at mooring is a stern on job at say Ranworth and this is usually achived with little fuss. (Always an exception of course :( )

Once againI will say that the biggest cause for concern on the Broads is the mix of boats. The sleek seagoers and the Bumper car type broads boats. Dirty rub rails on broads boats which are sometimes made of metal do not mix well with the sleek Gelcoat of the Seagoers. But conversley when at Oulten Broad recently had cause for concern when Mr Sleek Seagoer was worrying himself sick about how exactly he was going to depart his berth after I had parked my bathtub astern of him. (him with his 2x 200hp + Bow thruster). He did seem very happy when my berth came free and I moved off just in time to see him almost ram the vessel astern of him with his davits where my boat had been only seconds before. Componded with this was another of his seagoing ilk simply going backwards and forwards in the basin kicking up great gouts of smoke and wash. I beat a hasty retreat before I had my P&J smashed to bits by the sticky outy things on the sleek seagoers. I must add that when I came into sten moor in a space that would accomodate 3 boats there were a lot of folk standing by to fend off. Must be a reflection on the boathandeling skills of thier friends :naughty:

Rod

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The interesting thing about my original post on here was that I know for a fact that some yards DO give their yards excellent service, indeed I had just such a discussion with someone who has been engaged in this on Saturday night.. but I also asked the question, what of those who feel that with their '5' minute instruction - or basically anyon who feels they have insufficient instruction to do... and why they felt they received bad service.. No Clive I do not know what you pay your staff but have heard others honking about their wages from other yards - one in particular! ... hence my question!

Rod - as always the VOR - I agree wholeheartedly that hiring and boating for the first time is a great adventure and most private owners came into ownership after hiring initially

Perry - I agree also that there are places to definitely avoid!

We all support our hire fleets on the Broads. We may push them from time to time to find out, even challenge them to some degree, however, the rivers are for all... even though the hoards of tongans on the rivers can be a bit of a pain on a Sunday morning!

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As someone who hired for many years I can't think of any occassion when the handover was poor, indeed I would often get impatient when being handed a boat that I already knew from previous visits. The guys have a job to do and would do it whether you wanted it or not, quiet right too.

The problem can be the difference with individuals, some people will pass a driver test after 20 lessons whilst others might need 60, how can a boat yard overcome that problem without taking up the whole weeks holiday.

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