Frequently asked questions on the inland waterways

We’ve put together some frequently asked questions to help those who are new to the waterways get more familiar with life on the UK’s canals and rivers.

Is there a speed limit?

The instructed speed limit is 4mph on the inland waterways, however when you are passing moored boats, this will reduce so keep an eye out for the signs. Be cautious when you’re driving as you do not want to create a big wash and disturb moored vessels or even wildlife.

Whilst your narrow boat insurance will still provide cover for damage to your vessel, or liability to others resulting from an accident which happened when you were breaking the speed limit, claims following reckless speeding could affect your renewal premium, and you could be subject to fines or even withdrawal of your licence.

These limits are in place for a reason – it’s best to observe them!

Where can I turn around?

The inland waterways have what are called ‘winding holes’ which are designed for narrow boaters to turn around. Be aware that not all winding holes are the same size, so we advise you to read the signage before manoeuvring. Becoming jammed could spoil your day’s boating, damage your narrow boat and result in an insurance claim!

Can I swim in the canals?

There are no rules against swimming in the canals although there may be local bylaws that prohibit it and you should check for signs. However swimming is not recommended for the following reasons:

  • The canals are known to be either very shallow or deep in different areas.
  • Many dangers lie beneath the water such as reeds and potentially even waste like broken glass or metal.
  • Swimming will expose you to waterborne diseases.
  • Cold temperatures can be dangerous
  • Rivercraft may not see a person in the water

Can I fish from my narrowboat?

You can indeed fish from your narrowboat when on the inland waterways, but first you will need to apply for a rod licence. To find out any restrictions within your area, you will have to contact your local angling club.

Do I need insurance for my narrowboat?

You are not required by law to have insurance for your narrowboat insurance, but there is a requirement for a minimum of £2m liability before buying a licence for your vessel on UK waterways, and many marinas will also require that you have a minimum of £2 million liability insurance.

To give you ease on the waterways, you should consider comprehensive narrowboat insurance for you and your narrowboat to cover any potential risks you may face including accidental damage, personal accidents and third party liability.

What documentation do I need for my boat?

You will need ownership papers, a BSS Certificate which you can get through the Boat Safety Scheme, a boating licence and appropriate insurance. For more information on what we can offer you take a look at our narrowboat insurance or contact our team on 01303 290872. Some Marinas may require sight of your boat’s certificate of insurance before allowing you a mooring.

At what age will my narrowboat need a survey?

When your narrowboat hits the age of 35 years or older, you will require to have a survey to find out the condition of the boat. If you don’t already know of a boat surveyor you can contact us and we will help find one local to you.

It is a condition of your canal boat insurance policy that your boat has a current BSS Certificate.

Got an unanswered question?

Feel free to call us on 01303 290872 or email if you have any questions about these FAQs, or would like to find out more about our narrowboat insurance.