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New to boating or new to Anglian Waterways?

If you are new to boating or an old hand visiting Anglian Waterways for the first time, the following advice will help you on your way.

Is boating for you? Do some research. Perhaps hire a boat for your next holiday to see if you like it before committing to purchasing a boat. There are lots of hire boat companies based on Anglian Waterways for you to try before you buy.

Ready to buy? Whether looking to purchase a cruiser, narrowboat or widebeam speak to the experts.  Boat sellers and manufacturers will be more than happy to discuss your needs and talk through your requirements.

Have boat will travel? Once you have your boat and you are ready to take to the river there are a few things you need to know before putting your vessel on Anglian Waterways.


Do you need any experience or qualifications? No is the short answer, but we do advise that you undertake some training or seek advice from a training provider such as the RYA for example.


Do you need to be registered? Yes, if you are on Anglian Waterways you need to be registered with the Environment Agency, or your vessel will need to have a Canal and River Trust Gold Licence. Please see our registration section for more information.


Do you need insurance or any other certificates? Yes, you will need to provide your certificate of boat insurance along with a valid boat safety certificate when you apply for registration with us.  Some insurance will also include recovery options as well as accident and damage cover. Talk to your insurance provider regarding your specific requirements. More information regarding obtaining a boat safety certificate can be found by visiting the Boat Safety Scheme website.


Where should you keep your boat? This will depend on how you wish you use your boat. You might want to live aboard full time, for example in a marina, or you may want to use your boat for shorter trips and holidays. There are plenty of marinas along our waterways which offer options such as residential, overnight or winter moorings. Most marinas will be happy to give you a tour of their facilities, including our very own Northampton Marina on the river Nene.


What moorings are available along the rivers? We offer a number of visitor moorings that are free to use for a maximum of 48 hrs continuous use. In addition, there are many privately owned moorings and details of these can be found in our handy guide for the river Nene. A similar guide for our other rivers will be available soon.


Are there any locks on Anglian Waterways? Yes, you will encounter locks along most of our waterways. But don't worry, there is no mystery to using our locks – just a series of step-by-step tasks. Understand the procedure, take your time and you’ll be on your way with no problem. The paddles on the pointing doors require a windlass to fit a 2.6cm square and you will also need a navigation key which can be purchased along with your licence or from one of our agents. Please see The Boaters Handbook for further advice on operating a lock.


What is River Advice for Boaters (RAB) and Strong Stream Advice (SSA)? The Environment Agency issues Strong Stream Advice (SSA) to inform river users when river levels are increasing and when locks are being prepared to discharge flood water. Notice boards, flags and lights are displayed prominently on riverbanks to inform boaters of the status of the river and red flags are also raised at several boat clubs. The EA currently issue SSA on the River Ancholme, River Nene and River Great Ouse (Bedford Ouse). When SSA is in force the EA strongly advise against navigating. Notifications can be sent your email, landline or mobile when they are issued and you can find out how to register for this in our River Advice for Boaters section on the homepage.


Do you need to wear a lifejacket? Children, non-swimmers, those with disabilities and lone boaters should wear lifejackets whenever they’re on deck, and that applies to everyone if you’re negotiating tidal waters, strong streams or currents, or if the decks are slippery. Of course, it’s always safer to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy garment. You could be knocked unconscious, rivers and deep canals can give disabling cold shock even in summer, and it is extremely difficult to swim when fully clothed.


Need more help? Please visit Anglian Waterways: information to help boaters on, or you can always call one of our River Inspectors who will be happy to assist.

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