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  • Canal Boat Operation
    Boats are generally controlled via a simple lever which selects the forward reverse and neutral gears, and determines engine speed. Its usually tiller steering, ie if you push the tiller to the left, then the boat moves to the right. As the boat can be quite heavy, you have to bear in mind that it can take a little while for it to respond. The momentum it can build up in any one direction can also mean that even though you may pulled the tiller in a new direction, the boat's response can be slow. Additionally, due to water movement and so forth, a boat may not continue on a straight course even if the tiller is central. Steering is usually from the rear of the boat, so that you can easily see where the boat is going. For easier steering, keep your boat to the deeper water (usually in the centre of straight sections) - unless you meet other vessels that need the deeper water.

    If there is no other boat traffic, keep to the centre of the canal. If you're passing moored boats, you should slow down and leave plenty of space - wash from a passing boat can move a moored boat up and down, and potentially pull out mooring pins. If you have a boat behind you, it is courteous to check if they want to pass you. If they do, move to the side and slow down for them to pass on a stretch of the canal that's clear. When there is boat traffic approaching you, similar to the roads, you pass boats on the right hand side. Every few miles there are usually special places to turn.

    On the majority of canals there is a speed limit of 4mph. Boats don't have speedometers, but as an indication, this is usually similar to a walking speed. If you notice a breaking wave building up at the stern, you should go even slower than 4mph.