Canal etiquette: the dos and don’ts

Etiquette on the canals comes down to having consideration for the other canal users, whether that’s boaters, anglers or whoever. Whether they show you the same courtesy is another matter but you may as well try to be the better person! Think about how you’d want another boat to act if you were in someone else’s place.

That means things like going very, very slowly past moored boats so as not to rock them about or, worse, to pull their mooring pins out.

It means not mooring in locations where you’d be a nuisance (you’d be amazed how many boats tie up on the lock landings or water points)

It means not running your engine or generator before 8am or after 8pm, or playing loud music either when moored or cruising along.

It means not getting stressed when you come to a lock or a water point and there’s a queue of boats ahead of you (there are occasional boaters who think they have some innate right to jump the queue)

If someone else comes up behind you and clearly wants to overtake, that’s their choice; rather than try to insist they work at “canal time”, just veer over to the right a bit where you have space to do so, slow down and wave them on.

When you approach a bridge and there’s a boat coming the other way, the rule of thumb is whoever gets there first, goes through first (but that’s not a suggestion to floor the throttle to try to be the ‘winner’). Just edge forward and see who’s better placed to go through. If that’s not you, chill.

The great joy of canals is the idea that they should be a tranquil escape; so calm your breathing, consider your neighbours and relax.