One of the things that struck me, on our annual tour of inspection of the transpontine regions, was that most hire-boat skippers were very good at handling their boats.
The weather was very windy (more on that anon) and, on several days, we thought it too gusty for safe manoeuvring, but we watched hirers coming in to the various harbours. I don’t recall any of them making a mess of it, despite the wind, and some were remarkably skilful in challenging conditions. A family of Cheshire dairy farmers, experienced on the English narrow canals, were particularly impressive.
I had a look at the CarrickCraft/Waveline/Cruise-Ireland online training materials and I thought they were very good. [I haven’t looked at those of other hire firms: they may have equally good materials.] So was the Captain’s Handbook [PDF to Flipbook], which contains this excellent advice:
Take your time and carry out all manoeuvres slowly and deliberately. If you have the chance, watch a barge captain handling his barge. He is never in a hurry.