Hirers are not pirates! Half of our boating career has been spent on hire boats. It is the way that many of us start and probably the place that many of us make our mistakes.

The briefings that hire boat operators give are usually very good but half an hour, or even an hour's tuition, will never make you an expert helmsman, especially since you are probably in a hurry to get on with your two-week holiday.

So novices are going to make mistakes. The mark of the Considerate Boater is to expect that and to make allowances and to politely help wherever you can. (Take care with the last bit as few of us like being given advice).

Some private boaters fail to realise that if it wasn't for hire boats then the waterways as we know them would not exist.


Many hirers are new to boating. Try to help where you can without interfering.

There are plenty of places you can covertly offer help:

  • By offering to catch their line when they are coming in to moor on a windy day.
  • When they are going through their first locks especially when you are waiting to go through after them.
  • Try such phrases as "we always found it tricky until we tried......"
  • When the occasional crash occurs politely say that we have all done it and it was the reason you bought a steel-hulled boat.

But remember: Don't assume that every hirer is new to boating. We had four years experience the last time we hired and many go back to hiring after they have sold their own boat. Conversely, not every private boat is being operated by experienced hands. Some are borrowed by family and friends and it might be their first time out. The latter is a potentially dangerous practise and many considerations are often overlooked by the lender and borrower such as insurance, liability and tuition.


Please don't treat hirers like second class citizens. They have every right to be on the waterways.

Avoid acting like a school teacher or police officer. If you really think their conduct is wrong then call the hire company and let them sort it out. If they are potentially damaging the boat, (like the crew we saw with a lit disposable barbecue placed directly on the roof), the hire company will be pleased to hear from you.