For those of you who have never tried your hand at operating a canal boat before – well, you are in very good company. The majority of our customers are either complete newbies or are relatively inexperienced and we are delighted to have welcomed them to our section of the stunning river Thames. A canal boat in not difficult to operate, but she is slow to respond, so you need to keep your speed down, and think a lit bit ahead – but don’t worry - you can’t do much damage at walking pace!

To make things easier for you, Candlewood has hydraulic steering, with a regular steering wheel rather than a tiller, and is fitted with electronic bow thrusters, really helpful when mooring, turning, and navigating those occasional twist and turns of the river!

And our pièce de résistance….

We offer a completely free ½ day boating course where a professional boat handling trainer will guide you through all the necessary knowledge, skills, tips and tricks you’ll need to enjoy your time aboard Candlewood.

Once you’ve booked with us (or even before!), we encourage you to watch the Canal and River Trust’s guide to narrowboating. It’s a little bit cheesy, but is honestly worth 25 minutes of your life and gives you a good idea of the skills you’ll be practicing.  Although the boats in the video are a lot smaller than Candlewood, the basics are the same, although don't worry about handling the locks, on the river Thames, all locks are manned by lock keepers!

The Canal and River Trust also provides a pdf of their Boater’s Handbook which is a great place to start.

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Candlewood induction manual

As your holiday dates near, we send you a bit more information which includes our own manual. This is the nuts and bolts of how Candlewood works – everything from how to work all the smart features to details of safety equipment. We’ll also include tons of information on what to do on our lovely stretch of the Thames.


On the day of your holiday, we ask you to arrive as closely to 2pm as possible to begin your training. This will give you plenty of time to bring your belongings aboard and then walk through the boat with us, room by room. We like to show you around properly and help you understand the boat. Once you are happy with the layout, we will move onto the practical skills for cruising your luxury boat!

You’ll have a full half-day of boat skills training from your own dedicated professional boat handling instructor. You’ll cover all the key areas including:

  • Moving off from river banks and marinas
  • Starting and stopping the boat
  • Steering
  • Turning
  • Mooring
  • Navigating locks and bridges
  • Boat safety

Once you and out trainer are happy that you’re confident and in control, it’s over to you to start your Thames adventure