First Time Hiring A Boat?

 These are our top 10 hints and tips for choosing a hire boat and planing your first time aboard a cruiser on the Norfolk Broads

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1. Hire Boat Layout

When you know how many of you are going to be holidaying aboard have a look at the boat layouts to ensure you choose the best choice of beds and cabins for your party. It’s worth remembering, boats are limited on space If your kids are similar to ours, it’s probably not a good idea to try and top and tail your 8-year-old and 10-year- old in a double bed in a very small room.  And Granny may well appreciate a cabin with an en-suite bathroom

If you choose a 6-berth boat, you will see them advertised as 6 berth or 4+2 berth the first number shows the number of bed spaces in cabins, the second lets you know that the +2 berths are made up overnight, usually by re-arranging the saloon seating and tables

If you are at all unsure please ring our booking office and the guys will be only too happy to advise you

2. Hire Boat Height

There are several bridges in the Broads National Park, and if for instance, you want to visit Hickling Broad, you will need a boat that is low enough in the water to get underneath the bridge at Potter Heigham.   Barnes Brinkcraft shows the boat height and which bridges the boat will usually get under.  We’ve highlighted usually, because the boat may not get under a bridge if the water is unusually high

The good news is that there are pilots (boat drivers) employed by the boatyards to take your boat through the two lowest bridges on the broads (Wroxham and Potter Heigham) and they will advise you if you might get stuck the wrong side of a bridge.

Cruiser Length

Barnes Brinkcraft shows you the boat length to give you an idea of the size of the boat, so for instance, one of our newer boats Brinks Serenade sleeps 4 + 2 people and is nearly 12 meters long.  Brinks Romany can sleep another 3 people but is only a meter longer than Brinks Serenade.  It's still a great boat, but if you crave space, choose the larger option


4.  Hire Boat Handover

Each hire boat is pumped out (toilet tanks emptied), refuelled, inspected by our engineers or boat builders, cleaned inside and out and the water tanks topped up before its ready for you to take over

We ask you to arrive at Barnes Brinkcraft between 2 and 4 p.m. on the day of your handover (We’ve tried all sorts of ways, but we can’t be more specific, and if you find waiting around a real pain please aim to arrive later, or alternatively, plan for a trip around the Broads institution known as Roys Department store whilst you are in Wroxham

Once your boat is ready, we will get you to park your car as near as is possible to your boat, so you are able to get your bags onboard as easily as possible.  Once you have unloaded, we ask you to take your car keys to the office, where we will finalise your paperwork and organise one of our staff to give you a Trial Run (Demo)

The Trial Run consists of a thorough briefing on the boat and how to use it plus an opportunity for you to take the boat out under guidance so you can get a feel for using it with help at hand.  Please listen carefully and if you are at all unsure, ask us to run to go through things again.

But don’t worry, there is a manual on board that covers most things and please remember you can ring the yard on 01603 782625 for help at any time.  The office is open between 8 am and 5 pm Mon to Sat and we have a 24-hour emergency cover on standby, ready to come out to a hire boat in an emergency at all times.  To contact the engineers in an emergency ring the same number and select the option for the engineers

Note, we have limited space on the yard for parking, and to get all the cars parked on the yard our staff take your car keys and park them up, in a similar way to a valet service.  The cars are then returned to you at the end of your holiday.   (If you know you are coming back to the yard early, please let reception know, they will sort out a car parking spot (possibly the other side of the river) so that you can access your car on your return

5. Before you leave the yard

Please do a quick check to ensure you have all the crucial things you need on board.  It's well worth checking that you have the right bedding

6. Pack lightly

Cruisers interior design is a feat of engineering, making the most of limited space, so storage is limited.  Unless you have a fancy night out planned, pack casual and comfortable clothes that layer up.  A waterproof top is also advisable (and whilst Norfolk has the lowest rainfall of all the counties in the UK its still Great Britain after all) plus flat shoes with a good grip – trainers are fine.  On top of your usual toiletries don’t forget the sunscreen, sun hat and glasses.    It's also advisable to take some insect repellent with you.

7. Fuel & Water 

Boatyard in the Broads National Park have different policies on fuel.  Barnes Brinkcraft asks for a fuel deposit that should cover the cost of fuel for the vast majority of our customers,  We refund what you haven’t used when you return to the yard at the end of your holiday.  Barnes Brinkcraft does this because some customers use hardly any fuel (for instance fishermen, in the summer, covering very limited mileage)  if, however, the nights are chilly and you take the boat from Wroxham to Norwich and back in a week, you are likely to use your full deposit, or maybe a little more, which we will ask you to pay for on your return to the yard.

Some of our boats have a fuel gauge, and others have a dip stick that enables you to tell if the boat is running short on fuel.  Check with the engineer doing your handover how you check the fuel level.  If, in the unlikely event you do need to refuel this map will help you find boatyards with diesel supplies.

Each hire boat has a water tank, and we’d suggest you top it up on a daily basis.  The majority of moorings have a water supply.  For drinking water we advise you use boiled water or bottled water (it's perfectly safe to use the water at each mooring, but we recommend you top up your bottles direct from the tap  - not via a hose)>


You can do it

Driving a boat is pretty straightforward, especially on the Norfolk Broads.  You travel slowly (between 3 and 6 mph) and are given tuition as part of your Trial Run

In addition, there are no locks to navigate on the majority of the Norfolk Broads, and you will hardly feel the tide on the Northern Rivers (where Barnes Brinkcraft is based) until you get to Stokesby and if you need more reassurance.  Barnes Brincraft have been hiring out boats on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads for over 50 years, and we wouldn't let you loose with a cruiser that's worth more than most Range Rovers if we weren't confident you could handle it 

9. Don’t hire a dinghy

Having said that, unless you are an experienced helmsman (used to handling boats) we wouldn’t recommend you hire a dingy for your first trip.  They are great fun, but, when you are just getting the hang of mooring up (parking a boat) they tend to get in the way

10. Plan your first night

It can be quite a bit to take in on your first night, so we’d strongly suggest you didn’t aim to travel very far to start with.  If your boat will fit under the bridge at Wroxham, just pop through, have a wander around, test your boat handling skills and moor up on the Broads Authorities Free 24 hour moorings   - there are some lovely ones that allow you to moor side on if you go a little further out of the village, and you can pop back into the village if you need further supplies or wish to use one of the many restaurants.  Using the footpath that runs beside the river

Alternatively, travel towards Horning and you will discover Wroxham Broad and just drop an anchor (note this is a really lovely spot - but there is no access to the village from here)

Or perhaps our favourite first-night mooring, Salhouse Broad  - see our suggested 3-day itinerary to get an idea of what's available there


We hope you find this article helpful, please let us know if there is something else you think we should add via the link in the footer

You may also find these articles help you plan your days whilst staying in this fantastic National Park 

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