Frequently Asked Questions
We recognise that for especially first time sailors of the Norfolk Broads, there are many questions, the answers to which are not easy to find. This page hopefully will fill in the blanks. We have separated the queries into before, during and at the end of your holiday to make them easier to find.
Before your holiday begins
Do I need a license or previous experience to hire a boat?
No license is required and no previous experience is needed to hire a boat on the Norfolk Broads. As we explain later, you will be given a thorough tour of your boat and hands on experience of driving it when you arrive at the boatyard. Only when you feel confident will the boatyard staff wave you on your way.
Can I hire a boat for less than a week?
Yes, there are several options for bookings of less than a week, though the start days are fixed as you will read below. Weekend breaks are available with a duration of 3 nights, Friday to Monday or Saturday to Tuesday. Midweek breaks are from Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday. They are in fact just split weeks - Saturday to Tuesday and Tuesday to Saturday for example. These start and end days ensure the boat is out earning revenue and not left in the boatyard for odd days.
Do I have to pay for my holiday in full when I book?
You pay just a deposit
for bookings made more than eight weeks before the start of the holiday. The amount to pay varies by how many berths (beds) the boat has. Also from time to time, a special low deposit offer is in force - usually for early bookings. The amount required is always shown on the boat's costings page so you will know before you book. The balance of the money due is payable eight weeks before your arrival at the boatyard.
What time should we arrive at the boatyard to start our holiday?
Your holiday invoice will state the time of takeover but generally for week long holidays the boat is yours from around 3/4pm. Short breaks of 3 or 4 nights usually allow you to start around 2.30pm. Sometimes you can gain access as early as 1pm though be prepared to go for a pub lunch or shopping should your boat not be ready for you. In all cases you will need to return the boat to the yard by 9am at the end of your holiday.
Accompanying your holiday invoice will be a form asking you to advise the boatyard if you intend arriving later than 4pm. This is so special arrangements can be made should you be arriving after the boatyard staff have gone home. The form also details directions to get to the yard.
Should I plan an itinerary or just go where the river takes me?
That is a matter of personal choice. I prefer to plan my itinerary so I am sure I am seeing as much of the Broads as possible. If you have no plan you may end up mis-timing your journey and villages might become out of reach. On the other hand, without a plan you are free to stay longer at a favourite location or even return there later on your holiday. Either way you will need to keep a track of how far away from your home boatyard you are to ensure you have enough time to return it at the allotted time. Our Norfolk Broads River Distance Calculator
will help with this as it shows mileages and travel times. Don't be tempted to cruise all day as some picturesque riverside villages will simply pass you by. A good compromise is to cruise for an hour or so in the morning and a couple of hours after lunch.
Can we bring Rover & Fido with us on holiday?
Yes. The vast majority of boats allow you to bring pets onboard. It would be wise however to contact the boatyard first should Fido and Rover turn out to be large dogs, to ensure there is enough space for them onboard. Our search facility allows you to specify "pet friendly" boats to narrow the field.
What amenities will my boat have?
Think of your as a floating smaller mobile home - the sort you hire on a holiday park. All the facilities are onboard including hot and cold water, refrigerator, cooker, television, shower and a toilet and of course lighting and heating. Some boats will also feature a microwave. You will not need to bring any cooking utensils, cups, plates etc as these are all onboard. You need only bring hand towels. For more information on what to expect on your boat, visit our boat information page
Some boats boast having Bow Thrusters - what are they and do I need them?
Bow thrusters are small electric motors found on the bow (front) of some boats. You press a button on the driving console and the boat will swing from the front one way or the other depending on which direction you have chosen. These are very useful in tight spaces as they make the boat more manoeuvrable. Reversing onto a stern-on mooring for example is more controllable. They are especially good for first timers or small parties which do not have many able bodied crew onboard to assist with mooring. However they tend to be on more modern craft and as such are more expensive to hire. You can specify boats with bow thrusters as a parameter on our boat search page.
Will my boat have 240 volt sockets?
Possibly! Your boat's electrics are actually powered by batteries which are charged up whilst the engine is running - much like a car but bigger batteries. These are enough to power the lighting, fridge, television and other appliances fitted to the boat. Some boats have 240 volt inverters fitted which convert the battery voltage to a charge similar to that which you get at home. As such you are able to plug in certain low wattage items which you bring from home. These can include game consoles and laptops together with the facility to charge items such as mobile phones. The boatyard will be able to help you with what will work.
Day of arrival and while on holiday
What do I do when I arrive at the boatyard?
First go to the reception building. You will be advised whether your boat is ready for you should you have arrived earlier than the stated take-over time. You will be shown to your boat, at which point you can start to unload your belongings and to settle in. You will also be shown where to park your car for the duration of the holiday. When you are ready, go back to reception who will arrange for someone to join you on your boat to talk you through the operation of everything onboard, including the driving controls. You will be asked if you require a short instructional cruise where you are shown how to handle the boat, how to moor up and how to reverse onto a mooring. When you are confident, the member of staff will leave you and you are free to set sail!
What extras can I expect to pay whilst on holiday
You may be charged to park your car at the boatyard, usually around £10 per week or short break. In addition you will be offered Divers Insurance. This is optional around £10, and is to cover you for the cost of having someone go overboard to clear chain or netting which might foul your propeller. It does happen but is vary rare. It has happened to me but just once in 40 years of hiring. Broads maps can usually be purchased at the yard but my advice is to study the Broadcaster publication which will be onboard first. It has a pretty good map which might suffice. If not there are numerous outlets along the river which sell all things Broads related. Moorings are free at hire boatyards and village staithes, which make up around 80% of available moorings. You will need to pay outside some public houses (typically £5), though this is often refunded against the cost of food purchased, and at local authority yacht stations (not just for yachts) at Great Yarmouth, Norwich and Beccles. The highest charge is £12 per night at Yarmouth. See our Broads map page
for more information on where to moor.
What do I do if the something stops working?Your boat will have been serviced before you took it over so it's unlikely. However should something stop working or you have problems with the engine you will be given a telephone number to call the boatyard who will either assist over the phone or come out to put it right for you. There will also be a manual onboard which will repeat all the instructions for items highlighted by the staff member at hand-over.
What if we run out of water or diesel?
The water and fuel tanks will have been filled before your arrival. You should refill your water tanks initially every day until you get a feel for how much you are consuming. Once you see how much water is being replenished when filling up you will get an idea of how often you need to do it. You will probably settle down to refilling every other day. Hoses are available at hire boatyards and many points along the river. You will never cruise more than a couple of hours without coming across a refill point. Your fuel will usually be more than enough to last your holiday. Your boatyard will give instructions should this not be the case.
Will we have a flush toilet onboard?
Your boat will have at least one flushing toilet onboard - more depending on how many people it accommodates. The waste is discharged into a holding tank below decks and is clean and hygienic. You may find you need to have it emptied whilst on your cruise. This can be done at all Hoseasons and Blakes boatyards and some independent yards. You can expect a charge of between £10 and £15 to service a toilet. Again, the process is sealed and hygienic and takes around 15 minutes to complete. It is best to avoid asking for service on a Saturday which is the day most yards are busiest with boat turnarounds.
Can I fish the Broads?
The close season is from mid March to mid June. All other times you are allowed to fish without restriction. However, you will need an Environment Agency licence which can be obtained from a post office. Obtaining one before you come on holiday will save time searching for a post office when you arrive.
Handing back your boat - going home
What time do I need to hand the boat back?
You must be back in the boatyard by 9am though one or two yards state 8.30am. As such it is important to allow enough time for that last journey which otherwise might begin at daft o’clock! Many people make the boatyard their last night's mooring which has the advantage of arriving when there are still plenty of mooring spaces available. Either way, once moored you can now pack up and prepare for your departure home.
What about the diesel I have not used?
A staff member will either dip your fuel tank to see what has been used or refill it to see how much it takes which gives the same result. The value of the fuel used will be calculated and deducted from the fuel deposit you paid when booking. Any credit due will be refunded to you. In the unlikely event that you have used more than the value of your fuel deposit, you will be charged the difference. Once this is settled you are free to leave your boat behind for another year.