I love mucking about in boats - and I love working narrowboats.
I have a little experience and know something about these wonders of technology.
The boats are what they say on the name - very narrow and very long. That's so they fit in the locks which raise the boats up over hills and join different canals and rivers together. Boats can be up to 72 feet long and no more than 6 feet 10 inches wide.
The steering position is right at the back of the boat, a direct link to the rudder. No power steering, and on most boats the steerer will want to be standing or leaning most of the time so as to be able to see where she or he is going.
The boats are not allowed to travel faster than 4 mph - a normal walking pace - and must slow down as they pass moored boats - no wake.
Most locks are do it yourself - there are lock-keepers on a few locks (the Foxton Staircase of locks near me jumps to mind). A couple of windlasses are included with the boat, and instruction is given. With a little practice it is easy and straightforward.
We are used to new people using hire-boats and we understand some of the issues that new boaters encounter - lots of people will help out. Positioning the boat in a lock and keeping it in place as the water rises or falls is a skill to learn - they tend to move around. You don't want to leave the boat on the cill.
Boats are hired for a week or two weeks or a week and a half (less common). You can go "out and back" especially on shorter trips, but most people link two or three canals into a "ring" and make one circuit. You will usually have a mixture of urban and rural boating.
Many people, especially the younger ones, take bikes with them. Handy for heading off to a nearby market for provisions.
Wildlife is extensive along most canals - swans, geese, ducks, kingfishers, herons. Sheep, cows, horses. If you look carefully you may see traces of smaller mammals, and at night perhaps badgers,
Boats will vary in fit out - some basic, some posh, some somewhere inbetween. When you check the prices that will become clear.
Flush toilets, showers, fridges, microwaves, ovens and hobs are usual. TVs too. Little ones.
How many in your party, what time of year, what part of the country are you mulling over?