Narrowboating

Includes: narrowboats, power cruising, inland waterways, canal, river, water, residential Outdoors, Adventurous activities, Water

Age:
5+
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Travel on canals and waterways

Working canal locks, steering with the tiller, mooring so you can hop off, and curling up to sleep inside the boat - there are loads of things that will make a narrowboat trip extra-special.

Overview

Narrowboating is the use of long, narrow boats for travelling along canals and other waterways. All sections can do this during the day, and Brownies, Guides and Rangers can stay overnight on narrowboats.

To take girls narrowboating, you will need to find a reputable local provider with an adequately insured boat in good condition, and an appropriately experienced, competent and qualified skipper.

Narrowboating is an adventurous activity and should follow the adventurous activity policy and procedures.

Approved: 5 May 2021
Version: 1.0
Content owner: Adventure team

Planning checklist

If you or another member of your leadership team is running the activity at an external venue/location, follow these extra steps:

  • Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know about any changes to your plans.
  • Tell your commissioner.
  • Get a copy of the public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
  • Check you hold the relevant qualification (if one is needed) to run the activity and let your commissioner know you plan to run it yourself. If you aren't sure, speak to your local adviser to check.
  • Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the needs of your group.
  • Get any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
  • Check that any equipment is suitably insured by the provider and agree what happens to the equipment if it gets damaged.
  • Ask for a copy of the venue's safety guidelines and risk assessment (if relevant).
  • Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls, leaders and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity if a qualification is needed). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
  • Consider the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions and plan the session accordingly.

Some venues might ask for a disclaimer or waiver to be signed for each person taking part in the activity. This is something which parents/carers must sign on behalf of their child. You can do this along with the consent form. Parents and carers should be given sufficient information from the provider along with the waiver so they can make an informed decision to sign it or not. Leaders can only sign disclaimers and waivers for their own personal participation. 

If you're working with an external provider or external instructors to run this activity outside the unit meeting space, follow these extra steps. 

  • Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know if you make any changes to your plans.
  • Tell your local commissioner.
  • Tell the activity provider about the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions that need to be considered when running the activity.
  • Choose a reputable and licensed activity provider (where applicable).
  • Check the qualified adults hold the correct qualification to be able to run the activity (see the information below).
  • Get copies of the instructor qualifications and public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
  • Ask for a copy of the providers' safety guidelines and risk assessment.
  • Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
  • Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the requirements for your group.
  • Source any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
  • Check that any equipment is suitably insured by the provider and agree what happens to the equipment if it gets damaged.

Some venues might ask for a disclaimer or waiver to be signed for each person taking part in the activity. This is something which parents/carers must sign on behalf of their child. You can do this along with the consent form. Parents and carers should be given sufficient information from the provider along with the waiver so they can make an informed decision to sign it or not. Leaders can only sign disclaimers and waivers for their own personal participation.

Instructors should hold the Girlguiding Narrowboating Scheme Modules 1-3 if travelling on canals. If the group will also be travelling on rivers, the instructor must also hold Module 4.

If the instructor does not hold the Girlguiding Narrowboating Scheme, the skipper must hold a minimum of one of the following qualifications:

If alternative qualifications are held, please seek advice from your outdoor activities adviser or boating adviser, or contact [email protected].

Please note that when hiring a boat with a skipper, the responsibility for the group still remains with the leader in charge.

Narrowboating on rivers or estuaries that have tidal movement is an activity for adults only. Instructors should hold GGUK Narrowboating Modules 1-4 plus experience of narrowboating in this water classification

Find out more about the Girlguiding Narrowboating Scheme.

If narrowboating abroad, the above qualifications and regulations may not be applicable. The Leader will need to make enquiries about the reputation and safety standards of the activity provider. Contact your International Adviser or Outdoor Activities Adviser, or email [email protected] for more guidance.

Buoyancy aids and lifejackets must be worn for activities where this is recognised as best practice.

The leader must:

  • Make sure that safety rules and alarm signals have been explained to the girls, as well as the need to obey instructions immediately
  • Operating locks can be hard work for younger members – you must ensure appropriate adult supervision on the lockside and for the safe operation of the lock gates.
  • Follow water safety guidelines and ensure that the responsible adult helpers are familiar with them.

Inspect water for visible signs of pollution, for example rubbish, blue green algae or chemicals.

Make sure girls and parents are aware of the dangers and symptoms of Weil's disease and what action to take if they suspect infection. On the day of the activity, advise participants to cover cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters to help prevent infection.

See our guidance on water activities.

Overnight stays

If the narrowboat trip includes an overnight stay, the leader must make sure that:

  • Within the leadership team, there is at least one other adult, in addition to the skipper, with recent and relevant boating experience, plus at least one adult with up-to-date knowledge of water safety and rescue techniques, such as the Girlguiding water safety training module.
  • The trip follows all our residential guidance.

Adult to child ratios

The ratios below are given as a maximum and ratios must be considered as part of the risk assessment, this may lessen due to any medical conditions, physical ability or other factors.

Leadership team ratio

As this activity will take place outside of your usual meeting place the leadership team adult to child ratio is mandatory.

  • Rainbows: 1:5, at least 2 adults
  • Brownies: 1:8
  • Guides: 1:12
  • Rangers: 1:12

Residential ratios apply if the trip includes an overnight stay.

Leadership team ratios must be maintained per craft.

Qualified adult/participant ratio

The activity leader (qualified adult) should determine what size of group is safe. There must be enough qualified adults to ensure the safety of all participants.

The number will be determined by any limitations placed on their qualification, permit or the rules of their operating organisation as well as the risk assessment. This should take into consideration the location, weather and experience of both the qualified adult and other participants. The leader should assess the risk and any concerns must be raised to them.

Forms

  • An Activity Information and Consent form is required to participate in this activity - PDF | Word
  • A Risk Assessment form is required for this activity - PDF
  • Health Information Form.pdf

    Gather information from members on their health needs, when planning to attend or organising an event

  • Home residential event notification form.pdf

    Send your commissioner a completed residential event notification (REN) form when you start planning a residential event

Remember - you can use one consent form for multiple activities