Our most experienced boaters reveal their vacation tips

Want to become the ultimate boater in 2023?

We're here to help! We recently asked our community of Le Boat Owners, who enjoy the freedom of boating as part of our ownership program, to share their expertise to understand how to make the most of a boating vacation and navigate the waterways with confidence. Out of our 136 Le Boat Owners, 48 of them took part in the survey.

These experienced boaters, who typically take 3 to 5 trips per year in Europe or Canada and have completed an average of 10 boating trips, have a wealth of knowledge to share on everything from packing and boat handling to onboard entertainment. Follow their advice to become the ultimate boater and have a fantastic time on the water. 

 

Making the most of your boating vacation: Be prepared

Camargue, the perfect destination for new boaters

Choose your destination wisely 

When selecting a cruising destination, consider how long it will take to reach your departure base. If you're only planning a short trip or weekend getaway, choose a location you can reach within a few hours. 8% of boat owners return to the same region time and time again because they enjoy it so much. 

 

Our Le Boat Owners rated Burgundy, the Canal du Midi, AlsaceBrittany, and Germany their top five vacation destinations.  If you're new to boating, the Camargue is a great place to start. You can enjoy the waterways without the need to navigate the locks. If you have time to explore the waterways for longer, Canada or Nivernais & Loire have many itineraries to choose from. 

 

Plan your cruise in advance with maps and regional guides

Proper planning is essential for making the most of your boating vacation (route, visits, meals)

According to 45% of our Le Boat Owners, managing your time is key. This means planning your itinerary in advance, considering the navigation guide and leaving enough time for activities and sightseeing. The recommended maximum time for navigation is 3 to 4 hours per day, including 20 minutes per lock. It's also important to be flexible and allow for unexpected events or adverse weather.

 

To plan their vacations, 21% of our owners do web research and also recommend using Le Boat's region guides and website, which provide valuable information on the best places to visit and things to see on your journey. These resources can help you make the most of your boating vacation and ensure that you don't miss any must-see attractions. 

Food: buy the basics

Food: Buy the basics

When it comes to food on a boating vacation, there are two main approaches:

  • 29% of our Le Boat Owners recommend buying the basics at the start of your trip (such as coffee, tea, pasta, or bread) and then purchasing additional food and planning meals as you go. This allows you to enjoy local specialties from markets and restaurants. Consider adding bikes to your booking to easily reach these destinations, as recommended by 10% of our owners.
  • On the other hand, 25% of Le Boat Owners prefer to stock up at the beginning of the trip and have everything they need on board. If you're cruising in a remote area, or looking to save money, this option may be better for you. Our boats have plenty of storage space, a fridge, and all the necessary cooking equipment.

 

Regardless of the approach you take, make sure to pack enough water and plan for the unexpected, as advised by 15% and 17% of our owners, respectively. Having extra food on hand can be helpful, in case a restaurant is closed, or you need to change your evening plans.

What to pack for a boating holiday

Here’s a list of items our owners like to bring with them: 

 Percentage who suggested:
Flashlight, deck light  42%
Batteries / charging cables / extension cords   25%
Clothesline and pegs  25%
Cooking basics / spices  21%
Kitchen basics19%
Binoculars17%
Coffee maker  17%
Kitchen ustensils17%
Rain gear  17%
String, rope  17%
Flags  13%
Fly swatter / mosquito repellent  13%
Gloves 10%

 

Our boats come fully equipped with a fridge, gas oven, hob, dishes, and utensils. You may want to bring your own cooking essentials like oil, salt, and pepper.

To stay entertained on your trip, 60% of our Le Boat Owners recommend bringing board games and a deck of cards and 45% suggest bringing books. 30% of owners use these activities to pass the time when the weather is changeable. One in four Le Boat Owners like to bring a portable speaker to listen to music during their vacation (while respecting other boaters and animals). Some owners (13%) advocate for a digital detox during their boating vacation, while others (13%) think it's a good idea to bring a tablet or iPad.  

 

If you find yourself facing rainy weather with good visibility, 46% of our owners recommend bringing appropriate clothing and continuing to cruise - you may want to pack a pair of gloves to help handle the ropes whatever the weather. 41% of owners suggest experiencing something away from the water like going sightseeing or shopping. Keep in mind that all our boats allow for both indoor and outdoor driving.  It's up to you to decide what works best for you and your party.

 

The right crew for the best boating holiday

Choose the right crew and define responsibilities

Selecting the right crew is crucial for a successful boating vacation. While two people can manage a boat, having more crew members can be helpful for tasks like handling ropes and locks. According to 48% of our Le Boat Owners, it's important to know your crew members well and be confident that you'll get along well in the close quarters of a boat. 43% of our owners also recommend assigning specific tasks to each member of the crew and making sure that everyone participates and takes on responsibilities. A boating vacation requires teamwork and mutual support, so honesty and tolerance are key qualities to look for in your crew members. 

 

 

     

Boat handling: Just take it slow

 

Instructions are given at the base to navigate with ease

Boating advice for someone who has never been on a boating vacation before

The majority of our owners recommend taking it slow:

 

"Take it slow (driving & boat handling) and easy. Don't be in a rush, it is a vacation. Even if you mess up as you are trying to get used to your boat, taking it slow will avoid most damage to your boat, other boats, and infrastructure. Also don’t be afraid to stop your maneuver and start again!"
“Don’t try to cover too many miles: enjoy the scenery"

Get comfortable driving: Make the most of the training given at the base. Take your time getting familiar with the boat’s controls and practice. You’ll also find useful resources on the Le Boat website.

“Don’t be afraid to ask experienced boaters for advice."

If you plan your itinerary in advance, you'll only have to worry about navigation, that is why 1 in 5 owners advise to do it before to set off. You can also use our region guides to help you.

Be friendly to be a good boater

To be a good boater: Be friendly 

According to 77% of boat owners, the most important thing is to be friendly and polite towards others on the water, while 34% also recommend showing respect towards nature. 41% advise going slow to preserve the environment.  

One of our owners summarized it well:

“Respect others, be mindful that you are sharing the outdoors with others. Be courteous, friendly and helpful to others.”

Remember that boating is a social activity. If you're new to boating, don't be afraid to ask for help and be patient with yourself and others. Other boaters are often happy to provide assistance and engage in conversation.

Plan your cruise with maps and regional guides

Navigate with ease

According to 30% of owners, paying attention to the navigation guide provided is important to navigate with ease. It will give you the essential information about the journey ahead, locks and waterway rules. Have a look at the route before you start your cruise and at the start of each day to ensure you are familiar with the journey ahead. Familiarize yourself with the boat manual too before setting off. If you have questions, ask the base before you start! 

 

Again, over a quarter of boat owners recommend taking things slow and 24% to paying attention during the initial training. The demonstration at the start helps you to prepare for your boating vacation to navigate the waterways safely and with ease - it's important that everyone knows how to stay safe on the water and we ask that Captain and crew have all watched the safety video before you depart.

 

Manoeuvres: just take it slow

The secret to boating maneuvers

Well, you guessed it... The key to managing boating maneuvers is to simply take it slow. Two-thirds of our boat owners agree that this is the secret to success. As one owner advises:

"Practice, practice, practice. If it doesn't work the first time, laugh, and try again. If it gets too much, just ask for help. Even lock keepers and harbor masters in a bad mood will ultimately help you out when they see you tried and can't make it. It will come with time. Until then, just keep it slow.

In fact, 19% of owners recommend practicing in a quiet area until you feel comfortable. Communication is also crucial for a smooth voyage, with 30% of our owners emphasizing the importance of clear responsibilities and calm communication between the crew and the captain.

 

The best thing about boating vacations

 

Sunset view from the boat

For 60% of our boat owners, the peace and quiet of being on the water is the best part of a boating vacation. 29% also appreciate the change of pace and relaxed atmosphere. Here are some additional reasons why our owners love their boating vacations, in their own words:

“The 'other world' on the water - you never know exactly how it's going - you're away from the hustle and bustle - adapting to nature - the calm and contentment in the evening when you've sailed through a lot of locks - that you're in foreign cities comes with its snail shell and always feels 'at home'.
"The slowness, deceleration, discovering at each stage another way to see a village, a city, the contact with the other sailors but also the lock keepers, discovering a landscape constantly renewed and far from the cars".
“For me, a week is the equivalent of two elsewhere”

You don't need to be an expert to be a good boater or enjoy a boating vacation. The key to a successful trip is being well-prepared and having a friendly, willing crew who is ready to embrace the slow pace of navigation and appreciate the natural surroundings. With the right attitude and a little bit of planning, you can have a wonderful vacation on the water. 

 

About Le Boat's Boat owners survey

  • The survey was sent to 136 Le boat owners 
  • Boat owners come from different countries: France, Switzerland, Germany, UK, USA, Belgium, Ireland, Austria
  • They received it in French, German or English. 
  • 48 Owners took the time the reply and provided the information mentioned above.
  • They have been boat owner for at least a year and cruised as such

View the full results (Google Sheet)

 

 

 

Copyrights
Camargue: @Stuart pierce / Locks on the midi : @Lauragais tourisme / Friends on board: © Page Chichester / www.leue-photo.com / Plan your cruise: @Onne van der Wal / Sunset: © Holger Leue / www.leue-photo.com