How to operate the boat
Electric boats are safe and quiet. You don’t have to raise your voice to chat with friends and the skipper can participate fully in the conversation without feeling isolated by a noisy, sometimes smelly engine. There are few moving parts visible inside the boat other than the propellor shaft which is below the floor and should not be accessed by passengers.
The boats are easy to drive – push the throttle further forward and the boat goes faster ahead while to go astern, or backwards, you simply ease the throttle backwards towards yourself. River speed is 5 mph or 8 kph. Our boats will go faster but it is prohibited to break the speed limit and not only does this incur a fine but it also damages the river banks which are already damaged by excessive wash causing erosion.
Common sense dictates that it is not sensible to put all your passengers on one side of the boat. When you board, disembark and move about the boat, spread the weight of your passengers evenly and make sure the crew is briefed about this. When mooring up or going through a lock don’t put your fingers outside the boat. Designate crew members to manage the ropes and make sure you know what to do by listening to the lock keeper’s instructions. Ropes must be allowed to run freely. However rope burns are painful so pay out the rope in a controlled fashion whether going upstream or downstream. Never allow the rope to dangle in the water. We charge for propellor damage due to the mishandling of ropes !
In an emergency, allow the boat to drift to the nearest bank which it will do automatically going downstream with the flow of the river. Put the boat in neutral and steer towards the bank. Sometimes passing boats will offer to tow you back to base. This is fine provided you allow the captain of the passing boat to give you instructions.
If you think you have a rope or a plastic bag around the propeller please turn the battery isolator switch to ‘off’ and turn the ignition to the ‘off’ position. Any impediment to the propellor turning can burn out the engine completely and cause hundreds if not thousands of pounds worth of damage.
Rules of the river
- Stay within the main river channel and follow all directional arrows. If you navigate away from the marked channel (e.g. up backwaters or weir streams) you risk running aground and damaging the boat.
Steer on the right hand side where it is safe and practical. Remember even when you have right of way it remains your responsibility to avoid collision.
Respect the river speed limit of 8kph (about 5mph) over the bed of the river.
- Avoid turning your boat near bridges, bends and locks. Do not turn across the bows of oncoming boats; wait until it is safe.
- Near bridges or sharp bends, boats going upstream must give way to boats coming downstream.
- Always take care when overtaking and keep clear of other boats.
- Keep a sharp look out at all times for any hazards, taking action when necessary. If in doubt, slow down or STOP.
- Respect warning signs. It is dangerous and illegal to interfere with weir gates and sluices. In an emergency call 999.
- Obey River Thames short stay mooring requirements, you can download a helpful fact sheet for more information www.environment-agency.gov.uk/thamesmoorings
- Hire boats should not navigate between the hours of sunset and sunrise without permission from the hire boat operator and only if fitted with the correct navigation lights. Pure Boating Ltd does not allow navigation after sunset.
Locks & moorings
Each boat has mooring spikes and a mallet. You may moor against the bank unless there are signs preventing this or the river is clearly too shallow. Please ask for advice rather than take any risks. We are here to help and are just a phone call away.
We advise against swimming from the river bank. There are strong currents in places and every year there are swimmers who drown. Do not use our buoyancy aids outside the boat. They are to be used inside the boat only. So only if the boat were to capsize should you ever get one wet !
Swimming from the boat is strictly forbidden. That rule applies to any dog on board as well. Boats have propellers which are sharp and turn quickly. Propeller accidents can be fatal.
Arrival and return
Please arrive at the kiosk at least 15 minutes before your rental period is due to start. We can then sort out booking details, fit buoyancy aids if requested (required for children under age 12), pass over food bookings from The Boathouse if relevant, show you the workings of the boat and generally look after you.
Please ensure you return the boat on time otherwise the next customer will be let down, you will be charged a supplement and make our day a great deal more complicated!!
Make sure you have read the notes for skippers and crew that we provide.
Please do not let anyone put their hands out of the boat in the lock as fingers can get caught around ropes and squashed between the lock sides and the boat.
Give clear instructions to your crew and make sure that you have turned off the engine key once you are safely moored up.
Listen to any instructions from the lock keeper. During busy periods, as the keeper calls each boat into the lock he or she will indicate with a gesture to which side you should go. If you need assitance from the keeper, make sure you are on his/her side of the lock.
Drive slowly, take your time and if necessary just hold on to the chain while you wait for the keeper to take the ropes. Make sure your passengers stay seated as they will destabilise the boat if they all stand up at once or on one side of the boat.
Children of all ages love boats and often a successful and enjoyable outing gives them a lifetime love of the river and boats in general.
We don’t rent out to any skipper below the age of 18 but we often have parents with their children for birthday parties on board. We can organise a pirate picnic to suit your group and even a cake. The Boathouse can organise a hamper for you, delivered to the Kiosk before you board. Just give them 48 hours notice. We also have an activity sheet suitable for children from the age of 5 to keep them busy on board.
Keep them safe and ensure they wear the buoyancy aids provided.
Swimming off a boat is prohibited. Swimming from a beach environment is your choice but we don’t recommend it for safety and hygiene reasons. There are strong currents in places and each year children drown so why not check into the Lido in Wallingford instead and enjoy the river and its beauty either from the boat or, when you moor, from the bank.
We would like, and plan, to enable less abled passengers to board and skipper our boats in the future.
In the meantime unfortunately our base at The Boathouse in Wallingford is a listed building and as such has a number of steps leading down to the waterfront. It is therefore sadly not advisable for a wheelchair user to try to board one of our boats.
It would perhaps be more suitable for the time being to enjoy a river trip on a larger boat, adapted for wheelchair use. There are Salters Steamers operating on a timetable between Oxford and Pangbourne. Please refer to their website for more information.
We love dogs and well behaved pets are welcome on board but, to be honest, are probably not ideal boating companions! If you would nonetheless like your dog to ride with you, book it in online and you will note the charge of £20.
A larger dog must count as one of your party in terms of boat capacity.
Do please ensure that your dog does not scratch the inside of the boat and that any mess arising is cleared up when you disembark.
It is strictly forbidden to allow your dog to swim from the boat. A wet dog will muddy the boat so please do not allow your dog to swim from the bank and then come back on board.
Your first port of call is our duty crew member on 07436 812508
Our head office is 01491 578870 (not weekends)
NB. This is Britain and therefore we do not accept cancellations for the weather. We offer canopies on all our boats and sell waterproof ponchos from the kiosk. Should we have to cancel due to a technical fault or a flood situation then we will reimburse you or offer you a different date of your choosing.
See the terms and conditions for more detailed information.