Hirers manual

Welcome Aboard Tiller Girl

Thank you for choosing Tiller Girl  for your narrow boat break with us here on the historical Trent and Mersey Canal. We aim to provide you with the most perfect relaxing holiday, whatever the season and the safest boating experience you can have.

We ask that you read all of this information so that you are aware of how we aim to help you to enjoy the canals and rivers safely and that you are aware of your responsibilities keeping yourselves and the boat safe. When your booking is confirmed we will advise you to download via the link, the booklet and Video of the Boaters hand book. Please watch this for your own benefit and safety.

Tiller Girl is fully insured but you will require personal travel insurance for the duration of your stay.

We cannot guarantee the weather, water levels or anything outside the Marina.
If water levels rise on the rivers or canals you may not be able to move Tiller Girl out of the marina. You will be able to stay onboard at the embarkation point and enjoy the many local amenties, hostelries and superb walks.
Please ensure you have sufficient holiday insurance to cover any such circumstance you feel may affect your enjoyment of your hire.

Boating Tuition/Demonstration

This will be provided as a matter of course no matter on previous experience and will be tailored to individual needs. 

This will include;

  • Casting off and mooring up
  • Correct speed
  • Passing on coming and moored boats
  • Lock operation
  • On-Board safety
  • Turning Tiller Girl round
  • Starting and stopping the engine.
  • Emergency procedures; man over board/Fire

Then you set off on your canal and waterway adventure!
Tiller Girl reserve the right to extend the demonstration if  we are not satisfied with the level of knowledge demonstrated.

In the unlikely event of a break down we aim to be with you as soon as is practicable subject to location, traffic etc. We may contact a reputable boat yard close to you on our behalf.  We reserve the right  to delay getting to you if you call outside normal working hours, until the following morning, unless the event is a threat to life or could result in loss or damage to the boat or sufficiently serious that your holiday will be permanently compromised.

When you return to the marina we will be there to greet you and to moor you safely before you and your party disembark and will escort you and your luggage to your car. There are rubbish bins and Elsan disposal on site to help you clean out the boat efficiently and effectively.

We are always willing to listen to your adventure stories including constructive criticisms and compliments. If you prefer to write these down please email ask@tillergirl.com and we will be happy to peruse them.

And finally, we like to wave goodbye and hope you have had the best holiday ever.

 Your responsibilities.
Tiller Girl will be ready for you by 10am on the first day of your holiday. Hand over days are usually Monday and Friday whether a short or long break. There may be more flexibility on dates and we may be able to accommodate you earlier or later by prior arrangements depending on bookings. If you arrive early there is a chandlery and restaurant on site at Sawley Marina for you to peruse. From October onwards, later arrivals are not permitted due to the onset of darkness preventing demonstrations being completed in time.

Pets/Dogs You must ensure, whilst at the marina any pets, dogs are on a lead or leash. They must under your complete control. Any poo must be removed using a dog poo bag. This must be placed in the relevant marked bins provided.

The Hirer (you) must arrive before we allow the party aboard as you have to sign acceptance of responsibility for your party prior to boarding/loading the boat.

Any Crew/party members arriving late will have to walk a good distance to the first lock or towpath so it is ideal that all members of the party arrive prior to leaving the Marina.

On arrival please park in the loading bay near the chandlery and we will be waiting on Tiller Girl to help you load your belongings so you can stow everything aboard. Please check the boat  thoroughly for cleanliness, defects, damage or shortages, including mooring stakes, poles and windlass (especially crockery etc). (There will be a tick list aboard checked by staff prior to your boarding) We know that accidents and breakages happen, please tell us so that we can correct it accordingly.

Also check that you have the correct amount of linen and towels for your party.
Ther life preservers and buoyancy aids will be fitted for size prior to leaving the marina. These must be worn at all times when cruising.

There is a Sainsbury and Tesco in Long Eaton if you need to top up your food stores or arrange a food delivery at the boat which we will take for you. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants along the Trent and Mersey Canal, the River Trent and River Soar and villages where there are small stores.

Boat Show through when on board, life preservers fitted and everything stowed away and you have read and digested the manual, the boat show-through will take place. The Crew will show you the technical side of the cooker, fridge, shower and toilet. It should take about 15 minutes.

Boating tuition will start as soon as the show-through is completed and any queries answered. This will take about 30 minutes then another 45 mins through the first lock. 

It is important that all the members of the party watch look and listen and learn so you can avoid hassle whilst a float!

Signing the Boat Acceptance certificate is not to be understated. It is absolving us of any responsibility for your actions whilst on Tiller Girl and must be signed  before we formally hand Tiller Girl over to you having given you the necessary advice of boating skills and facilities available. It is your responsibility make sure you are happy with the cleanliness and equipment on Tiller Girl and that you have received adequate basic instruction to allow you to be safe with the boat and your party and with due regard for other boaters on the waterwa

When you are on your way the canals and waterways are for you explore and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the countryside. We aim to provide you with the vessel, now its up to you to use it to the full. Try to remember a few important principles when on the Cut.

  • At least two of your group should stay sober whilst underway, Don’t drink and drown! It is an offence to be over the limit when driving a Narrow boat.
  • Be mindful of other users, slow down when passing moored boats, moor responsibly away from locks, bridges and sharp bends. Be friendly and helpful at locks. Everyone loves a chat but don’t lose sight of what is happening on the boat
  • Relax and take your time, don’t rush along as you will surely miss that turtle on the bank or  Ragley Boat Stop for a great Steak!
  • Make everyone responsible for each others safety whilst on board

Returning Tiller Girl back to us
On the morning of your return, please have Tiller Girl at the Marina by 10am ready to unload including refuse removed and toilet emptied. Bed linen should be stripped and together with towels, placed in the bag as directed. We will have to charge £50 an hour for late return and/ or for the boat not being cleaned.

You must take responsibility for informing us of any thing damaged or missing on Tiller Girl so that it can be resolved prior to the next guests arriving;

  • broken toilet or shower
  • engine malfunction
  • tiller or propeller damage
  • broken windows or steel work damage
  • gas, water or diesel leaks
  • any notifiable incidents particularly with other boats, locks or bridges.
  • any boat content

Safety on your Tiller Girl holiday

As said previously safety throughout the holiday is everyone’s responsibility. Please be aware also of the following points;

  • Children must be supervised at all times and wear buoyancy aids when outside to boat whether they are competent swimmers or not.
  • Tiller Girl was built as a two berth live aboard however there is room for 2-3 adult/2 adults plus 2 children. maximum capacity is 600 kgs. You may have guests aboard as long as capacity is not exceeded for your own safety, 6 persons maximum.
  • It is legally required that the person steering the boat when underway must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Your contract maybe terminated if we feel that this requirement has been contravened.
  • Tiller Girl has doors at the back, removable window at the front (bow) and two side hatches, one in the galley and one in the bedroom. Please make sure these are unlocked when sleeping  or underway in case of emergency
  • The roof and gunwales are out of bounds for all party members. Only crew areas such as the stern deck and bow when filling the water may be accessed. Please do not use the roof or gunwales at any time. This contravenes our conditions
  • When underway, there are a number of low bridges and branches which may catch the side of the boat and any party member that is on the crew area. Also be aware of the Tiller arc when maneuvering the boat and ensure all guests are aware of this and out of range.
  • Never lean out of hatches when the boat is in motion-Beware of decapitation!


Always be aware that the locks are often deep and we strongly recommend that all crew are either out on deck or lock side for your added safety. Undivided attention to the lock demonstration as part of your boating tuition is required. In particular:-

  • Never run around the lock edge or across the gates or boat roof.
  • Always hold on to the handrail as you cross a lock gate.
  • Always ensure that there is one member of crew at the front of the boat on the lock side (to check   the bows are going up and down safely) and one member at the back (usually the steerer)
  • Don’t fool around whilst using the lock.
  • Don’t let others operate the lock for you unless they are willing to work to your instructions.
  • Always keep the boat at the front of the lock (towards the gate) going uphill, and at the middle/front of the lock (just clear of the front gate) going downhill – do not let the back (stern) of the boat get near the back gate or the Cill which could damage the rudder or even, at worst, tip the boat.(There will be a significant charge if this happens!).
  • On wide (‘double’) canal locks only use ropes if you are using the lock alone – and never tie a rope to the posts when descending the lock!
  • Never allow the boat to ram lock gates – there should be no need for excessive force or use of the engine if you follow our boating tuition.
  •  Never leave your lock key (‘windlass’) on the lock spindle once you have wound the paddle up – always use the safety catch.

Swing Bridges are varied with some being electrically operated with the BWB key which is on your key fob, some are pushed by hand once you have unlocked the BWB padlock. Ensure that the bridge is fully opened before you pass through and if other boats are following or approaching closely, leave the bridge open for them/ wait to collect your key and that your fully close the bridge once through if you are the only/last boat.

Accidents and emergencies

Person Overboard The steerer should keep a good lookout for all persons either in the bow of the boat, on the stern, or working the lock/ lift bridges. If someone falls in:-

  1.  alert the steerer immediately who will put the boat  out of gear and throw the life-ring toward the person in the water.
  2.  the steerer must take the boat out of gear immediately and must on no account use the gears again until the person in water is well clear of the propeller.
  3. ideally get the person in the water to wade or swim to the canal/ river bank– it is usually easier to get onto the bank than the boat.
  4. If the person is in difficulty use the boat hook and/or a rope to assist them to the bank/boat. Do not jump in unless you are a good swimmer yourself and the person is in imminent danger of drowning otherwise.
  5. Remember that anyone in the water will weigh at least twice their bodyweight on dry land – don’t forget your own safety) Once back onboard, ensure they have a warm shower to mitigate any possible effects of ‘Weils Disease’ – if they should subsequently feel excessively drowsy or suffer flu-like symptoms ensure they seek medical advice immediately.

Tiller Girl is equipped with three fire extinguishers and a fire blanket. These will be demonstrated to you during your boat show-through. Please ensure all members of the party are aware of their location and use. In the event of fire follow these guidelines:-

  1. raise the alarm and evacuate the vessel immediately, ensuring everyone remains at least 20ft/6m away from the boat. Do a head count to ensure everyone is accounted for.
  2. if safe to do so, shut off the gas and electric supplies by means of the emergency isolators (as shown during your tuition)
  3. only if safe to do so, use extinguishers to bring the blaze under control or if a fire on the cooker, use the fire blanket.(The cooker must not be left unattended when alight)
  4. if boats are moored alongside/ next to your boat, alert the occupants as soon as possible) if necessary call the emergency services by dialing 999. (make sure you know where you are i.e. nearest bridge/road/village before calling them) and state ‘fire on canal-boat on {Trent and Mersey……….)
  5. contact Tiller Girl with similar information.

Do not attempt to fight the fire if you have any concerns for your own safety, do not allow others to return into the boat, and DO NOT attempt to move the boat unless instructed to do so by a Fire Officer or a member of Boatyard Staff or the navigation authority. Remember to alert any boaters in the nearby vicinity.

If you Smell Gas. Every boat has a gas supply solely for cooking. You will be shown how to turn the gas off in an emergency. If you suspect a gas leak or can smell gas make sure that you:-

  1. tell everyone immediately and evacuate the vessel – ensuring all persons keep well clear of the boat (minimum 20feet/6m).turn off all cooker knobs and the gas supply at the main valve (as shown to you during your boating tuition)
  2. open as many doors/windows as possible, do not operate any lights, nor smoke, nor use a naked flamed) do not allow anyone to return into the vessel until you have contacted the boatyard for further advice.

Personal injury or Illness

If any member of your party falls ill or is injured, and requires medical treatment, do NOT call us as we are unable to provide direct medical assistance. Either call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 for telephone advice, or in emergency call 999 and ask for Ambulance/ Police. Make sure you know your location, ideally giving the nearest road access for an ambulance – once the ambulance is on its way.  ///whatthreewords can be used.



This section is designed to give a succinct description of all the parts of the boat you would normally need to know about. Please read this again if you have any difficulties with the boat whilst on holiday. There is a folder on the shelf with the instructions for all facilities on Tiller Girl. (Please do not remove this from the boat)

Electricity is 12 volt, from 4 large batteries charged by the engine, and is not suitable for domestic appliances. A 400Watt inverter is installed  for battery chargers, computers etc via a standard UK 3 pin socket – it will not power hairdryers – Please do not charge electrical items such as phones or tablets over night or when the engine is not running. This will flatten the batteries. This is why we cannot allow the overnight use of breathing machines or other medical equipment because this will flatten the batteries and become inoperable risking the person’s health. The boat’s batteries need to be charged for at least 4hrs/day either as you boat along or, if moored up for the day, by running the engine in a fast tick over speed out of gear for 30 mins or so. No charging = flat batteries = no lights, water, and toilets! A separate battery starts the engine so even if you do get flat batteries you should be able to start the engine, then run the engine until the charge light/alarm goes out

You will be shown the trip switches and emergency electrical isolator during your boat show-through– you should not need to touch these unless in the event of a fault or emergency.

Gas is provided from cylinders whose location will be shown to you during the boat show-through. In normal circumstances you should not need to touch these. The emergency shut off procedure will be carefully explained to you.

The water is heated by the engine when running or the diesel central heating. 

Water is drinking quality, supplied from a tank in the bow of Tiller Girl.  This is full when you leave us, but will need to be topped up at the indicated water points  using the hose in the  wardrobe,  which you connect to the marked water points in the various canal guides. Please make sure the hose never gets dropped into the canal, and that you run water through the hose for approx 1 minute before putting the hose into the tank. There is also a water filter on board.
The water pump is switched on when you arrive and the switch location will be pointed out during the boat show-through. If you think there is a water leak, turn the pump off but remember it will prevent use of all facilities including toilet. If the pump trips on & off annoyingly (especially at night) there is either a dripping tap, or a toilet not fully shut off – please check these before turning the pump off, but don’t forget to switch it back on next day!

Tiller Girl has a 12v electric fridge. This will be turned on when you arrive and should be cold within 30 minutes when empty. Do not turn the fridge setting above ‘3’ as no significant performance gain is made but the batteries will flatten much more quickly. As with all fridges the compressor hums when operating, so it is not unusual to turn the fridge off overnight to prevent noise disturbance – the fridge will hold its chill overnight if unopened, but don’t forget to turn it back on next morning! If the fridge light is flashing, the batteries need charging. Try not to over fill the fridge please.

The cooker must not be left unattended when cooking. The gas cooker is domestic size and has full flame-failure device to prevent gas continuing to flow if the flame goes out. Light with the electric igniter on the cooker or by manual igniter.

DANGER OF ASPHYXIATION – Do not use the cooker as a means of heating: use only for cooking and turn off when not required.

Fire Blanket and Extinguishers
The fire blanket is located close to the cooker for use in emergency, as is one fire extinguisher. A further extinguisher is located close to the Stove and one in the bedroom.
The extinguishers will be checked upon return – a £50 charge per extinguisher will be made if any are returned discharged needlessly– please check before you take the boat over that they show fully charged (needle in green on the gauge)

The toilet is a modern fresh water flush unit with a cassette. There is a spare cassette under the sink in the shower room. There is a red indicator on the cistern which will warn you when it is nearing full capacity, Elsan disposal units are available along the canals at certain points. It is advisable to use these when passing. Don’t get caught short!

The toilet rarely causes problems except through misuse. Therefore please follow our instructions during the boat show-through and do not put anything down them except low-grade toilet paper or that that you have eaten or drunk We will always come out to resolve a toilet problem but note that if we find evidence of misuse you will be liable for a charge (including our travel time).

Mooring and Lock Equipment
Your boat is equipped with mooring stakes, two double-eye lock handles (called windlass) for operating the locks, and a lump hammer. There are also 2 ‘piling hooks’ if you wish for a more secure mooring instead of using the stakes:

Loss will be charged at replacement value as sold in the Marina Chandlery

At the end of your day’s boating lift the rear hatch and turn the (brass) stern greaser down until pressure is felt. Then make a further half turn. This stops the stern tube leaking overnight. Do NOT undo the greaser at any point!

We need Tiller Girl  back at the marina by 10.00am and vacated by 10.30 am, therefore it is important to ensure you do not moor too far from the marina the previous night.

 Early Return to the Marina
(previous afternoon). A number of guests may like to return Tiller Girl on the last afternoon of their holiday rather than stay onboard for a last night. If you prefer to do this please advise us at the time of your  arrival at the Marina so that we can arrange to be there to meet you. Tiller Girl Crew are usually available during 8am-6pm unless in an emergency. Latest acceptable return is 12 midday to allow time for you to clean and vacate the boat and wharf and us to prepare for the next guests.

We provide you with all the equipment needed to clean Tiller Girl inside and out and leave it as you would expect to find it, especially the kitchen and bathroom. Please ensure that you have checked all cupboards and that all rubbish including unwanted food has been disposed of in the  bins on the marina. If Tiller Girl is returned in a dirty condition we will  have to charge £100 for extra cleaning costs and the time involved.

Lost Property
We check Tiller Girl thoroughly during the turn-round servicing. We regret that we do not have the resources to store lost property for more than two weeks – please contact us with an accurate description if you think you’ve forgotten something: we charge £5 per item for postage & packing to UK addresses.

Please contact Melanie on 07739 709 242 within working hours or email ask@tillergirl.com

We reserve the right to decline the hire until the point of embarkation should we feel the hirer and their party be inappropriate for this vessel.
We do not accept stag or hen parties or similar groups.