Riverboating initiation : a few notions to prepare your adventure !

Eager to cast off ? You will find here a small guide to take your first step as a futur captain !

What will be taught during your training ?

After installing your belongings inside your boat and having a small touristic presentation ; Anjou Navigation will spend an hour (approximately) to turn you into fresh water sailors ! On the list :

  • Map reading
  • Signs and rules of navigation
  • Locks and deck manoeuvers
  • Onboard equipment demonstration
  • Knots learning
  • Little training through a driving exercice

Map reading

The navigation map is YOUR MAIN TOOL. Knowing hot to read it properly is a key element to anticipate what’s coming ahead and navigate safely. You will find the dotted line indicating your path ; the bridges and how to cross them ; locks and decks locations ; some signs, etc …

Some useful informations

Rules and signs

Be at ease : no commercial boats, no traffics, no roundabout or crossroads. Navigation in Anjou is easily done with a few common sens rules along with some signs.

  • Speed ? 10 km/hour (6mph) on the river (our boats have the same speed limit) ; 4 km/h (2mph) near locks and marinas
  • Should I stay on the left or right hand side ? Neither ! Unless you are told to ; navigation is done right in the middle of the river. We only step a bit on the right when crossing another boat.
  • How do priorities work ? In a narrow space (bridge/canal) ; it’s the boat that is the least manoeuvering that has priority (for example : a passenger boat). For two equivalent boats : it’s the one going down the river that has priority. In a lock ; priority is for the boat coming on the opened side of the lock (logical !).
  • Are there specific hours to navigate ? Yes ! Going through a lock can be done from 9AM till 8PM during high season (April to October) and from 9AM till 5PM for the rest. Outside of a lock, you can navigate during the day only.
  • A few signs worth remembering

Lock Manoeuver

Some images are worth a thousand words ! The Mayenne county is giving you a demonstration of how to go through a lock :

Docking manoeuver

Rule N°1 : think about wind and current ; which will determine the position you will need to have while approaching the deck

  • If there is a lot of wind : manoeuver against the wind (a small tip to see in which direction the wind is blowing : look at the water : the wind will create little waves !)
  • If there is no/weak wind : manoeuver against the current (in Anjou, the Sarthe and Mayenne river are flowing from North to South to throw themselves in the Loire)

When this is done :

  1. Approach at a 30/45° angle
  2. A crew member goes on the deck to moor the front of the boat
  3. The current pushes the boat against the deck. The crew member moors the rear of the boat

Un-docking manoeuver

While manoeuvering a boat in a narrow space or when said boat is docked ; it will be tricky for the driver to get the boat away all by himself. That’s where teamwork is coming in handy !

Unlike a car rolling on land ; a boat is on water (you knew that right ?). The downside : it’s sliding on water. The upside : it is so easy to move it by hand (you won’t need no muscles !).

To leave a quay/deck/etc … we will simply push the front (or the rear) of our boat toward the river’s bed. Then, the driver will only need to go straight forward (or backward) to get away from said quay/deck/etc … in order to have more room to manoeuver.

Moor outside a dedicated spot

But why do such a thing, will you tell me ???

Two cases !

  • I wanna moor here but there’s a boat already !

No problem ! You do have the right to moor against said boat when its necessary. A tacit rule : just ask nicely and manoeuver gently to prevent from bumping the boat, its crew and, more importantly, their wine bottles ! If you wish, you can once on the bank use your ropes to move the boat a few dozen meter further along the bank to moor alone by using your pikes and hammer on board.

  • I wanna moor in nature !

There’s no better place to rest, have a nice fishing session or enjoy a late night dinner in order not to disturb any neighbours. A few rules to follow : do not moor alongside a private property ; if you are following a towpath, make sure your ropes are not blocking the way.

In nature, a few precautions need to be taken to make sure the water is deep enough for mooring alongside the bank. Come this time at a 90° angle to protect the boat’s propeller (at the rear) and ask a crew member to stay at the front to check the depth with the boathook (one meter is enough).

The cleat knot

Easy and useful, the cleat knot is the only knot that you will need to learn during your trip ! We can use it in two different ways : on the cleat/bollard on the decks ; or by passing your rope around a ring/pike/cleat and coming back to the boat to do the knot on its own cleat.

A few equipments

Each of our boat has its specific equipment that will be explained to you during your training. But there are a few universal gears worth knowing :

  • The Boathook

Often mistaken as a harpoon or a way to push annoying crew members in the water ; the boathook is in fact a very useful equipment. It will allow you to grab things away from the boat (a rope, a cleat, the teddy bear that fell in the water, etc …). Common mistake : absolutely do not push anything with the boathook (breaking and falling guaranteed !).

  • The lifebuoy

No need to learn the “man overboard rescue turn” ; which can be dangerous if not done properly. In case someone falls ; the driver will cease using the engine while a crew member will throw the lifebuoy and free the ladder into water to allow the fallen sailor to come back onboard himself. A second person will go into the water to help if necessary.

  • The Anchor

No anchor needed for you fresh water sailors ! This equipment is there for emergency use only in case of an engine breakdown for example.

  • Safety jacket

All our boats come with safety jacket for the whole crew (adult size). The children will be given specific jackets adapted to their weight and height. Althought there are no specific rules for wearing life jackets ; we do advise it near and inside the lock. Generally, as soon as you are outside, it should be mandatory for anyone that doesn’t know how to swim.

Check your knowledge !


Congratulations ! You are on your way to becoming a real fresh water sailor !

Aoutch ! You were not paying attention young sailor ! But don’t worry, we will take the time to see all those topics again the day you will come to meet us !

#1. On which side should I navigate ?

#2. What does this logo means on my map ?

#3. When can I navigate ?

#4. To raise the water level inside a lock, I should :

#5. What does this sign mean ?

#6. It is easier to manoeuver :

#7. To leave a quay/deck, I should :

#8. To moor in nature in should :

#9. If a crew member falls into the water ; I should :

#10. The boathook can be used to :