Boat hire course : take a look at your coming training !

Here is a little boat hire course for the most eager to embark ! A good entry for beginners or to update before your cruise. Anchors away !

What will be your boat hire course the day you embark ?

On the day of your arrival, after installing your belongings inside and getting a few touristic informations, we will spend roughly an hour with you through a boat hire course. In order to make real fresh water sailor out of you !
Scheduled :

  • First how to read your navigation map properly
  • Learn the main rules and also a few signs
  • Detailing some manoeuvers such as the locks, mooring, etc …
  • Showing you the equipment onboard
  • Learning knots
  • And finally a practical course through a little bit of sailing !

Map reading

For starters, let’s take a glimpse on your main tool : the navigation map ! It is important to fully master it in order to anticipate what is coming ahead of you and to sail safely. You will find elements such as : the fairway (where to navigate), the bridges, locks, decks, electricity plugs, a few signs, etc …

boat hire course
A few milestones around Solesmes village

Main rules and signs

First of all : no sail trading, no roundabout or crossroads … which means simple rules, altought it is absolutely necessary o learn them :

What speed ? a limitation of 10 km/h on the river mostly (which is also the boat speed limit) and 4 km/h close to marinas and locks

On which side should I navigate ? Except something should tell you otherwise, we navigate in the middle and we cross like we would in a car : by slighting shifting on the right hand side.

What are the priority rules ? The boat going down the river (meaning : following the current) has priority in narrow areas (bridge arch, canals). Fot the locks : the boat coming on the open side of the lock has priority (logical !). Finally, service or passenger boat (such as restaurant boat) have priority everywhere.

Can I sail any time of the day ? You can navigate during daylight only ! Whereas locks are opened from 9AM till 8PM during high season (april to october) ; and from 9AM till 5PM during low season.

A few signs worth knowing :

Going through a lock

The Mayenne county makes a demonstration :

You can also find some automatic locks in a few areas !


First of all, the main rule to keep in mind while mooring : we manoeuver against the current ! If however there is a strong wind, we manoeuver in that case against the wind. If you are not sure, a small tip for you : look which way the water seems to be moving !

Get away from a deck/quay

The boat is indeed not a car ! It will be hard for the captain to handle alone un-mooring : that’s where teamwork comes in play ! As the rudder is at the rear of the boat, I cannot simply turn my wheel and sail away : because then the rear of the boat would swing and strike the dock I am trying to leave.

So, we will take advantage of the water properties : your boat is flotting and then extremely easy to push :

  • Push away the front of the boat to get it away from the deck
  • The captain slowly goes forward in a straight line to come back into the middle of the river

Can I moor anywhere I want ?

Outside of the docks and quays, two other solutions for you sailors :

If the area I want to go is already occupied by a boat : you have the right to moor alongside said boat. Of course, we ask nicely and discuss together who will leave first and when !

If you want to moor alongside the bank, it is indeed possible. A few basics rules though :

  • make sure not to moor on a private property
  • if there is a bikepath/towpath, do not disturb it with any belongings of yours that would block the path
  • we slowly approach the bank on a full 90° (to protect the propeller in case of insufficient depth) and we check the river depth with the boat hook at the front of the boat :

What knots should I learn for this boat hire course ?

Only one knot will be asked to master : the cleat hitch. We will using either on a deck cleat ; or make a loop around a ring or a stake and come back on the boat to tie on the boat’s cleat.

A few equipment worth knowing :

The boat hook

First of all, with only use the boat hook to GRAB (a rope, a cleat, something that fell into the water, etc …). We donnot PUSH with the boat hook (breaking, bending and falling hazard) !

The lifebuoy

In cas one of your crew member falls off the boat, there are a few important steps to know :

  • The captain puts the throttle on neutral to stop the propeller (in order to allow the crew member to swim closer to the boat safely)
  • A crew member throws the lifebuoy
  • Release the security ladder (back of the boat) and help getting back on board if necessary

Life vest

gilet sauvetage boat hire course

Indeed, each and every one of our boat comes wih life vest (you will find their location on the boat plan). Child size vests will be given in the marina upon departure following sizes.

There is no specific rule regarding life vests. But we do advise wearing them near locks. And of course for non-swimmers, make sure to wear them everytime you get outside.

For your upcoming boat hire course : try out 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 :