Our handover procedure is comprehensive and takes into account the boats we hire and the cruising conditions you may encounter. For instance Loch Ness and Loch Lochy are large bodies of open water which can occasionally get rough (usually no more than 3ft waves). When the weather condtions are a bit more challenging, there are procedures we do need to follow for everyone's safety. Restrictions on boat movement may be applied during extreme windy weather conditions.
On check in at the boatyard, you will be provided with the onboard copy of our Loch Ness & Caledonian Canal Boating Guide, this pilot book is full of detailed information to help you navigate the canal safely and contains aerial pictures of berthing locations, lists of facilities & amenities, visitor attractions, restaurants, cafes and shops along the cruising route. (The Boating Guide is available to purchase in advance or at the end of your holiday, contact us for more information). A Navigation Map and handbook for your vessel type is also supplied.
You will also be required to complete a check in form to confirm all names of your crew (and any visitors), mobile contact numbers and emergency contact details.
If you arrive early we have an area to store luggage, we are happy to look after this whilst you go shopping, and a waiting area where tea and coffee is provided.
Safety DVD and Talk
The Safety Briefing* commences at 12:00 hrs with a safety film and talk, this takes about 45 minutes. We show the 30 minute film regularly between 12:00 & 14:00 and it is important that as many crew members as possible attend this. (Follow this link to watch some of our training films).
Your vessel will be ready to board between 12.30 & 14:00. When you are onboard we will demonstrate how the interior works eg. daily engine checks, use of cooker, etc and do a boat handling demonstration with your skipper. There is quite a lot to take in on your first day and everything that we explain on the demonstration is also detailed in the vessel's handbook that we will give you when you check in at the reception. If you are already experienced then you will simply need to demonstrate your competence to us.
* It is a condition of our insurers that we provide a full handover and safety briefing to everyone chartering a vessel from us prior to their departure from the boatyard.
Please note: It is important to contact the boatyard if your arrival is going to be after 14:00. If you arrive late in the afternoon, due to canal opening times, you may have to spend the first night (on your vessel) in our yard. Should you arrival be scheduled to be after 18:00, you may have to arrange for alternative accommodation for the first night. Please contact the boatyard if you have any queries regarding this.
Departure in supervised Convoy
Departure from the boatyard (usually between 14:00 and 15:30) is done in small groups, travelling along the first 5 mile canal section, locking through Dochgarroch lock and onto Loch Ness for your first evening. Most people opt for Urquhart Bay Harbour for their first overnight stop. From here it is a 20 minutes walk into the village of Drumnadrochit. During the summer months it may be possible to travel to Fort Augustus on your first evening, however this is weather and daylight dependent. We will give advice about weather and berthing locations during your safety briefings.
If you have never hired a boat before or have limited experience don't worry, about a third of our customers each year are completely new to boating and due to our comprehensive handover they manage extremely well - have a look through some our our customer reviews so you can see what our visitors think about our service.
Your safety is our main concern. We have been in operation since 1970 and we have an excellent safety record that we are extremely proud of. We comply with the Mecal (Certifying Authority for Small Commercial Vessels) Hire Boat Code of Practice and all our vessels have a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate.
As all of our vessels are maintained to a high standard, and due to the comprehensive training provided, we rarely experience any issues. During your holiday we provide a 24 hour support service and always have an engineer on call, just in case there are any problems that need to be dealt with during your cruise. We are always there should you have any concerns about the weather or questions about your cruising area.
All members of your crew are provided with a securely fitting life jacket which we recommend you wear at all times when locking, berthing and on deck. It is inevitable in our line of business that from time to time we do end up with the odd person falling into the water, everyone has been absolutely fine fortunately but because the water is extremely cold in this part of the world it can become serious which is why we strongly recommend the use of life jackets whenever on deck and proper, suitable non-slip shoes at all times and gloves for rope work.
Standard Boat Safety Equipment is provided on all vessels and we will demonstrate the safe use of this during the handover.