Indispensable information
for the first time boat hirer
and the regular Broads sailor
Bridge Inn Acle moorings Bridge Inn Acle moorings

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have never been boating before, let alone on the Norfolk Broads, you are bound to have many questions such as "how far can we travel in a day", "how often will we need to fill up with water","are there plenty of places to stop and visit". The answers to these and hopefully any other question you can think of are answered below.

The Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads - What are they?

The Norfolk Broads area consists of around 150 miles of navigable rivers and inland lakes taking in parts of north Suffolk. These lakes were formed in medieval times when peat was extracted from the land to burn as heating. Over time, these peat diggings became flooded and now offer the boat hirer wide expanses of water and river to sail and explore.

What about boat hire on the Norfolk Broads?

The boat hire industry is well established in Norfolk and you would have been able to charter a boat as far back as the turn of the 1900s. Today there are around 800 boats for hire on the Norfolk Broads, most of which are powered craft and offered for holiday charter on this website. Your Norfolk Broads boating holiday can begin from a number of boatyards spread across the region including Wroxham, Stalham, and Acle on the northern rivers and Reedham and Brundall in the south.

Where should I start my boating holiday?

The northern rivers are defined as those which lead north from Great Yarmouth such as the Bure, the Ant, and the Thurne. The southern rivers start from Great Yarmouth again and head south to include the rivers Yare, Waveney, and Chet. The greatest concentration of hire bases is on the northern rivers. This is partly because the rivers above Acle (around 10 miles north of Yarmouth) are relatively unaffected by tides and so make for a benign holiday playground for those with less experience. The river below Acle and indeed most of the southern rivers are tidal and the current which can run at around 4 to 5 miles per hour in places is more testing when handling your boat. Also, the rise and fall of the river levels have to be taken into account as the tide will drop the level by up to 2 metres at Yarmouth and up to a metre at points further up the southern rivers. These conditions are quite manageable for the able-bodied but less so for those with mobility problems. However, all of this is balanced out by the wonderful countryside you find "down south". If you have one week's holiday or less and this is your first time on the Norfolk Broads the advice is to stay north. If you have longer then definitely include the south but stay a few days north first to acclimatise and get the feel of your boat.

Before you start your holiday

Any advice on which boatyard to start from?

Everybody's ideal holiday perception is different so this is tricky. I find first-timers often go for the cheapest boat that fits their needs but this can be a mistake as they pass the nicer-looking, better-equipped boats on their travels. It's a little like hiring a car. You might go for an older mini-type car to get you there or you could upgrade to a full-size executive vehicle with all the bells and whistles. Both serve the purpose of getting you there but if you want the bells and whistles you need to upgrade. Another consideration is if you are arriving by train, choose a start point close to a railway station such as Wroxham, Brundall, and Acle. All connect well with trains to Norwich. 

Do we need to take pots and pans, bedding etc?

All cooking utensils and crockery are provided on your boat as is bedding so there is no need to bring these items. For more information on what to take see our packing list page.

How do we plan where to go and what to see on the Norfolk Broads ?

You have the freedom to travel anywhere on the Norfolk Broads system. You can cruise for as little or as long as you like, though our advice is to not travel for so long that you pass by delightful villages or places of interest. You will not get lost as all river junctions and Broads are signposted. You can start planning right now as everything you need is on this website. There is help on how long it takes to travel between villages, where you can moor once you arrive, what amenities you will find in each village and what to take on holiday with you.

When will I need to pay the balance of the holiday?

Generally, this is due 10 weeks before departure depending on which operator the reservation is with. Full payment will have been required at the time of booking if your holiday is less than 10 weeks away. Payment can be made by debit or credit card.

What time can we take over the boat?

For week-long holidays, the start time is usually between 2 and 4 pm. Short break takeover time is around 2.30 pm. In both cases, you will be advised of the exact time on your confirmation/invoice. 

Do I need to tell the boatyard what time I will be arriving?

You will be sent or emailed a form upon which you are asked your arrival time, if you need car parking, whether you have been on a holiday afloat before, and how many life jackets you need for your party. This form will need to be returned either to the holiday operator or direct to the boatyard in good time for your arrival. If you are arriving later than 4 pm, you will need to contact the boatyard to make special arrangements.

How far will we be able to travel each day?

With the various river speed limits of between 3 and 6 miles per hour, you should work on an average speed of around 5 miles per hour. Take a look at our Norfolk Broads river distances calculator to see the mileage between villages. You could decide to travel for 2/3 hours during the morning and the same again in the afternoon though our recommendation is to not spend so much time travelling that you have little time to discover the delights ashore.

Will we be able to bring our pets with us?

Unless stated otherwise in the boat description you are allowed to bring along a maximum of two pets. However, if your pets are two large labradors for instance, it would be wise to contact the boatyard direct before making a booking to confirm that the boat in question would be suitable to accommodate two large animals in such small confines. 

My wife wants to bring hair straighteners and the kids want to use their games machines. Will they work on a boat?

Your boat will need to feature a 240 volts system to operate anything other than the onboard TV, CD/radio (where applicable), refrigerator and general lighting. Beware also that 240 volts does not guarantee a particular device will operate onboard due to the differing wattage requirements of your own equipment. If this is a clincher for you, first choose a boat with 240 volts using our Norfolk Broads boat hire search pages, then contact the boatyard direct to ascertain if the device in question will work. 

Upon arrival at the boatyard and whilst on holiday

What will I need to bring in order to take over my boat?

You should take your confirmation/invoice with you to present to the boatyard.

What extras can I expect to pay?

Depending on the boatyard, you may need to pay for car parking which averages £10 to £15 per week. Diver's insurance will also be offered to you at around £10 per week. This is well worthwhile as it will pay for the need to hire a diver should your propeller become entangled with for example discarded rope - not an everyday occurrence but expensive nevertheless.

I am new to boating, will I have sufficient instruction to leave me confident to "go it alone" ?

Yes. The boatyard staff will want to be sure you feel confident and will take you through all the controls of the boat before taking you out on the river. You will be shown how to cruise safely and how to moor your boat. Only when you are confident will the staff member see you on your way. We have put together a number of Norfolk Broads suggested itineraries, including several especially aimed at those new to boating which avoid the fast-flowing tides around Great Yarmouth and other difficult moorings

Do I have to leave the boatyard or can we stay moored there overnight?

Generally, you will always be welcome to stay overnight in your home boatyard. You may need to "relocate" your mooring within the yard but the boatyard staff will help you with this if necessary. 

Are there plenty of places to stop and will we have to pay to moor the boat.

The good news is there is no shortage of moorings on the Norfolk Broads for boat hirers. You can moor free of charge in any hire boatyard, at many village staithes, and outside certain pubs and restaurants (provided you are a patron) Other pubs charge for overnight stays (typically £5- £10) though in many instances this is refundable on purchasing food. Great Yarmouth, Oulton Broad, Norwich, and Beccles Yacht Stations (not just for yachts) all charge a fee of up to £18 for overnight stays. It is true to say though that 80 to 90% of locations to moor are free of charge.

What if the boat breaks down, we have some other problem or I have just forgotten something I have been shown at the time of takeover?

Relax! You will have been shown your boat's Skipper's Handbook when you arrive. This treasure trove of information will help you to "manage" your boat whilst on holiday. Also included are 24-hour contact numbers for the boatyard should you need help or assistance. 

How often will we need to fill up with fuel and water?

Both fuel and water tanks will have been filled for your takeover of the boat. You should have enough diesel to not have to refill if you are on a one-week's cruise - your boatyard will advise you. The water tanks are used for both drinking and washing so need to be refilled regularly depending on your usage. Start off by refilling daily until you get a feel for how much water you are using. You can fill up at any Hoseasons boatyard and at some village staithes and local authority moorings. You will not be more than one hour away from a water point at any time! 

Returning your boat

What time do I have to return my boat?

You will need to have your boat moored up in your home boatyard no later than 9 am on your last day of hire unless otherwise stated. You are always welcome to stay your last night in the boatyard to be ready for your departure the next morning..

Will I be due a refund for any unused fuel?

Your tank will be "dipped" to see how much diesel you have used during your holiday. Any surplus will be given back to you in the form of a refund cheque or a credit to your bank card. . 
Norfolk Broads what are they image

Norfolk Broads boat  hire

Reedham Quay

Acle boatyard

Rockland staithe

2024 & 2025 HOLIDAYS
Sleeps minimum
Taking pets
Duration of holiday

Start dates

2024 & 2025 HOLIDAYS
Sleeps minimum
Steers from
Northern or Southern Broads
Standard of boat
Please read guidance

Pet(s) allowed
240v system (?)
Has microwave
Bow thrusters (?)
Wifi onboard (?)
I know its name
From this boatyard

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