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Canal Speed Limit UK

Have you lost your water-skier?

The British Waterways and Environment Agency's Boater's Handbook of 'Basic Boat-Handling and Safety' section on Good Boating Behaviour sets out the Canal Speed Limit as, "The maximum speed on narrow canals as 4mph. But if you're making waves or your wash is hitting the bank, you're going too fast - slow down.

Keep your speed down when you're approaching bridges, locks, bends or other junctions, and when passing other boats or anglers."

Respecting other waterway users: Always slow down before passing other boats.

The Science Bit

4 Miles per hour converts to 1.95 yards per second or 1.788 meters per second - That's not very fast - Around 2 paces per second!

117 yards or 107 meters in a minute.

Mile posts on canals are generally 1 mile apart so at 4 miles per hour it should take, at least, 15 minutes to travel between mileposts if there are no moored boats, wildlife, soft canal banks or other obstructions when it should take you considerably longer.

An army marches at around 4mph which is an average brisk walking pace. A good way to test your speed is to allow a member of your crew to walk between bridges a couple of times early on in your cruise to see what your engine rev counter reads when you are just keeping pace with them. If you start to creep passed the walking crew member - you're going too fast; so slow down and reassess your engine revs.

Once you have found the maximum cruising speed (4mph) then consider other situations in accordance with the Good Boating Behaviour code. Pass moored boats at around 2mph - half your cruising speed! This may be 'tick-over' for your engine but that's OK, you are on the great inland waterways of Britain to enjoy a slower pace of life.

Please observe the Canal Speed Limit in the UK