Make sure the engine is in Neutral, start the engine and allow a few minutes for it to warm up before you move off. Untie the front and back mooring ropes from the mooring or bank, but leave them tied to the boat, coiled and ready for use. On rivers, untie the downstream rope first. Make sure your ropes can’t trail in the water and get caught in the propeller. Don’t forget to stow the mooring stakes and hammer.
Check the area is clear of boat traffic then push the boat away from the bank so you can make a clean get away, with your propeller in deep water. In shallow water, push the back of the boat out, then reverse away until there’s room to straighten up.
When the boat’s straight, go into forward gear and accelerate gently to cruising speed. On all waterways, you drive on the right. In practice, on most canals, you’ll keep to the centre of the channel – it’s shallow near the edges – unless there’s another boat coming towards you.
Always slow down when passing anglers and other boats. Don’t let your boat create a breaking wave or a lowering of the water along the bank just ahead of the boat. These are signs that you should throttle back to prevent damage to the bank and disturbance to moored boats.