Motor cruising is all about exploring new places in comfort without relying on the wind. Equipped with powerful engines, sleeping berths, a kitchen and many modern home amenities, motor cruisers are able to travel long distances quickly and have the capacity to stay on the water for days. This makes them ideal for entertaining friends, family, discovering new places or adventuring from country to country. In one day, it is possible to leave a marina on the south coast and cruise across the English Channel to enjoy French cuisine.
Coastal Motor Cruising – motor cruisers vary greatly in size depending on the type of cruising that you will be doing. Sport motor cruisers feature large deck areas and swimming platforms, with steering controls in the cabin and on the fly bridge, which offers driving options for sunny and rainy days. While motor yachts tend to lean towards comfort with large indoor salons, sleeping berths and other amenities to enhance your enjoyment on a long cruise.
Inland Motor Cruising – river cruisers are modern sleek boats and easy to steer as they have a steering wheel like a car. They are also come in a variety of sizes and they have the advantage of being able to navigate most of the UK’s rivers and canals. Smaller day hire boats have less facilities than the larger cruisers used for holidays. If it is your first time on a river cruiser, it is a good idea to choose a smaller narrowboat as it is easier to steer. But don’t worry, you will soon get the hang of it. The real joy of cruising inland waterways on a river cruiser is stopping off and enjoying the sights, scenery and the bountiful activities along the way.
Personal Watercraft (PWC) are all about speed and excitement, but easy handling and different sizes makes them suitable for everyone from families and groups to couples and individuals. PWCs are powered by a jet pump and learning to ride is straightforward. You sit down (or stand up) and use handlebars to steer them over the water. These mobile versatile craft are a great way to access hidden coastline with the kids, race your friends across a lake or master freestyle tricks in the waves. What’s more, they can be easily towed behind a car, launched from public slipways and stored in garages or gardens. PWC’s are often described by their trade names including jet skis (Kawasaki), waverunners (Yamaha) and sea doos (Jets Marivent).
There are various different types of Personal Watercraft, below are the basic types:
One seater (sit-down) – designed for performance and cornering more aggressively so are less stable and harder to get back onboard in deep water. If you are new to PWC’s, a two seater might be a better option.
Two seater (sit-down) – all the performance of a single seater but are more stable and have the advantage of a pillion seat which means you can explore coastlines with a friend or family member.
Three and four seater (sit-down) – bigger and incredibly versatile and stable. They can be used to zip around as a solo rider, cruise the waters with the family or tow a water skier, wakeboarder, banana or a tube.
Stand up – as the name suggests, the rider stands up whilst steering the PWC using handlebars. Stand up PWC’s have a narrow hull and require more practice to master but once mastered you’ll have loads of fun perfecting stunts and manoeuvres.
A RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) has a solid hulland a rubber tube round the gunwale which means it can travel faster and more safely than an inflatable out at sea or in waves. The tube also allows it to come alongside other boats or harbour walls without being damaged. This makes it an ideal first-time family boat.
Ideal for beach hopping, skiing, exploring, fishing, swimming, snorkelling or just sunbathing. They are a favourite for every occasion. RIBs have a deep ‘V’ shaped hull, designed to cut through and cushion the impact of the waves, giving a smooth comfortable ride.
They offer a dry ride and are reassuring and forgiving to drive. It is the ideal boat for the first time RIB owner with limited experience. The deck provides a stable platform, with its tough easy to clean, slip-resistant finish. There is a choice of engine size, electronics, seating and a huge range of accessories
RIBs can start as small as 3m (10ft), suitable for two-three people in sheltered waters, but for a family on the sea it should be at least 4-5m (13-16ft). A 4-5m RIB is easily towed behind a family saloon and can be launched by two people. Larger RIBs up to 6m or 8m can undertake cross-Channel trips with the correct equipment and an experienced crew. Engines will almost always be outboards, single motors for boats from 3-6m, with twin engines possible on larger boats. Speeds will usually be 20-40 knots.
Sports cruisers are high-performance boats constructed from fibreglass with a low capacity. They typically have two berths and are available in either petrol or diesel options. Express cruisers are high-performance and high capacity boats. These spacious and fuel efficient craft are more suitable for families and extended cruising. They can be of a similar size to the sports cruisers but they also go much larger and mostly use diesel power.
Wakeboarding is like a combination of waterskiing and snowboarding. The rider uses a wide ‘skateboard’ style board whilst being pulled over the water by a powerboat or overhead cable. Wakeboarding is an increasingly popular sport in the UK and this exciting board sport will get your adrenaline pumping. You quickly progress from standing up behind the boat to turning corners and when you are ready for it, trying a few tricks on the water. It is hugely versatile and you can choose to learn with a powerboat or a cable.
Powerboat Wakeboarding – can be slightly more expensive but allows the rider to get one-to-one tuition. The boat produces a wake and the rider uses this ‘ramp’ of water to do aerial tricks and jumps, whilst traversing from left to right across the surface of the water.
Cable Wakeboarding – often cheaper than boat wakeboarding and also gives you more time on the water but doesn’t allow for as much wakeboard tuition. The rider is pulled across the water by a mechanical cable system at the same speed as a boat tow. Without the wake of the boat, riders use a technique when going around corners to generate speed and to perform manoeuvres and tricks using obstacles in the water such as kicker ramps and sliders, similar to skateboarding.
Waterskiing is a fun recreational activity and a great way to keep fit, but of course you will get wet! The rider is towed behind a powerboat or a cable system on a pair of skis, skimming across the water. You can waterski in two ways:
Cable skiing – offers the advantages of an easier starting position from a dock and being able to learn at the same time as your friends or family – several people can ski on the cable simultaneously.
Powerboat skiing – allows more freedom to carve the water and surf the wake behind the boat and the boat is manned by a driver and a spotter who will help you get started when you fall.
Once you mastered the basics you might want to consider other forms of waterskiing – mono, slalom, bare foot, trick and racing. As you gain in confidence, you can progress to ‘carving’ around buoys or performing tricks on waves or ramps.