Frequently Asked Questions
Do you charge a single supplement for Solo Guests?
Unfortunately YES - initially when we began this operation, our enthusiasm/idealism meant we'd tried NOT to make too much of an extra charge on solo travellers... alas, the reality is 5 years on, (post divorce, 2 years of covid with no government support and what with so many solo returns), the " business model" is no longer viable if Capt. Ellis is to earn enough during the boating season to survive the winter - Ergo, From 2024 as Solo travellers are effectively CHARTERING a private skippered/catered boat, a 100% supplement for all solo guests will apply*
The concession during the Months of April and October of a discounted single occupancy supplement of 40% continues to apply to returning solo guests.
*Some guests retain their special solo supplement discount - you know who you are!
Can you describe the accommodation please?
The boat is a semi trad, reverse layout 57ft narrow boat. The “cabin” to the front has a king-size (width) crossover bed, with half length mirror, usb charging points, mains power points and an 18 inch wide single wardrobe with small shelf. The crew will make up/pull down the bed daily for you – or if you prefer, you may leave it down all the time. There is a combined DVD/CD and Freeview LED wall mounted TV for your use whilst in bed. There is a shared full size shower/walk-through bathroom separating guest accommodation from the compact saloon complete with reclining chairs and footstools . For entertainment we have a combined TV/DVD/CD player which is wall mounted along with a solid fuel burning stove for those chilly evenings. To the rear – separated overnight by a closed door is the crew cabin which doubles up during the day as 2 single dinette tables – ALSO with a wall mounted TV/DVD combi unit and car radio with CD and usb input.
What kind of toilet does the boat have?
It’s funny how quickly boaters get talking about toilets…on ‘Ellis’ we have a macerator with holding tank in the main bathroom and (for crew use during the night so as not to disturb our guests) a second Thetford cassette as an en-suite in the rear crew quarters. It's worth mentioning here (and the Capt, will keep reminding everyone on board), please only use the toilet roll provided and under no circumstances are wipes to any kind to be flushed down the loo - Macerator toilets do NOT like anything other than really thin paper and if blocked it'll be one of the 'dark blue jobs' you really DONT want to get involved with.
I’ve looked at other hotel boats pricing – why do you charge less for what is effectively a ' Private Charter '?
To be honest, whilst we have to ‘legally’ be counted as a hotel boat – we’re not… we’re a “come and share a week living our life on the UK waterways kind of affair”… it doesn’t have much of a ring to it does it? – SERIOUSLY though, whilst in some respects we operate as a hotel boat – we’re not really running the business to make a large profit…we still have overheads to worry about of course – although having bought the boat from savings, not as many as some. We’re doing it because we enjoy meeting people and travelling around... so as long as we’re earning enough to cover our annual living costs/boat maintenance until we can collect our pensions, we’ll be happy. "Proper" Hotel boats offer a much more refined experience than we do, with more professionally prepared meals and luxurious facilities. Our offering is more an invitation to share a week living on the canal with us... the way WE do it.
As such, whilst we’ll always come up with 3 meals a day, they’ll not be fancy 3 course a la carte jobs… in fact – with a bit of luck we’ll encourage you to join in the preparation or better still, teach US some new recipes. I suppose you could think of us as a "Private Skippered and hosted Charter"... just don't expect a master/servant relationship ;-)
Does it get cold on-board?
Well, in early spring or late autumn if we don’t light the fire or put the central heating on then yes ;-) – just like it would at home. We have a multi-fuel burning stove in the saloon which heats up the boat in no time AND also diesel powered central heating with radiators throughout which we can set to come on whenever we like. Trust us – the boat , even out of season is TOASTIE to say the least.
Do you have Wi-Fi?
Generally yes – dependent on where the boat is. We’ve got a 4G THREE mifi router on-board which generally picks up a signal and guests are welcome to use it to check emails/browse the internet although restrictions on bandwidth, tend to prevent us from watching on-line video services (except Netflix which doesn't count towards bandwidth thanks to "Go-Binge").
Can I smoke on-board?
No – smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the boat… the towpath is never far away though . Whilst underway on Rivers, you're welcome to smoke outside (with the doors closed) in either the bow or stern areas.
I’m not as nimble as I used to be – will I struggle on-board?
Once inside the boat, obviously it’s all on the flat – the bow has a couple of seats to ‘step on to and over’ and then 2 steps down into the bedroom. To the stern are 4 sturdy steps. Please, don’t worry though… if you need a ‘hoik’ just ask and we’ll be happy to help out… same goes for getting on and off the boat – there’ll always be a helping hand available so don’t feel embarrassed to ask.
There is a caveat to the above statement - PLEASE don't be unrealistic about your mobility. It's one thing to be a bit unsteady and need the occasional 'hoik' (I love that word) but if you (or your partner ) is deemed by the Capt. as unable to exit the boat quickly in the event of an emergency, on arrival the trip will be cancelled you will be asked to leave and have no money refunded. This statement has been added for 2023 (and beyond) after several unfortunate experiences last year. Narrowboat Ellis is a boating holiday - NOT Respite Care!
What should I bring with me?
A sense of humour and laid back approach is a must… Waterproof clothing – (This is the UK after all, so you can expect rain 365 days a year ... especially in the summer), Comfortable clothes/footwear… high-heals are not recommended… certainly not for the gentlemen folk!
Luggage wise please try not to bring suitcases as there just isn’t anywhere to store them easily… THAT said, if we leave the guest bed made up, there is an area 5ft x 2ft x 2ft at foot of it which can accommodate an average sized case. Holdalls or squishy bags are best. If you run out of clothes, don’t worry, we’ve a washer and dryer on board for emergency use. We provide towels, bedding and shower gel , shampoo and conditioner in the shower cubicle, so please - travel light.
Feel free to bring your own electronic devices on-board - those that charge by USB are preferable however as depending on battery levels, it may not always possible to leave the inverter on over-night. We've a reasonable collection of "canal books" that you may find interesting and also DVD library if the weather is really bad.
What sort of food do you serve?
As already stated, neither captain (or crew) are proper cooks… we get by well enough so you can expect wholesome food. Some of which will be homemade. Please ensure you let us know of any dietary restrictions on the booking form. Generally for special diets, we’ll send you a menu plan in advance so you can let us know if anything on it offends… THAT said, we’re flexible and like nothing more than all mucking in together to conjure up something from the contents of the larder… you’ll not starve – that we promise.
How do I join/leave the boat?
We’ve tried wherever possible to suggest pick up and drop off locations with railways stations to make independent travel easier for you. Many folk get friends or family members to drop off or pick them up. Our schedules are intentionally quite flexible to allow for variations in timed public transport services. Don’t worry if things go wrong on the day – just give us a phone call or text message to let us know… we’ll not leave without you!
On departure – as we often intend spending a few days around the drop off location as free time, whilst we'll appreciate you leaving after breakfast, if you wish to leave your luggage on-board and explore a while, you're very welcome to do so.
Do you have a bar on board?
Not really no . To avoid the need for an alcohol license we’ve decided not to sell it. You’re welcome to bring your favourite tipple with you and we'll facilitate "top up stops" along the way so you can buy your own wherever we can. On occasion we’ll suggest rather than cooking an evening meal we’ll go to a local pub anyway.
How much water do you carry?
We’ve a 500 litre (approx.) stainless steel tank on board with a 75 litre calorifer (hot water tank). Generally, we’ll go a couple of days between filling up but prefer to stop and top up the tank as often as possible… it’s part of boat life – AS is (periodically) emptying the black water tank and servicing the engine. NEITHER of which take a long time but need doing none the less. You’re free to join in or relax whilst we do it…
Can I steer the boat and work the locks?
Absolutely – so long as one of us is on-board, you are more than welcome to take a turn on the helm. Same goes for helping work the locks… some of the wide ones can be quite arduous so you’re under no obligation to strain yourself – just come along and chat with the various gongoozlers we’ll encounter on the system. Please bear in mind however 'Capt Ellis' is NOT a trainer - this is a 'live-aboard experience NOT a helmsman (or woman) training holiday. Truthfully, the social side of working a lock is MUCH more enjoyable than being on the back of boat … we take turns to keep things fair (when crew is onboard) . IF you are wanting to spend all day on the tiller, this is not the trip for you... you' be better off on a hire boat. That said, if the Capt. is confident of your competency, he's perfectly happy to share the helm.
I noticed in the 'booking terms' about daily showers - is that for real?
Yes and no... thing is, NB Ellis is 'home' and sharing ones home with folk who are... a bit of a 'soap dodger' isn't pleasant.. Capt. & Crew will be showered every day and we would appreciate guests showing similar consideration... any guest not meeting reasonable standards of personal hygiene may well end up enjoying a dunk in the canal!
How do I book?
In the first instance, please click on the BUY NOW button against the selected dates and the website will generate a payment request for the booking fee via paypal. Under normal circumstances, within 24 hours we’ll get back to you with a booking form to complete and once received, we’ll generate an invoice for the remaining balance – payable no later than 10 weeks from departure.
If you don’t have a PayPal account don’t worry you can still book using guest check out facilities on the PayPal site.
Feel free to email any questions to email@example.com or use the contract form on the "about" page. Alternatively, if you need a quick response, you could telephone on 07966 277631 - sociable hours preferred.