Meeting a Pair of Boats

There are still quite a few motor boat and ‘butty’ pairs cruising. Some are hotel boats with paying guests, some are working boats and some enthusiasts.

Even in experienced hands they can present problems. It is quite difficult to stop a pair without the butty (the towed boat) jack-knifing. At very slow speed in wind the butty can be blown off course.

Give way - Always give way to a ‘pair’ travelling downstream. Although the skipper of a pair should still alternate his boats with oncoming traffic at a lock, this may not always be feasible, depending on the condition of the tow path and other factors. Please allow for these eventualities, especially when meeting a pair at a bridgehole - give way even if you think you will get there first!

Such a pair of boats will normally have a deeper draft than a modern boat. Be ready to give them the centre channel, and for them to be towards the outside of a long bend, whether they are on the correct side or not. If you meet a butty being bow hauled by its crew pulling a rope from the tow path remember to pass on opposite side to the rope! When a pair is going to moor they will probably stop in the channel to ‘breast up’ (tie together side by side). Be prepared for this and give way.

Boating Information

Buying a Boat
Hiring a Boat
Living Afloat
Navigating your Boat
On Board Systems
Route Planning
Safety on your Boat

Tell us what you think of our website

News & Updates

Sign up to our regular newsletter for the latest roundup of waterway news.

first name:
last name: