Canoeists and Paddleboarders are welcome on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, which is popular with clubs, youth groups and individuals. Although the Upper Chelmer is mentioned in British Canoeing's guide, this does not include the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, for which a separate licence must be obtained. There is usually no objection to canoeists or paddleboarders using the backwaters, except at Hoe Mill and Rickett’s locks, which are particularly sensitive fishing areas. In all areas mutual respect between different river users should apply. People must not pass through locks and should treat weirs and weir stream currents with care, and together with all boaters should be aware of the increased risks during periods of high water levels.
Canoeists or Paddleboarders may find the camping facilities at Hoe Mill Lock of particular benefit.
Licences cost £5.00 for a single day, and there are generous discounts for weekly, monthly and annual periods, and further discounts for multiple non powered craft registering together. See the Schedule of charges (See Registration of Craft Not Requiring Moorings or Use of Locks - Non Powered Craft). Licences can be obtained from the lockkeeper at Heybridge, the moorings manager at Paper Mill, from any of the residential caretakers at each of the main mooring sites or from Heybridge Pleasure Boats based at Daisy Meadow Car Park, Heybridge Basin.
A one day canoe licence is available to buy online. Order your licence either (a) after 4pm on the day before, or (b) on the day that you would like to use your canoe on the navigation. Licences ordered before 4pm will be valid for that day only. Licences ordered after 4pm will be valid until dusk the following day.
An annual canoe licence can also be bought online. Licences will be valid for one year from the day the licence is purchased.
There is canoe and kayak storage available for an annual charge of £71.40.