For some people a boat will be the most expensive thing they ever buy, so it makes sense to have a go first before you jump in with your bank card.
Hire a boat
Go on a holiday! Prices vary greatly by location and time of year - the good news is you don’t want to hire during peak season anyway. Of course you’re going to love it in the summer - gin and tonic with a book in the warm evenings - but late-season or out-of-season rentals are the way to go if you want to know what boating's really like. How much storage space you really have with a dripping wet coat and clothes hanging all over the place will tell you if boating’s for you. On the plus side, a cosy fire and hearty meal after a day’s winter boating is one of life’s pleasures.
For more about boating hols, visit the Canal Junction site.
Have a go
If you only have a day or two to spare, you can try a helmsman training day instead. Prices vary but you will leave the day surprised at just how easy it all is once you know how, and it will give you a flavour of what it's like to manoeuver a boat of your own. Try the RYA inland waterways courses, for example.
Boat shows, rallies, cavalcades, etc. etc.
There are hundreds of these and there's bound to be one near you. The biggest is at Crick in May - www.crickboatshow.com (There's the London Boat Show, too, if you're a millionnaire.)
For other ways to get a feel for life afloat before you take the plunge (yes, it's a pun), go to Getting involved.