Before you leave home

We will send you a complete set of documents including:

  • Log book: preparation and advice for a trouble-free cruise from start to finish.
    >> Download the user's handbook
  • Base location map : instructions for locating your base easily.
  • Navigation chart (if ordered) : vital for a well-organised cruise. On it you’ll find the location of locks, water fill-up points, places of interest, etc... Remember to order one when booking.
  • Inventory : list of all interior and exterior equipment.
  • Security DVD : DVD film giving advice for the navigation and security instructions to live aboard your cruiser.

Your personal belongings :
Holdalls are recommended - they are easy to stow away. Suitcases do take up far more space on board, so perhaps unpack them and leave in the boot of your car. Take with you comfortable non slip shoes so that you can move on the deck without danger (tennis or baskets).
Don’t forget sun glasses and sun creams, hats, gloves… and your camera !

Planning your boating holidays

On arrival at the Base

Departure day and times :
In general holidays start on a Saturday and your boat will be available for you between 4pm-6pm. Subject to availability it may also be possible to begin your boating holiday during the week.

At each base you may choose between a free car park or a lock-up garage which is not included in the price of your cruise. Generally these facilities are unattended. A few formalities will need to be attended to whilst other members of the group load your luggage or perhaps go off to do some basic shopping to get you through your first day. One of our technicians will come aboard with you to show you how to operate your boat. Whenever possible he will be with you when you negotiate your first lock.
You’ll soon see that navigation is child’s play. Now it’s time to cast off !

On arrival at the base

At the end of your cruise

Remember to return the boat on time! 4-5 PM for a weekend cruise, 8-9 AM for longer cruises. The personnel at the base can supply you with necessary materials to give the boat a good clean. After your cruise please don’t hesitate to give us your ideas, suggestions and recommendations, this is a precious source of information enabling us to improve constantly our service to you and other clients.

At the end of your cruise - Sireuil nautical base in Charente

Bit extras to improve your cruise

Bikes onboard :
Bikes are available to hire from all of our bases and provide extra flexibility for exploring the area where you’ve moored, little villages, places of interest or simply for going to buy your daily bread.

Helmets are recommended for children: please remember to bring your equipment.

Your boat is a great vantage point for fishing from. You can fish in the canals and rivers providing you hold a fishing licence. These can be purchased from local fishing tackle shops or from certain newsagents approximately 30 euros and valid for 15 days). Good fishing!

Wifi :
Whether it’s your tablet, laptop or mobile phone... stay connected during your cruise! Most of our bases offer a Wifi service that will allow you to connect multiple devices simultaneously*. For more information please contact us.
(*subject to the quality of network coverage. This varies by region).

A bike ride to the edge of a canal

Bit extras to improve your cruise (Continuation)

All the equipment you’ll need to enjoy a barbecue – except the food which can be bought fresh from the many mooring places on route. Take it on board with you…most of our bases even offer rental of gas bottles. As with all barbecues please be careful and familiarise yourself with all the equipment before departure.

Bathroom towels and kitchen linen:
If space is of a premium in your suitcase then you probably don’t want to be worrying about fitting in towels too!
For a small charge, the easier option is to pick up our bathroom and/or kitchen linen packs from your Nicols base on your arrival. Our bathroom pack contains a hand towel, a glove towel and a larger bath towel. The kitchen linen pack contains a tea towel and two dish cloths. Remember to ask for them before you set off!

Cleaning fee:
In order to make sure that your boat is ready for the next guests we ask you to help us by giving it a clean – so it is in the same condition as when you picked it up.
If you’re in a hurry to travel home or would prefer not to then we can do this for you for an additional cost of between 50 € to 200 € depending on the size of the boat.
All we ask is that you let the base team know that you require this when you pick up the boat so that we can make sure we allow time at the end of your holiday to do it in time for the next guests.

All inclusive:
The Nicols® ALL INCLUSIVE option makes holiday planning easy with everything you need and more for a wonderful boating holiday. Let us do the hard work while you sit back and relax.
The all inclusive option includes: boat fuel + 2 bikes + a waterways guide + cleaning fee + towels + kitchen linen.
For more information please contact us.

The converter 12 volts / 220 volts:
Once onboard, the only power source available is the boat battery (except model 1350 VIP, Estivale Sixto Prestige C & Octo Fly C which have an extra generator) which is used to power the boats lighting, water supply pump and systems etc.
If you want to take electrical equipment the following options are available:
> A cigarette lighter in the cockpit means, for example, it is possible to connect a mobile phone. You will need to bring the appropriate cable for the cigarette lighter though.
> For a small charge of about 10 € you can rent a converter from the Nicols base. This allows you to convert electricity from the battery of 12 volts to 220 volts. You still need to be careful not to flatten the battery though - devices with low power consumption (150 watts max) such as telephone, laptop, tablet, will be fine but for devices and equipment that requires more power (over 150 watts) or electric resistance (hairdryer, coffee maker electric) you will need to remember that you are always supplied by the battery which is a limited source.
> If you think you’ll need 220 volts consistently or continuously (for example CPAP machine during the night) then it is possible to plug into electrical terminals that are available in some mooring points and marinas using the extension cord supplied onboard. These terminals are usually listed in your river guide. Some of our newer boats allow you to connect directly.

Barbecue beside a canal - cruise Nicols

Ports and nautical stopping places

During your cruise, you’re free to stop wherever you like…being careful not to disrupt the countryside and wildlife (or encroach on private property!) simply moor up and step ashore.
Day-by-day you’ll discover new surroundings and sights as you travel at your own pace through beautiful countryside - a wonderful way to enjoy ever-changing scenery and the great outdoors.
If on the other hand you prefer the hustle and bustle of the towns and villages you pass on route then take advantage of the purpose-built ports and mooring sites. Sometimes a small fee is charged but these comfortable and serviced areas will provide easy access to the town.

A Nicols Sedan in a nautical stopping place


How to I go through a lock?
Going through locks is all part of the fun and once you've been through one you'll soon see they are easy to negotiate. When going through a lock always take it slowly and carefully and get everyone onboard involved. If other boats are using the lock remain patient until it is your turn to enter.

Are there days of closing?
Most locks are automatic and operated by a lock-keeper who will be happy to help you. In general, lock keepers do not work on Bank Holidays.
(these dates vary according to region - contact us for details).

Will I have to pay ?
During your cruise you will have to negotiate a number of locks and bridges. Passage through these is free.

Are all locks automatic ?
Some locks are automatic whilst others are manual. The lock-keeper may ask you to lend a hand. In the Charente region there are no lock-keepers so you will need to operated the lock yourself with the help of your crew. It does mean however that you are not restricted by lock-keeper timetables.

Crossing a lock in Anjou

Canal or river ?

Most of the waterways in our brochure are generally wide and non-tidal making them easy to navigate. Depending on your chosen departure base you may cruise on both canals and rivers.
Rivers, where natural, are more susceptible to the possibility of flooding compared to the manmade canals - especially in Spring and Autumn. Some navigation restrictions may occur as a result of this flooding and for your own safety we may change your departure base or restrict cruising to the canal sections only, rather than cancelling your cruise completely.
Please make enquiries about the state of the waterways before leaving on your cruise.

Nicols boat on the Canal du Midi


All waterways are subject to restrictions and possible closure for essential repairs and general maintenance. The dates are normally notified in March and this may make it necessary for us to alter your cruise itinerary or departure base, for which we cannot be held responsible.

Nicols boat on a canal in burgundy

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