A Beginner’s Self Drive Boating Holiday in Ireland
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"This is like a scene out of Disney's Jungle Cruise!"

Captain Zac was right. As we gently cruised along a narrow stretch of inky water surrounded by lush vegetation that was so very very green it almost looked fake, it did feel like we were on a Disney ride. Or perhaps in a Disney film.

Instead, we were on a self-drive Le Boat holiday through Ireland and we were all grinning at each other and the scenery around us.

While I may have been on a few boats and ships over the years in the past they have always involved a professional captain and crew.

So what happens when a novice decides to go on a self-drive boating holiday with a group of fellow beginners? I'm glad you asked.

Trying a Self Drive Boating Holiday for the First Time

I'd been staying in Berlin with my friends Zac and Thomas when we decided to do our first Le Boat adventure together, and we all headed to Tegel airport to start our adventure with two other lovely Germans, Carsten and Uwe.

After flying into Dublin and getting a bus transfer to Carrick on Shannon where we would be collecting our boat I'll confess I had a moment of terror.

When I saw just how big our Vision 4 boat was and remembered I didn't know how to drive a boat I went a bit cold. Before booking, I'd read LeBoat's New to Boating advice and it had said that it was easy, you didn't need any experience and they'd show us how to drive the boat when we were there. But now that I'd gone from theory to getting on board I was a tad concerned.
"Um, does anyone actually know how to drive a boat?" I asked. I was pretty sure I had asked this before but fear was interfering with my memory recall.

When Zac reminded me that he knew his way around one I was greatly relieved and we all quickly decided he would be Captain Zac. But here's the thing, as the week went on we all took turns at the wheel and all thoroughly enjoyed it.

While I still liked to hand over to Zac whenever we came into a lock or when we were mooring I liked steering us through the channels and across Lochs, both with the wheel and the little joystick that made it so easy to drive. And I'm sure that if I was a bit braver I would have been fine with the rest of it too, so don't let a lack of experience scare you off the idea.

We were given a book of large maps showing the different sections along the Shannon that was nice and easy to follow along, as well as a guide to the towns and villages we'd see along the way so we could decide where we'd stop to see some sights, have a bite to eat and spend the night.

I quite liked the novelty of navigating, even if I do think it would be helpful if the words Loch and Lock didn't sound the same, leading to some 'We're coming up to a lock. As in the one we go into, not go across' moments.

Before we were set free on the Shannon we were given lessons and shown around the boat. We had a manual and were given a mobile phone with the base numbers locked in so that we could call with any questions. Which is nice when there's a strange beeping sound and you don't know if it's serious or not (turns out it was not, it was just to let us know the bilge pump was working after we crossed some choppy water).

It may have all been very new to us but it was fun to figure things out as we went along. Within a few days it felt so natural to be living that boating life that we were already talking about where we'd do it again next year.

Life Onboard a LeBoat Boat

While Le Boat has a range of different sized boats for different sized groups, ours was a Vision 4 which can sleep up to eight adults and a couple children in the living area as well.
There are four rooms with two single beds and their own bathroom with toilet and shower, the living quarters downstairs and a large deck including a BBQ above with areas for both lounging and eating and drinking with a view.

We had a full sized fridge with a freezer compartment so powerful it turned vodka into slushy ice in the kitchen along with an oven and cooktop, coffee machine, kettle and toaster and all of the plates and cutlery we needed.

The showers had surprisingly great water pressure, even temperatures and were roomier than I'd expected after having some tiny shower moments on boats before. A plastic screen with press studs helped keep the rest of the bathroom dry as we were splashing about.

Towels, linen and blankets are provided, and the beds were so comfortable we all slept like logs. In fact when I woke up late the first morning and realized I'd slept for 11 hours I thought I was the last one up. Turns out everyone else was still in bed and that wasn't the only time we enjoyed a mega sleep that week.

I'm not sure if it was the air vents or thin walls but one thing to keep in mind is sound does travel between the cabins so you may want to pack some earplugs and not discuss anything you wouldn't want your neighbour possibly overhearing. And I wish I'd thought to pack slippers so that I could have cosy toes after taking my shoes off at the front door. The boat itself wasn't cold inside but the floor could be sometimes so slippers would have been great to have handy.

While our suggested packing list included toilet paper and washing up liquid, after we bought some we discovered there was plenty of both already on board. It may have been left by the previous guests so one tip is check the cupboards and adjust your shopping list before you head to the store.

And speaking of shopping, we were very happy to discover that the lovely people at Kelly's grocery stores deliver to your boats. And what a great idea that is too.

We first discovered this at Carrick on Shannon, the absolutely charming town with friendly people who can't do enough for you. When one woman overheard us in Kelly's debating how we should get to Tescos to buy a few extra things (oh, okay, drinks) that Kelly's didn't sell she insisted on driving us up there and back.

We then returned to Kelly's with our extra bits, loaded them into their delivery vehicle with all of our Kelly's groceries and then had them delivered to the boat.

Within a couple of hours of arriving we'd had our introductory boating lessons and done enough shopping to feed us for days. So we did the sensible thing and headed straight to the pub.

Exploring Ireland's Countryside by Boat

Ah yes, Irish pubs. Over the week we cooked quite a few of our own meals on board but those Irish pubs are so good you'd be crazy not to tuck into some of their food along the way. ...Download the full story below.


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Attached Files

A-Beginners-Self-Drive-Boating-Holiday-in-Ireland.rtf
A-Beginners-Self-Drive-Boating-Holiday-in-Ireland.rtf
Ireland by boat, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Ireland by boat, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Carrick on Shannon Ireland, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Carrick on Shannon Ireland, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Ireland boating holiday, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Ireland boating holiday, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Locks on the Shannon on a boating holiday, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Locks on the Shannon on a boating holiday, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Le Boat on Carrick on Shannon Ireland, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Le Boat on Carrick on Shannon Ireland, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Castle Island, Lough Key, Ireland on a LeBoat holiday, image Amanda Woods.jpg
Castle Island, Lough Key, Ireland on a LeBoat holiday, image Amanda Woods.jpg