The Cruising Association has taken an interest in cruising rivers and canals for many years, its first guide to the rivers and canals of France being published in 1975 and regularly updated since then. Initially the French river and canal network was seen primarily as a way for British sailors to travel to or from the Mediterranean whilst avoiding the rigours of Biscay, but over the years an increasing number have recognised the challenges and pleasures of inland cruising in its own right.
As well as central moorings and harbours in great cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest and Paris, hundreds of smaller towns and villages offer a welcome to the passing inland cruiser. With a few exceptions, costs and mooring charges are modest compared with coastal harbours and marinas.
Unlike the British canal system, almost all those in the rest of Europe were built on a large enough scale to accommodate seagoing pleasure craft, although with the exception of a few of the bigger rivers, bridge clearances usually require sailing vessels to lower or remove masts before venturing far inland.
Over 30 European countries offer cruising possibilities. Some such as the Netherlands and France are well known, others much less so. The re-unification of Germany opened up attractive and interesting cruising areas, especially to the north of and around Berlin.
The Rhine- Main-Danube route to the Black Sea by way of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Romania is open and facilities for pleasure craft are steadily being improved. Further north the Czech Republic is opening up cruising on the Elbe and the Vltava north of Prague.
The section publishes a guide to Cruising the Inland Waterways of France and Belgium. A co-operative effort by CA members, this guide is a supplement to the well established commercial guides, which suffer from infrequent revision. Inland moorings tend to be much more varied and subject to change than those of established sea ports and marinas, so thanks to reports from members, we are able to offer up-to-date information.
We also offer guides to fuelling points, repairs and service and the over-wintering of boats. There is an active EIW Discussion and Information on the ‘members only’ part of the CA website which can be useful to those considering or planning inland cruises. It is also where we post information that may be helpful to members whilst they are cruising, such as changes in rules and regulations, unscheduled closures of waterways and changes (for better or worse).
Members gather to exchange information, experiences and views, at Autumn and Spring Meetings at CA House. These are usually all day events with enough time for informal discussion as well as presentations on topics of current importance or interest.
Each year the European Inland Waterways section organises an Autumn Meeting. These meetings are enjoyable and instructive, with plenty of time to meet old friends and make new ones.
To see seminars and lectures organised by members of the CA see here.