This information briefly addresses some important points for customers/Captains on a houseboat briefing prior to departure. Naturally each houseboat hirer company offers slightly different circumstances and briefings.
Check out the houseboat operators website to orientate yourself about the houseboat your hiring.
Safety is paramount and the briefing for the houseboat should take approximately 1 hour. Ensure in your group a person is identify as the contact person/nominated driver for the group. This is the person accepting overall responsibility for the vessel and everyone onboard.
A ‘workshop manual’ for the vessel with photos of equipment and details of procedures should be onboard. You’re encouraged to ask questions as the briefing moves through the manual.
The manual is that a copy that is kept on the vessel. If there is a problem, the hirer can call the base and explain. Checking that the hirer has an understanding of the contents of the briefing is important. You are taking a valuable piece of property away and you need to know how to look after it.
You may be asked questions to test your knowledge eg. “OK, what would you do if there was a fire by the BBQ?”; “What if someone falls ill and needs medical attention?”; “What do you do if the toilet gets blocked?” As managing a houseboat has many facets its important to listen to the briefing.
A document signed by the hirer to say that they’ve understood the briefing is required. The hirer may be a returning customer who has a good understanding of the vessel. Or they may have maritime experience and be familiar with regulations, operations and procedures. This could reduce the time taken in a briefing.
The following points cover some of the information required by customers to enable them to safely operate the vessel. They are in no particular order.
The main goal of the briefing is to ensure both you, your houseboating group, the houseboat and other river users are safe. Things can go wrong; however if you’re briefed and prepared you can respond appropriately in any situation.