Quite simply, walkie-talkies can be a great aid to cruising but only really in selected circumstances.
However, not ones to condone spending for spending’s sake we would advise you to think about where you may potentially use them before parting with your hard earnt.
When out and about you will hear and see that most canal cruisers rely on the good old “loud shout” or “frantic wave” when communicating with crew members!
There are, however, certain circumstances where even the most vocal of boaters would find a basic walkie-talkie useful.
For example, a short section along the top navigable feeder of the LLangollen canal west of Trevor is only wide enough for one boat at a time. By the time a crew member has check the section is free and walked back to inform the skipper, a boat could have entered from the opposite direction. A potentially attitude testing situation could be avoided by efficient communication.
Sometimes, communication from the bank to the helm eases the passage through flights of locks, especially if the crew are working ahead. There can also be situations where crew can advise an unsighted skipper of the availability of right of way in a tunnel.
Finally, as far as our examples go, cruising pairs may find walkie-talkies comforting whilst on open river sections.
Now plenty of single handed boats cruise the network very successfully without the benefit/incumbency of extra hands but why not make life easier for yourself if possible.
Now to the choice on the market. Well that really depends on your personal budget as even basic models with a few hundred meters range will be adequate but expect to pay between £20 and £40 for a good quality pair.
Remember to buy with consideration to your travelling power options. Walkie-talkies are available with built in rechargeable batteries or with replaceable cells. If you have the ability to recharge whilst on the move then this type will work out to be the best value.
Models with a call button that prompts the other unit to ring or buzz are the best type for attracting attention over the noise of fast running water at locks etc.
At the very least, walkie-talkies are small enough to be accurately hurled at a crew member who is chatting idly at a lock whilst the skipper is being thrown about by a carelessly opened paddle!