Basingstoke Canal


Madam Butterfly



History of ABA





Dawn is a day boat which can be hired for four hours or more. She is normally hired with two crew members from the ABA although self-drive can be an option. The maximum number permitted on board is 12 and with ABA providing the crew the maximum number of passengers is 10.

An occupied powered chair counts as two people due to weight restrictions and there is room to take a total of four powered and unpowered wheelchairs on board.

A four hour trip in Dawn allows a peaceful cruise to a picnic lunch and a leisurely return to Odiham along picturesque country stretches of the Basingstoke Canal said by many to be one of the prettiest canals in the UK.

Because Dawn is compact, she can be turned around in many of the wider stretches of canal which means that you can tailor the length of your cruise to suit you.

For self-drive hire the association requires there to be at least two adults on board sufficiently mobile to be capable of driving and handling the boat after instruction, in addition to those needed to care for any disabled passengers.

Scheduled Cruises

The association also operates scheduled cruises for individuals and small groups of up to four people.

These cruises depart from Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham, RG12 1AL at 11:00 and last about two and a half to three hours. You will visit either Odiham Castle where you will be able to view the castle ruins and where King John stopped on his way to sign the Magna Carta. Otherwise to the Barley Mow Wharf past the ‘Old Thatch’ cottage and along picturesque stretches. With a gas hob, kettle and mugs on board, you can make your own hot drinks if you wish and passengers are welcome to bring their own picnic.

Places on scheduled cruises are booked in advance and paid for on the day. We are also happy to take payment in advance if offered.

On Board

Dawn’s aft deck is equipped with a safety rail and is large enough for a wheelchair when cruising and an electro-hydraulic lift gives all wheelchair users easy access to the spacious cabin and accessible toilet.

A gas hob and kettle allows you to prepare your own hot drinks and mugs are provided on board. Please bring your own catering and consumables. Cabin windows can be rolled up to give plenty of fresh air on warm days or kept down to protect against any inclement weather. Central heating is also fitted to keep the cabin warm and comfortable.

Stackable chairs and a folding table are provided in the cabin so you can arrange the furniture to suit and can also be used for picnics ashore.
We welcome any assistance dogs on board.

How much does it cost?

The cost of hiring Dawn this year is £100 for four hours plus £25 per further hour or part thereof regardless of whether ABA volunteers crew for you or you self-drive.

Hours paid for include loading/unloading and handover.

If self-driven the association does need a damage security deposit on the day of £100 by cheque or cash, returnable at the end of the trip providing no damage has occurred.

Scheduled cruises are just £15 per passenger, payable on the day, with one accompanying supporter or carer per disabled passenger free of charge.

Here’s how to Book

To Hire Dawn (ABA Crewed or Self-drive)

  1. Initially contact our Bookings Manager by email at or by telephone on +44 (0)7934 926683 to negotiate mutually acceptable dates, discuss any special needs and confirm whether booking will be ABA crewed or self-drive.
  2. See the Conditions of Hire HERE (ABA crewed) and HERE (self-drive).
  3. Go to the Booking Confirmation form HERE and complete and return together with your payment as explained on the form. Note that this form can be filled in on your computer using Acrobat Reader.
  4. If self-driving, consider viewing this movie online to learn about handling a canal boat. (This is also available on request as a DVD for those with confirmed bookings; to be returned at end of trip). The Boater's Handbook is also available as a document.
  5. When your form and payment have been received you will receive full confirmation of your trip from the Bookings Manager.
  6. Shortly before your trip, you will receive final details from the Crew Manager including the contact detail of the boatman or dispatcher who will meet you on the day of the trip.
  7. He/she will then contact you to confirm arrangements and answer any last minute questions you may have.

To Join a Scheduled Cruise on Dawn

  1. See the available scheduled cruise dates HERE
  2. Contact our Bookings Manager by email at or by telephone on +44 (0)7934 926683 to reserve your places on your chosen day.
  3. Arrive on the day bringing £15 in cash for each paying passenger (one supporter/carer per passenger with a disability is free of charge).
  • Layout
  • Pictures
  • Video
Dawn layout

main image

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