No. 32 Float in a boat

Children playing in a dinghy boat on the River Ouse at Houghton Mill, Cambridgeshire

Floating in a boat - no. 32 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities - can be as slow and dreamy or as fast and exhilarating an experience as you make it. Or it could even be both.

First you need to find yourself a boat. Your boat can be anything, from a small rubber dinghy to a gigantic sail boat. Don’t worry if you don't own your own boat, there are lots of places where you can hire one. Plenty of our places have canoes, kayaks and rowing boats available to hire. You can also float along on a cruise at some of our places. Many of our boat trips even give you the chance to spy seals or water birds, such as puffins.

You could also have a go at building a raft yourself. And if you don't want to get wet, then you can make a mini-raft instead (see the link to our article on how to make a raft at the end of the page).

Use your five senses

Once you’ve secured a boat to float in, now it’s time to enjoy your senses.

What can you feel? When you dip your hand into the water, what can you feel? Is the water rushing past or is it slowly lapping against your hand? Does the water feel cold, maybe even icy if it’s winter-time, or is it warm? If you’re in the sea, the water will be salty. Does it feel different to fresh water?

What can you see on your journey? Carefully peer over the side of the boat, are there fish in the water? Can you see any birds diving? Or perhaps there are birds circling overhead or sitting on the banks. Can you identify any of the birds? (If you bring a pocket bird book, this will help you spot species.) Maybe there are also plants you haven’t seen before. Are there lily pads?

 Is it quiet where you’re floating? If so, listen to the oars in the water as the boat pushes through it. Listen to the water itself as it laps and swirls around the boat. Are there birds chattering? You may want to close your eyes while you listen. Can you describe what you can hear?  

Now take a deep breath. What can you taste and smell on the air? Is it different to being on land? At sea especially, the air will probably taste different and have a salty flavour to it. Do you like the taste and smell?  

Close your eyes. Relax and feel the floating, bobbing motion of the boat in the water. Do you like it? Does it remind you of anything else? Can you sense the direction in which you’re heading while your eyes are closed? Do your other senses (such as hearing or feeling) become stronger while your eyes are closed?

Share your ideas with your friends and family - floating in a boat is a special moment to remember.

‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’

Have fun exploring nature and the great outdoors with our list of ‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’.