This is something we really wanted to do, hire one of these old boats and navigate ourselves along some of the many beautiful canals in England, we couldn't afford it in the 1960's, but in 1977 with three little children we did! It was wonderful until Tomos aged 3 fell in the Thames near Windsor in a strong current, luckily we'd had him taught to swim in Australia but with winter clothes on it was a close call, 'I've lost my Wellies!' was all he sobbed when David fished him out. We continued on and he was much more careful. We did it again when my Uncle Tony and his family came to visit, along the Oxford Canal that time.
I believe you haven't really seen England at it's best until you've spent at least a week on one of these boats... working the locks... mooring somewhere peaceful at night... stopping off at old Pubs that are on the water's edge... Aaahhh, just like Jerome K Jerome's 'Three Men in a Boat', (without the rowing though) Wonderful stuff, how I'd love to do it again :-)