And while canal bridges are narrow on the bottom and low arched bridges are narrow on the top, tunnels are a bigger hazard.
In a tunnel the fit is so tight that you worry that you might damage your boat from top to bottom. Seeing a tunnel ahead on the chart makes people with freshly painted barges very nervous. And emerging out the other side without any new scrapes or dents is cause for celebration.
Drawbridges are yet another hazard waiting for you. They pop up occasionally along the canals, and it seems that no two are alike. Their operators don't seem to think it is necessary to lift them up all the way, and this makes passing through very exciting.
Locks are exciting too. Big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones, usually with boats of all sizes maneuvering in a small space waiting to enter and exit. Passing port to port is not always the case. Again, like miniature golf you must weave your way through the moving hazards of the course.
Moving hazards are complicated by their unpredictability. While seeing a large commercial barge come around the bend can make your heart beat faster, they almost always follow the rules. It is the summer rental boats who will, more often than not, do something wildly unexpected. They are on a weeks vacation and haven't had the time to learn how to drive.
Boat traffic, though, is generally more predictable than cows.
Cows don't read the canal navigation rule books. When you come around a corner and see a cow in the middle of the canal it is hard to know which way to go. On a miniature golf course you would probably aim the ball straight through the cow's legs, but with a barge it is best to go around.
Whether you have had an exciting day cruising along the French canals or playing a game of miniature golf, it is always nice at the end of the day to sit on your back deck, put your feet up and toast your success.