Canal Boats
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Canal Boats

canal boats Buying  canal boats is no different to any other major purchasing decision - get it wrong and it will be a costly exercise, get it right and you will enjoy the boat for years to come, so it pays to do your research, and to read sites like this and others to really understand what you are buying and why. Like many other pastimes and hobbies it is too easy to become seduced by friends and family, who will be quite happy to enjoy the boat for a few days, but when it comes to maintaining and looking after the boat, are nowhere to be seen. Just like a new dog, everyone loves a puppy in the first few weeks, but when it needs exercising on a wet and windy winter night, nobody wants to know. Like any other boat, a canal boat will require hard work and attention to keep it in pristine order and in good working order. So where do you start and what questions do you need to ask in order to start looking for your new boat? 

Canal Boat

Let's start with the basic question of what types of canal boats are available, and their advantages and disadvantages in broad terms, which will then guide us in terms of whether we are thinking of buying the boat as a liveaboard option or purely for leisure use. In simple terms there are three main types of boat as follows :

The modern canal narrowboat can be used on most navigable waterways in the UK, and are generally constructed of aluminium, steel, grp or in some cases wood and with a beam which is less than 7ft, and sufficient "air height" to allow the boat to pass through and under some of the low bridges and tunnels which are common on the canal network. The hull is always flat bottomed. Whether you choose to buy an original narrow boat, or a modern replica canal narrowboat is a separate decision, and will apply to all the various types of boats available, which we will look at shortly.

A wide beam canal boat may not be considered traditional by the purists, but they are growing in popularity. They tend to have a "big ship" feel and are often referred to as a Dutch barge. In the last few years they have become increasingly popular as liveaboard homes. moored up in the fashionable parts of the the city, and fitted out with interiors to match any city centre apartment. With the perfect waterside view, and relatively low cost when compared to a bricks and mortar apartment, one can understand the attraction. Their beam will be over 7ft, and can be anything from 8ft to over 13ft,  which means they can only navigate the broader canals such as the Leeds and Liverpool, parts of the Grand Union and the Kennet and Avon canal. Typically they will have a V bottomed or rounded hull, and a separate wheelhouse on deck. They are generally seaworthy, which canal boats are certainly not!

This is a combination of the two styles above as you would expect! The hull design is flat as for a narrow boat, but the superstructure is deigned to look like a Dutch barge, often with a separate wheelhouse, and with the cruiser style stern as detailed on the previous page. The beam of the boat is generally as for the canal narrowboat at less than 7 ft.

Now before anyone reading this takes issue with the above groupings, they are intended as a rough guide only. I'm sure if you enter the canal boat forums, of which there are many, and ask for a definition on the above boats, you will receive many different answers. Purists might well be horrified at the last group, but I have included them here as the boundaries between wide beam and canal narrowboat are becoming more blurred every year. The key point to understand is that the beam of the boat will dictate many of the places you will be able to visit, and also how far you will be able to travel, and in addition, finding a mooring and the associated costs can then also become an issue.

So having tried to provide a broad outline of the various canal boats available, lets start to look at what you might want from your canal boat, before even thinking about visiting a boat builder or yard. 

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Marinablu International Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of  Pantaenius UK Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)  - canal boats