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Thread: Way off topic....Narrowboats / Barges

  1. #1

    Way off topic....Narrowboats / Barges

    Would anyone on here be able to give 1st base advise on buying a narrowboat please? It will be intended for cruising / touring use throughout the year and to give a base for exploring local areas / walks.

    Mainly to be used for just two people (plus dog) but to occasionally sleep 6.

    When the kids were young we'd done (and extensively enjoyed) the caravan bit but the cost of a near-new van, plus a new (larger than I would like to drive the other 40 weeks a year) car, site fees of 30 a night plus etc etc has put us off.

    We have hired narrowboats and really enjoyed the experience but would very much appreciate advice on -

    - Best magazine / publication to subscribe to?
    - What / what not to buy (narrowboat or wide beam)?
    - Who (or who not) to buy from?
    - Recommended reading / websites for information / maps / moorings / costs / fuel & pump out faciilties etc.
    - Best roaming internet access (I will still have to do some work)
    - If the boat is moored at point A and you cruise for (say) 2 weeks before needing to get home and leave the boat at point B then how do you retrieve the car at point A? Taxi / train / public transport? Any other idea?
    - Any other advice / experience?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Eyefor; 14-12-2015 at 10:03.
    Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it, hump it or learn from it then piss on it and walk away.

    "HOSPITALITY" - the art of making guests feel at home (when you wish they were).



  2. #2
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Google the phrase "a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money"
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  3. #3
    Drop Woodmaster a PM - he runs a narrowboat/canal boat business, so may be able to give you a pointer or two (tips, not dogs!)....and he's a thoroughly nice bloke too!
    Nothing is worse than having an itch you can never scratch

    "...Nicely just doesn't cut the cheese....." A new twist on management-speak courtesy of a colleague.

  4. #4
    Can't really say much for narrow boats, but we went down the same route five years ago. Was looking for a camper van but the 20k plus cost was very off putting.

    Instead I found Border Maid, and she is a 25 and half foot long wooden Folkboat built in 1948. I paid a total of 6,000 for her and the amount of fun we have had has been immeasurable. Whether it's popping down for a cup of coffee and a snooze, out in a flat calm drifting along or in a real blow with water coming over the decks, or working on her in the winter, it's all just fun. And she looks pretty.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Border Maid | Royal Forth Yacht Club

    Narrow boats are mostly built of steel, which is tough, but steel can and does rust so I would definately any potential purchase well surveyed prior to purchase. It's generally far better to buy the best you possibly can with boats, as cost of restoration is rarely recovered in resale value and certainly not when it comes to major works, especially if you get others to do it.

    Key things to look at first inspection:

    1) smell - does it smell sweet and fresh, or is it old and musty - does it leak, and especially does it leak through the decks and cabin.

    2) quality of general work - bodged or high. Well built boats tend to have good quality interior joinery

    3) engines and engine room - neat and tidy or peeling with rust. Most problems in boats are the electrics and mechanics. If you were trying to design the ideal conditions for unreliability then you would design a boat. Personally I would keep it as simple as possible and do away with as many electrics as possible. Parrafin lamps and / or self contained LED lanterns are reliable. I don't like gas stoves - they leak and gas stays in the bilge. Spirit style Origo or a paraffin Taylor's are the way to go.

    Big it downside of a narrow boat is they are slow and cruising range is limited, but you can potter along and then park them up and make you way home via bus, taxi, train and friends. Mooring fees vary from tying up to a bank to 10 to 20 per night.

    Well worth considering ring is a 16 foot longboat style -Lune Longboat etc. these can trailed, rowed, sailed, or pottered along on petrol or electric outboard. And can have an awning / tent cover for night time use. And the real beauty is that you can bring it home, but next week you can onto the broads, or the Thames or the Orwell or wherever.

    But An open canadian style canoe is to my mind the best value in terms of fun per spent. Put it in anywhere. Most rivers have low or no fees for unpowered pleasure craft.
    Last edited by Heym SR20; 14-12-2015 at 11:46.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    Google the phrase "a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money"
    and your life as well. I've now worked out why most boat owners are broke - messing about with a boat is far more fun than work.

  6. #6
    Young brother in-law pestered his mum for his "Inheritance", after eighteen months sponging off her, left right & centre, bullying her to the point we worried he would have her down the stairs, so she sold up & gave him nearly 30K, to buy a narrowboat, instead of buying a used surveyed craft , he opted for a new build, he's just realised he will be fitting it out without money ........... time for new locks on the gates I feel.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  7. #7
    I think a decent narrowboat will cost much more than a new caravan and 4x4. A friend of mine thought a narrowboat might be a lifestyle option, but found that all the costs/licenses/fees etc. would be more than paying Council Tax, and you are very limited as to where you can go. I accommodated a traveling family, and their horses, for two 3-month stretches each year for 13 years and heard that many people who had done the narrowboat thing were now back on the road.

  8. #8
    a wealthy friend of mine once told me , if it floats flys or f**ks , rent it !
    Right where's those stones , I'll start !

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    Google the phrase "a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money"
    ..I agree with that but two of the three boats I've previously owned (a Mitchell 31 and a Lochin) I actually sold at a profit.

    Quote Originally Posted by merlin View Post
    Drop Woodmaster a PM - he runs a narrowboat/canal boat business, so may be able to give you a pointer or two (tips, not dogs!)....and he's a thoroughly nice bloke too!
    I'll drop him a PM. Thanks.
    Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it, hump it or learn from it then piss on it and walk away.

    "HOSPITALITY" - the art of making guests feel at home (when you wish they were).



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