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What's best to cross Europe- wide beam or narrow?


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#1 Nom

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:18 AM

Hey. I am new to boating. Looking for the boat of my dreams at the moment. With this boat first I will to hang about in England (where I live- London). then I want to eventually go to Europe and travel around. but I need to make my mind up on the kind of boat that I need.
Would a narrow boat be too risky on some of the european waterways? (currents? I don't know how stable these little things are!) not to mention crossing the channel.
And would a wide beam be too fat to go to certain places? (Venice, Amsterdam, even Africa! And is that even possible?)

My other question is this: i heard that you can moor your boat any place for 12 days for free, as long as you move on afterwards. Is this what people call 'continuous mooring'? Do you know where I can find more information on this? And does this law exist in Europe too, or are they more strict?

Thank you so much for sharing your time. love nom
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#2 Chris J W

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:31 AM

Welcome to the Forum!

I honestly can't comment on the European aspects, but may I quickly correct you on one bit ...

It's 14 Days in England (unless otherwise signed) and it's known as "Continuous Cruising" - the phrase 'Continuous Moorer' has rather different, disparaging, connotations.

Edited by Chris J W, 03 February 2009 - 12:36 AM.

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#3 Peeps

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:03 AM

Hi, being new to the forum, I heard that you cant travel accross the channel in a flat bottomed boat.
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#4 skipper

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:57 AM

I think a dutch barge would be more your cup of tea in my humble opinion bud.

all the best

Ollie
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#5 Roger Gunkel

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 02:32 AM

Hey. I am new to boating. Looking for the boat of my dreams at the moment. With this boat first I will to hang about in England (where I live- London). then I want to eventually go to Europe and travel around. but I need to make my mind up on the kind of boat that I need.
Would a narrow boat be too risky on some of the european waterways? (currents? I don't know how stable these little things are!) not to mention crossing the channel.
And would a wide beam be too fat to go to certain places? (Venice, Amsterdam, even Africa! And is that even possible?)

My other question is this: i heard that you can moor your boat any place for 12 days for free, as long as you move on afterwards. Is this what people call 'continuous mooring'? Do you know where I can find more information on this? And does this law exist in Europe too, or are they more strict?

Thank you so much for sharing your time. love nom



Hi Nom,

Welcome to the forum and I have to say I admire your enthusiasm and ambition.

The first thing that you need to do, is to get a taste for boating and living aboard before you make any long term plans. If you haven't done so already, I would suggest hiring a boat for a couple of weeks holiday, preferably at this time of year, to get a feel for it, without committing yourself to large financial outlays.

A narrowboat is a boat that is designed specifically for the English canal system, and is totally unsuitable and dangerous to even consider taking to sea. There will be those that will tell you it has been done, but people have also taken bath tubs to sea, equally as unsuitable. A narrowboat would also be unsuitable for many European waterways because of the strong currents and difficult conditions encountered. The narrowness of the boat would also be pointless away from the UK canal system.

If you are seriously considering long distance voyages to Italy, Africa etc, then you will have to purchase a boat capable and safe for long distance ocean travel. For the sort of distances you are talking about, that would almost certainly need to be a blue water sailing yacht or motor sailer for comfort on long sea passages and economy of fuel (the wind). An ocean going power cruiser would cost an absolute fortune in fuel alone to make even comparatively short passages. For those sorts of ocean passages, old secondhand cheap boats will not be suitable and you will be looking at investing many tens of thousands of pounds for a suitable well found boat, before you even start to think about gaining the knowledge and experience that you will need to even contemplate such a trip. A Dutch barge mentioned in a previous post, would be a possibility for a channel crossing and European waterways, but would be unsuitable for extended ocean travel and would also cost considerably more than a narrowboat. Why not consider a narrowboat initially and move up as you gain experience and knowledge.

Once you start living on a boat, you will find that you will change and rethink your original ideas. Whilst that is happening, try finding seagoing boats that require help with crewing, start to study navigation etc, take a marine VHS course and talk to people that can help you on the learning curve. Boating of all sorts can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but not for everyone, so take one step at a time and enjoy as much as you can with each of those steps. :lol:

Roger
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#6 Roger Gunkel

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 03:04 AM

Hi, being new to the forum, I heard that you cant travel accross the channel in a flat bottomed boat.


Hi Shirleyann and welcome to the forum and thanks for the PM :lol:

It wouldn't be true to say that you can't travel across the channel in a flat bottomed boat, as many flat bottomed vessels have and do make the crossing. The problem with both widebeam and narrow canal based boats is that they are built for smooth shallow canals and inland waterways. The flat bottoms maximise the bouyancy across the full with of the hull and the straight sides maximise the load carrying ability within the confines of a narrow waterway.

Once a vessel gets into a seaway, the loads and stresses become very different to those experienced on smooth waters. Hulls need to be stregthened to withstand the slamming that they will take and the stress applied by the varying peaks and troughs of the waves. In addition, the shape of the hull and bows of a seagoing hull give increased bouyancy as it meets the waves, lifting the boat to meet the waves and reducing the shock and pounding with carefully designed curves or chines. Deeper keels and hull design also give better directional stability to keep it on course while it is rolling and pitching. Also, vents, doors, windows, hatches and skin fittings are all to totally different requirements to those of flat bottomed inland boats. Finally, sea boats require more engine power to cope with tides, currents and varying wave and weather conditions.

Basically if you want to go to sea get a seagoing boat and if you want to stay inland, get an inland boat. There are compromise boats, but they aren't neccessarily particularly suited to the extremes of either environment and will come with a heavy price penalty. You pays yer money and makes yer choice.:lol:

Roger

Edited by Roger Gunkel, 03 February 2009 - 03:06 AM.

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#7 Tam & Di

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 09:42 AM

Basically if you want to go to sea get a seagoing boat and if you want to stay inland, get an inland boat. There are compromise boats, but they aren't neccessarily particularly suited to the extremes of either environment and will come with a heavy price penalty. You pays yer money and makes yer choice.:lol:

Roger


I think "flat bottomed" is a bit of a red herring. The three small coasters we traded with were all flat bottomed, as are most ships. Yachts are a different beastie. Otherwise Roger's comments that I've clipped above are spot on.

There are quite a few narrowboats on the continent now - almost all brought over by low-loader. If you are very experienced (and you say you are not) then you can get away with it. But it is exactly that - you would be getting away with it. Other than a handful of small French waterways with no commercial traffic (but littered with English chefs with nothing better to do), the smallest waterways have locks 40m x 5.10m and the cargo boats just squeeze into these. The width of canal is correspondingly narrow and you would be passing these craft close enough to shake hands with the skipper. The bigger waterways take vessels of 2000 tons or more, and although there is then plenty of space between you and them, you still have to go into locks with them. They are not there to mess about, and they will not be making concessions for the poor narrowboater who is poncing about trying to tie his boat with bits of parcel twine to bollards which are at least 40m apart, and with no way of getting from one end of the boat to the other except by dashing through the cigar tube he lives in (whoops! careful Tam).

We worked narrowboats and I love them, but only in their own place. Modern ones are in a continuum which has evolved to suit UK waterways. Continental waterways are quite different, and the best pleasure craft have likewise evolved, but from a different style of vessel.
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#8 bottle

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 10:40 AM

Nom

Welcome.

Before anything else,

With this boat first I will to hang about in England (where I live- London).


This is not very easy to do, to be a CCer (continuous cruiser) and stay within the rules, you have to be making a continuous journey around a major part of the system and using BW (British Waterways) words this is not conducive to working in one place.

http://www.britishwa...ctober_2008.pdf

Two sites that have information are;

British Waterways and Waterscape.

Good luck if you decide to 'boat'.
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Keith.

What you said, what you thought you said and what I thought you said are THREE different things.



#9 alan_fincher

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 10:59 AM

Other than a handful of small French waterways with no commercial traffic (but littered with English chefs with nothing better to do), the smallest waterways have locks 40m x 5.10m and the cargo boats just squeeze into these. The width of canal is correspondingly narrow and you would be passing these craft close enough to shake hands with the skipper. The bigger waterways take vessels of 2000 tons or more, and although there is then plenty of space between you and them, you still have to go into locks with them. They are not there to mess about, and they will not be making concessions for the poor narrowboater who is poncing about trying to tie his boat with bits of parcel twine to bollards which are at least 40m apart, and with no way of getting from one end of the boat to the other except by dashing through the cigar tube he lives in (whoops! careful Tam).

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Cracking reply...........

This actually had me rolling with laughter, but although I've not done the continental waterways, it would seem to sum up the situation well.
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#10 carlt

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 11:00 AM

Nom

Welcome.

Before anything else,

This is not very easy to do, to be a CCer (continuous cruiser) and stay within the rules, you have to be making a continuous journey around a major part of the system and using BW (British Waterways) words this is not conducive to working in one place.

This is, of course, British Waterways "The Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers" and is not actual law.

The actual law is:

"(ii) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances."
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#11 Dominic M

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:57 PM

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Cracking reply...........

This actually had me rolling with laughter, but although I've not done the continental waterways, it would seem to sum up the situation well.

Yeah, I thought that was very good too. Who are all these English chefs, apart from Rick Stein?

Seriously, what is the point of having a narrow boat on the European waterways? OK, if you decide you are going to visit with your own narrow boat and return to the English canals subsequently perhaps that makes some sense, but if you are intending to be there on a long term basis it makes no sense at all to me. Then again, Terry Darlington did it and seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself (although I don't imagine the Belgian Tourist Board will be seeking to reproduce extracts from the relevant part of his book in their promotional literature).
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#12 carlt

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:16 PM

Yeah, I thought that was very good too. Who are all these English chefs, apart from Rick Stein?

Simon Woodhouse - "The Floating Kitchen"

Keith Floyd lives in France.

Julia Child (okay, she's dead but she was known as "The French Chef")
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#13 Dominic M

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:36 PM

Keith Floyd lives in France.

My heart goes out to the French :lol:
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#14 carlt

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:45 PM

My heart goes out to the French :lol:

He'd just slice it thinly then poach it in half a bottle of red (glug, glug "no point wasting the other half")
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#15 Tam & Di

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:47 PM

My heart goes out to the French :lol:


To my mind even one Rick Stein is a litter. The worst consequence of his series is it gave birth to "The Rick Stein Effect" - an enormous number (probably a dozen or more in our own experience, anyway) of people who have never been on a boat before other than the cross-Channel ferry and reckon to sell their house and buy a 38m barge that they propose to operate as a hotel boat. "I can do that".
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#16 Neil TNC

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 02:03 PM

To my mind even one Rick Stein is a litter. The worst consequence of his series is it gave birth to "The Rick Stein Effect" - an enormous number (probably a dozen or more in our own experience, anyway) of people who have never been on a boat before other than the cross-Channel ferry and reckon to sell their house and buy a 38m barge that they propose to operate as a hotel boat. "I can do that".


Ah...similar to the Waterworld effect! :lol:

TNC are now more akin to the "Last of the Summer Waterland" effect
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#17 Tam & Di

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 03:28 PM

Ah...similar to the Waterworld effect! :lol:

TNC are now more akin to the "Last of the Summer Waterland" effect


I don't know why I'm going on about it. In reality France must get more people onto its canals or they will surely die from lack of funding. Also the people we tend to meet are at least those who are interested in learning how to do things right - it's not their fault they are new to boating, and in fact I really enjoy instructing those who want to learn. It just does get a bit wearying at times. It'll be all right in a couple of weeks when we're back on the boat and getting up and running again.
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Di's writings on the joys of barging about in France

http://www.foodieafloat.com

 

 

My ignorance of electrical matters is shocking.


#18 Neil TNC

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 05:26 PM

I don't know why I'm going on about it. In reality France must get more people onto its canals or they will surely die from lack of funding. Also the people we tend to meet are at least those who are interested in learning how to do things right - it's not their fault they are new to boating, and in fact I really enjoy instructing those who want to learn. It just does get a bit wearying at times. It'll be all right in a couple of weeks when we're back on the boat and getting up and running again.


Trust me...the Irish Canals (Grand / Barrow) are even less utilised. They make the Somme (my only recent experience of French waterways) with 12* boats on it (including the Locaboats) seem busy.
Once you enter at Shannon Harbour the roving lockies in their little blue vans know exactly where the ONLY moving boat is.
I can't imagine after the initial excitment that the Royal Canal, when it reopens throughout in "spring 2010" will be any busier.
The latest rumour is that Emerald Star is sending up to 30 of their boats to France and that Locaboat will be selling off some of their SEW based Penichettes.
As a Brit boating in the Eurozone, now mostly living off "investments" I will probably have to economise this year.


12* we went to visit the waterways manager at Amiens..he had a magnetic chart with all the current boats plotted on it.
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#19 Morphyous

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 01:18 AM

Welcome, It was nice to talk to you on the chat forum.

I have read that there are a few specialist narrowboat builders who can build boats to make short channel crossings. If i remember they classify boats as C4 narrowboats for only river and canal cruising C3 can make short hops across the channel, it's possible that c3's may only be wide beam boats which would have a little more stability in choppy waters you'd need a fairly meaty engine to deal with tidal waters. I would think you would have to check the weather reports very carefully too before you attempted it. but as advised earlier a barge would be a safer bet, although they are far more expensive and the cheapest barges i've seen are 130,000 and upwards. You know i'm new to this so i'm only relaying info from articles that i've read.

I hope things look up for you, I know you've had probs, catch you soon John.
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#20 Tam & Di

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 08:15 AM

I have read that there are a few specialist narrowboat builders who can build boats to make short channel crossings. If i remember they classify boats as C4 narrowboats for only river and canal cruising C3 can make short hops across the channel, it's possible that c3's may only be wide beam boats which would have a little more stability in choppy waters you'd need a fairly meaty engine to deal with tidal waters. I would think you would have to check the weather reports very carefully too before you attempted it. but as advised earlier a barge would be a safer bet, although they are far more expensive and the cheapest barges i've seen are 130,000 and upwards. You know i'm new to this so i'm only relaying info from articles that i've read.


All things are possible - people even swim across the Channel apparently, though paddling is quite enough for me. Given a sound boat and engine, you then seal all openings - especially at the foreend, but also air vents, windows etc - you put all your belongings into cupboards and jam cushions in to stop anything moving and tie the doors shut. You make absolutely certain all appliances are securely bolted to the floor - you don't want a gas cooker and fridge throwing themselves about in mid-Channel. You make certain your fuel is absolutely clean and that you have a pair of in-line fuel filters so you can change from one to the other should a bit of crud or condensation block the first one - oh, and all the fuel lines and water cooling pipes are not going to fail with the vibration. Then you have to have somewhere to be able to see your charts and compass, and easy access to your VHF radio - all while you are on the back of this thin tube. You're probably not alone, so your crew/mate will have to find somewhere out of the way while all this is going on. Then, as you say, be certain of prolonged calm weather and perfect visibility - not just for you, but it might make you more easily seen by all the super-tankers storming up and down, cause you're a pretty small low-lying thing yourself.

Experts who have been around the sea and canals for much of their lives have done it. I've been out to sea briefly from Dunkerque for a D-Day commemoration with Chris Coburn on his n/b "Progress" (who has crossed a few times) and it was noticeable that the n/b rolled far less than many of the theoretically sea-going craft. The flat bottom and hard chine acted almost like bilge-keel stabilizers. But would I do it myself? No.
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Tam Murrell
http://www.bargehandling.com

Di's writings on the joys of barging about in France

http://www.foodieafloat.com

 

 

My ignorance of electrical matters is shocking.





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