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Buy a narrowboat or wide beam? Pros & cons of each please.


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We are in our 60s, never having owned either. We don't know how long we will live/travel on our boat though it will be at least two years.

We are flexible on budget up to £100K but not knowledgeable on the fundamental must-haves for mechanicals ie engine, boiler, heating etc.

We realise the navigable limitations of a wide beam but suspect its comfort is a positive trade-off.

Thank you for your helpful input.

Jim

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ABNB have a lot of the answers on their website, they are respected brokers of inland boats, mostly narrow boats.

Personally I like the look of a Dutch barge style over a wide beam narrowboat style, buti if I had your budget, I would buy a Piper. There are a few on Appllo Duck, one is new at £129K not sure of the story as Piper currently makes bigger steel boats these days. You could view it, and use it as a comparison to any others, and of course £129K is a figure that can be negotiated. 

There is a nice one on a very sought after London mooring, it might be possible to negotiate just for the boat, I don't know, but it is worth a look. Vetus spares are very expensive. 

Buying brand new and selling after two years could be eyewateriny expensive in depreciation, so don't rush in, that is a lot of cash, dispense it wisely. 

PS I have only bought one steel boat, a Tyler Wilson in need of renovation. I am doing this myself, if I bought a new sail away, I would have to have it fitted professionally, and wait maybe six months, and I would still not have a perfect boat for all  circumstances. 

Edited by LadyG
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If you are aware of the travel limitations of a 'fatty' and can 'live with them' then there is absolutely no question "GO -FAT"

 

Comfort and space will be much. much greater than you could imagine. The difference between 6' 10" and 12 foot is huge. You can now get two rooms side by side (ie Kitchen & dining room) instead of being 'in tandem' ) one behind the other like train carriages. Like 'living in a 6' sewer tube'.

 

I have had both 'narrow' and 'fatty' boats (current boat is 14 foot beam) and given the choice 'fat' wins every time for comfort, 'anorexic' wins every time for use on the narrow canals.

 

With a 'fatty' you can always have (say) 1 year down South, & when you get to around Birmingham, have her lifted out moved a few miles North and dropped back in then you can have another year doing the Northern waterways.

 

 

 

 

 

You Know It makes Sense.png

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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Be careful which wide you buy. A lot are built and used as semi static floating flats to maximise internal space and aren't at their best when cruising. If you want to see the southern, then northern system in a wide, then go for a more proper boat shaped wide. Compare draft, air draft and length as well as beam. All these can affect the canals you can travel. Some canals may have wide locks, but were built to take two narrowboats side by side in them and struggle with wides in between, for example a lot of the Grand Union. Others have bridge holes that seriously restrict, or prohibit wide beams, despite the 14' lock width, for example the Chesterfield between Stockwith and Retford, or the Erewash.

If you want to explore the delightful Midland narrow canals and don't mind walking like an ancient Egyptian inside, then go narrow beam! 

Jen

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Probably enough said already, but my take is simply -

 

If you wan to explore the countryside (as far as you can from the waterways) then GO NARROW

 

If you just want a country cottage that doesn't move much or at all GO WIDE

 

We've bee cruising and that means moving for  40 years now !Yikes! and have covered much of the canals and rivers. Our 60 ft nb was built to 'swim' nicely and effortlessly and to cope with fast flowing rivers. It's light to steer and enough power to punch the flow of the Thames when on Red Boards.

 

I've seen some "wide beam narrowboats" and most seem unwieldly - not only because the drivers are inexperienced but also because the hull shape isn't very efficient.

A properly designed wide boat will handle a lot better. The boat moored behind us was a Sagar Marine 10' wide (??), it looked good, was easyish to handle and confortable to live in (the owners told me)

Piper's are similar in style and quality and handle well

 

Both Piper and Sagar are well out of your price range - because they are popular and for good reason.

 

Without knowing what you really want to do (and neither do you - that's why you're here) then my opening statement still hold true.

Static / not moving much = widebeam

Exploring the country = narrow

For your stated price range £100K will get you a nice NB or a not particularly grand WB.

 

 

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Sold - but a typical moderately widebeam within your budget.

 

https://www.preloved.co.uk/adverts/show/119968220/live-aboard-60x10-widebeam-boat-with-moorings.html?link=%2Fclassifieds%2Fall%2Fuk%2Fboat%2Bmooring%2Brope

 

Description

SOLD PENDING COMPLETION
We lived aboard for 2 years but are now moving back to land. Viewing is highly recommended.
Banksy hit the water Oct 2017
Includes:
OPEN TO SENSIBLE OFFERS
FREE moorings on secured island 5 minutes walk to train station & with free parking.
Double glazed
Titan Canopy front and back
Bowthruster
Betamarine engine
Victron invertor
240v & 12v
Battery bank
Snipe 2 satellite
Solar panels and option to add windturbine
Multifuel burner
Water heater
Mood lighting by remote control
WiFi & speakers throughout with sony
stereo
King size bedroom with wardrobes and bedside cabinets
LED thermostatic shower
Bathroom vanity sink
Mirrored cupboard
King size storage sofa bed
Breakfast bar
LPG cooker and hob
Large kitchen area with £1000 LED fridge freezer
Extras : lock key. Anchor. CB radio and ariel. Tillar bar and pin. Life ring. Fire extinguishers at each exit. Complete set of spare LED light fittings in case one ever goes. Made to measure blinds and leather port hole binge throughout. Heavy duty lock on both doors. Rubber fenders on sides and rope front and back

 

41897448-784-640x564.jpg

 

41897446-132-640x1138.jpg

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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My widey at 10ft 6in was VASTLY better to live on than any of my narrowboats, as in VASTLY!!!!! It also cruised the Trent including tidal and northern canals with ease, the Huddersfield, erewash etc etc etc. If you dont realy want to cruise a large area then wide is a no brainer, if you want to travel far and wide it must be narrow.

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22 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

My widey at 10ft 6in was VASTLY better to live on than any of my narrowboats, as in VASTLY!!!!! It also cruised the Trent including tidal and northern canals with ease, the Huddersfield, erewash etc etc etc. If you dont realy want to cruise a large area then wide is a no brainer, if you want to travel far and wide it must be narrow.

Ferzackerly - in a nutshell (I must try to be less verbose....)

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9 hours ago, LadyG said:

ABNB have a lot of the answers on their website, they are respected brokers of inland boats, mostly narrow boats.

Personally I like the look of a Dutch barge style over a wide beam narrowboat style, buti if I had your budget, I would buy a Piper. There are a few on Appllo Duck, one is new at £129K not sure of the story as Piper currently makes bigger steel boats these days. You could view it, and use it as a comparison to any others, and of course £129K is a figure that can be negotiated. 

There is a nice one on a very sought after London mooring, it might be possible to negotiate just for the boat, I don't know, but it is worth a look. Vetus spares are very expensive. 

Buying brand new and selling after two years could be eyewateriny expensive in depreciation, so don't rush in, that is a lot of cash, dispense it wisely. 

PS I have only bought one steel boat, a Tyler Wilson in need of renovation. I am doing this myself, if I bought a new sail away, I would have to have it fitted professionally, and wait maybe six months, and I would still not have a perfect boat for all  circumstances. 

Thanks for your truly experienced opinion, in particular the Dutch barge. I have looked at this option, is it more limited on the canal network because of its cockpit?

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11 minutes ago, James Dunleavy said:

Thanks for your truly experienced opinion, in particular the Dutch barge. I have looked at this option, is it more limited on the canal network because of its cockpit?

Yes in a word! I have a a widebeam with wheelhouse it can be difficult at times [wheelhouse folds down] for most dutch barges the places I go are a no go for them. Also the space inside is more limited, I have had a narrowboat and would be hard pushed to go back to one again, but if you want to do the whole network its a 57 x 6 10 for you

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For me anything wider than a traditional narrowboat would rule out great swathes of the network, including some of my favourite canals, so it has to be narrow. We find our 58' perfectly comfortable for the two of us and our boys (grown men) are happy for 4 or 6 on there at a time. No doubt the extra space on a wider boat would be nice but it wouldn't outweigh limiting your cruising area for me.

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8 minutes ago, John Wareing said:

For me anything wider than a traditional narrowboat would rule out great swathes of the network, including some of my favourite canals, so it has to be narrow. We find our 58' perfectly comfortable for the two of us and our boys (grown men) are happy for 4 or 6 on there at a time. No doubt the extra space on a wider boat would be nice but it wouldn't outweigh limiting your cruising area for me.

 

These 'great swathes' that you refer to do not seem to be present on the maps of the Canals - the 'green' ones (predominantly around Birmingham and up to the NW) are the 'narrow' 7 foot boats only) all others are classed as wide canals / rivers.

 

 

757728840_WideCanalmap.gif.5d38ad0266280da164ab88ee1b436992.gif

 

 

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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There are around 600 miles of narrow canal on the connected network. Of course that's a minority of the 2,200 total miles, but I still think it counts as a "great swathe" of the total. Especially as the two main areas of wider canals are separated so it's difficult and/or costly to get between them.

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36 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

These 'great swathes' that you refer to do not seem to be present on the maps of the Canals - the 'green' ones (predominantly around Birmingham and up to the NW) are the 'narrow' 7 foot boats only) all others are classed as wide canals / rivers.

 

 

757728840_WideCanalmap.gif.5d38ad0266280da164ab88ee1b436992.gif

 

 

 

A fairly significant chunk if not great swathes, and of course its not straight forward getting from North to South. The map also doesn't show those canals and rivers that are 'classed as wide' but would be less than fun to try and navigate in anything more than a few feet wider than narrow. 

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19 minutes ago, Rumsky said:

A fairly significant chunk if not great swathes, and of course its not straight forward getting from North to South. The map also doesn't show those canals and rivers that are 'classed as wide' but would be less than fun to try and navigate in anything more than a few feet wider than narrow. 

Indeed , this maps shows canals & Rivers that are suitable for boats up to 12' 6" feet beam.

It  does restrict the range but it does still allow many hundreds of miles (years worth) of cruising.

 

 

widebeam_map%20(1).png

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I don't doubt that there are still plenty of cruising miles for wider boats whether based in the north or the south and if you and the OP are happy with that, then that's fine. I was just offering my opinion that I prefer a narrowboat and two reasons are the extra cruising options and the different feel of narrow canals.

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8 minutes ago, John Wareing said:

I don't doubt that there are still plenty of cruising miles for wider boats whether based in the north or the south and if you and the OP are happy with that, then that's fine. I was just offering my opinion that I prefer a narrowboat and two reasons are the extra cruising options and the different feel of narrow canals.

Indeed, we are all different, and as I replied in my initial response if you can live with the restrictions of not using the narrow canals, a fat-boat will give you a far more comfortable life.

 

On 13/10/2020 at 08:56, Alan de Enfield said:

If you are aware of the travel limitations of a 'fatty' and can 'live with them' then there is absolutely no question "GO -FAT"

 

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Although there are lots of wide navigations, not all are equal, you can have luxury in a 12 x 70 foot on some but on others 57 foot is the max length. There are also disconnects, there are 4 main wide areas, the GU Thames and K & A,  the Severn is a difficult connection not for the fainthearted. The North and Trent are another area, the Fens and east Anglia are another, again can be linked by a sea passage not to be undertaken lightly. 

 

As the early depreciation on a new boat can be 50% in the first 2 years, so beware. Also you need to check up on the Recreational Craft Directive, which affects all new boats, and their saleability.

Try if possible I think there are some widebeams available for hire, there are loads of narrow to hire, have a week on each I suspect it will show you the difference. 

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On 13/10/2020 at 09:39, matty40s said:

Dont forget, just because a canal officially takes a 12 foot or even 14 foot boat, it doesnt mean that it will be an enjoyable cruise.

 

Agreed. I'd suggest the OP hires a widebeam on the K&A and head west to fully experience this phenomenon. 

Edited by booke23
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2 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Indeed , this maps shows canals & Rivers that are suitable for boats up to 12' 6" feet beam.

It  does restrict the range but it does still allow many hundreds of miles (years worth) of cruising.

 

 

widebeam_map%20(1).png

How old is that map, access from the river Dee....I dont think so!

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4 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

These 'great swathes' that you refer to do not seem to be present on the maps of the Canals - the 'green' ones (predominantly around Birmingham and up to the NW) are the 'narrow' 7 foot boats only) all others are classed as wide canals / rivers.

 

 

757728840_WideCanalmap.gif.5d38ad0266280da164ab88ee1b436992.gif

 

 

 

That map does not tell the full story for a typical boater.

 

Excepting a couple of bits of Birmingham all of those green canals are easily navigable and most are very wonderful canals. Maybe there are some questions about the HNC but some of it is very attractive if hard work.

 

Turning to the wide waterways, quite a lot of it is just not accessible to the average boater. First remove all the dotted un-restored bits, and all those that can only be reached by a sea or major estuary passage. Remove all of the Nene and Fens because you have to cross the Wash.

Remove the Manchester Ship Canal and of course the Dee has gone. Maybe remove London, no sane cruising widebeam wants to go there, and that probably applies to the Grand Union "housing estate" near London.  Remove the Rochdale, nobody does the Rochdale and certainly not in a widebeam ( maybe 2 in the last 2 years).

The top of the Shroppie is not really wide and only accessible via the MSC.

 

And then without a lorry you have to choose either the North or South, so yes, a huge part of the cruisable system is narrow.

 

..............Dave

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11 minutes ago, dmr said:

That map does not tell the full story for a typical boater.

 

Excepting a couple of bits of Birmingham all of those green canals are easily navigable and most are very wonderful canals. Maybe there are some questions about the HNC but some of it is very attractive if hard work.

 

Turning to the wide waterways, quite a lot of it is just not accessible to the average boater. First remove all the dotted un-restored bits, and all those that can only be reached by a sea or major estuary passage. Remove all of the Nene and Fens because you have to cross the Wash.

Remove the Manchester Ship Canal and of course the Dee has gone. Maybe remove London, no sane cruising widebeam wants to go there, and that probably applies to the Grand Union "housing estate" near London.  Remove the Rochdale, nobody does the Rochdale and certainly not in a widebeam ( maybe 2 in the last 2 years).

The top of the Shroppie is not really wide and only accessible via the MSC.

 

And then without a lorry you have to choose either the North or South, so yes, a huge part of the cruisable system is narrow.

 

..............Dave

Plenty go across the wash and maybe safer in a widebeam than a narrowboat?

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13 minutes ago, peterboat said:

Plenty go across the wash and maybe safer in a widebeam than a narrowboat?

They do, and I would think its much much safer in a wide'un. People also do the Severn estuary and Trent Falls, but these are not everyday trips.

A couple of years ago we spent some of the Winter in Chester and one day thought "lets just pop down to Norbury to get a load of cheap diesel and then come back", but I reckon you don't just pop over the wash on a whim, especially in winter 😀.

 

..............Dave

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Just now, dmr said:

They do, and I would think its much much safer in a wide'un. People also do the Severn estuary and Trent Falls, but these are not everyday trips.

A couple of years ago we spent some of the Winter in Chester and one day thought "lets just pop down to Norbury to get a load of cheap diesel and then come back", but I reckon you don't just pop over the wash on a whim, especially in winter 😀.

 

..............Dave

Some of the most settled weather is in Winter when a nice high pressure sits over the country, cold, still and great boating weather.

 

A well written &  interesting story of crossing the Wash in a NB

 

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/canal-boat/20190901/281621011984372

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