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Can I escape from Sheffield and get far in a narrow boat or only a grp cruiser?


Polly Perkins

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Hi all, total newbie here, finally saved enough to consider boating options and need advice which may well be tedious for seasoned canal dwellers. 

My gran was Crystal Hale, who set up the Islington Boat club and saved the canal basin from developers and her father was A.P.Herbert, author of The Water Gypsies. You can see why my mid life crisis time has driven me back to the water's edge!  Now my son has grown up and I have time for myself I'm really keen to get back on the cut. I'm kind of desperate to. 

I live and work in Sheffield so no decent rivers. There is the tinsley canal etc but I don't think you can get very far without involving a river or two. 

I'm looking for adventure and want to get to know the UK better. I love water and boats, miss the River Leam and the Thames, which I grew up by and the yearning is now urgent. 

 

I have to be in Sheffield most of the time still,  but can take long breaks and work from away enough to make it worth it. I'd like to take regular 4 days breaks, on my own or with 1 other. 

I've only ever been a passenger in an NB and a GRP so I'm looking for advice on how to sensibly get started.

 

With the Sheffield issue, is it possible to travel far on an NB from here or would I need a GRP cruiser so as to include rivers if I want to get out of Yorkshire? How limiting would a small NB be?  

 

It's my first question because I imagine the training will be quite different.

Is this the right way around to be thinking about it or is there a better newbie approach? 

Thanks for any responses, sorry if I'm boring you. 

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9 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

For few cruising limitations, you need a narrowbeam boat (6ft 10in), either GRP or steel. Wide beam ones would keep you stick on the Northern waterways unless a truck was involved.

Needs to be less than 60 feet long as well because the tight Yerkies didnt build full length locks.😁

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You don't need a GRP cruiser to allow navigation of those waterways, but there is another reason you might consider accepting the various compromises of a GRP boat- and that is price.

 

Here is a GRP boat that looks like it will get you afloat for around £20k, and hopefully will not present too many repair/renovation challenges:

 

https://www.apolloduck.com/boat/viking-cruisers-26-cc-hi-line-for-sale/640416

 

But the living space is compact; the water and fuel storage is very limited, and there is no stove for the winter. 

 

The more spacious option of a narrowboat will have bigger water and fuel tanks, and a solid fuel (or diesel) stove as well, which most people feel are a real help in being comfortable during the winter. But a narrowboat could cost more. 

 

Tbh its a huge subject area, and there are so many issues you'll have to take into account, that for the time being I would only say- keep asking questions in places like this, and dont rush into a decision for the time being. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Polly Perkins said:

Ha! Thanks. I swear this city is designed to keep me trapped. The tourist info should read "Visit Sheffield, you'll never leave!

My daughter came to Sheffield to uni, 21 years later she is still there and loving it.

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2 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

 

You don't need a GRP cruiser to allow navigation of those waterways, but there is another reason you might consider accepting the various compromises of a GRP boat- and that is price.

 

Here is a GRP boat that looks like it will get you afloat for around £20k, and hopefully will not present too many repair/renovation challenges:

 

https://www.apolloduck.com/boat/viking-cruisers-26-cc-hi-line-for-sale/640416

 

But the living space is compact; the water and fuel storage is very limited, and there is no stove for the winter. 

 

The more spacious option of a narrowboat will have bigger water and fuel tanks, and a solid fuel (or diesel) stove as well, which most people feel are a real help in being comfortable during the winter. But a narrowboat could cost more. 

 

Tbh its a huge subject area, and there are so many issues you'll have to take into account, that for the time being I would only say- keep asking questions in places like this, and dont rush into a decision for the time being. 

 

Great advice, thanks.

 

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6 minutes ago, Polly Perkins said:

Great advice, thanks.

 

 

To be honest Polly, I wouldn't personally live full time on a GRP boat, if there was a feasible narrowboat alternative.

But I'm getting the impression your trips will be a few days here of there, and maybe a couple of weeks when you can- so its not yet a permanent liveaboard situation. So if I'm right, you could take the approach of getting a GRP boat for now, and if you enjoy the boating lifestyle, make plans to get a narrowboat.

My thinking here is that if your time aboard is limited, and you're working full time anyway, you might not want to spend lots of days doing repair work, but rather to get cruising asap.

In that specific context, I would give at least a bit of thought to a good quality GRP boat, but with the long term eye on a narrowboat. 

 

All that said, if you do have the funds for a decent narrowboat anyway, then it makes sense to go for that option. 

 

 

Edited by Tony1
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34 minutes ago, Polly Perkins said:

With the Sheffield issue, is it possible to travel far on an NB from here or would I need a GRP cruiser so as to include rivers if I want to get out of Yorkshire? How limiting would a small NB be?  

No limitation at all for a narrowboat (<=60' long). Possibly limited for some under powered cruisers on rivers, particularly the tidal section of the Trent. Quite a few boats based in Sheffield, either at the basin, Jonathon Wilson's boat yard, or Tinsley and cruise the whole connected system. I came to Sheffield temporarily. Still here ten years later!

The big limitation of being canal based in Sheffield is having to book the Tinsley lock flight ahead of time, then the time it takes to descend and ascend it. Means that a weekend away doesn't get you very far. Mooring further out, there is a yard in Rotherham, then little till you get to Thorne. These give you more options for a few days cruising.

Jen

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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'Ow much brass 'as tha got luv?

As Tony has pointed out, to cruise anywhere on the canals,your boat needs to be 6'-10" beam. Whether you choose a steel narrowboat or a grp cruiser depends on your budget.

Steel narrowboats  (even old wrecks) are very dear at the present,grp are of course cheaper.

The steel narrowboat is better suited to canals than grp for several reasons,but as a cheap way of getting afloat they are fine.

Just a point in passing,although a steel narrowboat will (with a few exceptions be 6'-10") there are  fewer grp cruisers that are.They are typically 7'-6"to 9'.

There was a poster on here recently who bought what was advertised as a  narrowbeam grp cruiser (a Freeman) which technically it was,but found it was 7'-6"when he couldn't get through a narrow lock.

 

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5 minutes ago, Mad Harold said:

'Ow much brass 'as tha got luv?

As Tony has pointed out, to cruise anywhere on the canals,your boat needs to be 6'-10" beam. Whether you choose a steel narrowboat or a grp cruiser depends on your budget.

Steel narrowboats  (even old wrecks) are very dear at the present,grp are of course cheaper.

The steel narrowboat is better suited to canals than grp for several reasons,but as a cheap way of getting afloat they are fine.

Just a point in passing,although a steel narrowboat will (with a few exceptions be 6'-10") there are  fewer grp cruisers that are.They are typically 7'-6"to 9'.

There was a poster on here recently who bought what was advertised as a  narrowbeam grp cruiser (a Freeman) which technically it was,but found it was 7'-6"when he couldn't get through a narrow lock.

 

However, based in Sheffield and environs, a boat over 6'10" still gives a huge cruising range. Up to Ripon, over to Liverpool, down to Nottingham, Market Harborough and almost to Burton on Trent, over to Boston. Beam isn't the only limitation, too much draft (depth below the water line), air draft (height above the water), cabin shape (square is more limiting), will affect where you can go too.

Jen

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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You don't state whether you are intending to live on it or just enjoy going out on it.

 

I can't comment on the liveaboard aspects but if it is to enjoy, you have a few options. Firstly, if you have transport (and that includes trains) you don't specifically need the boat to be in Sheffield. You could moor it almost anywhere on the system, and can change that mooring periodically if you want to see a different part of the network.

 

6'10" wide x 57'6" long is a good guideline maximum size. Most of the wide canals can actually take a slightly longer boat on the diagonal in locks, but if you stick within these figures you can go pretty much anywhere.

 

Have you considered hiring a boat for a week? It's a good way to learn how it all works. Everyone starts somewhere and the hire base should give you enough tuition to get going with. If you consider the things you like/don't like about the boat you hire it also gives a good starting point for considering a boat you might buy.

 

Alec

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23 minutes ago, Mad Harold said:

'Ow much brass 'as tha got luv?

As Tony has pointed out, to cruise anywhere on the canals,your boat needs to be 6'-10" beam. Whether you choose a steel narrowboat or a grp cruiser depends on your budget.

Steel narrowboats  (even old wrecks) are very dear at the present,grp are of course cheaper.

The steel narrowboat is better suited to canals than grp for several reasons,but as a cheap way of getting afloat they are fine.

Just a point in passing,although a steel narrowboat will (with a few exceptions be 6'-10") there are  fewer grp cruisers that are.They are typically 7'-6"to 9'.

There was a poster on here recently who bought what was advertised as a  narrowbeam grp cruiser (a Freeman) which technically it was,but found it was 7'-6"when he couldn't get through a narrow lock.

 

I've got 15k now but expect to have 22-25k v.soon. I'm wondering if I'd be better off starting with a cheaper small GRP to see if I fall in love with the water in the first instance and saving for grander schemes in a few years. I'll hire something soon for a week. 

Sheffield has a really nice community of luvaboards that I think I'd enjoy being around but I'm planning, for the moment, just short to medium breaks. 

Bed, cooker, toilet, sink and table are all I'll need in the short term. 

Edited by Polly Perkins
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I have a GRP cruiser which I love, as it's ideal for the type of boating I do - days out on canals, with the occasional few nights away.  It's 23 long which is an advantage when boating expenses like mooring and licence fees are calculated according to the length of the boat. The boat has a petrol outboard motor which is miserly in its use of fuel.  This is a good thing as petrol is basically unobtainable from canal-side fuel suppliers and the amount of petrol you are allowed to carry on the boat is 30 litres only, in a maximum of two approved containers.   (My home canal is about 45 miles long, and there are no canalside petrol supplies anywhere along it.)  You have to plan where you're going to get fuel from filling stations/supermarkets near enough to your route to actually go and buy the petrol and carry it back to your boat. A minor inconvenience for me, but one that doesn't worry narrowboaters, with their much larger tanks which can be filled from canalside suppliers.

Edited by Tom Morgan
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6 minutes ago, Polly Perkins said:

I've got 15k now but expect to have 22-25k v.soon. I'm wondering if I'd be better off starting with a cheaper small GRP to see if I fall in love with the water in the first instance and saving for grander schemes in a few years. Hiring is so expensive it seems like buying summat small is a better way to learn, or is that wrong? 

 

You may not have much choice - steel narrowboats are selling before they are even advertised and people buying them 'unseen'. You are unlikely to get much in the way of a 'decent' (smallish) narrowboat under £40,000. Any less and you are buying a 'project' and potentially large (in the near) future expenditure.

With all the TV programmes, Newspaper articles about the 'good life' on the canals, added in to the foreign travel restrictions there are just not enough boats for sale to meet demand.

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15 minutes ago, Polly Perkins said:

I've got 15k now but expect to have 22-25k v.soon. I'm wondering if I'd be better off starting with a cheaper small GRP to see if I fall in love with the water in the first instance and saving for grander schemes in a few years. Hiring is so expensive it seems like buying summat small is a better way to learn, or is that wrong? 

 

It depends on how you look at it. Hiring a smaller boat in, say, October or April can be done for £600-800 in the right places. By the time you have paid for craning out, full survey inc. hull (often needed for insurance), insurance, licence and mooring you will be looking at nearer £2500 at least, of which around £1500 at least is not likely to be recoverable. If you decide you love your boat then that is money well spent but if you don't, you lose quite a lot the instant you become a boat owner and assuming you sell through a broker you will lose even more, even if you sell for the same price. In that context, hiring is quite a cheap way to find out whether you enjoy it, and also lets you travel somewhere you wouldn't otherwise reach.

 

For context, we are just going through this with a 38' boat with a mooring on the Shropshire Union. It has a fresh safety certificate and very recent hull survey but only one insurer will cover it without the full in-water survey (partly in this case because it is rather old). Despite not needing to be craned or slipped out and not having to pay for a survey we will still be near the £3000 mark by the time the boat is on our mooring.

 

Alec

Edited by agg221
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Bear in mind that once you get beyond Tinsley you are on a river navigation and beyond Rotherham the locks are massive - this might be a bit intimidating if you have little or no experience.  

 

As Alec says above you don't have to keep the boat in Sheffield - given that there's only one way out it might be better to look either North or South, you have quite a bit of choice within easy travelling distance.  You can download a canal network map or look on the CRT website, or get an app such as OpenCanalMap to get an idea of where things are.

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Have you found the apolloduck website? Sorting by price, low to high, gives you a very good idea of what you might get for your money.

 

If I had your budget I would buy this:

 

https://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/boat/narrow-boats-traditional-for-sale/673442

 

except that it has already sold of course. Everyone will have their own preferences though.

 

Alec

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8 minutes ago, Tom Morgan said:

I have a GRP cruiser which I love, as it's ideal for the type of boating I do - days out on canals, with the occasional few nights away.  The boat has a petrol outboard motor which is miserly in its use of fuel.  This is a good thing as petrol is basically unobtainable from canal-side fuel suppliers and the amount of petrol you are allowed to carry on the boat is 30 litres only, in a maximum of two approved containers.   (My home canal is about 45 miles long, and there are no canalside petrol supplies anywhere along it.)  You have to plan where you're going to get fuel from filling stations/supermarkets near enough to your route to actually go and buy the petrol and carry it back to your boat. A minor inconvenience for me, but one that doesn't worry narrowboaters, with their much larger tanks which can be filled from canalside suppliers.

 

Can I ask Tom- do you use a bike to get to petrol stations? And how do you transport the fuel?

I ask because I had to fetch diesel from a petrol station last Sept in order to keep my new boating buddy moving, and they said over their forecourt loudspeaker that I was only allowed to take 10 litres, although my jerrycan could hold 20.  

I made two visits to the pump in the end, but it was hassle that I could've done without. 

If I'd had to go further I'd have used my bike, but can you carry 10 or 20 litres of petrol in a jerrycan within a backpack? Do they allow that?

 

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1 minute ago, Tony1 said:

I ask because I had to fetch diesel from a petrol station last Sept in order to keep my new boating buddy moving, and they said over their forecourt loudspeaker that I was only allowed to take 10 litres, although my jerrycan could hold 20.  

 

The transport of fuels law allows to carry as much diesel as you want, it is very different with petrol where the law limits you to 30 litres and specifies the type /size / number of containers that can be used.

 

Each garage can have its own rules as long as they are no less strict than the law - it is quite possible that the particular garage you used had a 'house rule' of no more than 10 litres in a container.

 

The law :

 

Petrol Storage On Boats

 

https://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/petrol-storage-club-association.htm

 

You can store up to 30 litres of petrol at home or at non-workplace premises without informing your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA).

You can store it in:

suitable portable metal or plastic containers

one demountable fuel tank

a combination of the above as long as no more than 30 litres is kept

For these purposes 'premises' are as defined in the Health and Safety Work Act, etc. 1974 and includes, for example, motor vehicles, boats and aircraft.

 

What containers can I use to store petrol?

The legislation allows you to store petrol in the following containers:

plastic containers storing up to 10 litres

metal containers storing up to 20 litres

demountable fuel tank up to 30 litres

Suitable portable containers are defined in Schedule 2 (para 6) and Schedule 3 of the regulations. UN approved containers are an example of such containers.

More detailed information on portable petrol storage containers (PDF) - Portable Document Format is available.

 

Does the petrol in the fuel tank of my car count towards the total I can store?

No – the petrol in the fuel tank of your vehicle, including boats and aircraft, does not count when you are calculating the total amount you are storing.

How much petrol can I store on a vehicle?

You can store up to 30 litres of petrol in a maximum of 2 suitable containers in your vehicle.  For the purpose of these Regulations a ‘vehicle’ is interpreted as any type of vehicle so includes boats, aircraft and hovercraft. This type of storage counts towards the total you can store at non workplace premises. Carriage of petrol is covered by the Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG) and the European agreement (ADR).

 

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13 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

f I'd had to go further I'd have used my bike, but can you carry 10 or 20 litres of petrol in a jerrycan within a backpack? Do they allow that?

I don't know about allow. I do know that 20 litres of diesel in jerry can in a backpack on a push bike is not terribly stable to cycle. Was very glad it was only a few miles!

Jen

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3 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

The transport of fuels law allows to carry as much diesel as you want, it is very different with petrol where the law limits you to 30 litres and specifies the type /size / number of containers that can be used.

 

Each garage can have its own rules as long as they are no less strict than the law - it is quite possible that the particular garage you used had a 'house rule' of no more than 10 litres in a container.

 

The law :

 

Petrol Storage On Boats

 

https://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/petrol-storage-club-association.htm

 

You can store up to 30 litres of petrol at home or at non-workplace premises without informing your local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA).

You can store it in:

suitable portable metal or plastic containers

one demountable fuel tank

a combination of the above as long as no more than 30 litres is kept

For these purposes 'premises' are as defined in the Health and Safety Work Act, etc. 1974 and includes, for example, motor vehicles, boats and aircraft.

 

What containers can I use to store petrol?

The legislation allows you to store petrol in the following containers:

plastic containers storing up to 10 litres

metal containers storing up to 20 litres

demountable fuel tank up to 30 litres

Suitable portable containers are defined in Schedule 2 (para 6) and Schedule 3 of the regulations. UN approved containers are an example of such containers.

More detailed information on portable petrol storage containers (PDF) - Portable Document Format is available.

 

Does the petrol in the fuel tank of my car count towards the total I can store?

No – the petrol in the fuel tank of your vehicle, including boats and aircraft, does not count when you are calculating the total amount you are storing.

How much petrol can I store on a vehicle?

You can store up to 30 litres of petrol in a maximum of 2 suitable containers in your vehicle.  For the purpose of these Regulations a ‘vehicle’ is interpreted as any type of vehicle so includes boats, aircraft and hovercraft. This type of storage counts towards the total you can store at non workplace premises. Carriage of petrol is covered by the Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG) and the European agreement (ADR).

 

 

Thanks Alan, I suspected it was an over-zealous forecourt attendant or local rule, but the bottom line is that you turn up on your bike with yuor fuel can, and you follow the local rules. 

we sort of got round round it by making two 'visits' one after the other, but if the young man he decided to be difficult, we'd have had to accept it.

Such is life when you turn up on a bicycle carrying a petrol can, I guess.

 

As a liveaboard, I'm starting to become more accustomed to sacrificing my sense of social norms and embarrassments in order to get a particular logistical task done.

For example, using my shopping trolley for the first time (at an age that I consider to be about 2 decades premature) was an embarrassing but significant milestone in my development as a boater.  

My bike trailer was another step forwards. Oddly enough, in suburban London not a glance would have been turned, but hauling it back from a Tesco in rural Shropshire I did feel slightly odd. 

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

I don't know about allow. I do know that 20 litres of diesel in jerry can in a backpack on a push bike is not terribly stable to cycle. Was very glad it was only a few miles!

Jen

 

Cheers Jen, I use a monstrous 65 litre hiking backpack for shopping, so if I had to get petrol for a GRP boat (or, God forbid, I had to fetch diesel for my own boat), I could certainly do that.

 

I routinely carry 30kg of shopping in the backpack on my bike, so 20 litres of diesel wouldn't worry me at all.

But I suppose in a GRP cruiser you'd want to have a dedicated fuel rucksack, because no matter what you did, I bet the smell would permeate it, and make it no good for shopping.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

I routinely carry 30kg of shopping in the backpack on my bike,

I don't do that sort of thing any more, if I can help it. Now have a bike trailer for the big shop as I was concerned about the cumulative spinal damage!

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