A narrowboat or narrow boat is an aquatic vessel that is smaller and narrower than a long boat or a barge. This type of vessel was built and designed to fit the narrow canals of Great Britain, hence the nomenclature. Purists use the word “narrowboat” to refer to the modern type of vessel while the words “narrow boat” is used for the traditional working boats designed and/or built in the 18th to 20th century.
However in most cases and for this article both will be used interchangeably. This article will discuss the important points to consider when buying a narrowboat.
Narrowboats for Sale : Size Does Matter!
Narrowboats are made to traverse the canals, locks, and bridges of Great Britain which can get as narrow as 7 feet (2.1 meters) in some areas of the main network. Another consideration is the length of the boat, especially when traversing locks, the shortest on the main network being the Salterhebble Middle Lock which is about 56 feet (17 meters) in length (isolated kicks can be as short as 40 meters).
Of course some boats are made to be wider and bigger, but these will have limited passage. The best size of boat is slightly narrower and a bit longer than the above mentioned since the Salterhebble Middle Lock, if 14 feet 2 (4.32 meters) wide. This means a skilled handler can diagonally position a narrowboat as long as 60 feet (18.288 meters). Therefore in the final analysis you need to determine where you want to go and make sure you size your boat just below its dimensions. Narrowboats for Sale:
Build and Built.
Next consider whether you want to buy a brand new boat, second hand boat or fix up a traditional narrow boat. Of course consider the materials used for each type of boat, the condition it is in as well as your willingness and ability to fix or restore its components. Newer boats are made up of a combination of steel marine treated wood and fiberglass and are painted in any color or design you can think of.
Whereas older more traditional one’s still use timber and iron with traditional hand painted designs like castles, roses, old style calligraphy, etc. Narrowboats for Sale: Propulsion and Stern
Some of the oldest narrow boats were horse drawn while some were steam powered. Now modern narrowboats are diesel or even gas powered. Of course you only go with a horse powered or steam powered narrow boat if you want to restore and use antique types. Nowadays diesel engines are preferred because these are easier to maintain, cheaper to buy, and provides steady powerful propulsion. Of course you need to choose what type of diesel engine to use. You do not really need something that is speedy all you need is something that provides steady power and is built like a tank.
Pay special attention to the size and built of the stern, this will determine how much space you have indoors and outdoors. Most modern narrowboats still retain the traditional unguarded open stern with counter behind the rear door. However some of the modern types are more flexible and can be converted for indoor/outdoor use and provides better visibility and safer operation for the pilot. Some of the newer more functional sterns to consider are the cruiser stern, butty stern and semi traditional stern. Other Considerations:
What’s Your License?
You need a license in order to traverse and moor thru organized passages. Some of these organizations are the British Waterways and the Environment Agency. If you need to traverse both get a golden license. If you expect to traverse other smaller organized routes then get the appropriate license. Acquiring licenses are not impossible but they can be a drag that is why some buyers prefer buying second hand. Oh and remember the size of your both also determines the cost of the license.