The Different Types of Narrow Boats For Sale in the UK Explained
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Mon May 29, 2017 at 7:23pm

Buying a narrow boat can be a very exciting experience, but it’s also a very big investment and not something that should be rushed into. A bit of planning and research will go along way to helping you choose the perfect boat.  

It’s a bit of a Marmite thing when it comes to choosing a narrow boat there are some styles that you will love and some you will hate.  

Generally speaking there are 3 types of sterns on a narrow boat. You can choose to purchase the traditional, the semi traditional or the cruiser. Then there’s the tug and the Dutch barge, which aren’t as popular, you will see why when we tell you about them later, but they are available.  

Before you even decide what boat stern type you want, you should first consider a few factors such as;  

  • How many people will use the boat?
  • What is more important the outside or the inside space?
  • Do you need a lot of storage space?
  • Is privacy important to you?
  • How often will you use the boat?
  • Are you going to live on the boat full time?
  • What funds do you have available to buy the boat?
  • This will not determine what stern you buy, but you do need to consider where you will moor your new vessel.   

You will see from the different descriptions of each stern type that they are quite different and depending on how you intend to use the boat, one style may suit you better than the others.  

All narrow boats are 6 feet 10 inches wide in general, but they come in different lengths. So the length of the vessel is another area you need to consider. Have a read about the size of a narrow boat here        

It’s worth mentioning that the length of any style boat will be used to base your mooring fees upon. So the longer the boat the more expensive it will be to moor. Also it has to be said the larger the boat generally speaking the more expensive it is to maintain i.e blacking, etc. And lastly some boats over 57ft will not be able to cruise the whole network. Please bear these points in mind when choosing the length of your boat.  

Narrow Boat Styles  

Is a classic and attractive design, which understandably makes it a very popular choice with today’s buyers. The style comes from the old working boats, which were used to move cargo along the canal system back in the day. Due to the large interior area, which was needed to carry goods it now makes it a good choice for people looking for the maximum amount of living space within the boat itself.  

Today the traditional narrow boat makes the ideal choice for long term use i.e. living aboard and long cruises. Due to the large interior the living space makes staying on the boat for long periods of time more comfortable and provides areas of privacy if needed.  

The exterior area on the stern deck however has the smallest amount of space being around 2 – 3 foot in length. Due to the small area outside there is really only room for one person at a time therefore when cruising it isn’t the most sociable of times. If you want more of a sociable space then keep reading the semi trad may be just right for you!  

Trads come in a variety of lengths starting from around 40 feet to 70 feet.  

Semi Traditional AKA Semi Trad  
The semi traditional is the modern day version of the traditional narrow boat. It benefits from having a slightly larger stern deck, which enables more than one person to be in this area at any one time, making the semi trad a more social able boat when cruising along.

The deck also has sides which can have benches fitted to provide additional seating and outdoor storage.  

Another advantage of the semi trad is that a pram hood can be fitted in the bad weather giving some protection when you are cruising and provides a additional covered storage area for boots and other equipment that you may not want to keep in the boat. The cover can be removed during the warmer months if you wish.   This style is a popular choice for families and people with dogs.  

The cruiser is the perfect choice for those of you that want the best cruising experience and are not so worried about the internal space on offer. The open plan deck is as a rule 2mts or longer in size than the other styles and also has a safety rail around the edge.

You can buy covers that you can then simply attach to the rails to enclose the deck area making it safer for children and pets.  

Its main feature is it’s long front deck, which is useful if you want more outside space. Some believe that these boats are a bit of a waste of space, as you can’t live on your deck especially in the UK!  

Dutch Barge  
The ‘normal sized’ Dutch Barges style comes from the Netherlands and were originally used to carry cargo much like our traditional narrow boats. They are typically 15m to 40m in width; this makes them too wide to fit on most of the UK Inland Waterways. Fine if you don’t plan to go anywhere but no good if you want to travel. However you can purchase a Dutch barge style narrow boat the same width as a narrow boat, (6ft 10”) but has the look of a Dutch barge.  

The Mystery Boat  

It’s not a narrow boat, but it can be used on the UK canal system and is very similar to a narrow boat but it’s just a bit bigger. What is it? It’s a wide beam! Find out more about wide beams in this article.    

Hopefully this article has given you an insight into the different sterns available and if you would like to discuss this topic in more detail please do feel free to visit us at the marina. Our friendly and knowledgeable team are here to help.