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
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
- What is more important the
outside or the inside space?
- Do you need a lot of storage
Is privacy important to you?
- How often will you use the
- 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
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
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
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!
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
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.