Wide Beam Canal Boats

Wide Canal Boats

Wide beam canal boats are not the traditional type of barge to be found on Britain’s canals and rivers, but they certainly have a few advantages compared to the more usual narrow boat design.

Wide beam canal boats are usually more than 30 feet in length, and the beam is normally more than 7 feet. Each boat is constructed on a hull that will be in the style of a canal or river-going barge; some have a keel, others do not. A few are also built on a coastal-going style of hull.

Although the use of a wide beam canal boat is generally restricted to some rivers and wide canals, many people find these are wholly adequate for their needs, and the increased size and width of the wide beam barge can provide them with more than enough space to be comfortable. The biggest reason for the restrictions to certain types of waterway is the height of the bridges. Most narrow canal bridges are too low for the wider barges, although some canal boats may have a helmsman’s wheelhouse that folds down, thus enabling the negotiation of uncomfortably low bridges.

Bedrooms and living areas are usually far greater in size than for the average narrow boat, but they are usually extremely well-designed in order to maximise the still limited space available. New wide beam canal boats have often been professionally designed using computer graphics and careful measurements; older ones may have the odd design quirk, but are no less cleverly put together to deliver a lot of space in a fairly small area.

The greater size of wide beam canal boats means there is more scope for you, your family and friends to enjoy parties, excursions and holidays away, even if you don’t choose to live on your boat full time.

If you wanted to set up your home on a canal, a wide beam barge could be the best choice of houseboat. They have a greater tonnage displacement, meaning that you can get more on them without worrying about restrictions, and there are also fewer limits on the quantity of water volume carried. This also includes black water.

Most wide beam boats are likely to be in a style similar to the Dutch barge, which has a flat, usually steel hull; however, this is by no means an exclusive design.

Average cruising speeds should be around 6 km/h, although (depending on the design of the barge) the top speed can be as much as twice that, but at around 6 km/h, diesel usage should be around 5 L per hour.

In order to adequately maintain your wide beam canal boat, you should get it into a dry dock at between three and five years of ownership and use. This means that it can be inspected and checked for damage, and repaired if necessary. Particular stress points are likely to include the steering, propeller, stern gland and shaft, as well as the plating under the water.
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