Practical information for canal-boat, narrowboat and barges

Practical information for canal-boat, narrowboat and barges. I owned and live aboard an old classic cruising yacht for many years and did lot’s of exciting sailing and touring around Europe.

Many of my sailing friends where horrified when I gave that up for a 110 year old Dutch barge, you will be bored they said! No fun they said! How wrong they were.

Many sailing folk think that owning a canal boat, narrow boat or Dutch-barge or a French peniche is somewhat sedate and boring, however nothing is further from the truth.

You can cruise from the North Sea through to the Black Sea or the Mediterranean Sea by canal and river and the canals and rivers of Europe are a major transportation artery. In is in fact amazing where you can go, some 30,000 kms of navigable waterways.

There is something really different and rewarding about mooring in a different town or village each night, or somewhere quiet, peaceful and isolated. Unlike sailing which is effectively for many anchorage to anchorage or marina to marina, this gets in you in touch with locals as well as other barge and boat owners.

Information for Canal Boats, Narrowboats and Dutch Barges

In the UK cruising the canals by barge and narrowboat are also a source of interesting exploring and adventure, as well as a very agreeable way to live if you are a liveaboard. Even in Europe you frequently see boats touring further afield for those who want to venture across the English Channel.

Smaller canal-boats and those with lower air drafts can navigate even the smallest canals and rivers under low bridges. Years ago I did a trip down the Canal du Midi, an amazing piece of engineering from the 1600’s, and a trip well worthwhile doing.

Certainly cruising through European waterways is anything but boring, with strong currents and flowing tidal rivers, navigating shallows and restricted channels and estuaries to negotiating a multitude of often intimidating locks, lifting bridges, each having different features and presenting challenges to both skippers and crew.

It is still easy to get into trouble, have problems and drama. The challenges are also compounded by sharing the canals and rivers with large and relatively fast commercial barges that traverse Europe. Certainly my own Dutch barge is based on commercial design and engineering principles. I used to work in Rotterdam looking out over the river, watching barges pass by literally every few minutes, and being amongst them is very enjoyable, and most give a courteous wave as they pass.


This website section will progressively introduce information on a range of canal and barge issues and subjects

1. UK Cruising – and information and articles are welcome from readers, tell me about various canals, also great and favorite places to eat, or places to stop and tie up and anything useful about UK canals and waterways.

2. European Cruising – and I will be posting useful information on various countries and waterways and also useful information and input is welcome. Tell me about various canals, great places to eat, or stop and anything useful. This will be done on a country by country basis, starting with Belgium and France.

3. United States Cruising - and with so many major rivers, some canals and also the Intra-Coastal Water (ICW) so many people cruise these in a variety of motor and house-boats, and all input is welcome.

4. Canal and barge systems and equipment advice – having been a marine and electrical engineer for 30 years I will share advice and practical information to everyone, and also cover practical issues from my own boat. My Motorboat Electrical and Electronics Manual is specifically written for motorized boats including the canal-boat and barges and the UK Edition even has my own Dutch barge on the cover. Being 109 years old she has continual maintenance and repair problems and I am sure we all share the same problems. I will talk about DC and AC electrical systems, batteries and bow thrusters, engines and instrumentation, refrigeration and lighting, electronics and water systems, and if you have something specific let me know.

5. Canal-boat and Barge vacations and rentals – practical advice on rentals and useful contacts for organizing your vacation

6. Useful canal-boat and barge information - also I will be launching the canal-boat and barge forum and BLOG so if you need answers from others then post it and see what happens

Click on this link to find out more about Narrowboat holidays at Barton Turns Marina - Holidays on Narrowboats at Barton Turns Marina, For rent at reasonable, even negotiable rates by timeshare owners not able to use them. Practical information for canal-boat, narrowboat and barges