What style boat do you want? Apparently a Narrowboat isn’t a suitable answer.
So after all our investigation into where to moor our boat, and with things hopefully getting underway with our chosen location, it’s high time we started looking at boats!
The one question that keeps cropping up when talking to Narrowboaters about living aboard is; what style of boat of boat do you want? After looking rather foolish a couple of times, we soon learned a Narrowboat isn’t just a Narrowboat!
The main types of Boat are Traditional (Trad), Semi-Trad, Cruiser, Tugs and Wide-Beam.
The easiest to recognise for us, being newbies to the waterways, is the Wide-Beam style. The name comes from its’ width, being twice that of the narrowboats we are used to seeing. The width of the Wide-Beam instantly grabbed James’ attention with a quick glance at interiors, you would not even think that these were boats with an abundance of room, probably more than our current semi-detached rental property!
However this style did hit a stumbling block for us and it wasn’t just the price tag, Wide-Beam boats tend to start from twice the price of your average Narrowboat. Our location is just impractical for Wide-Beams with locks, turning points and our favourite marina just simply not being big enough to accommodate them.
Tugs are probably the next easiest to recognise, and whilst harder to find for sale, we have come across a few, on our trawls of internet boat sale sites. Tugs are back to a small beam width, so around the 6 foot mark. They have large front decks, which means lots of outdoor space, which in turn means they offer a small cabin space. Meaning they are not the most practical for living aboard.
So whilst the Wide-Beam and Tug styles are much easier to identify the other three, whilst more common, are a little trickier for its novices!
Traditional Narrowboats are again on the smaller beams, hence the Narrowboat name! They provide you with the most inside space, with a small stern (the standing platform from where you captain the boat) the internal cabin space is maximised. Uniquely to this style the boats engine is housed just inside the cabin, in its own small room some are boxed in some aren’t. Providing the most internal space and a small amount of outside space makes this style of Narrowboat ideal for our live aboard dream.
The Cruiser style has a large stern, perfect for a group of people to socialise on whilst travelling down the canals. And unlike the Traditional style the engine is situated outside of the boat cabin, underneath the stern so no risk of smelling the cabin out. Whilst creating a great social boat with lots of outside space, for a live aboard the cruiser style has the immediate downside of less cabin space for the size of the boat. Making it much more suitable, as the name suggests, for the leisure user.
Finally the hardest, we think, to recognise is the Semi-Traditional, this is essentially a hybrid of the Cruiser and the Traditional. Its very similar to the Cruiser style, however the rear cabin is extended, with fencing walls surrounding it, very hard to describe, but the easiest comparison to a house would be to a balcony! Whilst we can see why this would appeal to the leisure user, we can only see it as taking, what is the two negatives of the Traditional and Cruiser styles and combining them!
So which is our favourite?
For fairly obvious reasons the Wide-Beam and the Tug style just don’t fit with our usage requirement, with one being too wide for the region we wish to live and the other having such limited cabin space. So that leaves us with three options Traditional, Semi-Traditional and Cruiser.
In all honesty we feel all of these can work for us, we are considering the way the boats are laid out, and how the space has been used, rather than the shape and style of the boat. We think any of these styles could work for us, so long as the inside space is thought out right. So we are staying open minded on our search for a boat, we are looking at around a 50-60ft length, as this seems the most practical for the waterways we would inhabit. We have set our budget at a maximum of £50,000 which is a realistic amount we can raise with the help of a loan and more importantly is a value that we feel we can find OUR boat with.
Seems a Narrowboat isn’t just a Narrowboat!
James & Kirsty