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Old 26-06-2017, 16:00   #16
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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You will really, really want different boats for European canals, and ocean crossing. The vessel does not exist which can do both well.

I would do the canals in a motorboat. Every inch of draft counts, you will need a lot of power motoring against river currents, and there will be very few sailing opportunities. I would love to do this myself, and it is definitely on my bucket list.

Then sell it and buy the yacht you want for the ocean.
I would disagree since you could use a Vega for both without issue. We are looking at something quite a bit bigger with a 100 hp engine and the ability to do a trans-Atlantic trip. We have quite a bit of passage-making experience so we understand that part, just curious about the canal part. From my research you can get from the Channel to Med without difficulty with 1.4 m draft, the question is the Canal du Midi which is remarkably pretty and pleasant. Yes, we know about the mast down part.
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Old 27-06-2017, 02:01   #17
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

I think on balance I would go for it. what is the worst that can happen? you have to turn back or be craned out? not the end of the world and you get to see an area many can't.

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Old 27-06-2017, 02:23   #18
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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I would disagree since you could use a Vega for both without issue. We are looking at something quite a bit bigger with a 100 hp engine and the ability to do a trans-Atlantic trip. We have quite a bit of passage-making experience so we understand that part, just curious about the canal part. From my research you can get from the Channel to Med without difficulty with 1.4 m draft, the question is the Canal du Midi which is remarkably pretty and pleasant. Yes, we know about the mast down part.
I didn't say you can't do it; obviously you can. I just said that something good for the canals will be distinctly sub-optimal for the transat, and vice versa, and I'm sticking with that. A Vega is arguably sub-optimal for BOTH uses, like just about any other small or shallow draft sailboat.

Yes, you can get to the Med with 1.4 draft, according to reports I have read. But the phrase "without difficulty" might not fit. The less draft the better -- the depth varies with the weather and water management state, and can be very shallow. The less draft, the fewer headaches and greater freedom of movement.

If you're only doing the Canal du Midi as a way to get to the Med, then there's no reason to buy a purpose-selected canal vessel, but I thought you were going to cruise the canals for a few years.

Another thing to think about might be a variable-draft vessel like an Ovni or Dutch swing keel metal boat. Still have to pull the mast, but at least you won't have such problems with draft, on a boat big enough to be reasonable for your transat.

Otherwise, for a couple-few years cruising the glorious canals of Europe, give me a nice snug motor cruiser, narrow beam, shallow draft, maybe twin screw for maneuverability, with a nice pilothouse, every time.
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Old 27-06-2017, 04:05   #19
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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I didn't say you can't do it; obviously you can. I just said that something good for the canals will be distinctly sub-optimal for the transat, and vice versa, and I'm sticking with that. A Vega is arguably sub-optimal for BOTH uses, like just about any other small or shallow draft sailboat.

Yes, you can get to the Med with 1.4 draft, according to reports I have read. But the phrase "without difficulty" might not fit. The less draft the better -- the depth varies with the weather and water management state, and can be very shallow. The less draft, the fewer headaches and greater freedom of movement.

If you're only doing the Canal du Midi as a way to get to the Med, then there's no reason to buy a purpose-selected canal vessel, but I thought you were going to cruise the canals for a few years.

Another thing to think about might be a variable-draft vessel like an Ovni or Dutch swing keel metal boat. Still have to pull the mast, but at least you won't have such problems with draft, on a boat big enough to be reasonable for your transat.

Otherwise, for a couple-few years cruising the glorious canals of Europe, give me a nice snug motor cruiser, narrow beam, shallow draft, maybe twin screw for maneuverability, with a nice pilothouse, every time.
Not looking to do canals for a few years, the time will be spent cruising in Europe, perhaps with one season getting via canal to the Med. Everything is a compromise in cruising including buying and selling boats for specific purpose. BTW, I did not say that a Vega is an optimal boat for canals or bluewater. In fact, I am too old and too used to my comforts to use one for either purpose, but it does the job and it does provide big bank for the buck.
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Old 27-06-2017, 04:23   #20
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

A small catamaran is pretty optimal for both (with the exception of the UK 7' canals). Prout, Catalac, etc.. (narrow beam designs of course).

Obviously if you want a 60' deep draft boat, it's probably not going to fit but for sub 40' boats, it's very doable with shallow draft designs. omething like an Ovni would be a good dual use option.
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Old 27-06-2017, 04:41   #21
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

No reason why you can't take a sailing yacht through the canals to the Med, subject to size and draft. Hundreds of yachts do it every year. We meet a lot of them both down in the Med and on the French canals, since we're fortunate enough to have a foot in both camps.

However, the Canal du Midi is doing it the hard way, as it's got the most restricted depths and air draft. Better entering IMHO at, say, the Seine and taking one of the canal routes from Paris.

Sailing boats aren't great in the canals, though, with the lock turbulence to contend with, occasional problems mooring up to the banks and, of course, extra draft. I'd be inclined to think of the canal route as simply a time-saving way to reach the Med rather than a season in itself, which is what most of the skippers we have met do.

By the way, the more sensible ones remove the mast and have it shipped: it can be an expensive nightmare having a couple of metres of aluminium pole sticking out either end!

We reached the Med via the 'outside route' - Brittany, French Atlantic islands (wonderful), N. Spain and Portugal and wouldn't have missed it for anything. But when we decided to cruise the canals as well we bought a Dutch steel motor cruiser which is designed for the job.

GORDON KNIGHT
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Old 27-06-2017, 06:17   #22
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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Not looking to do canals for a few years, the time will be spent cruising in Europe, perhaps with one season getting via canal to the Med. Everything is a compromise in cruising including buying and selling boats for specific purpose. BTW, I did not say that a Vega is an optimal boat for canals or bluewater. In fact, I am too old and too used to my comforts to use one for either purpose, but it does the job and it does provide big bank for the buck.
OK. Then if I were you, I'd be looking at swing keel boats.
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Old 27-06-2017, 06:20   #23
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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No reason why you can't take a sailing yacht through the canals to the Med, subject to size and draft. Hundreds of yachts do it every year. We meet a lot of them both down in the Med and on the French canals, since we're fortunate enough to have a foot in both camps.

However, the Canal du Midi is doing it the hard way, as it's got the most restricted depths and air draft. Better entering IMHO at, say, the Seine and taking one of the canal routes from Paris.

Sailing boats aren't great in the canals, though, with the lock turbulence to contend with, occasional problems mooring up to the banks and, of course, extra draft. I'd be inclined to think of the canal route as simply a time-saving way to reach the Med rather than a season in itself, which is what most of the skippers we have met do.

By the way, the more sensible ones remove the mast and have it shipped: it can be an expensive nightmare having a couple of metres of aluminium pole sticking out either end!

We reached the Med via the 'outside route' - Brittany, French Atlantic islands (wonderful), N. Spain and Portugal and wouldn't have missed it for anything. But when we decided to cruise the canals as well we bought a Dutch steel motor cruiser which is designed for the job.

GORDON KNIGHT
Indeed!

UK to Med via Biscay and Gib is downhill and fun. If I were just trying to get into the Med, that's how I would do it. And charter a motor cruiser for some canal cruising.

Then no compromise is neccessary choosing the ocean boat.
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:48   #24
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

Reports of depths down to 1.3m last month in the Midi:

Sailing Through France?
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:30   #25
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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We are considering a boat for sail in France and it occurred to us that we could use it for a couple or three seasons in Europe before heading to the Caribbean. We would like to cruise to Scotland and the Baltic but are also interested in doing some canals in France or adjacent countries. This would be more of the experience than to actually get somewhere although I guess we could end up in the Med. What canals would people recommend? Years ago we did a week charter on the Canal du Midi and loved it. Would it be possible to do this canal with a boat with around 1.4 m draft? Thanks.
Have a look at the following thread on the American forum TrawlerForum.com :

Windmills & wine - Trawler Forum

A beautiful fascinating travelogue on some European canals with numerous stunning photos. In my opinion, very professional.

Best wishes for your trip.
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Old 09-07-2017, 08:53   #26
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

If time and draft are no object - enjoy the Canal du Centre !
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Old 10-07-2017, 10:46   #27
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Re: Interesting Western European canals

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If time and draft are no object - enjoy the Canal du Centre !
Great advice, SecondBase.

Just behave that in dry years it can be closed at the beginning of October already.

Link :
Waterways of Burgundy, Canal du Centre, France
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