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Old 21-05-2017, 05:09   #1
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Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Hey all,
We're having a bit of a think about a family adventure to explore the canal systems in the UK and Europe. I've had a bit of a look around, but can't seem to find much info here on CF , but surely someone's done this sort of trip.
From what I can make out the English canals are mostly shallower and narrower than those on the other side of the channel. Is this correct?
So we're trying to find what sort of boat would have the dimensions and short run sea going qualities to handle both areas.
Sail is preferred, but I guess having a mast lying all over the boat all trip would be boring. ( some yachts I've seen have tabernacle system. Hmm). So a motor cruiser, displacement style for fuel economy, may be more suitable.
I'm thinking we'd need something at least 30 ft or more to avoid living on top of each other, but of course the budget is limited. Maybe £15-20,000?
A little about us. My wife is from over that way, and has very fond memories of canal trips in her youth. We have 2 kids, 9 and 5 years old. We sail a bit on the east coast of Australia, coastal hops and such. I'm a professional skipper with a fair bit of experience in all sorts of boats. Anyone with some tips?
Many thanks in advance.
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Old 21-05-2017, 05:25   #2
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Oh boy are you in for a BRILLIANT time. The canals are bloody beautiful in the UK and I've heard they are superb in Europe.

Buy a narrow boat, they are easy to buy and easy to sell. (We've done all the homework for this as we have a plan to do the grand circle if life throws us the opportunity). Go for about 65 feet which is long enough to be pleasant to live aboard but short enough to fit in just about any of the locks and most of the turning bays. Stay narrow because the narrow canals are WAY nicer than the broad canals in the U.K. You can use the narrow boats anywhere but the broadboats are limited to a small fraction of the system. Plus the narrow boats are way nicer.

Find and read the books "narrow dog to Carcassonne" and "too narrow to swing a cat". The former because it tells you how to get a narrow boat across the channel to France and the latter because it is brilliantly funny and poignant plus gives you some great travel planning ideas for the U.K. canal system.

Forget about sails. You'll be cursing the mast every ten minutes when you have to lower the thing and the wind will never be pointing in the right direction anyway.

Have a great time and then tell us all about it
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Old 21-05-2017, 05:45   #3
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Look at what they call narrowboats in the UK. They are awesome. I would buy one if not for the climate. Even in France, winter is a bit of ... too much for me.

Have fun cruising!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrowboat

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Old 21-05-2017, 07:06   #4
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

This is a tangential question, but I figure I'll drop it in here since we have some canal boat expertise gathered. . . .

If I'm a U.S. citizen and want to buy a canal boat in the UK or Europe, and cruise it 3 or 4 months a year and then lay it up in a yard till the next year. . . .

how can I do that? Do I run afoul of all those Schengen rules (which I can never fully get my head around)?

Ideally I'd like the flexibility to cruise both the UK and/or Europe over a decade or two, and leave the boat in either place.

This is part of my retirement fantasy. Summer and fall seeing Europe/UK via canal. Winters in the Bahamas and Caribbean on a sailboat kept in Florida. . . .
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Old 21-05-2017, 08:39   #5
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Thanks for opening this query as it is also a plan for me. (All other singles looking for same please feel free to reach out!)
Finding a modern cruise style boat in the UK is difficult - the narrow boats are great except for the fact that the steering on most is at the stern and not covered/protected from elements.
Abundance of super informative YOUTUBE videos on the subject. Also here is the link to the governing authority over the UK canals: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network
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Old 21-05-2017, 09:02   #6
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

It is difficult to get a boat which will do both the UK and Continental canals. The canal beam in the UK is 6ft 10 inches in many places creating a bottle neck for anthing of greater beam. For £20000 I would go for an old hire boat. I have cruised holland, belgium and france in a 37ft caribean cruiser of 1980 vintage. Best cruising inland that I have found. These hireboats are designed for families and thats what they do well.
You have 25000km of water to cruise in h/b/f which has taken me over 20 years so far and I still have much to see.
The shengen borders are bureaucratic nightmares created by idiots in brussels who want something to control. As you know in the Staes it is ok if you cross the border illegally and thousands do this weekly (as in europe), but if you are a regular citizen you are fair game for all sorts of irrelevant and vindictive controls. At the moment schengen allows 3 months in then 3 months out , repeated twice pa. You can cruise outside the schengen for those months and then return. (UK or sweden perhaps). There is no oroblem leaving your boat in a marine anywhere.
Hope this helps to start the discussion.
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Old 21-05-2017, 09:49   #7
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

UK canals are either wide or narrow and the narrow ones as already pointed out are well very narrow. You won't be able to see some of the really great places unless you have a narrow canal boat and they don't really cross the English channel though one or two brave folk have.

You might be better off trying for a long term rent rather than buy so an approach to some of the smaller higher firms might be a good idea.

Oh and I think you will need about 50 ft to live on for any time.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/57ft-Narro...sAAOSw42JZGxqz



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Old 21-05-2017, 10:03   #8
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

I have been on canals in UK and in France, Try different,
Do not try to use a sail boat!
I would rent a boat in Europe and a separate rent of a narrow boat in UK.
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Old 21-05-2017, 10:57   #9
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Hi,
I live on the canals & rivers of france for all of the warm months of the year.
I bought a 30 ft steel cruiser in holland for €21 large & had it lorried down to the canal du midi for another €2000.
a mooring leased from VNF who controls the canal system, a yearly freedom pass which allows you free movement through all the french waterways & 3rd party insurance costs me less than €1000 per year.
the french authorities are not, in any way, interested in people buying & selling 2nd hand boats as they attract no vat or other taxes or levies.... In fact you could buy & insure a boat over here in your DOGS name and nobody would bat an eyelid...I have sold boats for my friends and I simply write a receipt & hand it to them with the boat keys..... if they want to pick my brain later I have no problem with them calling me.... also look up "apollo duck.com... section listing boats for sale in france.... when you've done some research...make that lots of research you can mail me for more info ...normanwallaceathotmaildotcom..
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Old 21-05-2017, 11:02   #10
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Boattrips in GB. you can't compare with Europe. First, you will need to have a more powerful engine for an European tour, You will current and commercial inland-shipping experienced The trip from UK to Belgium or France with a narrow boat, forget about it. Rent a narrow-boat in the UK., and buy a comfortable steel cruiser in Netherlands. There is a very large choice in comfortable steel yachts
I,am not a motor-boat lover
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Old 21-05-2017, 13:08   #11
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

check out cruisingthecut on youtube
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Old 21-05-2017, 13:34   #12
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Here are some threads that may be on the topic:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...pe-180331.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ers-77370.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...le-172107.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rge-83017.html
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Old 21-05-2017, 15:10   #13
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

I took my 42' endurance yacht up the Rhone and canals to Paris. We then took the Seine out to Rouen and left the boat at the local council yard, they had no idea how to prop a yacht but were very friendly and helped me buy the timber and transport it back to the yard for me to do the DIY.
A wonderful trip, no problem with 5'6" draft. All the locks were automatic no swinging handles and pushing great wood beams.
A bike is a useful item. Fuel is a bit few and far between, so are cash points.
We left the boat over winter in the Petite Rhone and in Macon.
Although we were insured and paid the French river tax we were never asked for docs etc., In fact we were never asked for docs all the way from Greece except at sea when the French coast guard pulled alongside with a very big sea running and asked where we were going! I showed my UK Small Ships Reg and off they went.
Oh yes the mast was dropped on entering the Rhone and was in the bloody way!!
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Old 21-05-2017, 20:44   #14
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
This is a tangential question, but I figure I'll drop it in here since we have some canal boat expertise gathered. . . .

If I'm a U.S. citizen and want to buy a canal boat in the UK or Europe, and cruise it 3 or 4 months a year and then lay it up in a yard till the next year. . . .

how can I do that? Do I run afoul of all those Schengen rules (which I can never fully get my head around)?

Ideally I'd like the flexibility to cruise both the UK and/or Europe over a decade or two, and leave the boat in either place.

This is part of my retirement fantasy. Summer and fall seeing Europe/UK via canal. Winters in the Bahamas and Caribbean on a sailboat kept in Florida. . . .
You as a non-EU citizen are usually limited to 90 days in any running 180 period. If you flag your boat in the EU you will have to pay VAT. If you flag your boat outside the EU, you will have to remove your boat from the EU every 18 months, or less. I use EU loosely, sometimes it is only in reference to Schengen signatory nations and other times in reference to the EU free trade zone.
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Old 22-05-2017, 00:17   #15
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Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccannan View Post
If you flag your boat in the EU you will have to pay VAT.
I highly doubt that , a NON-EU resident/citizen does not have to pay VAT even if the boat is registered there . At least thats the case in NL . You can register the yacht in NL as a non EU citizen and you're not liable for VAT
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