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seaskip 21-05-2017 05:09

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.

GILow 21-05-2017 05:25

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

barnakiel 21-05-2017 05:45

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

Love,
b.

Cormorant 21-05-2017 07:06

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. . . .

HalfHitch 21-05-2017 08:39

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

mikecambrai 21-05-2017 09:02

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.

Pete7 21-05-2017 09:49

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.

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



Pete

Echtagon 21-05-2017 10:03

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.

NV US 21-05-2017 10:57

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..

A.B.sailorman 21-05-2017 11:02

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

ohdrinkboy 21-05-2017 13:08

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
check out cruisingthecut on youtube

Don C L 21-05-2017 13:34

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Here are some threads that may be on the topic:
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...pe-180331.html

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

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

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rge-83017.html

Deltasailor 21-05-2017 15:10

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.:peace:
Oh yes the mast was dropped on entering the Rhone and was in the bloody way!!

ccannan 21-05-2017 20:44

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cormorant (Post 2397217)
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.

ReneJK 22-05-2017 00:17

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ccannan (Post 2397665)
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

Cormorant 22-05-2017 03:16

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Thanks guys, that's what I was looking for. I'm glad to know it's technically possible. I'm still several years away at least -- kids in high school and college -- but I like to fantasize, and on the practical side, get all my ducks in a row.

valhalla360 22-05-2017 04:40

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
The UK has narrow and wide canals. The problem is the narrow boats less than 7' wide are serious compromises for living on.

The narrow canals make up the bulk of the UK system.

If you are set on doing both, I would suggest a few years with a narrow boat in the UK and then switch to a larger boat for the continent. This also allows you to get a boat suitable for moderate coastal cruising.

As a non-EU resident, you get 18 months before VAT would be due but if you put the boat under bond, you can extent that. Also, if you make it up to Switzerland, you can reset the clock (and yes, you can get there).

seaskip 22-05-2017 04:48

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Hi everyone, thank you for taking the time to respond to our plans, and giving us food for thought and research ideas. We're a bit overwhelmed with the wonderful response.
From what we can make out of the general consensus, 2 boats are better than one 😄 ( as usual), which is a little hard on the budget, but we've see some of those narrow canals and they're stunning. I'll be doing a whole bunch of research, and maybe even chatting to friends about a group boat. Hmmmm
One more question please. If the narrow U.K. Canals suit 6'10" beam ( I'm assuming that means 2x 6'10" vessels can pass each other) what are the draft and height ( I believe some call it air draft) restrictions?
We're getting quite excited. 👍 Amazing what a bit of dreaming over a g and t can do. 😄

barnakiel 22-05-2017 05:21

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
In the French canals, it gets shallow in dry years. Our friends sailed there about 2004 and their 1.7m draft sailing boat and got stuck for a time. So, if in France, opt for a shallow draft craft.

Cheers,
b.

GILow 22-05-2017 05:25

Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Don't worry about passing. Narrow boats are basically steel tubes. They bounce off anything . The whole system is brilliantly thought out and standardised to avoid you getting into problems. If you buy a narrow boat it will fit where it matters and will bounce past the squeezy bits. My caution about length remains. More than 65 feet and the biggest problem is finding turning bays and they are important. I had to motor our hire boat a full half day in one direction just to be able to turn it around and get back to where I started that evening.

On the issue of hire boats... put simply.. don't. Don't hire, it's bloody expensive and very limiting. Unless you are doing one of the small circuits you end up coming back over your track to return the thing which is crap. Just buy one in the knowledge that if you buy reasonably carefully you'll have no problem selling it later. Also I got on the phone to a whole lot of the yards and most of them assured me that if I was anywhere near them when I'd had enough I could store the boat with them with just a few days notice over the whole winter. And their quoted storage costs were trivial, at least compared to Oz.

Regarding taking one to Europe, hard to know. The practical guy in me says no but the romantic says yes. Read that narrow dog book, it is oddly informative.

Finally, there's a canal boat equivalent of cruisers forum. Check it out, there are even some posts from me working out the whole feasibility of pretty much what you are considering. It is feasible and it is unbelievably fun. Find me a yachtie who is not just slightly envious of the thought that you can tie up just about anywhere and know you are only a short walk from the pub. :^)

GILow 22-05-2017 05:30

Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by barnakiel (Post 2397788)
In the French canals, it gets shallow in dry years. Our friends sailed there about 2004 and their 1.7m draft sailing boat and got stuck for a time. So, if in France, opt for a shallow draft craft.

Cheers,
b.



Narrowboats draw about two feet and a bit, at least the ones I saw out of the water.

They are NOT a thing of beauty below the waterline, best to avert your eyes, it spoils the romance of the boat.

seaskip 22-05-2017 05:31

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Thanks b. Drought. Like a very long term low tide? 😄
Funny. I'm just rolling the idea of enclosed waters cruising around in my head. No tides. Not much of a bother about wind strength or direction. Who cares how much swell? Sounds decadently relaxing.

GILow 22-05-2017 05:38

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by seaskip (Post 2397796)
Thanks b. Drought. Like a very long term low tide? [emoji1]

Funny. I'm just rolling the idea of enclosed waters cruising around in my head. No tides. Not much of a bother about wind strength or direction. Who cares how much swell? Sounds decadently relaxing.



And a pub in walking distance plus some of the best gentle walking tracks you'll ever meet. The old horse paths have been preserved

If you don't have a dog, buy one with the boat. Some big shaggy lab or something you can take to the pub without getting beaten up or ridiculed. The dog and you can stroll ahead and open the locks while your significant other drives the boat.

And they will drive it. My wife is pretty ambivalent about sailing, and my son loathes anything to do with sailing, but I had to prise the two of them out of the canal boat at the end of the two week hire period with a crowbar. And the second we got back to Oz they started pestering me to buy one. My son even considered using one as student accommodation if he were to study in the U.K. (Dual UK/Aus citizen).

Matt

seaskip 22-05-2017 05:40

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Aw stop it G. In a minute I'll be on webjet booking fares. [emoji23]

GILow 22-05-2017 05:41

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by seaskip (Post 2397800)
Aw stop it G. In a minute I'll be on webjet booking fares. [emoji23]



Get me a seat too please. Spring in the U.K. on the canals. Superb.

GILow 22-05-2017 05:42

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
I'm off to the study to see if I can dig out that narrow dog book. It was very good.

seaskip 22-05-2017 05:42

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
I gather you're a fan of UK canals rather than EU. Wonder if you could sea freight a narrow boat. [emoji848]

GILow 22-05-2017 05:46

Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by seaskip (Post 2397805)
I gather you're a fan of UK canals rather than EU. Wonder if you could sea freight a narrow boat. [emoji848]



Yes and yes.

Freighting them is reasonably common with people taking them back and forth with the seasons each year.

I concede the point that they are underpowered for the speed of the European canal system and from memory the guy who took his boat across the English Channel under its own power (with an escort) was more stressed by the ferry and barge wakes once he got to the canals on the other side.

You've got to find that book. It tells you all you need to know. Seriously.

GILow 22-05-2017 05:48

Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by seaskip (Post 2397805)
I gather you're a fan of UK canals rather than EU. Wonder if you could sea freight a narrow boat. [emoji848]



Just to be clear, I think I would be a fan of both systems if I had the chance. I simply haven't had a go on the European stuff though I've read lots about it including a book written by a guy who rowed out of his UK teaching job and ended up somewhere in Eastern Europe before he'd had enough.

PS. I'd also like to do the intracoastal waterway if I ever got the chance. So much water to see... so much going to the office getting in the way.

seaskip 22-05-2017 12:26

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by GILow (Post 2397809)
Just to be clear, I think I would be a fan of both systems if I had the chance. I simply haven't had a go on the European stuff though I've read lots about it including a book written by a guy who rowed out of his UK teaching job and ended up somewhere in Eastern Europe before he'd had enough.

PS. I'd also like to do the intracoastal waterway if I ever got the chance. So much water to see... so much going to the office getting in the way.

Cheers Matt. Note taken.
I've read that book. Was it a Mirror dinghy or something he travelled in. All the way to the Black Sea. 👍
( Narrow Dog purchased second hand on eBay. Arrives a week or so. 😄)

GILow 22-05-2017 14:26

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by seaskip (Post 2398113)
Cheers Matt. Note taken.
I've read that book. Was it a Mirror dinghy or something he travelled in. All the way to the Black Sea. 👍
( Narrow Dog purchased second hand on eBay. Arrives a week or so. 😄)

Great news about the book.

Yes, something very like a Mirror, but bigger I think, I've got 14 feet in mind. I'd forgotten where he got to, now that you say Black Sea that feels right.

JPA Cate 22-05-2017 15:06

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
I think the book to which you are referring is "The Voyage of Jack de Crow", by McKinnon. Yes, it was a Mirror. It is a lovely story.

Ann

GILow 22-05-2017 20:10

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
I suppose you are both right but somehow I have the boat as bigger than a mirror in my head. Sigh, must be getting old.

On more important things though... what sort of dog do we think Seaskip should buy with the boat?

Yowieboy 24-05-2017 20:32

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
If I may be forgiven a bit of self-plagiarism, here's a mini review I posted some time ago somewhere else on this site:

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow
by A J Mackinnon
Slightly eccentric Aussie (trademark: always wears a pith helmet) quits his job teaching English at a college in North Wales and decides it would make a nice exit if he sailed away down the river Severn for a few miles in an old Mirror dinghy. Many months, locks, rivers, canals, and a Channel crossing later, he is still sailing, final destination: Bulgaria and the Black Sea. The wonderful self-deprecating humor, great adventure and memorable encounters make this a one-of-a-kind story that certainly will stay with you for a while.

Yowieboy 24-05-2017 20:35

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
And here's the title page:

https://goo.gl/images/oV0R8m

GILow 25-05-2017 03:00

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Yowieboy (Post 2399850)
If I may be forgiven a bit of self-plagiarism, here's a mini review I posted some time ago somewhere else on this site:

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow
by A J Mackinnon
Slightly eccentric Aussie (trademark: always wears a pith helmet) quits his job teaching English at a college in North Wales and decides it would make a nice exit if he sailed away down the river Severn for a few miles in an old Mirror dinghy. Many months, locks, rivers, canals, and a Channel crossing later, he is still sailing, final destination: Bulgaria and the Black Sea. The wonderful self-deprecating humor, great adventure and memorable encounters make this a one-of-a-kind story that certainly will stay with you for a while.

That's a pretty damn good review. Was it on a thread about other good sailing stories? If so I'd like to view the thread.

seaskip 25-05-2017 05:11

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Thanks folks. It was a wonderful story and I must search the bookshelves.
And on dogs, well I've got a lovely border collie, so loyalty must prevail.
Btw, I had a look at narrow boats and they seem good value. Many only have one double bed and a fold out, but that wouldn't be hard to change.

GILow 25-05-2017 05:15

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Don't assume you can change much. They've mostly been thought out very well. I was very sceptical of the layout of our hire boat at first but after two weeks on board I realised there was not a single improvement I could make.

As for the border collie, an excellent choice of dog that will get you the best seat in any pub. No need to test your loyalty there.

Yowieboy 25-05-2017 08:33

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by GILow (Post 2399950)
That's a pretty damn good review. Was it on a thread about other good sailing stories? If so I'd like to view the thread.

Wow, thanks for the compliment!
It was on this thread:

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ad-111167.html

GILow 25-05-2017 13:30

Re: Which boat for the canals of the UK and Europe
 
And thank you for the link.


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