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Beginner's Guide to Canal Boats

This guide covers the range of steel built craft that are available to cruise on the inland waterways of Great Britain and Europe, including narrowboats, wide beam boats (fat narrowboats) and Dutch barges. The guide excludes the range of GRP hulled cabin cruisers that are also available.

Main Narrowboats Styles

Most narrowboats available today take their inspiration from the original working boats used on the narrow canals in Great Britain in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and are normally 6 feet 10 inches wide to allow safe passage through locks and narrow bridges. They tend to range in length from 30 feet up to 70 feet and usually come with one of three stern styles by which they can be distinguished.

Trad Stern
Cruiser Stern
Semi-Trad

Additional Boat Types

Wide Beam Boats
Dutch Barge

Tugs
Tugs have long covered fore decks, they are normally 'Traditional' style trad boats with engine rooms and Boatman's Cabins

Dutch Barge Style Narrowboats
These narrowboats have wheelhouses either at the stern or in the middle of the boat and are steered by wheel rather than a tiller arm.

Butty
An engineless narrowboat designed to be towed behind a partner boat