40 posts in this topic

OK, hello to everyone :) 

I am looking for some advice. I am beginning to think that I will not be happy living on the cut around the Southeast and in London on anything other than a narrowboat, due to congestion.

Of course, I would secretly really prefer the extra width of a widebeam, but I have lived on a narrowboat (and a short one at that), and I loved it at the time, and promised myself I would live on the water again if I got the chance. I was narrower myself in those days, admittedly.

But I don't want to feel like a nuisance and I don't want to be a bigger than necessary contribution to making things worse in the waterways where I hope to make my home... I know that living on the waterways is sharing space with others, so the way I see it, what's good for everyone else will be good for me, in the bigger picture. 

A little info about me - the questions I've see asked of noobs to the forum like me:

- Why do I want to continuous cruise?  And why in London and the Southeast?

I love London, but... More and more I feel like I would move away from London entirely now, whether a life afloat or on land, were it not for my mum being 80 and my dad died a couple of years back and I see her regularly and want to be within reach. No, it's not because I don't want to be too far away so I can save the batteries on my boat by doing the laundry at hers. That would just be a fringe benefit. Sorry. Pretend I didn't say that. Tragic.

Having promised myself that one day I would live on a boat again, I now feel like a life on the cut could be great for me - I would not want to stay in London the whole time, I would really love going out on trips further afield. And I certainly would not be hoping to stay in very central and popular areas the whole time. I crave being able to be somewhere quieter and get away from everything... but I do need to be able to get back to everything, too! For now, I want to feel, broadly speaking, like I'm based in London (maybe it's because I'm a londoner...).

As to why continuous cruising - well, two reasons really. I have always been a person with itchy feet, and the are itching quite a lot right now, but I don't want to go off far away (see above). The idea of a nomadic life appeals right now. That plus the money. I must confess. Even if I could find a residential mooring in London, I'd struggle to pay for it. But the more I look into CC'ing, the more I think I would really like to do it properly, and to cover some ground, and enjoy the life, not just the savings on the overpriced london moorings. I love boats and water and always have...

I hope it's obvious that I do not intend - or even particularly want - to be in central and/or the most popular places all the time. I'd end up going through them, of course, and would enjoy that... If I found a place centrally to moor for a couple of weeks once in a blue moon, that would be nice, but it's not a requirement on my part.

I work from home and with flexible hours, and would hope that would lessen the issues and pressures around the moving and mooring aspects.

So - should I really be ruling widebeams out? I am kind of expecting the answer "yes" and I am persuading myself I will feel it's the right thing in the end. But, having said that, if I took the word "London" out of this, I would definitely prefer to live on a widebeam, I cannot deny it. Even though I do agree that, often, they can look a bit..... funny. 

I feel like asking this question as a first post I should be running for cover, but I hope I've explained myself enough to fill in the picture, and I have absolutely no doubt that you good folk will tell anything I missed out or stupid things I said (for which apologies in advance!)




 

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Try this thread:  

Richard

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Thanks, Richard!

I have been browsing that thread, as it goes, but I will try starting at the very top and working my way down, as so far I still can't work out if - not being central, leaving london entirely frequently, and not being in anything wider than 10' - it's really such a big deal On that thread there seem quite a number who think it's ridiculous*, but I also see on London Boaters many who say it's OK...

*speaking as a londoner, it seems to me like there are many things on dry land that people who aren't from and/or don't like London think are ridiculous, and to me it always seems that they just think London/big cities are ridiculous. Nothing wrong with feeling like that - but I have wondered if some of those comments on that thread are the boating equivalent...! ;-) 

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There are other threads on a similar theme:

Richard

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Having spent last week in London I was suprised how little difference the beam of the boats made. If I boated mainly on London I'd buy a wide beam. I won't be boating in London often though as I found many of the people there, boaters included to be a little unfriendly. Was odd actually, as we came out of the city today suddenly people seemed to cheer up and were so much happier. Ian.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Thanks for those links, Richard - now I have them all in one handy place, that's appreciated. I do look on the forums but it's not always easy to know what to put in the search box so that's kind of you to post those links

Oh, I notice you're putting your names. Friendly like. I should probably do the same.
Piers

(Yes, like that twat Morgan!)

(actually on reading I have been reading those three threads, too - but your help is appreciated, it is nice to have them handily here for reference, there are some useful bits and bobs to remind myself of, and links in the threads, etc, although my boating bookmarks folder is growing rapidly day by day!)

 

 

 

Edited by captain flint
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18 minutes ago, captain flint said:

... although my boating bookmarks folder is growing rapidly day by day!)

You'll start needing sub-folders. 'Marinas', 'Toilets', 'Mooring', etc...

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I made a poll on the London Boaters fb group about CC'ing in a widebam in London and SE - on the basis of proper CC'ing, leaving London frequently, and not trying to stay central all the time when you are there, and the response so far is:

Ignore the naysayers : 23
Tricky... but possible: 2
A widebeam in London is an abomination: 6

There's also an option designed to catch those who just hate widebeams in general:
A widebeam anywhere is an abomination: 8

Hard to know how to interpret those figures really, I wouldn't read too much into it, but was interesting to take a straw poll of London boaters, and those numbers will change over time anyway, obviously.

6 minutes ago, WotEver said:

You'll start needing sub-folders. 'Marinas', 'Toilets', 'Mooring', etc...

oh, no doubt! For now, I'm trying to get my head around getting a boat, but yep, maybe I should start my bookmark admin early and not get caught out XD

Edited by captain flint
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40 minutes ago, ianali said:

Having spent last week in London I was suprised how little difference the beam of the boats made. If I boated mainly on London I'd buy a wide beam. I won't be boating in London often though as I found many of the people there, boaters included to be a little unfriendly. Was odd actually, as we came out of the city today suddenly people seemed to cheer up and were so much happier. Ian.

 

Ian - you know what? I fully believe you. Not putting me off, exactly, but when in town I figure I'll expect the worst and then be pleasantly surprised when peope are nicer than expected :) I like London in general, and I like the waterways, but not everyone on and around them is the friendliest, it's true. But anyway, I don't intend to spend most of my time centrally in the least, so.... 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I think you should define London and SE.

You may struggle CCing in zones 1,2,3 and up the Lee Valley up towards Totternham. It's a lottery finding a mooring that's why hardly any boats move there and people traversing London report the lack of boats moving but no space to moor!

Outside of that you will be ok - just the usual hotspots - near a town, near a station, near a facility, near a decent roadbridge or car park will prob be busy with mainly static shufflers.

As regards SE you can only visit Wey and Basingstoke and Thames - no ccing there. If you try the Oxford canal then of course your fat boat won't fit.

Hence you are limited ccing to the Lee, Stort and up the GU.

Suggest re inner London getting out and walking the GU from Kensal down to East London and up the Lee noting that where there are no moored boats there is good reason.

 

Edited by mark99
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11 hours ago, captain flint said:

Thanks, Richard!

I have been browsing that thread, as it goes, but I will try starting at the very top and working my way down, as so far I still can't work out if - not being central, leaving london entirely frequently, and not being in anything wider than 10' - it's really such a big deal On that thread there seem quite a number who think it's ridiculous*, but I also see on London Boaters many who say it's OK...

*speaking as a londoner, it seems to me like there are many things on dry land that people who aren't from and/or don't like London think are ridiculous, and to me it always seems that they just think London/big cities are ridiculous. Nothing wrong with feeling like that - but I have wondered if some of those comments on that thread are the boating equivalent...! ;-) 

They are.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

6 hours ago, Steilsteven said:

 

Wide beams in London are an abomination.

 

136874477d4e3f59585d5f08797e91fb barges.jpg

Two different epochs. By the same standards what do you think the captains would have said about zones 1,2,3 if they worked boats now?

Edited by mark99
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17 hours ago, mark99 said:

Two different epochs. By the same standards what do you think the captains would have said about zones 1,2,3 if they worked boats now?

Not knowing what zones 1,2 & 3 are or the reasons for their implementation I'd have difficulty answering that one.

Keith

 

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17 hours ago, mark99 said:

Two different epochs. By the same standards what do you think the captains would have said about zones 1,2,3 if they worked boats now?

I personaly think that the problem lies with narrowboat owners not non narrowboat owners. In the world narrowboats are a miniscule percentage of boats, they are simply a daft inherited dimension that we have to live with in the uk if we wish to use most of our system. I vastly prefer wider boats as they look more sensible, handle better are vastly more stable and humungously nicer to live in.

Wider boats/barges etc are widely used in the northern waterways of the uk and countries like err anywhere else developed wider beam boats as they make much more sense.

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8 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

I personaly think that the problem lies with narrowboat owners not non narrowboat owners. In the world narrowboats are a miniscule percentage of boats, they are simply a daft inherited dimension that we have to live with in the uk if we wish to use most of our system. I vastly prefer wider boats as they look more sensible, handle better are vastly more stable and humungously nicer to live in.

Wider boats/barges etc are widely used in the northern waterways of the uk and countries like err anywhere else developed wider beam boats as they make much more sense.

As much as I like playing with narrow boats I have to agree with the above.

Keith

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20 hours ago, mark99 said:

Two different epochs. By the same standards what do you think the captains would have said about zones 1,2,3 if they worked boats now?

An interesting question. I doubt they'd have been too bothered about a lack of places to moor except at the wharf they were going to, as they were just interested in getting along and back to earn their money. They'd be wanting CRT to do repairs and dredging promptly, although just how well the canal companies really kept up with these in the old days (by which I mean pre-WW2) I don't know. The mind boggles as to what they'd have said about some of the people you see on an average day at Camden Lock.

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Sadly, some of the stretched narrowboats can and do look quite horrible, but folks don't buy them for their looks. A step up was a sort of dutch barge style that Peter Nicholls (?sp) built for that TV personality 'whats-his-name'.

I mourn the demise of Sagar Marine's boats which - for me - at least bridged the gap between inland waterways and sea going boats. There was one moored behind us for some years and she was lovely (the boat was too...)

 

Comment.

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6 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Sadly, some of the stretched narrowboats can and do look quite horrible, but folks don't buy them for their looks. A step up was a sort of dutch barge style that Peter Nicholls (?sp) built for that TV personality 'whats-his-name'.

I mourn the demise of Sagar Marine's boats which - for me - at least bridged the gap between inland waterways and sea going boats. There was one moored behind us for some years and she was lovely (the boat was too...)

 

Comment.

Timothy Spall?

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35 minutes ago, Peter X said:

An interesting question. I doubt they'd have been too bothered about a lack of places to moor except at the wharf they were going to, as they were just interested in getting along and back to earn their money. They'd be wanting CRT to do repairs and dredging promptly, although just how well the canal companies really kept up with these in the old days (by which I mean pre-WW2) I don't know. The mind boggles as to what they'd have said about some of the people you see on an average day at Camden Lock.

 

Indeed, so flicking the towing rope over hundreds of static boats being used as houses would not have gone down well at all. 

Or were those old wide boats in the photo towed by tugs?

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10 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Indeed, so flicking the towing rope over hundreds of static boats being used as houses would not have gone down well at all. 

Or were those old wide boats in the photo towed by tugs?

Between the wars and after ww2 at least they'd have been towed by tugs, I believe that some in the picture are Wey barges which were horse drawn when they reached that navigation.

Keith 

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43 minutes ago, cereal tiller said:

Timothy Spall?

Ah, yes - I now remember, thanks! 

What upset / annoyed me  was for a seagoing boat there was no proper side deck, it was more like a narrowboat....

Edited by OldGoat
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Thanks for all the help. Here are my final (?) thoughts, feel free to sail on by, it's not the shortest ever post, after all!

1. *I'll get a narrowboat for now.*

I still don't know what I think about the widebeam in London debate (I'll explain why below). But from a poll I set up in London Boaters FB page, it feels like a sizeable minority of canal users are really quite vehemently anti-widebeam. It seems like just over half think the fuss is over the top and that people shouldn't complain (some of them even feel it's narrowboats that are the problem, but I suspect they are over compensating, somewhat).

I think in the long term, I might end up agreeing with those who say the fuss is over the top, and I might want to get a W/B.

But in the meantime, I need the chance to really see for myself - maybe I will agree with those who feel they're problematic. And it wouldn't be nice to be on your first boat and feel like some kind of social pariah!

SO:

I will buy a narrowboat. Start small. Learn the ropes - it will be a steep learning curve and you I need friends nort enemies. There'll be time for upsizing later if I think it's a good idea, when you can come to a more informed opinion

2. *It's hard to pick apart the traditionalist objections apart from the logistical ones* 

Some of the talk about widebeams seems a bit like it's from reactionaries who don't like A, B or C - whereas others it's more considered, thinking about the genuine impact on the life of the waterways, which tends to yield a more nuanced, less black/white type of conclusion - ie might be OK but only if X, Y and Z....

I definitely get the feeling plenty of widebeam objectors are doing it on grounds, basically, of style, rather than substance. 

I also get the feeling that some of the widebeams in London debate is just another aspect of some people finding London (in general) too hectic, and it plays into their fears and preconceptions.

But who likes EXTRA hustle and bustle? Who thinks bigger vessels on crowded channels is the obvious sensible option? And, for that matter, who would deny that a lot of widebeams look ridiculous and ugly. Personally, I don't get offended by them, I must say, but I don't think they look any good.

I'm interested, up to a point, to learn more about the culture and heritage of the UK canals and waterways network, but it's not what drives me. I love boats, I love water, I love trees and ducks and the creak and shift of planks underfoot, I love the idea and reality of living on a boat  - and, where I am from, that means canals and other inland waterways.

...So I'm happy to celebrate the past life of these changing spaces. But not to be tied to it, or worship it, for it's own sake. If a boat I live on can reference the history of the place, then great, but - feel free to set me straight here - but couldn't the argument about "authenticity" be extended to modern-built narrowboats, too -  being replicas of working boats, not the genuine article, not built the same way, in the same way British "Dutch" barges are not "genuine" (or should that be "genuijne"?) ...?

Seems to me there are some 9 and 10' made by builders like R & D and Paul Widdowson which don't look bad to my beginner's eye.

The space would be lovely.... And I don't want to be in central London much, anyway.

There are people who seem to think even passing through London in a widebeam is unforgiveable. I doubt many agree with them. I doubt I will, when I've seen for myself. But  first I have to learn, and in that time, I'll have to share the waterways with them, so I might as well keep them on side. And maybe, I'll end up agreeing with them who knows.

Or maybe I'll end up buying a widebeam one day.
 

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A very thoughtful analysis in my opinion.

A couple of points I'd add. 

Whether one would feel like a social pariah depends not only on the enormousness of the widebeam, but also on one's degree of thick-skinnedness. To me, on a crowded waterway, a really big widebeam seems like a rather selfish land-grab (for want of a better term) but some have a - "stuff everyone else, I'm entitled to a boat this big" - sort of attitude. Sensitive flowers like you and me would pick up on the social disapproval this generates but others might not notice or just not care.

Yes a widebeam is generally an ugly thing but I'm surprised to find myself saying, their appearance is vastly improved by a pram hood in my view. Some of them look almost graceful with a well proportioned pram hood. The wider the boat, the better they look.

 

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Thanks, Mike. I'm not sure whether the disapproval would bother me, but if it did, it would be a bit late if I'm already on a widebeam!!

Funnily enough, I tend to think it's the 12 footers that look odd - but of course, it's totally subjective.

Hard not to at least understand where people are coming from with the idea that it's selfish on a congested waterway - but of course impossible for me to say whether I agree as I haven't CC''d, only lived on a mooring. Ask me again in a year or so!

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