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DimitriOrlov

Ideal size boat?

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What is the largest narrow boat that can fit most locks?

 

some of the 60'ers are said to be limited in where they can go because they are too long for some locks, is this the case for 50'ers?

 

or is 40 something foot the ideal so you can fit all the locks?

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58ft is usually quoted as the maximum 'go anywhere' length. I think there's one disconnected canal with shorter locks, and one lock on one river with a sub-50ft lock, and there may be the odd short arm/branch with other restrictions (e.g. the Springs Branch in Skipton is only suitable for boats up to 30ft or so), but barring such niggles, 58ft will do 'the whole system'.

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57' 6" for all usually used locks 60ft for locks that most users are likely to use .........

 

Dang me somebody got there first

Edited by OldGoat

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To be a bit pedantic, if you define "most" as being well over half, then "the largest narrow boat that can fit most locks" is a Grand Union town class boat at 71'6" long.

My guess is that would fit about 70% of locks, and give you access to about 50-60% of the main connected system. Provided that you don't plan to go fully loaded of course, as not many canals would have the depth to cope with that.

But yes, 57' 6" or thereabouts will fit something close to 100% of locks. My point really is that for anyone not planning to do the north, a 70 foot boat is worth considering if you want the space. The downsides are it costs a bit more for painting, blacking, licensing and marina/home moorings, it's harder to control on a windy day especially single handed, and some winding holes are not big enough.

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I think it may be the time for the OP to actually define

what he intends to do,

what he intends to use the boat for

and where he intends to use it

his budget

 

At the  moment he appears to be looking for a boat that can be trailered behind a car, has a washing machine, has a Hybrid engine and is the maximum size able to 'go anywhere'.

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Ideal size of boat?

Many years ago I found a website that allowed you to plan your own narrowboat, with a choice of exterior styles and interior fit out. 

It turns out my ideal boat was 120ft long!

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31 minutes ago, Liam said:

Ideal size of boat?

Many years ago I found a website that allowed you to plan your own narrowboat, with a choice of exterior styles and interior fit out. 

It turns out my ideal boat was 120ft long!

I think I must have tried that site as well

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I had mine built at 58 foot and hopefully when we retire we can do the whole system apart from the ones mentioned in post 2 that I did not know about, and don't forget the width needs to be 6 foot 10" as some locks that used to take full 7 foot wide working boats have now got a bit of a belly.

Neil

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22 hours ago, magictime said:

 the Springs Branch in Skipton is only suitable for boats up to 30ft or so

Only if you want to turn round at the end. It should be perfectly doable in longer boats if you are prepared to reverse out.

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17 hours ago, Liam said:

Ideal size of boat.

It turns out my ideal boat was 120ft long!

Turns out ours is 35ft albeit 12ft wide.

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Well I read somewhere that for a narrowboat you need a foot for every year of your age.  One thing's for sure it gets harder to manage in a small boat as you get older at least that's my experience.  

I subscribed to the 57 foot maxim for a long time but it really only makes sense if you live and/or cruise mostly in the North.  If you are midlands/southern based why restrict yourself, if you do want to go cruising up north there are lots of hire boats and it's probably better to do Standedge tunnel in someone else's boat anyway... 

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42 minutes ago, Neil2 said:

 it's probably better to do Standedge tunnel in someone else's boat anyway... 

Don't tell me that! We're all booked in for next week!

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53 minutes ago, magictime said:

Don't tell me that! We're all booked in for next week!

Don't worry, you'll love it -- it's only paint when all is said and done... ;-)

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2 hours ago, Johny London said:

This link tells you all you need to know...

http://www.abnb.co.uk/submenupages/length.html

The problem with this is its nowhere near correct and local knowledge is the best method to find out possible lengths. Just as a for instance this abnb publication states probable narrowboat length on stainforth and keadby canal as 67 feet. This is one of the most important mistakes with regard length due to making the difference of having to go round Trent end or come in at Keadby a much easier route to get to the northern rivers/canals. A 70 foot narrowboat can do it and there are lots of boats over 67 feet and up to 70 feet who can be put off by this. Just sayin like.

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Most often, your boat could be doing with being about 5 feet longer, except now and then when about 5 feet less would be handy. How long it is to start with seems to be rather less hard and fast.

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5 hours ago, Neil2 said:

Well I read somewhere that for a narrowboat you need a foot for every year of your age.  One thing's for sure it gets harder to manage in a small boat as you get older at least that's my experience.  

I subscribed to the 57 foot maxim for a long time but it really only makes sense if you live and/or cruise mostly in the North.  If you are midlands/southern based why restrict yourself, if you do want to go cruising up north there are lots of hire boats and it's probably better to do Standedge tunnel in someone else's boat anyway... 

Fully agree with Neil. We bought our first NB this year and were aiming to get a 57' go anywhere boat - but ended up with a 63' one. The lack of ability to do the 'northern' canals is far offset by the extra 5 ft of space inside. 57' would just be too small. The only thing I would say against the longer boat is that it is more difficult to wind but a bit of patience is all that is needed.

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4 hours ago, mrsmelly said:

The problem with this is its nowhere near correct and local knowledge is the best method to find out possible lengths. Just as a for instance this abnb publication states probable narrowboat length on stainforth and keadby canal as 67 feet. This is one of the most important mistakes with regard length due to making the difference of having to go round Trent end or come in at Keadby a much easier route to get to the northern rivers/canals. A 70 foot narrowboat can do it and there are lots of boats over 67 feet and up to 70 feet who can be put off by this. Just sayin like.

Not sure what you're saying here, but I've always understood that Thorne lock restricts passage to boats 62' and under.  Is this wrong?

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10 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

Fully agree with Neil. We bought our first NB this year and were aiming to get a 57' go anywhere boat - but ended up with a 63' one. The lack of ability to do the 'northern' canals is far offset by the extra 5 ft of space inside. 57' would just be too small. The only thing I would say against the longer boat is that it is more difficult to wind but a bit of patience is all that is needed.

Layout is far more important then length for making a boat suitable or not. 

We have been on some 60 odd ft boats that have less useable space then 59 odd ft boats due to wasted space and poor layout.

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9 hours ago, Neil2 said:

Not sure what you're saying here, but I've always understood that Thorne lock restricts passage to boats 62' and under.  Is this wrong?

Yes its completely wrong and that's my point. How many people have not gone and done the northern system with longer boats due to this fact? I would suggest that its quite a few. For instance my bro in laws present boat is 67 feet and mine is 68 feet and we are going to York next year via Thorne. This misnomer has been printed since time immemorial and the facts are these.

A seventy foot boat WILL go thro Thorne lock both ways. Going uphill you drive straight in and coming back downhill you spin the boat round at the top of the lock and come down backwards and spin the boat again at the bottom of the lock no need for winding holes. I will clarify one point here in that my boat was a 70 foot steve Hudson sold as 70 foot, now I don't know just how accurate any particular boatbuilder or indeed Steve H was but my boat fitted with absolutely zero tolerance ( well maybe I inch ) so a boat over that length will have no chance. So seventy foot it is subject to that detail. The tiller needs to be able to lie as near straight as possible at the arse end also to clear the gate walkways. we did it no problem. In short that one piece of incorrect information has probably put many many people off for many years. I must reiterate that's a narrowbeam boat, a 70 foot widebeam would have absolutely zero chance. :cheers:

1 hour ago, Naughty Cal said:

Layout is far more important then length for making a boat suitable or not. 

We have been on some 60 odd ft boats that have less useable space then 59 odd ft boats due to wasted space and poor layout.

Absolutely correct. This 68 footer has a cabin length eighteen inches longer than my seventy footer did for instance and the fitout is better for living on.

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10 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

Fully agree with Neil. We bought our first NB this year and were aiming to get a 57' go anywhere boat - but ended up with a 63' one. The lack of ability to do the 'northern' canals is far offset by the extra 5 ft of space inside. 57' would just be too small. The only thing I would say against the longer boat is that it is more difficult to wind but a bit of patience is all that is needed.

Just to offer a different perspective here: we're (adopted) Yorkshire folk and our kids and grandkids look likely to stay in the area, so we have particular reasons for wanting a 'go anywhere' boat. But even without the family connection, I can't imagine wanting to give the option of cruising 'the northern canals'. It's not just that you can't cruise the bits of the Leeds-Liverpool, Calder & Hebble or Huddersfield Narrow that have short locks; it's that you're cutting off your route to the Lancaster, and most of your routes to the Aire & Calder, the Ouse etc. (all three Pennine routes, leaving just the tidal Trent). That's an awful lot of routes that either already feature among our favourites, or are high on our 'to do' lists. That Pennine scenery in particular is hard to beat!

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46 minutes ago, magictime said:

Just to offer a different perspective here: we're (adopted) Yorkshire folk and our kids and grandkids look likely to stay in the area, so we have particular reasons for wanting a 'go anywhere' boat. But even without the family connection, I can't imagine wanting to give the option of cruising 'the northern canals'. It's not just that you can't cruise the bits of the Leeds-Liverpool, Calder & Hebble or Huddersfield Narrow that have short locks; it's that you're cutting off your route to the Lancaster, and most of your routes to the Aire & Calder, the Ouse etc. (all three Pennine routes, leaving just the tidal Trent). That's an awful lot of routes that either already feature among our favourites, or are high on our 'to do' lists. That Pennine scenery in particular is hard to beat!

Just to clarify though, you can cross the Pennines in a "long" boat, via the Rochdale or the Huddersfield Narrow, but you will have to turn round and return the same way.

The one thing you definitely will never be able to do is the Ribble Link - AFAIK no-one  will let you do it in a hire boat.   

There was a time when I would have shared your view, and bear in mind I am from Yorkshire, but I admit these days having been on a few 60-70 foot boats the extra space would be the priority now, I think it's an age thing.  

You could always have two boats...  

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49 minutes ago, Neil2 said:

Just to clarify though, you can cross the Pennines in a "long" boat, via the Rochdale or the Huddersfield Narrow, but you will have to turn round and return the same way.

The one thing you definitely will never be able to do is the Ribble Link - AFAIK no-one  will let you do it in a hire boat.   

There was a time when I would have shared your view, and bear in mind I am from Yorkshire, but I admit these days having been on a few 60-70 foot boats the extra space would be the priority now, I think it's an age thing.  

You could always have two boats...  

I concur. I have owned several boats 3 of which have been 57 or less and done the L and L etc etc etc but having gone longer in 2001 I much prefer the extra space and there is little difference in purchase/running costs.

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I have 55' boat which should go everywhere, except it doesn't.  It a bit high at the cabin sides so will not go through Standedge (or Froghall for that matter).

I have considered having it stretched by around 10' but that would rule out the L&L which puts me off.  

I've also wondered about getting an ugly, square 10' butty to cross-strap behind the boat on narrow canals and lash to the side on wide canals with short locks.  I've occasionally seen this done by others.

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When considering boat length and living/usable cabin space it is worth considering stern type.

In very general terms and depending on internal fit out a 58 foot trad stern will often give more internal/usable space than the same length boat built with a cruiser stern or semi trad/cruiser stern. So if outside space while cruising is less important than having inside space you can have a shorter boat that will genuinely 'go anywhere' (barring the very small exclusions referred to above) without the need to faff about reversing into locks on the Northern system eg Salterhebble.

Of course if you place more value on also having outside space then this doesn't apply.

Edited by MJG

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