|Broad and Narrow Canals|
Did you know that you can travel by water from Guildford in the south east to Skipton on the North Yorkshire moors, or westwards as far as Bath and Bristol? Of course you would need a suitable boat, for your route might combine both broad and narrow canals and navigable rivers. In fact some 2000 to 3000 miles of waterway, canal and river, are available to you in one great connected system.
Narrow canals and working boats
In many places they were able to work
around the contours of the land and so build fewer locks (saving money) and minimising the problems of water supply
to the highest, or summit, levels. For us the result is a delightful legacy of
“contour” canals, which connect major industrial centres, but often wind around
the rural countryside between.
These early Canal engineers mostly chose
to build locks which were 7’0 (2.13m approx) wide and would accept the typical
72ft (21.9m approx) working boat of the day. The boats fitted snugly into the locks as you will see from the
photographs on these pages, and soon became known as “narrowboats”, which is
the term for a boat of 6’10 beam (2.10m approx) we use today. Mostly they were worked horse drawn in the
early days and decorated in ways we now find “traditional”
Many locks on the canal network are capable of taking a boat up to 70 - 72ft in length, but some locks are shorter, particularly on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and there are some tight corners here and there. Perhaps a length of 58 - 60 feet (17.62 - 18.22m) would be about right for anyone intending to cruise the whole system - certainly your builder will be able to advise you.
Wide beam boats
If you feel that you want to cruise only on the broad waterways, particularly on the major rivers with their deeper water and wider locks, or you plan to cruise extensively on Continental waterways, then should you consider a wide-beam boat. Although unable to use the narrow locks – and some of the lower bridges and tunnels – wide beam craft have greater accommodation and regularly provide permanent homes for their owners.
Boat built by CBA members.
CBA boatbuilders provide a finished boat to a very high standard, drawing on a lot of experience with owners up and down the system. Several CBA members will provide you with a shell, probably with an engine ready fitted - a “sailaway” - so that you can fit out the interior to your own design and in your own time, or take it to a specialised fitter. In the following pages we have provided a guide to ownership, both for cruising and residential owners, and hopefully answered many of your questions.
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