My first boat

Buying your first boat

Buying a boat is obviously not something you do every day! If this is going to be your first boat, you should consider:

Boat size (How many people will you have onboard?)

Canal and river navigations vary in size, so you will want to buy a craft suitable for all the waterways you want to use it on.

Many locks on the narrow network can take boats up to 70 – 72 ft in length but some locks are shorter and there are some tight corners so we recommend a length of 58 – 60 ft (17.62m – 18.22m) for cruising the whole network. Boats wider than 6'10" (ie wide beam boats) won’t fit through narrow locks.

Type of boat (Recreational or Liveaboard)

Cruisers come in a variety of lengths and widths and are mainly of fibreglass construction. Narrowboats come in a range of lengths and styles but are usually 6'10" wide and up to 70’ long. . Narrowboat cruisers allow more read deck space and narrowboat semi-trads maintain the look of a traditional narrowboat with more read deck space.

Wide beam narrowboat-style boats look like narrow boats but are built up to 13′ wide – although practically a beam of 10′ to12′ is a good maximum – and offer more internal space. Some working boats that carry goods under canvas with a rear cabin have been adapted for pleasure use. Converted barges, both English and Dutch, can vary from 40′ to 120′ plus with beams from 10′ to over 16′.

Heating & electricity

If you own or hire a boat just for your annual fortnight’s cruising holiday, the boat’s electrical and heating systems can be fairly straight forward. However, a ‘liveaboard’ boat’s heating, electrical and charging systems must be efficient – and preferably integrated – for comfortable cruising, all year round.

Guide to running costs

As an estimate for a 60-foot boat, it costs around £5,240.00 a year to run:

Marina mooring
£2500 (Can be considerably more in the south east; residential moorings may cost up to 30% more.)
Insurance (on £45,000)
Hull blacking (bi-annually)
General maintenance
£500 (Older boats may require considerable one-off expenditure eg. on engines or hull repairs)
Fuel (100 hrs cruising)
TOTAL per annum could be