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Narrowboats versus broads boats


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Just wondering how many people on here have tried narrow boating and what your opinions of it are compared to broads boating.

We have not tried it yet mainly because it seems a little more expensive and this may sound trivial but because we love the sliding roofs of the broads boats. The fact that you can uncover the boats and sit in comfort out in the open watching nature all around you. The narrowboats seems to be very enclosed with no comfortable seating open to the elements. On the other hand i would imagine that you are also grounded in unpleasant weather unless someone is willing to brave the elements to drive in the pouring rain.

Is it free to moor up or similar to the broads where you can choose to pay or not? What are the loos like? I seem to of heard more people complaining of smelly loos. One person i spoke to also likened it to sleeping in a coffin!

We will have to give it a go i think purely out of curiosity. We are so much closer to the canal system here in matlock. It takes us between 4 & 5 hours to get down to the broads which can be a tad gruelling with dogs and kids.

Would love to hear other peoples opinions and experiences of the canals!

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  it is different, there is no doubt of that,

 

  i have had half a dozen holidays on the canals and have never been asked to pay a mooring fee, free mooring is available on 90% of the towpaths on the system,  i found if you hire a cruiser stern boat you can all sit out, also outside seating in the bow area, 

            the pace is a lot slower and turning needs to be planned,, by turning i mean going about,   a 60ft boat does not turn in a 30ft wide canal so planning is essential,  i did not find the boats claustrophobic at all,

 

                different but enjoyable,  give it a go

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Hello Mandy,

 

We have been hiring Narrow Boats since 1974/1975 (those two years of very hot summers) and having a boat share on the Norfolk Broads  since 2001.

 

We like both which are totally different but both equally relaxing in their own ways.

 

With regards to hiring a narrow boat always go with the option of a boat that has a front opening door and preferably the type that has glassed double doors.

 

If you sit at the front of a narrow boat you are gliding through the water and are unable to hear the noise of the engine at all, you are completely with nature and only able to go at a walking pace (4 mph the same as some of the broads). When we go these days there is six in our crew, this makes going through locks a lot easier and in flights we can split the crew to get locks ready which speeds up our passage through them.

 

The three men in our crew all love buildings, bridges, tunnels and appreciate the construction of the canals and the way they wind their way throughout our countryside and towns. 

The ladies all help with the locks, swing and lift bridges, but tend to stay in the cabin when going through tunnels.

 

Narrow boats or cruisers are  basically caravans on water it is just a case of what floats your boat.

 

On the canals if you wish to stretch your legs you just step off the boat at a bridge and walk until you have covered the ground you wish to travel or you reach a lock. Unless you walk very slowly you will always be in front of the boat.

 

Like the Broads there is many pubs canal side or further afield if you wish to venture. Unless you wish to moor in a village or near to a pub you can moor up anywhere as long it is on the tow path. These days however there is a lot of the tow paths that are being used for long term private moorings at some locations.

 

Some of our forum members would love the real ale that is on tap on most of these rural pubs, most allow a small sample of their brews in many of the pubs we have been in.  Unless you need to press on you can of course stop for a lunch and end up staying the night.

 

A number of you will be used to the effect of being on the boat on the broads for a week and have difficulty finding your land legs ashore, you get the same effect on the canals.

After you have been relaxing at 4 mph the only problem is getting back into the car at end of your holiday.

 

I would urge any of you to try both types of holiday.

 

Regards

Alan

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Thanks alan for a very comprehensive reply. Some very helpful information there. There would just be the three of us, 2 adults one 12 year old and the two hounds of course. Older son very rarely holidays with us unless we are going somewhere hot, exotic and expensive!

I think we would enjoy it. It would maybe take us a short time to get used to the locks and the steering of such a long boat.

We already have another week on the broads booked so it will have to wait until next year. Silver spirit at the very end of aug/ 1st week sept. I will start reading up on the different routes and hire companies though. Mostly countryside with not too many obstacles to navigate for our first attempt i think! At first glance brecon looks good but only had a glimpse so far. Will have to sit and study whilst hubby watching football.

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Hello Mandy,

 

My advice would be to try a canal that only has 7 foot wide locks (narrow locks) such as the Trent & Mersey which after the first four locks (from the River Trent) goes down to narrow locks.

For your needs I would suggest a four berth boat of around 42 to 48 foot (we find that if we allow for two more berths than we require this gives a bit of breathing room) and maybe more than one toilet (if you get two on that size of boat one is a bathroom and one is just a toilet & sink and very small).

 

The latest specification seems to be electric flush toilets the only trouble with this can be that you may have to have a pump out during your stay being has they use a lot of water.

 

As with the Broads you need to fill the fresh water tanks with water. We also take bottled water for tea and cleaning teeth (use the small bottles in the bathroom and one of the gallon bottles for filling the kettle which can be refilled from the waterside taps. We do the same on the Broads, because the never know where the hose pipe end has been and on some boats you can taste the cleaning solution in the water from the tank.

 

Narrow boats are quite easy to steer but you push the tiller the opposite way to  the direction you wish to go, as with the Broads boats what ever way the front turns the rear goes in the opposite way.

 

Most of the heating on narrow boats is heated by diesel (there are some on gas) and usually domestic radiators down the walkways and in the bathroom.

Cookers and fridges are the standard size, we tend to get the boatyard to remove the microwave being as we can use better use of the space it takes up.

 

We take plenty of food with us but try to use the pubs, but if there is no space to moor or your plans do not allow for a pub meal then there is nothing better than your meal cooking in the oven and the smell being smelt from the tiller.

 

All the boats we have been on have had two sets of waterproofs in case you do need to travel in the rain to get back to the boatyard.

I have had to plenty of that from the upper deck of Ranworth Breeze to get to safe havens such as Loddon and Ludham during bad weather.

 

If you go for a trip on the canals then let us know what you think of it.

 

Regards

Alan

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You have to give it ago, totally different and Alans said it be ready to get a soaking there's no pulling the roof over & closing the doors your going to get wet. I used to send hirers off every Saturday and you'll pick it so fast. Study your maps for turning circles (ok these may be a cut into a field).

Alan said you don't hear the engine on the front but anything you say on the blunt bit at the back they hear at the sharp end you'll remember when a head pops up but has it's bonus when you want a brew lol.

 

I need more crew to do canals again.

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Quite a lot of narrow boats are fitting car type canopies to the aft deck, i think there are a (or were) a couple on the Broads. When we did the Fenland rivers about 4 years ago, these canopies were commonplace on narrowboats, and they have a car type windscreen built into them too.  I`ve never understood why to gain more interrest in canal holidays, the hirefleets don`t design a steel narrowboat along the lines of an aft cockpit cruiser, like the Viking, Buckingham, Norman etc etc ranges with a fold down screen and canopy and wheel steering?. Perhaps the canal buffs on here can enlighten us?.

 

 

Regards to all ......................... Neil.

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I forgot to say, it`s one of only 2 reasons why i won`t do the canals, the other being "narrow"  due to Karen being a bit claustraphobic. A shame really as there are many GOOD reasons to do the canals, the Kennet and Avon Navigation being an hour away at devizes being one of them.

 

 

Regards to all .......................... Neil.

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There have been a couple of efforts to do this but with very limited success. Somehow they don't quite get the look to make an attractive boat. Here are two examples. The second one is by Sea Otter and aluminum.

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Narrow-Boat-Steel-Cruiser-with-centre-cockpit-Excellent-runner-New-BSC-/221291000910?nma=true&si=TmqbdDEt59tCOoR9P6jVfvFhNZo%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

 

http://narrowboats.apolloduck.co.uk/advert.phtml?id=301707

 

 

Sorry about the absurdly long link on the first!

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Hi Vet,

 

personally i think the first in your links is not a bad looking boat, very similar to a Dawncraft or Norman, but the second link is individualism gone too far. Now if they looked like the first one, then i`d definitely give the canals a try. I`d just have to convince Karen that it`s just the same as sleeping in cabin on a broads cruiser, only with windows either side.

 

Regards to all .................... Neil.

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Come on putting covers on back of narrow boats isn't that making them too modern and taking the fun out of it.

 

Never minded working trip boat in the rain as you had waterproofs on earphones in and a hot brew when back on board after locks.

 

Ok wind blowing is a pain as you can't get shelter.

 

Last year me & Kaz had a day boat out on Summit pound near Foulridge and I had 45 mins to run back to base and this black cloud chased me down I had a brolly over me and down low as possible when the lightning started and no where to hide. 40 foot of steel target for lightning.

 

 

Where was Dawncraft as one place I've seen them was a boatyard near Appleby Bridge near Rodley and some afloat near Kirkstall on the L&Lin late 80's.

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Hi Geoff,

 

Are you going up the Falkirk Wheel for a visit to the wheel or a full holiday on the Union & Clyde Canals.

 

If you are hiring on the canals then you need to put together a plan of where you are going to stay and what lift bridges and locks you are going to go through, these are controlled by Scottish Canals and passage has to be booked and adhered to.

 

Once you have gone up the wheel and passed through the flight of locks onto the Union Canal then you are free to your own devices until you return back to Falkirk.

 

We enjoyed our holiday despite the weather but did not enjoy that we had to plan each days passage to arrive at the bridges and locks at set times and say where you were headed.

The Scottish Canals staff were very good but it took the spontaneity out of our visit our crew are used to fending for ourselves and we tended to miss the operation of the locks.

With the lift and swing bridges passage through these are limited to certain times on very busy roads (one could only be opened three times per day at set times).

We are glad we went on the Canals and we wish you have a good holiday up there.

Regards

Alan

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I have found most N/boaters like and do tend to moor up leaving a 20ft space between them and the next one on visitor moorings leaving not enough room for any one else even when there all friends they will not raft up or moor end to end     

this is mainly on the R Trent and R Witham lets hope on the few occasions we come to the lovely broads usually a trip down for 2 wks a year it does not get overrun with them and some but not all have the attitude of ( look at that plastic/wood crap) etc etc OK rant over but after locking through 54 of the buggers on Sunday and hearing various comments from the boaters got my blood boiling I can only hope that the broads does not get full of them from the canals with this attitude

as at the end of the day we are all boaters

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I have found most N/boaters like and do tend to moor up leaving a 20ft space between them and the next one on visitor moorings leaving not enough room for any one else even when there all friends they will not raft up or moor end to end

this is mainly on the R Trent and R Witham lets hope on the few occasions we come to the lovely broads usually a trip down for 2 wks a year it does not get overrun with them and some but not all have the attitude of ( look at that plastic/wood crap) etc etc OK rant over but after locking through 54 of the buggers on Sunday and hearing various comments from the boaters got my blood boiling I can only hope that the broads does not get full of them from the canals with this attitude

as at the end of the day we are all boaters

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Sorry, fat fingers on the phone - on a proper pooter now!

What i meant to say was Hear Hear, and well said that person!

 

Lots of private narrowboat owners look down on hirers too, and then Trad stern owners look down on semi-trads and cruiser stern owners, and even on the broad canals, everyone hates widebeams - i'm afraid you just can't win!

 

It's possible that this is a symptom of the increasingly crowded canal system, at least down south.

 

Of course on the other hand, it's a case of "horses for courses", in as much as IMHO narrowboats (or "sewer tubes" as widebeam owners like to call 'em) aren't really suited to the broads system. Mooring space, and the proximity of NB skin fittings to the waterline being some reasons. Also, on the canals, sharing a broad lock with a grp cruiser (or "tupperware"/"yoghurt-pots" as i've heard them being called!) is a scary business as it's well easy to squash them with 20 ton of steel!

 

Are broads boaters more friendly than canal boaters? Ask me in three weeks after my first broads holiday.. :grin:  :wub:

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Hi Jane,

 

What's worse than being in a broad lock with a grp cruiser is sharing a narrow lock with a grp cruiser.

 

In our early days on the canals when a number of locks on the Trent & Mersey still had lock keepers we were put into a lock with a 18 to 20 foot cruiser and our hire boat was 48 foot and the smaller boat was in front of us. :eek:

 

Regards

Alan

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Hi Jane,

What's worse than being in a broad lock with a grp cruiser is sharing a narrow lock with a grp cruiser.

In our early days on the canals when a number of locks on the Trent & Mersey still had lock keepers we were put into a lock with a 18 to 20 foot cruiser and our hire boat was 48 foot and the smaller boat was in front of us. :eek:

Regards

Alan

Eek!!

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I've never done any canals as yet, but we are hoping to remedy that next year after a chat with some like-minded friends. The biggest problem seems to be deciding where to go, as the network is so extensive. We'd like some locks (not hundreds) and a lot of pretty countryside interspersed with interesting features like aqueducts or tunnels.

 

Any suggestions?

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Hi Mark,

I thoroughly recommend the Llangollen Canal,

Yes there is a few lift bridges but not than many locks, a good tunnel (Chirk just after you pass over the aquaduct)and two of the most famous aqaducts on the canal system (Chirk & Pontcylite), loads of scenery with a capital S.

We went with the following company who had a base near to the start of the canal.

Marine Cruises

www.marinecruises.co.uk

01244 373911

http://www.facebook....123474227669325

The marina they are in is quite new with plenty of parking

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