Home - New Build Barging
Why a New Build Barge? Motor or Sail? Comparisons to a Narrowboat? Live Aboard or Leisure
Where can wide beams cruise? Map of UK Broadbeam Canals Future Plans for a UK Broad Beam Network Continental Cruising
Buying a new Barge RCD Categorisation Buying a Sailaway Spec Check List DIY Fit-out cost VAT Barge Building Companies Barges for Sale
DIY Fit-out Equipment Planning Solar & Wind Generators Generator Sets Useful tools for DIY fit-out Slipping / dry docking a barge
Layout plans Some new build Barge Photos Barge Moorings
Information about the (DBA) Beale Park 2006 DBA Rally Bisham Abbey 2009
Barge Links & Further Reading
Ida 57ft Cruising Barge Si and Jacq's Wide Beam Takey Tezey Mikes 57ft Barge Build Mikes 57ft Narrowboat Style Dave and Lyns 19.6m barge Jeff & Jackies 50ft Thomas Roger & Glynwen 55ft Barge Build Ypie - 15m Euroship barge
If you wish to cruise the entire UK canal network, then a Broad Beam Barge is not the right choice, only a narrowboat or a boat less than 7 feet wide can do this.
If you want a little more space than a narrowboat can provide, then you should consider a broad beam barge. An all steel barge is probably one of the most economical means of getting afloat on a relatively large boat. The cost per square foot of usable space must be one of the lowest around, certainly cheaper than most plastic, aluminium or wooden craft. And steel is also one of the best materials to build a boat with (there are many 100 year old steel boats around, even though these were riveted together and modern welding methods are far superior). If you like the practicalities of all steel boats (strong, long lasting, durable, forgiving in locks etc), and are drawn to the striking lines of Dutch barges, then you need to consider a new replica build.
Barges made in aluminium are also available, whilst costing a little more than steel they do offer some advantages (corrosion free).
The lowest cost barges are designed for predominantly canal use in the UK, and have a strong resemblance to narrowboat design. They are flat-bottomed, shallow draft, with keel-cooled engines suitable for sustaining the 4 knots max speed of the UK canals. These are often referred to as wide beam, canal barges, and are often built to RCD category D requirements. Lengths normally vary between 40feet and 60 feet long.
At the other end of the market the barges are designed more for continental cruising along rivers with fairly frequent crossings of the English Channel etc. They have a more rounded shape and flowing sheer (with bow and stern higher than the middle of the boat). These barges will have a more powerful engine (possibly water cooled), have angled chine's (sides) for improved handling through the water, have a deeper draft and likely more ballast / weight. These are normally referred to as Replica Dutch Barges with lengths between 50feet and 75 feet. The longer the barge, the more aligned to continental cruising it becomes. Most new built Replica Dutch barges are built to RCD Cat 'C' which is deemed suitable for wind speeds up to force 6 and significant wave height to 2m. There are a few barges that have been designed and built to Cat 'B' requirements.
The accommodation inside of a wide beam river barge and Dutch barge can be virtually identical, although a Dutch barge will normally have a covered wheelhouse, which can offer comfortable, all weather seating for 4 or more people, whereas wide beams normally have an open stern with tiller steering, the same as narrowboats. There will normally be slightly more usable internal space on a Dutch Barge design than on a wide beam.
Note: RCD is the European Recreational Craft Directive. There are 4 design categories. A, B, C and D. The directive came into force on June 16th 1998. Since this date all new boats being placed on the market or put into service within the EEA must comply with the RCD.
Last updated 31 January 2012