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Boat descriptions - Narrowboats

Traditional narrowboat

Narrow boats are generally steel, aluminium, GRP (glass re-enforced plastic) or wooden boats of 6 feet 10 inches wide beam or less, built on the style of hull used for canal or river barges. Narrowboats can be constructed with, but usually without, a keel. The engine power output and propeller will determine the ability to navigate some rivers.
No two narrowboats are the same. Each boat that is built is built with the customers requirements at the forefront of the design. When the authors had their narrowboat built they chose to have a 60 foot, square cruiser stern boat, regular modern bow, with a mixture of narrowboat windows and portholes. Windows forward, in the saloon, dining and galley, portholes aft, in the bathroom (obscure), bedroom and utility area. One huge side-hatch opening with a slide back roof section, opposite the dining booth. Two tinted roof 'Houdini' hatches one in the galley the other in the bathroom for extra ventilation in the areas generating steam.
The general shape of traditional and modern boats is easily understood. There are three main styles of stern configuration:

Trad stern Traditional Narrowboat. (Commonly referred to as 'Trad') Based on the traditional working boats - hence the name. With the traditional style of narrowboat the cabin superstructure is taken as far aft as possible, leaving a deck at the stern big enough for the helmsman to steer the boat - either standing on the small deck area or from the hatchway of the cabin. The deck is usually between 1metre and 1.25metres long. The Trad stern is usually rounded. The engine is usually mounted either forward of the aft deck or in an engine room, with side hatches, forward of a boatman's cabin.
Semi-trad sternSemi-Traditional Narrowboat. (Commonly referred to as 'Semi-trad') From the side or at a distance the Semi-trad looks like a Trad, but the aft deck is actually much longer to accommodate between 2 and 6 people seated on fitted bench style seating as well as giving protection from the elements to the helmsman, surrounded by a superstructure that gives the appearance of being a Trad stern. The Semi-trad stern is usually rounded. The engine is usually mounted under the deck with accessibility to it by lifting a section of the decking.  
Square cruiser sternCruiser Style Narrowboat. The Cruiser stern is designed to give an open space aft. The aft deck is usually 2 metres or more long, surrounded partly with safety rails and completely open to the elements. The engine is usually mounted below the aft deck and is accessed by lifting a section of decking. The stern can be rounded or square. A square stern boat gives more deck space but can be more difficult to manoeuvre, especially in reverse. This style of boat originated with hire-boats but is popular with private owners.

Other less common styles of Narrowboat

Director's Inspection Launch. Director's Launch Based on the old Canal Company's Director's Launches used to inspect their investment. Usually with large windows in the saloon and forward steering position. Practical as a day boat and very appealing to the eye.




There are also different styles of bow to consider.

Tug front style narrowboat

Tug-Style. Tug-style narrowboats have front sections that derive their shape from working boats. They have a long fore-deck, usually 3 metres or more which are flat with actual (or false) decking or 'freeboards' covering a compartment below. This can be stowage or in some cases accommodation.   Joshers. Named after Joshua Fellows one of the founders of a renowned canal carrying company. The characteristics were its riveted long streamlined bow. Simulated rivets and copied styling is available today from many boat builders.