Wide beam boats have grown in popularity in recent years as an alternative to narrowboats. These spacious vessels are wider than narrowboats and offer a more generous living area that includes many of the features of a modern home. In spite of their size, barges are easy to handle as they are steered using a steering wheel, but their size means they can only be used on the major canals and waterways. However there are substantial stretches of broad waterway in this country which suit them and they can alos be taken and used overseas if designed to the right specification.
Types of Barge
You may have seen a Dutch Barge whilst in london or passing the River Thames. These distinctive barges, have a completely different design to other canal boats - unlike narrowboats, dutch barges have a much wider beam, have a wheelhouse in the middle or rear of the deck and have rounded or vee bottom hulls that usually makes them seaworthy, which canal boats are not. The boat front and rear are higher than the middle of the boat. Typically these are ex-commercial cargo vessels, often from the Netherlands or UK, although there is now an increasing number of new-build replicas.
Dutch Barge Style Narrowboats
This is a narrowboat whose hull below waterline will be similar to other narrowboats, but the hull and superstructure above waterline is styled to look like the shape of the Dutch Barge, including a wheelhouse, the distinctive rounded counter, and the characteristic bow shape. These boats cannot be taken to sea.