If the boat fits...

Canal Boat - - Ask The Experts - DAVID GRAY, via email.

QI’m think­ing of buy­ing a 35ft cruis­er­sterned boat with a fixed wheel­house/ cabin. This is a very un­usual de­sign, is there any ma­jor prob­lem with hav­ing a fixed wheel­house/cabin. NICK REPLIES... I’ve seen a few boats like this be­fore and I’m as­sum­ing you mean a nar­row­boat. Gen­er­ally, it can give you ex­tra use­ful in­side space in the wheel­house which is handy, how­ever, you do need to be care­ful about where you are go­ing to use the boat be­cause of its in­creased air­draft – the height of the top of the wheel­house from the wa­ter­line.

Most nar­row­boats (which tend to have an air­draft of 6ft or un­der) will squeeze through most bridges and tun­nels on the sys­tem (and some re­ally can be a squeeze) but if you have a fixed wheel­house that’s higher than a nor­mal nar­row­boat cabin roof, you will be re­stricted by many, if not all, tun­nels and, most im­por­tantly, some bridges.

The pro­file of the boat is also im­por­tant when you talk of air­draft be­cause, as I’m sure you know, most tun­nels and bridges have arches that drop down at the sides so the shape of the boat, and in your case the wheel­house, af­fects the clear­ance. A boat with ver­ti­cal cabin (wheel­house) sides would need a greater air­draft than one with sharply in­wardly in­clined cabin sides.

You must find out the air­draft and en­sure you would have enough room un­der bridges (even on rivers, re­mem­ber their lev­els rise and fall) where you plan to cruise.

If you want to cruise the canal sys­tem widely, this might not be the boat for you.

Fixed wheel­houses of­fer more space but have lim­i­ta­tions

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