Wood, GRP or steel?

Canal Boat - - Letters - MIKE ATHERLEY, via email

I EN­JOYED THE AR­TI­CLE on Which Boat? ( CB, Sep) and hav­ing owned wood and GRP, also hav­ing many years with steel narrowboats, I thought I would add my com­ments on all three types.

Wood: mine was marine ply on an ash frame, 27ft nar­row beam and cen­tre cock­pit. It was very cheap to buy, in poor con­di­tion, had an in­board Vedette en­gine with fore and aft cabins. Main­te­nance was a big prob­lem – paint­ing and small re­pairs al­ways needed at­ten­tion. Its main faults were rain­wa­ter ingress with bed­ding and soft fur­nish­ings al­ways wet after heavy rain. Also the ex­posed drive shaft used to pick up a lot of rag­weed etc.

Con­clu­sions: a good starter boat, go-any­where but re­quired a lot of at­ten­tion, prob­a­bly none around now. Heav­ier planked boats could be a bet­ter in­vest­ment but still re­quire a lot of main­te­nance.

GRP: I had two, a 22ft Nor­man and 23ft Teal, both rear cock­pit with in­board en­gines and out­drives. A lot eas­ier to main­tain, no in­ter­nal leaks, small accident re­pairs were easy and if you were lucky, like me, they could be trailed to an­other lo­ca­tion or brought home for main­te­nance. Con­clu­sions: a good all-round boat but it still suf­fered with raw water cool­ing and needed the fil­ter clean­ing reg­u­larly on heav­ily weeded canals. Dif­fi­cult in high winds or pour­ing rain with the hood up. Needed a good deal of hull clean­ing, and petrol was get­ting dif­fi­cult to find at mari­nas.

Steel: more prac­ti­cal for the canal sys­tem, nor­mally a lot more room and un­der 58ft, go-any­where. Usu­ally tough as old boots but more ex­pen­sive to buy and main­tain. Most have diesel en­gines so fuel at bank­side avail­able. Strangely, stand­ing out­side in the rain comes nat­u­rally after a few months of use.

Con­clu­sions: A bet­ter long term in­vest­ment but ask friends or ex­perts on hull de­sign and en­gine makes be­fore pur­chase. Ear­lier makes might need over­plat­ing or se­ri­ous re­pairs so get a sur­vey first. Will still re­quire paint­ing and hull blacking.

In the perfect world, heavy wooden boats are more suited to lakes, broads or rivers, GRPs to rivers or broad canals and steel to most in­land wa­ter­ways. But prac­ti­cal­ity has to go hand in hand with bud­get when buy­ing any type of boat.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.