Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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Leisure Boats

Modern Narrowboats, Cruisers and other craft intended for recreational use. For rowing and sculling boats see separate entry.


Broad Beam Cruiser (centre cockpit)

One of the more popular types of pleasure boat in the traditional river or coastal cruiser style steered from a centre cockpit, normally by a wheel, with in-board or out-board motor. Originally built with wooded hulls now more commonly Glass Re-enforced Plastic. Dimensions vary according to type and cost, but the average broad-beam cruiser is about 30 Feet by 9 or 10 feet 8 with a draught of around two feet.


Broad Beam Cruiser (rear cockpit)

Between River Thames: Sonning Bridge and :  Cruiser - 16 September 1996
Between River Thames: Sonning Bridge and : Cruiser - 16 September 1996

Cabin cruisers

Originating on rivers, lakes and the Norfolk Broads, many privately owned cabin cruisers have been used on the inland waterways since the early 1920s. After the Second World War more were used on the canals, the decline of commercial use being paralleled by an increased interest in the waterways then threatened with closure. Many post war cruisers had hulls of reinforced plastic or fibreglass, in place of earlier wooden hulls, and both wide and narrow beam craft were constucted. Both are full fitted with bunks, cabin furniture, modern cookers, cupboard space, sanitation and television sets.


Canoe

Between Shropshire Union - Llangollen Canal: Siambr Bridge No 45 and :  Canoes on Canal feeder - 10 June 1997
Between Shropshire Union - Llangollen Canal: Siambr Bridge No 45 and : Canoes on Canal feeder - 10 June 1997

Converted narrowboats

In the 1950s and 60s many former commercial narrowboats and barges were converted for use for private cruising or as hotel boats. They were ideal for large parties but tended to be too big for individuals or the average family group. Many ex working narrowboats were cut in half to make two smaller craft. In recent years the supply of ex working boats has almost vanished and our holiday narrowboats are being constructed by numerous steel narrowboat builders throughout the country.


Dutch Barge (Wide beam)

Originally these were Dutch working barges as the name implies but today many are used, and often built, solely for pleasure use. These steel boats can be seen on most of our rivers and on wide canals. Several trade as hotel boats on the Thames and other waterways.


Hotel Boat (wide)

Between Kennet and Avon Canal: Devizes Top Lock No 50 and :  Harlequin - 26 June 1999
Between Kennet and Avon Canal: Devizes Top Lock No 50 and : Harlequin - 26 June 1999

Hotel Boats (narrow)

A narrowboat, or more often a pair of narrowboats, providing hotel accomodation for guests. These operate all over the waterways system, not only on the narrow canals, as shorter pairs, like Ashby and Calden or Bittel and Earlswood, can penetrate every part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and even into the Rochdale Canal. Hotel narrow boats are also frequently seen on the Thames from the tidal stretches at Limehouse to the upper limit of navigation. It may be summised that accommodation on narrowboats is more confined than on a wide Hotelboat but they continue to be very popular. If you want to know why just look at a traditionally painted pair with shinning brasswork and pots of flowers, there are no more attractive craft on our waterways. Avon: Bath Hotel boats at Pultney weir - 2 August 1997
Avon: Bath Hotel boats at Pultney weir - 2 August 1997

Narrow Beam Cruiser (centre cockpit)

A narrow beam pleasure boat in the style of a river or coastal cruiser steered from a centre cockpit, normally by a wheel, with in-board or out-board motor. Originally built with wooded hulls now more commonly Glass Re-enforced Plastic. Narrow cruisers have to conform to narrowboat dimensions to pass the locks and bridgeholes of the narrow canals. Narrow-beam cruisers frequently have outboard motors.


Narrow Beam Cruiser (rear cockpit)

A narrow beam pleasure boat in the style of a river or coastal cruiser steered from the rear cockpit, normally by a wheel, with in-board or out-board motor. Originally built with wooded hulls now more commonly Glass Re-enforced Plastic. Narrow cruisers have to conform to narrowboat dimensions to pass the locks and bridgeholes of the narrow canals. Narrow-beam cruisers frequently have outboard motors.


Narrow Beam Dutch Barge

A version of a Dutch Barge built with a narrow, 7 foot, beam for pleasure cruising on the English Canals. Like other narrowboats they are steel built, often by the same boat builders who make traditional style narrowboats.


Narrow Boat (Cruiser Style)

A narrow beam pleasure boat with a aft deck of sufficient size to accomodate several people, as opposed to the "Traditional" style that has only room for a steerer on the aft deck. This was probably the earliest style to be built when canal boat building for the pleasure cruising market started to take off in the 1960s and 70s. It has proved very popular with both owners and hirer although its once dominant position has declined in recent years. Many of the older boats are still in use proving the durability of the steel narrowboat. The older boats were normally built with 6mm thick bottoms, 4mm hull sides and 3mm superstructures - or 6/4/3 as it is often quoted - the equivalent normal thicknesses for narrowboats built today is 10/6/5.Avon: Bath Bath Locks - 30 July 1997
Avon: Bath Bath Locks - 30 July 1997

Narrow Boat (Semi Traditional)

A narrow beam pleasure boat built to mimic the traditional style of the Working Narrow Boat but with a "false" rear cabin that allows more standing space at the aft of the boat. This is a cross between the "Traditional" and the "Cruiser Style" Narrowboats. Like other modern sleel narrowboats they are normally built with 10mm thick bottoms, 6mm hull sides and 5mm superstructures - or 10/6/5 as it is often quoted - the equivalent normal thicknesses for narrowboats built 20 years ago was 6/4/3. Many of these older boats are still in use proving the durability of the steel narrowboat. River Nene: Doddington Lock No 11 Lorna-Ann moored well out from the Nene bankside - 13 September 1994
River Nene: Doddington Lock No 11 Lorna-Ann moored well out from the Nene bankside - 13 September 1994

Narrow Boat (Traditional)

A narrow beamed pleasure cruiser with a cabin close to the stern of the boat, in imitation of the Working Narrow Boats used for commercial carrying. Like other modern sleel narrowboats they are normally built with 10mm thick bottoms, 6mm hull sides and 5mm superstructures - or 10/6/5 as it is often quoted - the equivalent normal thicknesses for narrowboats built 20 years ago was 6/4/3. Many of these older boats are still in use proving the durability of the steel narrowboat.


Pleasure punt

The modern pleasure punt is a flat bottomed boat usually, but not always, propelled by a pole or quant. It is normally 26 to 28 feet long, 33 inches in the beam and 12 to 14 inches deep. This craft is especailly associated with the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, where they can be seen in large numbers, but is also popular on many other waterways. River Thames: Henley Bridge Punt - 16 September 1996
River Thames: Henley Bridge Punt - 16 September 1996

Pleasure steamer

In the second half the nineteenth century the increased earnings of much of society and the access to railway travel were two of the many factors which lead to a demand boating excursions, especially rivers. Individuals and families took to the water and there were also organised church, school trips and works outings. Pleasure steamers, partly covered over but with plenty of viewing space and seats facing both inwards and outwards, often at two or more levels, were built to meet this demand. Such craft were either of clinker or carvel build and constructed to the dimensions of locks on the waterways over which they usually travelled. They were well raked fore and aft, often with a transom or counter stern, on the lines of a pleasure yacht. There were regular summer services on most navigable rivers, especially the Thames, Severn, Dee, Dart and Warwickshire Avon. On the Thames Salter Brothers of Oxford started their first Oxford to Kingston service in the 1880s. After the Second World War services on all waterways began to decline and the remaining steamers were replaced by boats with diesel engines.


Racing punt

A flat bottomed boat propelled by a pole or quant, with greater overhang of the swim-ends than the original punt that was used for fishing inland waters. It was about 30 feet long, 18 inches in the beam and 6 to 7 inches deep. Some, however, were up to 35 feet. They could be propelled at almost incredible speeds, the serious skills of punting being much more difficult than they appear at first.


Resaurant Boat

These come in various shapes and sizes and can be found on most inland navigations. They offer meals either while moored, or more usually, while cruising. Their numbers have increased in recent years as eating out has become more and more popular.


Semi-racing punt

A flat bottomed boat about 28 and 30 feet long, 2 feet in the beam and 9 inches deep. This is a smaller version of the racing punt.


Trail Boat

Small cruisers or narrow beam canal boats designed to be transported by road and launched on a slipway. Often of GRP and aluminium construction. One well known type of trail boat are the Wilderness Boats which have their own owners club. There are also trail boat rallies held each year usually on a waterway cut off from the main system.


 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
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