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Buying a second hand boat

...firstly, does size matter? We are planning to buy a boat soon, with a view to liveaboard soon - 2 of us.. 60foot about right? We want to travel all over the UK canal system....also 5 top things to look for when buying a boat? We will obviously have a survey. Thanks All!

Asked by: sue   | 4.14pm, Friday 11 March

WW says:

The limit on the L&L is actually 62ft for a narrowboat. 60ft will fit on most canals, though there are some locks (Linton on the Ouse) that are a no-go. 60ft goes into the calder and hebble locks, though the hudds broad is a much tighter fit (which is where my 60ft is based)
However, for lots of good advice, I would suggest you buy the new and revised Inland Boat Owners book, which gives lots of useful information about lock sizes, etc.
I would also strongly recommend the book "living afloat" from the residential boaters association (www.rboa.org.uk). It is not a light undertaking!

Mark Langley  | 4.39PM, Saturday 12 March

Readers say:

The optimum size is around 57 ft. We opted for a fraction over 60 foot and last year I did the Leeds & Liverpool which has a limit of 60ft; it was tight and needed me to be first in and move over behind a closed gate going up and move out from behind a closed gate on the way down. Not always easy especially if you are single handed (as I was). Going down you will be in trouble if you don't have an efficient bilge pump because many top gates leak like as sieve and you need to be right back on the cill when you manouver the boat out from behind the bottom gate.
Fun and challenging but I wouldn't do it again singlehanded. I am told that other canals in that are which are limited to 57-58 foot will take a 60ft boat if you go into the lock diagonally but after my experience on the L&L last year I wouldn't want to try that unless I was prepared to reverse back out again because I found locks in a 'same-size' flight often vary in size because the height of the cill varies and this can dramatically affect how much working space you have to maneouver. This means you could get through, say a couple of locks, and then find the next is impassable and you have to reverse back out through the previous ones. Not my idea of fun.

Will Chapman  | 6.26AM, Saturday 12 March

Thanks...have ordered the rcommended boat on Living Afloat!

sue   | 12.59PM, Thursday 17 March

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