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Steering a Wide Beam Narrow Boat.

We are summer time live aboards, dont like the cold.... but are very interested in trading up to a Wide Beam and would value any comments from Wide Beam owners about the steering ( Handling of such beasts)relative to a narrow Boat

Asked by: Mark Meopham  | 2.05pm, Monday 7 May

WW says:

Having over the years handled a wide variety of boats, widebeam craft vary widely in their handling!
Narrowboat-style tiller steering is very direct and many boats in this category handle quite well- others handle like a vaguely pointed floating brick...! Wide beam boats are easy to handle on open wider waters, but can become a challenge on canals where they are pushing the limits, like a 70ft by 12ft boat on the Grand Union- plus having to pre-book tunnel passage etc.
Wheel steered boats are very different to handle- again some respond positively while others are very sluggish. Dutch-barge styled boats can be good to helm but can be challenging in more constricted waterways. Steering from inside a wheelhouse is generally less precise than from outside in the open.
Whatever boat you get, try as many as you can yourself. Some of the companies that specialise in wide beam boats will often let you try a couple of styles- see how you get on handling in marinas, coming alongside a bank, through bridges and around locks. That is the best way to find out if you like the way they handle- and think carefully which waterways you want to be based on as this may affect your choice of widebeam more than anything else.

Mark Langley  | 7.12AM, Tuesday 8 May

One other poInt is that, on canals at least, your cruising speed will often be much slower than a Narrowboat- often not more than tickover, as you take up a large proportion of the available channel. Going much faster can result in wash or poor handling as the stern site down into the mud, depending on the canal.

Mark Langley  | 7.15AM, Tuesday 8 May

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