Dutchboat bannercru

Readers of the EuroCanals Guides sometimes ask me about this subject. It’s of course highly subjective, as “beauty (and functionality) is in the eye of the beholder”. But I post this picture because, to me at least, I think it is the perfect canal cruiser, besides being handsome

It is certainly a Dutch steel-hull boat, but I haven’t been able to see anything like it in the used-boat ads so that I could identify it. I got the photo from a batch sent to me by a reader and he only snapped it while passing by, no one was around to ask. I can only hope that the owner might view my website someday and write to me. In the meantime I will support my choice of “The Perfect Canal Cruiser” with specific comments; I invite counter arguments.

It’s small: Maybe too small for a lot of people, but my wife and I generally travel as just the two of us and our two dachshunds. And because we are researching the waterways, we want to be able to travel almost everywhere and find overnight moorings easily. The smaller the boat, the more waterways and moorings can accommodate the boat. I have measured the photo and can make some estimates:

Length: 10 meters. There are many boat clubs, especially those in Germany, that welcome visiting boats but limit the length to 10m or less, as that is what the docks have been built to handle.

Water draft: Less than 1 meter. Mooring places, and the harbor around them, are often shallow, either when built or after they have been silted over the years. The less draft the better.

Air draft: Between 2.5 and 3.0 meters, to the top of the splash panel in front of the exterior helm. 2.5m would be perfect. The lowest fixed bridge in France is 2.70m, at Bazolles on the Loire side of the Canal du Nivernais. Most bridges in France are fixed; in the Netherlands there are a great many bridges lower than this, but they are lift-bridges which open on demand or on a schedule.

Beam: This boat looks fairly wide, 3.5 to 4.0 meters. A broad boat is more comfortable inside. But it needs to be less than 5.0 meters, the common width of most locks in France.

Two helm stations: This boat certainly has an exterior helm station, and it is well elevated. This is important for the view ahead while underway, but it also counts when you want to see over the higher berms alongside the canal, as in this photo. There is probably a second helm station in the central cabin, for use during inclement weather or in open waters.

Interior: This boat certainly has an aft cabin to accommodate two people, with either a single bed along each side or a transverse double bed. The central cabin will have a dining table and benches or chairs. The forward cabin probably has a WC, hopefully with a shower wand also, on the starboard side (see that small round porthole?) and most likely the cooking area, with perhaps a dinette that can convert into a double bunk.

Exterior: Central doors, perhaps one on each side, allow quick access from the cabin to handle lines in a lock. There are reasonably wide walkways along the side decks and at the bow, making access good. Being small and with this good access, this might be an excellent boat for single-handed cruising (which is technically against the regulations in most countries, but commonly done successfully.)

This boat is not made for large groups or onboard entertaining, but in the photo there’s a picnic table in the background for 6 or 8 people, isn’t there?

Tom Sommers

Posted on September 15, 2015
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The Perfect Canal Cruiser