The boating fraternity takes a narrow view

I agree with Hugh Pearman’s view about the boating industry being stuck in the past (DW 15 May). There are those who commission very individual boats, but such a step carries huge risks.

Function is paramount. Canals are rough places for a boat and they must be extremely strong and fit in the 20m x 2m infrastructure. The ideal hull, therefore, has to be very similar to that perfected by our Victorian predecessors.

Boats cost a shedload of cash and, as with houses, you always have to consider the resale value. If you own what most people like, you will sell it easily but if you go for a unique ‘Grand Designs’ approach you can easily lose thousands overnight. Boats tend to be used as floating holiday homes either out and about on the canals or staying on their moorings. If you are using a boat as an alternative to a fixed holiday home there is no reason why you shouldn’t use all those goodies in the chandlery to make it a home from home.

Steel barges are ideally suited to their environment and many hanker for a nostalgic look. There is nothing stopping innovative design – look through the back editions of Waterways World. However, the sad fact is that yesterday’s award-winning design often becomes tomorrow’s white elephant.

Andy Tidy, by e-mail

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