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WHAT HULL SIZE OR TYPE?

Canal boats come in all shapes and sizes. Designed originally to maximise load carrying capacity on the commercial waterways, little has changed in the last 200 years with respect to overall dimensions.

Here we explore the options available to us as leisure users with specific regards to the external shell of the boat.

A question for many is whether or not there are any standards to which canal boat shells should be built to. The short answer is yes there are and this is what the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD), introduced in the late 1990‘s, attempts to set out.

Revised in 2003 to include personal craft, the RCD is intended to harmonise the safety requirements related to the design & construction of boats across Europe. It applies to new and second hand recreational craft from 8ft (2.5m) to 78ft (24m) in length, personal watercraft, marine propulsion engines and components placed on the market for the first time after 1998. For more information see our in depth guide to the RCD in the Testing & Certification chapter.
There are as many different types of hull design as there are canal boat builders. The canal boat  was originally constructed to fit the design limitations of the waterways upon which it operated. Many modern constructions pay homage to these craft of yesteryear with design  references to historic styles of bow, stern and cabin sides. We cover all areas introduced below in more technical detail in the Shell & Integral Parts chapter.

What looks good is purely subjective but there are some less obvious influences on the price and overall quality of the finished article which you would perhaps like to look out for.
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