Join us as we put our theory into practice! We have designed and built a luxury modern 69x11ft Widebeam. So, if you are considering having a narrow boat built, building one yourself or interested in seeing the entire internal and external build process of a canal boat, we hope that by sharing our experience you pick up some invaluable and practical information along the way.

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Build Diary… An Introduction

Here is a complete and comprehensive build diary of our 69 x 11ft widebeam beginning at the planning stages, when we outlined our personal boat/equipment requirements. The diary then looks the design process we went through including initial drawings and sketches through to scaled drawings and specification information. We even created and included within this diary what we believe to be the first Professional 3D Computer Generated Animation which takes the design visualisation to a whole new level!

The diary progresses to a photo/text journal, from covering the complete steelwork fabrication, sand blasting and spray painting, right through to the internal fit out, finishing off with the delivery/crane lift at our mooring location.

Every step of the way is covered here and we’re delighted to be able to show you the highs and lows of the entire build – a bit like ‘Grand Designs’ on water.

This process was both exciting and scary and taught us a great deal of information which, in turn, has been invaluable for creating this website and will hopefully help many people looking to buy or fit out or even improve their existing boat.

We hope you enjoy exploring our journey in creating, what we can now safely say, is our dream boat.

The Buying Process… Decisions, Decisions!

Boat Size Requirements

Our boat size requirements were not far off the largest widebeams possible. Two governing factors saw the final boat dimensions reduce from 72x12ft down to 69x11ft.

Beam Considerations

Moorings ideally were to be found off the local rivers (Trent & Soar) and on the local canal (Trent & Mersey) for this reason 11ft was deemed to be the most manageable cruising beam. 12ft was possible but very tight through some Trent & Mersey Canal Bridges, especially when positioned on bends. Comments made over time had filtered down to me that longer 12ft beamed boaters literally have to get off their boats and walk them through with the ropes when confronted with the worst of these particular bridges.

Length Considerations

72ft could possibly be deemed the maximum length but this would have left literally no spare room within some of the locks encountered on the Trent & Mersey Canal and Lock Cill clearance near on nothing so a length short of 70ft was going to be more realistic and manageable.

Target Audience Considerations

The boat was to be designed and built to accommodate as many different requirements as possible hopefully through clever use of both space and design. Being a widebeam, generally speaking the boat was going to appeal to the residential market and hopefully accommodate the needs of the following markets

  • Professional individual
  • Professional couple
  • Potentially a retired couple
  • Single child family
  • Couple planning/expecting a baby with nursery requirements
  • Self-employed individual/couple requiring one or two sizeable working areas.
  • Fully equipped for constant cruising residential users

Nothing like a wide brief for a relatively small area!!

Research Prior To Placing An Order

As far as boat builder research was concerned I had regularly attended The Crick Boat Show. Subscribed to the major magazines for several years and been aware which boat builders had featured and advertised within them. Endless hours were spent over my 10 years canal boating trawling through websites/forums for information on all sorts of canal boat related information. Finally it’s amazing what you hear over 10 years on the canal system, plenty of comments with substance and equally lots without. All these are valuable tools that started to form a potential boat builder shortlist.

Key Boat Builder Requirements

I knew in an ideal world, several particulars would have to be accommodated for me to place an order. These are general topics which at this stage was all they needed to be:

  • Value for money – Not necessarily being the cheapest
  • Electrical set up ideally suited for constant cruising
  • Bespoke solution – accommodation
  • Modern contemporary style and feel to builders boat
  • Fixed clear pricing prior to engaging with the design process
  • BMF, CE, RCD Accredited
  • Large spec/on board inclusive equipment
  • Established boat builder and fitter

Crick Boat Show 2012

When it came to placing the order for the widebeam The Crick Boat Show was to be the final decider. I had several companies equally catching my attention. I needed swaying one way or another and felt Crick was, at the time the most efficient and probable way for this to happen.

I spent the whole of Saturday at the show, arriving before it had even officially opened for the day! As per usual the weather was not the best. This did not cause a problem I still managed to get around all the boat builders on the shortlist. I have to say the boat builders had come up with some rather interesting concepts some perhaps more suited for an exhibition as opposed to a working design but absolutely showed off what the boat builders were capable of and how they were pushing the design boundaries further than ever before. To pick a perfect example, fake bookshelves that were in fact doors through to different rooms brought a feeling of 007 to the boat building industry.

As planned I left the show without placing an order. I didn’t want to jump into anything without a least sleeping on it for a night. A night had passed and bearing i mind earlier shortlisted topics for choosing a widebeam boat builder. One company was now looking favourite of receiving the order.

Placing The Order

I arranged to meet the manager of the choosen boat building company back at Crick, post show, just before they had left the site. I spent about an hour and a half running through a list of questions I had drawn up for him to answer, clarify and reassure. The manager was a very relaxed and confident his company would provide me with the exact boat I was looking for. Me being me, I was concerned! Thinking it’s very easy to say this with a large order on the cards. There was no doubt about it this boat was potentially the perfect for me and my requirements; I was just concerned dealing with such a large order value. The long and short of this meeting eventually lead me to placing a £2000 non-refundable deposit, securing a build slot.

I then compiled a list of further questions and we meet again before I signed the BMF contract and committed seriously to the order. So after three meetings some emails and placing a certain amount of faith I placed the order officially and signed the BMF contract.

Buying Process

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crick boat show 2024

(Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May 2024)


Britain's biggest inland waterways show.

Advance tickets can be ordered by phone and online until 12midday on Friday 17 May 2024. If you are planning to purchase advance tickets, we recommend that you do so well before this deadline to allow time for postal delivery.
Children 16 and under – free entry Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Trade & Preview Day – Friday 24 May 2024
Get ahead and visit The Fit Out Pontoon before everyone else on Preview Day!
Preview Day tickets are strictly limited to a maximum of 1,000 pre-booked visitors and give entry to the Show from 10am – 6pm on Friday 24 May.