Looking for a barge 2

Things to consider - continued.........


Basically on-board water is pumped around the boat from water tanks.

An adequate size main water is important (500 litres minimum?)

Types of toilets to consider

Sea toilet

Electric flush

Cassette toilet (porta-potti type)

Holding tank (needs pumping out periodically)

Macerator (low voltage or mains voltage)

**Is the flush water sourced from on-board tanks or externally**

Pumps, for example - main water supply, shower waste, bilge, deck wash


A well insulated boat will be more economical heating-wise – and warmer

Condensation can cause literally gallons of water in the bilge

Spray-foam may well be the best (make sure it's fire retardant / self-extinguishing) but it's difficult to install retrospectively

Others types are rock-wool (which is non-flamable) or polystyrene (not recommended)

Layout and level of internal finish

This can vary!

One thing to consider is having easy access to plumbing, electrics or under floor for maintenance for the addition or replacement of components (EG taps or shower drain pump).

Access to parts of the boat (engine room for example) is important

Position of windows / port-holes. Large, low-level are better for light and seeing out.

A walk-round bed?

Double-glazed or single-glazed widows? There's no right or wrong

Opening windows / roof hatches for ventilation


How does the boat handle?

This will depend on factors such as:

Hull shape

Size of rudder

Keel fins

Lee boards

Engine power

Well-geared steering - which may be hydraulic or chain and wire

Visibility from steering position


(Only people who don't have them don't like bow-thrusters! But in a cross wind while waiting for a lock or manoeuvring in a tight space they can be very helpful.)

You should have a test drive to see what happens!

Running costs

Fundamentally the bigger the boat, the more it costs. Costs include:

Cruising licence


Mooring fees

Routine mechanical maintenance / servicing including:



Central heating boiler

Sundry equipment (pumps for example - which do go wrong)

Dry-docking (peiodically, every 4,5 or 6 years for insurance purposes)

Painting / varnishing

Gas / electric costs (ports and marinas can be expensive)

Fuel consumption

Extra equipment

These bits can add up! For example does the boat have:


Boarding planks / Ladders

A tender

Spare parts (filters, fan-belts etc)

Emergency tiller

Boat poles

Mooring stakes

Adequate ropes

Safety equipment

Fire extinguishers / systems

Fire blankets

Smoke, CO, Gas and water alarms

Electronic equipment

VHF Radio

Battery monitor / management systems

Chart plotter


External lights (Navigation lights for example)

The buying process is vitally important

The DBA [Barge Association) is a valuable resource here on such as:

Getting expert advice 

Dealing with brokers / builders

Required Paperwork


The contract

Proof of ownership

The buying process includes:

A Survey


Make sure you engage a reputable marine surveyor who will check hull, engine, systems, drive train and installations.

It may not be cheap but it could literally save you a fortune.



There is a wide variety of barges, differing in size, shape, style, layout and level of equipment.

There are motorized barges, fixed-berth residential barges and sailing barges.

Some are over 150 years old and they differ depending on country of origin.

You could consider a new-build - either complete or a 'sail-away' which can be built to a stage you suggest and complete yourself.

All the above are just pointers - things to consider. I stress you must do your own research.

Looking for a barge, owning one and cruising is a fascinating journey - enjoy it!


Some choices of where to look for barges for sale:

Apollo Duck

Botentekoop (Netherlands)

Bowcrest Marine

Multiships (Netherlands)

The Dutch Barge Association

Fikkers (Netherlands)

Dovemakelar (Netherlands)

H20 (France)


Bourgogne Marine

Fluvial Magazine

Information resources

Probably the best and most extensive place to seek help is:

The Dutch Barge Association - The DBA. (Membership required but an excellent resource)

You will find Information on:






Country by country information


TRIWV (Technical Requirements for Inland Waterways Vessels)


Links to other organisations

** The DBA produce The Barge Buyers Handbook which is a wonderful publication **

Experts in various fields advertise in the DBA's Blue Flag Magazine

TB Training (A host of very useful information)

Nigel Calder - Boat Owners Handbook

Alastair Garrod - 'Electrics Afloat'

Boating magazines

These are just examples – there are many alternatives

I stress again - Do your own research. Good luck!

Feel free to contact me if you wish

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