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
  • Registration
  • 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:

Information resources

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

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

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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