As mentioned in the previous post, the main advantage of steel construction is its strength. On the down side, steel tends to rust and thus requires regular painting. It is also relatively heavy which impacts on the required engine power and boat speed.
GRP on the other hand is light, and has been used in boat construction for many years. It is long lasting, easy to maintain and repairs are relatively easy. Aging GRP that has lost its lustre can be refinished with modern high performance paints.
The disadvantage here is the tendency to osmotic blistering, but if it is encountered it can be treated.
GRP boats tend to be less well insulated, resulting in high levels of condensation.
Condensation though, can also be a problem in steel craft, and has to be dealt with anyway, using appropriate ventilation.
One must not forget wooden construction. I personally do not favour this, as it requires too much attention and continuous, often expensive, maintenance. Although I must admit a well maintained, traditional classic wooden craft always looks magnificent.

GRP Penichette

 The first picture shows the plastic penichette style boat which we hired on the Du Midi Canal in 2009. She was a lovely little boat – somewhat compact inside – but more than adequate for the two of us for the ten days. She handled well, with just the one engine.

The Penichette is the trademark name of this type, and it is actually a GRP version of the original peniche, which is a steel Dutch style barge. It is a favourite among hire companies, and we chartered from Locaboat who have a range of different type and size Penichettes for hire, on most of the European waterways.

I can certainly recommend them for anyone interested in doing this sort of holiday.

Expect more on France and the Du Midi in future posts.

GRP twin engined power cruiser

The next photo shows another plastic boat – the twin engined cruiser we chartered in Croatia a few years ago.
She was the same length as our penichette, but had 2 much larger engines giving her a cruising speed of about 15 knots.
We needed this as the distances we wanted to cover were much greater – there are some 1200 islands off the coast of Croatia, covering a distance of about 230 nautical miles.
In our 2 weeks, we covered 250 miles, from Zadar down towards Dubrovnik and back.

Of course, this sort of power and speed is pointless on the canals. The speed limit is generally about 6 knots anyway, and half the pleasure is travelling slowly and enjoying the countryside and scenery.
For the non nautically minded, 1 knot is 1 nautical mile per hour which equals 1.1 land miles per hour or 1.8 kilometres per hour.
Thus 6 knots is about 7 miles per hour which is a bit faster than walking pace.

Dutch Steel Cruiser


The last photo is of a Dutch Steel Motor Cruiser. Dutch built boats have a very good reputation, and their style of boat is very popular, and ideal for inland and coastal cruising. This particular one is a Pedro Skirion, but there are several
similar designs – Altena, Stevens and Linssen to name but a few, the latter being the ‘Rolls Royce’ of Dutch cruisers.
I cant possibly afford a Linssen, so the Stevens and the Pedro are my favourites at the moment!

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