For over a century now lock sizes in France have been standardised at 38 meters long and 5.1 meters wide.
In order to maximise profit, most of the barges built since the beginning of the century have adopted these dimensions in the construction of their boats and are subsequently referred to as of the 'Freycinet' type.
They fill the locks and when converted make good hotel barges but are really too large to make private cruising boats.
Most converted barges are based on Dutch barge hulls as these tend to be more modest in size and finer in their shape than their French equivalents.
The Dutch boats were also built to take the ground even when loaded as most harbours in Holland used to be tidal. This means that they are built strongly with frames not only across the hull but also lengthwise down the bottom of the ships.The hulls are also generally built thicker than the French boats as French boats needed to be lighter to enable them to carry more cargo. They are almost all built of iron and rivetted.
There are many different types of hull shape such as haagenaars, klippers, klipperaak, aak, etc but the most popular conversions are based on tjalks and luxemotors.
Luxemotors were built as early as 1915 but most of them were built in the 1920's. They were built as motor boats with no sails. The shape of the hull was designed to make the boat move with the small powered engines available at the time, and water arrives well at the propellor.
These boats make hardly any stern wave and indeed a 25 meter barge will usually do its cruising speed of 7 knots with very little power.
They were called 'luxe' motors as unlike the boats built before them, they had a proper raised cabin built behind the wheelhouse with luxuries like windows! They are very manageable and make excellent and elegant conversions.
Pronounced 'challuk'. Very popular dutch clog shape. Originally sailing boats with engines added later. Their shape makes for roomy conversions with
bulbous bows and stern.
This gives them much bouyancy and it is essential to ballast the boat well to avoid too much 'skating' as the boats were originally fitted with leebords either side.
There are many ex-rental cruisers for sale on the second hand market both in steel and fibreglass. These are excellent boats specifically designed
for the waterways, although they may need some work in removing beds and bedrooms.
In the rental market prices are based on the number of berths but for private use more space needs to be given to 'living' rather than sleeping.
This is an economical way of discovering the canals although these boats are not always well insulated and are unsuitable for year round use.