Dutch Barge Association has a website full of great tips/advice/knowledge: http://www.barges.org
We are new to owning a barge and doing the canals for any length of time. However, we did traverse the French canals twelve years ago on our sailboat for three months.
If you are considering purchasing a barge from Europe and live in a place other than Europe, then we have a bit of an insight to this:
– Spend a LOT of time researching boats prior to flying to Europe to view (I mean at least six months).
– Remember the pictures in the advertisements make the boat look better than it is.
– We thought we’d find something in a few weeks as there are SO MANY boats for sale. Three months later we are almost there (deposit paid, survey to do!)
– You will pay more than you intended for a boat – this is our third boat (2 x sailing, 1 x barge) on all occasions we have gone over our budget.
– In The Netherlands it is easy to find a surveyor and haul out yard when/where you want them.
– In France it is hard (and more expensive than The Netherlands) to find a surveyor and haul out yard where/when you want them.
We will add more tips as we learn more – please feel free to share our advice and share your advice with us all here.