The DBA Knowledgebase contains  articles written by members or composed from comments by members in the Forum.   

Some articles give hard fact - like those about Regulations.    Other subjects have no single answers, so the article may be a selection of comments from the Forum that would be hard to find otherwise.  With boats, there are often many 'right' answers to a question.

Browsing and searching the Knowledgebase is reserved for DBA members except for the section on 'Buying a Barge'. Prospective barge buyers will also find answers to many questions in our Barge Buyers Handbook, on sale in the DBA shop.

Waterways Guide        Suppliers Directory

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If you can contribute, please do - with a complete artivcle or just a scrap of information to add to an existing article.    If you are researching a topic for yourself, send your notes to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who will review and format it for publication.

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Buying a barge can be a difficult process - first, deciding what you would like to have, to suit all-year living or occasional holidays, for permanent mooring or frequent travel, ready for use or a conversion project or built to order.  Then looking at the old or new-build barges available in the area you prefer - or wider afield for more choice.  Then, unless you are able to specify exactly what you want in a new-build or conversion, the hard compromise between what you thought you wanted and what suits your pocket and what you would be content with.

Some people will buy an old hull, for its traditional shape and history and refit it to their specification; some prefer have a new-build boat to their exact specifications.  Others will be looking for a barge which can be used immediately - but it will almost certainly need alterations or improvements in the equipment or accommodation to suit your needs.

The cost of a barge is as predictable as the length of a piece of string.  A browse through the Apollo Duck web site and the DBA Adverts is a good way to gauge the sort of barges available, the range of prices and the areas where barges can be found.

The articles in this section of the DBA Knowledgebase are open to guests on the web site, to encourage you to join the 1500+ DBA members with over 800 barges, who enjoy life on the water in a barge.  These articles are just an introduction.  The DBA Barge Buyers Handbook has been written by DBA members to give more detailed advice. The DBA website,  in particular the Knowledgebase and Forum give access to years of experience of current members, with a wide variety of different barges, uses and locations.

More articles can be seen by DBA members than by guests...

Information about training available for handling and navigating a barge and using and maintaining its equipment.

You can entirely legally buy a 30m barge and take it up the Thames as far as the locks will let you, amongst swimmers, rowers and thousands of plastic boats, or indeed anywhere in UK with no steerer's training or qualificatIons at all. 

DBA recommends you don't do that! We encourage every barge steerer to take appropriate training, and get suitable qualifications, before taking the helm.  There are several different courses available in the Suppliers Directory and it's worth studying the adverts in Blue Flag.

It's different in mainland Europe. Each country has its own qualifications requirement.   The boat and its equipment are also subject to regulations, mainly pertaining to the safety of the crew and other waterway users.

The regulations which affect boat users, the ship and its equipment and the skipper’s qualifications can be confusing. This section aims to give an overview of the most important points, without getting bogged down in too much detail.

The Boat

This section summarises the regulations that affect the boat and its equipment. It covers the CEVNI, TRIWV, RAINWAT, BSS and other regulations and AIS.

The Skipper

This outlines the qualifications required of the skipper (or someone on board) for various size craft in the commonly visited countries.

VHF Radio

This section covers the requirements of both boat and skipper for VHF Radio equipment and licensing.

For those who need more detail, there are links to the definitive legislation in each section 

Barges are subject to many national and international regulations. This section aims to give a clear picture of them and links to more detail.

Skippers have to be qualified! This section gives details.

You must be licenced to use a VHF in most countries and the set must conform to standards. This section gives details.

Below are genral articles about travelling the waterways.

 Detailed information about the waterways of individual Countries or areas can be found under 'Cruising in' on the menu.   Articles about life in various countries can be found under  'Living In;.

Below are all the articles giving information about the waterways of individual countries., with advice and links to sources of information.   

You can select individual countries on the menu, under Knowledgebase / Cruising / Cruising In.    Advice on life and living in various countries can be found in the 'Living In' section 


Good communications are important to a barge on the move - for requesting lock or bridge opening and access to harbours, for talking to other boats and of course for personal connections with friends and news.

This section of the Knowledgebase explains the (sometimes mandatory) radio equipment for a barge and how bargeees on the move, can access telephones and the internet.

VHF Radio & ATIS

Useful, some would say essential, on any boat to communicate with bridges, locks, ports and other boats. A VHF radio is mandatory on larger boats and in some areas for smaller boats

Boats with VHF in most countries must have a Ships Radio Licence and someone onboard must have a personal VHF Operators Certificate. All radios on inland waterways are also required to work in ATIS mode  


AIS (automatic Identification System) is not really a communication facility but a system for boats to 'see' each other's position. It is included here particularly to distinguish it from ATIS and because an AIS receiver is included in some more expensive VHF radios.


Many boaters want TV onboard - and prefer to watch English-language TV rather than whatever thay can pick up locally.  This generally means a satellite dish. This section describes the options, relates other members experience and gives useful links. 


Mobile phones are almost essential equipment onboard, like VHF, for communications with some bridges, locks or water way staff.  The Somme river operates totally by phone; VNF staff are often more (or only) accessible by phone; occasionally in Belgium or Holland you will meet a bridge or lock needing a phone call to get operated.  And of course they are useful for keeping in touch with friends and family- and the internet. This section discusses various options for equipment. Given the number of phone services, the rate at which they change and they wide variety of uses, it would be futile to try recommending specific phone services.

Mobile Internet Best Buys

The options for economic internet access, for tablets and PCs or just smartphones, are far fewer than for voice calls.  This section aims to maintain an uptodate list of the best-value Internet services reported by members.  

Internet Boosters

Various gadgets are available for boosting WiFi or mobile phone signals. Members suggestions are described here.

Electrical systems - Batteries, Chargers, Inverters, Generators.....

The mechanical systems on a barge, including the engine, drive, steering, tanks and gas installations.

Hull, deck fittings, paint and external equipment.

Internal fittings and equipment in a barge's accommodation areas.

Barge & Photo News

For pages in the KB menu system that aren't articles, just headers, with links