Shiver me timbers! Ok, so there is a good chance that when you embarked on your canal boat journey, you didn’t think you’d be ‘walking the plank’. However, depending on your style of boating adventure you might be required to do just that. Hopefully the destination will be the pub, not Davey Jones’ locker! In this article we are going to talk about the humble narrowboat gangplank, why you might need one maybe even offer a few suggestions about where you can get one.
Do I Need a Narrowboat Gangplank?
Well the answer is that depends.
You may be thinking that it’s easy enough to get on and off a canal boat. And sometimes that is true. If you are in a residential marina full time then it is no different than getting up and over your doorstep.
The problem comes when you are cruising. You’ll be mooring up in different areas. There’ll be high banks, low banks and it would be a shame to be unable to easily egress your boat if you are in a busy area and there are slim pickings on the easiest moorings.
You are a 6-foot biped who can easily stretch and step. But what about if you have brought a four-legged friend along for the ride? Getting a dog up onto a high bank might only be a case of hefting them up a few feet onto the bank. But the real snag comes in getting them down. What are you going to do, suspend them by the collar? Throw them? Either of these solutions is certainly not the done thing. Leaning with 30kgs of thrashing chocolate Labrador over the side is a recipe for a bad back at the very best.
So, it’s fair to say that if you are cruising and have pets (or even small children) then a gangplank is actually a little bit of a necessity.
How to store a gangplank on a narrowboat?
Ok, so we know space is at a premium on a canal boat. However, one thing is has going for it is that it has several long thin flat areas. Such as the roof or alongside your cabin. Storing even the most basic of gangplanks shouldn’t really be an issue.
If you are worried about storage then, very shortly, we’ll show you some really great solutions!
What to look for in a canal boat gangplank?
Well there are some things which are super obvious and one or two things that might need a little consideration.
The first thing that you absolutely must make sure of is that your gangplank can bear your weight. Don’t be offended. A bit of ‘bend and flex’ is ok. A bit of ‘break’ is not. At the very best you are going to end up taking an early bath, at worse we suppose it could be quite dangerous, especially as you are likely to be using one in areas that have high banks.
Whilst talking weight we also need to consider the weight of the gangplank itself. It must be hardy enough to support you, but not give you a bad back or cause you to despair every time it comes to deploy it, so something lightweight yet strong will fit the bill.
Hand in hand with weight bearing comes grip. With both the UK weather and canals you have to accept that things may get a little ‘damp’ from time to time. Water and foot fall make for something becoming really slippery really quickly, especially with mud from towpaths. Look for features that will ensure a good grip.
Also consider width. You’re here to have a good time and to be able to get on and off your canal boat easily. Not replicate the beam gymnastic event at the London Olympics! The wider your gangplank, the easier it will be… especially if you have been to the dog and duck for a sharpener.
All of the above considered. You have to be a little pragmatic in terms of gangplanks. Otherwise we’d just carry around a door as the ideal solution. Things such as folding sections and means of securing the gangplank are absolute godsends when it comes to choosing the best gangplanks for canal boats.
Choosing a narrowboat gangplank
Well let’s give you some suggestions. We’ll start simple and then work our way up to some surprising solutions.
The Scaffolders board/plank
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Granted this will be hardy enough to bear your weight (well we’d like to think so considering where they are normally used). They are relatively lightweight and easy to store. But let’s be honest they are just a little bit budget. If you want some other classier ideas, how’s about…
- Motorcycle aluminium folding loading ramps with perforated grip system.
- Suitable for motorcylcles and bikes up to 340kg in weight.
- Slightly curved for improved ground clearance. Lightweight for easy handling.
- 2290mm x 330mm x 7.4kg Maximum load height: 685mm
- Please note: These ramps are unsuitable for single axle machinery or vehicles.
Strong? Check! Grippy? Check! Wide? Check. Well according to our above requirements this fits the bill rather nicely. It even looks good. The thing we really like about this bit of kit is that it folds away to half the size. It is constructed from perforated aluminium so you don’t have to worry about corrosion. And it weighs 7kg, which is 40% lighter than a similar sized scaffold board.
- Werkapro offers you this folding ramp to load your trailer or van without getting tired.
- The folding loading ramp is robust and fits perfectly to the floor of your trailer thanks to its long sills and cut ground angles for greater stability.
- You can easily mount your lawn mower, quad bike, or motorcycle in the trailer. Fold the ramps and store them without damaging your hands with the carry handles.
- Follow the rules of the road code in terms of weight and size of your cargo. In case of exceedance, report using a headlight or beacon. Secure your cargo with securely attached straps.
- Ramp length: 1.6 m - Width of ramp: 22.5 cm - Load capacity: 200 kg per ramp - Stable and robust - Corrosion resistant galvanised steel - Floor angle cut - Non-slip design - Folds with a carry handle on each ramp - Fits all types of trailers - Sold per unit
Another ‘gangplank’ for a canal boat that is actually pretty perfect. It will bear a weight of up to 200kg. It also features grooves ensuring that you are not going to slip or slid at the wrong moment. We love that this has a bit of a ‘lip’ on each end. The best bit is the carry handle and the fact I folds down to 80cm long. Small enough to keep in your cabin!
- OPEN LENGTH: 89"
- FOLDED LENGTH: 46"
- WIDTH: 11"
- MAX LOAD: 340Kg
- WEIGHT: 7.4Kg / COLOUR: Silver
This little beauty is just under 4ft long when fully folded meaning you are going to get 8ft of premium gangplank action when extended. It is similar in style to our ATV suggestion and weighs pretty much the same. One really nice feature is that the durable aluminium is ‘slotted’ to allow drainage, so no standing water! We’d take this over a plain old plank any day!
So you might have to go outside the world of boats to find one, but a narrowboat gangplank is necessary. Whether you choose to go cheap and head down the route of scaffold board or fancy a little ‘treat’ with a trendy portable ramp we wish you the best of luck wherever you moor up.