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There are two principal magazines for canal lovers - Canal Boat and Waterways World. I subscribe to the latter, because I came across it first and liked it, but I enjoy reading Canal Boat whenever I can see a copy.
It's on slightly larger paper, but the paper feels slightly less glossy and a bit thinner. Overall, in pages and price, it's very much on a par.
A nice feature is that you get to know the regular contributors well, as each one has a picture and a mini-biography just inside the front cover.
In the issue I most recently read, they were:
Adam Porter - boat tester
David Oakes - photographer
Hugh McKnight - history
Derek Pratt - landscape photographer
Steve Haywood - described as opinionated, informed and entertaining
Mortimer Bones - very brainy and keen on D-I-Y
Tony Brooks - maintenance and technical expert
Phil Speight - renowned boat painter
Nick Wall - editor
Typically, there will be a punchy editorial at the beginning, some boat tests that tell you exactly what the testers think, boat show previews and reviews, a cruising description of one of the canals or canal routes in the country, the latest waterways news, waterways personalities, technical advice, restoration news, lively letters, history and many other interesting articles for the waterways lover.
It's a cheerful magazine, though one from which you can learn a lot about canals and canal boating. Some bits are useful for the first-timer, and there's also a lot for experienced boaters as well.
The magazine carries quite a lot of advertising, but as it is virtually all relevant to waterways users, it is interesting and useful to read as well.
There's a good website for the magazine at www.canalboat.co.uk and you can currently subscribe for just £30 (2009) for a year or £58 for two years.
I was tempted to buy the August issue of Canal Boat and Inland Waterways this week as there is a feature about the Crick Boat show, at which my partner and I spent 2 extrememly wet days at the end of May. I first read the Crick article and was delighted to see the photographs and their very complimentary section about the “Samuel Charles”, the narrow boat which my friend (Koduk here at dooyoo) designed and built a large proportion of. (see page 31). We are really pleased to see that under next month’s issue, on sale on Friday 11 August, it says “On Test, Samuel Charles, a striking full-length narrowboat from Fernwood Craft, with an interior that is out of this world”!! It took many months of hard work to achieve this, but it was obviously worth it. A large number of other boats at the Crick Show are also featured together with many photographs. I then decided to browse through the rest of the magazine, which is specifically aimed at people who like canals and narrow boats. The editor is obviously not impressed by John Prescott’s idyllic idea of using the waterways for transporting good once again. Unfortunately, the tax imposed by British Waterways for using our canal system (currently £512 or £544 per boat) is damaging the boat hire industry, making boating a hobby only for the rich, so it is unlikely the Government’s idea will ever work. The first part of the magazine consists of interesting snippet of news about the Grantham Canal, Braunston Marina, Huddersfield Canal and Rochdale Canal among many others. Lovely photographs accompany many of these items. The rest of the magazine is filled with interesting articles about a wide variety of items, such as The National Festival at Waltham Abbey from 25–28th August including a site plan and list of exhibitors (pages 45–47), a detailed article about travelling the Grand Union Canal from the Midlands to London en rout
e to Waltham Abbey (pages 58-62), again accompanied by beautiful photos of the area, and the abandoned Glamorgan Canal (pages 70-71). The magazine also includes 2 comprehensive pages of related websites under headings such as Boat Builders, Boat Hire, Boat Jumbles, Castles and Roses Giftware, Chandlery, Hotel Boats and Paints and Painters (pages 72-73). The following 2 pages list a diary of all the Shows & Rallies, Walks, Courses & Exhibitions, Canal Theatre, Waterway Restoration, and Stoppages, which make very interesting reading. There is also a letter page and a large number of adverts, mainly at the front and back of the magazine. Stapled to the outside of the current issue is a form to apply for reduced price tickets (£4 instead of £5) for the Waltham Abbey National Waterways Festival, which is worth using if you are thinking of attending. I was surprised to find how interesting this magazine is, even though I’m not a keen narrow boat enthusiast. As well as being informative, it is well laid out, bright and colourful, the photos are excellent and I found it well worth £2.40