Barges Defined

Here, we’ll take a closer look at barges in general.

A barge is defined as a flat-bottomed boat, and they’re generally built for the transport of heavy goods across rivers and canals. Originally, canal barges had to contend with the railway during the industrial revolution, losing out due to the rails’ higher speeds, falling costs and route flexibility.

On the Great British system of canals, barges describes boats that are wider than a narrowboat and the men that move them are known as lightermen. In the US, the deckhands perform the labor, and are supervised by a mate or leadman. The captain and pilot steer the towboat that used to push one or more barges. The crew live on the towboat as it travels the inland river system. Poles – often called “pike poles” are used to keep barges from colliding with other vessels and as it nears wharfs.

In pre-industrialized or poorly developed infrastructure regions, barges were actually one of the more efficient means of inland transportation. These were powered on waterways by long slender poles, hence their moniker of “poleboats”.

The expression “I wouldn’t touch that with a 10 foot pole” comes from the barge poles.

Today, barges are used for the transporting bulk items, and relatively speaking, the costs of hauling these goods are very low. Barges can also be used for transporting extremely heavy or bulky items. Generally, a barge measures 195 by 35 feet with a weight capacity of 1,500 tons. It’s not uncommon for really large objects to be shipped in sections.

Not all barges are self-propelled, but those that are are used when traveling in placid, still waters.

Cargo spillage is par of the course and is to be expected, even in the best of circumstances. There are a few practices that are standard in these cases:

* Whenever possible, cargo spillage is to be swept and shoveled back into the hopper as long as the cargo contains the same material.

* If the spillage happens to be different than the current cargo, then the residue should be swept up against the barge coaming, and in some cases, might be shoveled back and placed into a container.

* In the event that the quantity of the spillage exceeds an amount that can be safely cleaned, than a barge report is filled out and filed, and the cargo will be cleaned at the nearest facility.

There are several types of barges but as far as I am concerned there is not one that is better than the other… We need them all equally to maintain this pretty little existence we call life… They really are a very interesting topic of conversation. something I could go on about all day if I had to.

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