DBA was formed in 1992 by a small group of barge owners, interested in their use for pleasure cruising and living aboard.
The earliest Members' vessels were converted ex-commercial cargo barges, typically Dutch because the Netherlands was (and still is) the best source of suitable sized craft, 20 to 38 metres. These converted vessels, many destined for the scrap yard, were given a new lease of life by providing comfortable living accommodation with all the amenities of any land based residence. Owing to their size, too big for most UK canal system, most were based in the Thames or on continental waterways.
In recent years, DBA Members' vessels are more likely to be new-builds designed specifically for living aboard and based on the traditional barge or the more modern cruiser style. The new-builds tend to be a little smaller than the conversions, typically below 20 metres. Whilst being more compact they don't lose out in comfort or amenities due to modern materials and building techniques.
Owners of smaller boats, which share many of the same needs as barges, are also welcome to join DBA since much the same skills and knowledge are needed whatever the boat's size, notably for cruising on the continent.
Why 'DBA - The Barge Association'?
We started as the 'Dutch Barge Association' because the founder members had Dutch barges. With newer members owning English, French and other converted barges - or modern barges, specifically designed for cruising from builders such as Sagar, Euroships, SFR and Piper it made sense to drop the 'Dutch' - but the familiar 'DBA' was kept. So, in conversation we are either 'DBA' or 'The Barge Association' but formally we are 'DBA - The Barge Association'.