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Monthly Archives: June 2015

  • 10 Top Tips for Boating with Kids

    Sharing the joys of boats with your children is an incredible thing to do, but of course there are many stresses that come with it. So we thought we'd find out some expert tips to help underake this big task, and who more suited for the role than Mumsnet Devon co-editor and boating blogger Gina Caro!?


    boating sailing children kids


    "Boating with children can be a real a mixture of heaven and hell all rolled into one! Having learnt though experience as the years have gone on here are a few of my top tips with you which may help to make the whole experience more pleasurable.


    • Plan, Plan and Plan some more!

    We have found this to be crucial when boating with young ones. The more you can pre plan your journeys the easier the journey will be. Think about how long each voyage is and where you can stop along the way for a break.


    • Explain the Rules

    This one is really important! Make sure everyone understands the rules that they must abide by whilst on the water. No running, no jumping, no touching ropes etc.


    • Pack entertainment

    This is a must when you have children on board as they have very short attention spans. The last thing you want is a major meltdown halfway along your journey with nowhere to escape. We always keep a selection of board games on the boat for such situations.


    boating sailing kids children


    • Pack medicines

    Always make sure that you have an up to date first aid kit and some children’s pain relief medication. There’s nothing worse than having a child with something wrong on the water and you don’t have the equipment to help them.


    • Pack Snacks

    Make sure that you pack a few nibbles to have along the way. We personally have a stash of biscuits that we call ‘mooring biscuits’ which the kiddies are allowed to eat when the adults are at the crucial point of mooring and don’t want any distractions.


    • Get them involved

    Kids are naturally curious; if you get them involved in what you are doing they will enjoy the journey that much more. Show them how to tie different knots or what the different controls do.


    • Stop to Fish

    If you can, invest in some fishing rods so you can break up the longer journeys with a spot of fishing. We cook up whatever we catch that evening for supper.


    • Give them job titles

    We each have a role on our boat, there’s The Captain, The First Mate, The Cabin Boy and The Lookout. Explain to the child what their role entails and you’ll find they will take great pride in it.


    • Avoid bad weather

    You may be an all-weather sailor but I can guarantee that your children won’t be. Children get very grumpy when they are too wet or too cold. It’s best to stick to fair or sunny days if you want an enjoyable journey. You also don’t want to scare them with rough seas otherwise they might not want to go again. Remember to pack lots of extra clothes also just in case the weather turns.


    • Make it fun!

    The ultimate goal of any boating parent is to get the kids into boating which isn’t going to happen if you spend the whole time shouting at them. Boating with kids can be very stressful but it’s also very rewarding."


    For more insight on Gina's boating adventures with her children, visit her blog here!


  • Interview: Why I installed solar panels on my narrowboat


    The benefits of installing solar panels on your boat are many, with the most obvious being the reduced reliance on a noisy generator!

    But of course there are many more and despite creating a more peaceful environment, solar panels are also a much greener and cheaper way of powering your boat. After the initial financial outlay the panels rely solely on the sun’s free renewable energy.

    We spoke to former nuclear submarine engineer, Martin Cowin who decided if he could rely on solar energy during the ten year period he lived in Africa, he could certainly try and do it on a boat in the UK.


    solar panel narrowboat

    Hi Martin, how long have you been living in your narrowboat (pictured) and how did you decide this was the life for you!?

    We have only been living on our boat for 6 months now. Before that we lived in a house which we built on a farm in Namibia about 40 miles from the nearest town.

    Our return to the UK was based upon a new lifestyle choice which came in the form of a narrowboat.

    After 10 years living in a hot dry country we wanted a complete change.


    What made you decide to get solar panels?

    Since we needed power and no power supply was available during our period in Namibia,  I installed a total solar system for all our needs. We managed 10 years without any extra power available.

    Once on our boat we just worked out the best way to get the self-sufficiency set up so that we could a few extra luxuries while not connected to a mains power supply.


    narrowboat solar panels

    How easy was it to install the solar panels?

    We have installed a 1.6kw inverter to give us our ac power and now the 1kw solar array to keep the batteries fully charged without running the main engine or installing a separate generator.

    Installation was pretty easy as the wiring is pre-configured so the only difference between fitting solar-panels to a boat and to a house is the lack of space available for the panels.

    The reader is pictured to the left.


    What have the main benefits so far been?

    Solar is quiet, of course, and the energy from the sun is free as once the initial set up costs are paid everything is free as the systems are very reliable. On top of that maintenance requirements are virtually non-existent.


    Thanks so much for speaking to us :)

  • How to clean your caravan - our top tips

    With summer fast approaching, if you haven’t quite got round to it yet, now’s the time you might want to grab your rubber gloves and think about giving your caravan a good clean.

    While caravan washing isn't everyone's favourite task, thankfully, there are lots of products out there specifically designed for caravans which makes things easier. Here’s our short guide on the best way to clean your caravan:

    The essentials

    • Water: whether it’s from a hose, a power washer or a bucket or Dry Wash, which works on any surface even if you don’t have access to water.
    • Sponges, mops with clean heads and drying cloths.
    • For cleaning, you are going to need shampoo, tyre cleaner, window cleaning spray, etc.
    • Other essentials include elbow grease, V-shaped ladder with platform/ scaffold plate, finishing wax, toothbrush, Chamois leather etc.


    When to start cleaning

    • Once you have all these items ready, you can start the cleaning process. The best time to clean is a calm cloudy day – if it’s too sunny or windy your caravan will dry before you can do it yourself, leaving you with streaks and drips.
    • If the day is windy or sunny, it’s preferable to wash one side and rinse it and then start another side to avoid streaks forming.


     The process

    clean caravan
    • Always start from the top of the caravan. Place the ladder so you can comfortably reach the whole roof with the long brush. Use cleaning solution wisely and remove all algae, streaks, paint or other form of dirt that may have accumulated. You may need to move the ladder around to access all parts.
    • Hot water is great at removing bird waste and insect eggs from your caravan. Snowfoam can also be used for this purpose effectively. You can make your own with some detergent in a canister.
    • Use a specific canopy cleaner like this one for your awnings.
    • Side panels should be cleaned with a noodle mitt or soft brush. You can also use a microfibre cloth for this purpose. Make sure that you leave the cleaning solution on for some time (10 min. approx.) before going ahead.
    • Windows should be stripped of all dirt before cleaning them with the microfibre cloth. You can also use Chamois leathers, although they are expensive and may not produce the desired results. Finally, you should use a glass cleaner for extra shine – we recommend this one as it’s both heavy duty and biodegradable.
    • Compressed air cleaners or felt brushes are very effective in cleaning roof lights. Use them to reach inaccessible spots.
    • Overwintering spray and wax should be used at the end to make it easier to clean your caravan next time.



    • When you wash your caravan or motorhome be careful not to let the water seep inside. For this, you need to maintain a good distance, which can be easily done with a hosepipe or bucket to ease pressure.
    • Washing up liquid can be damaging to your caravan so if you used it by mistake apply polish to the area to immediately.
    • Do not use hard brush on plastic windows. This will result in scratches.
    • Buy larger microfibers to prevent wringing.


    These tips will save you a lot of effort when cleaning your caravan. Follow them diligently and your caravan will stay cleaner for longer and require less maintenance in the future.

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