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  • Top tips for your first winter on a narrowboat

    winter narrowboat

    Narrowboat living all seemed so lovely during summer, the long evenings, watching ducklings become ducks and general social canal life.

    But soon the sun will be replaced with long dreary mornings and ice cold wind, so just what do you need to survive your first winter on a narrowboat?


    Inside is warmer than you think!

    First things first, a relatively modern narrowboat is actually pretty cosy inside. Most will have central heating as standard and if you have a fire as well, you can keep warm for free with kindling gathered from the towpath.

    It probably goes without saying that other top tips for keeping warm include dressing in layers and moving  around for extra heat.


    But outside is colder ….

    Hyperthermia is a real risk for anyone spending too long outside in the cold damp weather. Make sure you don’t spend too long outside in one go, and you have proper winter clothing and a good supply of hot drinks.


    Prepare for hold ups

    If you plan to keep on cruising during the winter it is important to realise you may need to be flexible with your plans. If the canal freezes over you can cause serious damage to your boat if you try to force your way through it. Make an itinerary that takes into account you may be hauled up for a couple of days while you wait for the ice to subside.

    If you are held up by ice, under no circumstances walk on it – nor let your dog or cat. It could be much thinner than you think and drowning is a real risk.


    Prevent burst pipes

    Not only are burst water pipes expensive, a pain to fix, and a creator of huge amounts of mess, they also leave you without central heating - something no one wants in the dead of winter.

    To try and prevent this, make sure you have about 30% anti-freeze in your water and heating system.


    Be safe

    A dark, slippery towpath is not your friend. If you are heading out alone always carry a torch and a charged phone and tell somebody where you are going. A safety whistle is also good idea in case you slip into the canal.



  • Get Your Narrowboat Ready for Winter


    narrowboat boat winterIt may only just be autumn, but with the threat of one of the coldest winters on record coming up, it can never be too soon to start getting your narrowboat ready for dropping temperatures.

    If you are planning on staying on your boat over winter, it is still worthwhile reading through the below tips, as certain wintery activities (like trying to move your boat in a frozen canal!) can cause serious damage.

    Let us help you avoid making some expensive repairs come spring with the following tips:



    1) Keep an eye on it

    Be sure also to regularly check up your boat (or arrange for someone else to do it) even if you’re keeping it in a super-secure yard.  This is especially important if you are planning on leaving expensive bits of kit on board (like your generator) which might be a target for thieves.

    On top of that, ensure your insurance is up to date and you have a decent lock and / or other security measures in place.

    It’s also recommended that once a month you visit your boat to run the engine for half an hour or so to reduce rust and boost the battery life.



    2) Avoid mould

    As well as removing expensive items from your narrowboat such as the generator and electrical goods (if practical) – it is also a good idea to take out all soft furnishings.

    If left over winter these can get damp and start to get mouldy, making for an unpleasant return in the spring. Instead, give a good wash and keep in a warm, dry place until you need them again.

    On top of that, it’s a good idea to give the whole interior a good clean, just in case there are any nasties waiting to grow in your absence. We recommend our Campermate Cleaning range.


    narrowboat boats canal

    3) Lag your pipes

    Burst water pipes are a nightmare at the best of times, even worse if not dealt with for a long period of time so make sure you lag all your pipes and ensure you have at least 30% of anti-freeze in your water and heating systems.

    If you know for sure you won’t be back in the boat for a while it can be worth it to drain all water out of the boat and disconnect all pumps.

    Leave the taps turned on and the shower head removed.


    4) Store your generator safely

    You must store your generator in a gas-tight locker, whether it’s LPG or petrol.

    To get the best out of your generator, also read our Essential Generator Maintenance Guide.


    5) Service the engine

    The best thing to do here is read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow accordingly, as service instructions may vary.

    In most cases the oil should be changed, engine antifreeze topped up and WD-40 sprayed liberally to keep the damp away.

    As mentioned above, be sure to give the engine a quick run once a month to limit problems in the spring.

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