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Tue Jan 15, 2019 at 3:34pm

Fabulous New Facilities now available at Whilton Marina!

We are very excited to announce that Whilton Marinas new workshop and boat lifting facilities are now complete. We now have a fantastic new working environment for our engineering and welding teams. Construction of the purpose built 9,000 square ft Narrowboat Maintenance and Repair Workshop, wharf and boat lift was started at the end of summer 2017 and was finally completed in July this year when the boat lifting hoist arrived. The project was the vision of one of our company owners; Director Richard Steele who oversaw the project from beginning to end. He would often look at coastal marinas while he was away on holiday, and often dreamed of installing at boat hoist at Whilton Marina.


This significant investment is designed to strengthen our position and commitment as market leader in used narrowboat sales. We have invested £900,000 in the new facilities, wharf and boat lift. We have also recruited several new staff members to our engineering and works team, showing that we are confident about our future in narrowboat sales and the future of our marina. 

The new workshop is capable of holding three 70ft narrowboats simultaneously for maintenance and repair purposes. It is fully equipped for the undertaking of works to new and used steel narrowboats or widebeams; to include stern tube renewal, new window installations, renewal of gas lockers, wiring, painting, engine installations, hull replating and refurbishment works. Where previously our welding team worked under a canopy outside, this superb new workshop will enable our welding teams and engineers to work on boats out of the water and under cover in a purpose built working environment.

The new facilities will compliment our other on site facilities of floating covered workshop, covered dock and two slipways and put the ‘icing on the cake’ for narrowboat repair facilities at our marina!  Our brand new Wise 40 tonne motorised Hoist has four wheel steering, which was named Hercules, by our Crick Boat Show ‘name the crane competition’ winner Mrs Holvey, will be used to lift and transport the widebeam or narrowboat into the new refurbishment workshop.

The hoist is capable of lifting 40 tonnes and up to 72ft long x 12 ft wide boats. This will speed up the process of taking boats in and out of the water allowing for a ‘one in, one out’ approach for works purposes. A new wharf has also been constructed to allow the Wise Hoist to manoeuvre over the water and lift out narrowboats when surveys are required. This will enable us to react a lot more quickly to our demands on site, which will speed up the boat sales process.  

Our new workshop is now available for customers to book for the following works on their narrowboats or widebeamed boats; pressure washing, blacking and anodes, replating and stern gear work. Customers can contact Whilton Marina by telephoning 01327 842577 to book (the work will be undertaken by Whilton Marina, (no 'do it yourself' work is permitted on site)

The boat lifting crane is probably the first purpose built facility of this kind on the UK inland waterways system. It will reduce our carbon footprint as a company because there will no longer be a necessity to have cranes travelling to and from our site for the purpose of lifting boats out of the water.


The new workshop, wharf and boat lifting facility is designed to hugely assist our customers through the narrowboat buying and selling process, and make us one of the most successful ‘one-stop shops’ on the canal network; where you can buy a narrow boat, moor it, maintain and repair it, and if you need to sell your narrow boat on, we can sell it for you on brokerage, offer you cash for your boat or part exchange with another boat from either of our marinas; Whilton Marina in Northamptonshire or Venetian Marina in Cheshire. About Whilton Marina Whilton Marina has been buying, selling and caring for narrow boats since 1971 and we are located at Whilton Locks near Daventry on the Grand Union Canal.

Tue Jan 1, 2019 at 11:51am

Kick-start your New Year resolutions early and buy that canal boat you've always dreamed of owning!

What better excuse to buy that narrowboat, than its good for your health? With the new year comes new resolutions. Maybe your goals for 2019 include getting more exercise, travelling or spending more time with family. When it comes to boating, do any resolutions come to mind?

If you've always dreamed of owning a narrowboat, make 2019 the year to realise that dream!

Here are some ideas to add to your list of New Year’s Resolutions;

Spend more time with family and friends

Narrowboating can be a very leisurely activity, where you can slow down your pace of life and spend time in the quiet of the countryside. It's ideal to share time aboard connecting with friends and family, and live life in the slow lane, but also to share that time with others. There are a variety of different excuses to get together with your loved ones!  Make 2019 a more sociable year!

Fight the bulge

Boating is a great way to keep active. Cruising the canal network will mean that you'll have to pop on and off the boat to navigate locks, which can be great way to get exercise by climbing on and off your narrowboat and walking over lockgates and opening the lock gate with your windlass will use your muscles!  If you have a dog you can enjoy leisurely walks in a great environment away from all the stresses of city life. If you enjoy jogging, the canal towpath is a great place to run. The UK government recommends that we all take 30 minutes of exercise each day to help fight the bulge and improve our cardio vascular system! Make 2019 the year you get fitter!

Enjoy life more

Many of us assume that we need to make big changes to our habits, routines and/or bank balances to be happy. In reality, however, that’s not the case. Often we already have everything we need to enjoy life—it’s just a question of prioritising what’s really important.  Focus on yourself as we all have to live with the consequences of our decisions.  Make time to relax and reconnect with ourselves.  Nurture positive relationships with friends and family and meet new people as they can introduce you to new ideas and perspectives. Boating is great for meeting new people!

Visit more places

New places offer a different perspective on the world and add a healthy dose of inspiration and possibility to our lives.  Create a 'Bucket List' of places on the canal network that you've always wanted to visit and each year try to tick off places on your list and make sure they don’t just stay on your list!

Disconnect with the outside World!

Take a 'digital detox' and reassess what's really important to you.  Many people report that it makes them realise how reliant they've become on instant online gratification - news when they want it, films and music on demand. Avoid the news as it is all too easy to get down about what's going on in the world. Take a break from social media and spend some time in your own skin.

Have we missed anything?

Let us know your thoughts on our ideas on New Year's Resolutions, and let us know your New Year's Resolutions too by commenting below!

Mon Dec 10, 2018 at 7:30pm

Keep In Touch

Whilst you are cruising along the waterways don't forget we'd love to follow your journey.

Like us on our social media sites to share your travel posts and stories to be in with a chance of winning a £50 Whilton Marina Chandlery voucher.

Dont forget to start your story off with a #realiseyourdreams

This months winner is - 

 Rick Weston

read ricks story below - 


We purchased Clarinnish, a 57 foot narrowboat from Whilton Marina back in April 2017. What follows is part of the adventure we had bringing our boat back to the Kennet and Avon Canal from Whilton Marina.

Day 5 Afternoon Update

So boredom finally drove me to it. We upped sticks and set off in the rain. Shelagh glued to her laptop apart from the odd occasion I came across a lock.

The routine is, I sound two blasts on the horn and Shelagh comes running. I must confess to taking a certain wicked delight as I know the unexpected sound of the horn enables a skill, Shelagh has hitherto not had. The ability to leap in the air from a sitting position 🤷‍♂️ Its just funny ok!

Anyway the afternoon goes on, not particularly enjoyable as rain starts to penetrate areas I cannot remember having. Shelagh had a bungee session with a lift bridge (I'll leave her to tell that story).

Then, as if the Excitment Pixies (EP's) know we are in need of a pick me up, we arrive at Sommerton Deep Lock. Built in 1787, it's one of the deepest locks on the whole of the narrow canal system. I have pics of the bridge immediately on the exit of the lock (bridge 194) and the exit gate of the lock itself. This gate enters into our own little 'History of Horrors'. I shall explain.

Shelagh opens the gate. I chug right on in. Totally unaware of what the EP's have in store for us. Shelagh closes the gate behind me and starts to let the water out. I start to descend. It just keeps going down. Starts to get a bit spooky, I can't see Shelagh anymore. Then, she appears over the top lip of the lock. She starts to open the one very big gate. It's swings to almost full open then stops. Engaging my GTC (Getting Tiller Cocky - see yesterday's post) , I am confident I can make it through. Shelagh is unable to open the gate any further so I press on. DISASTER!!!! The front third of the boat makes it through and then..... I'm wedged in. No amount of forward thrust, reverse thrust, or obscene language is moving me on. I'm also not in a position where I can clamber up a ladder to aid Shelagh. She suddenly adopts an Arnie Schwarzenegger expression, attacking the gate with all the verve and vigour she can muster but to no avail.

I clamber up on top of the boat, desperately seeking a means of reaching my damsel in distress. Aha! a sloping side wall. I leap on to it, only to find it's got about as much grip as an exotic mud wrestler combatting a greased eel. A combination of luck and adrenaline help me it make it across the wall and on to the steps. I rush up to see if I can budge the gate....NOPE!

Taking stock we realise, our boat is stuck. There's no easy way back onto the boat. Our only means of calling help, our phones, are....... on the boat. "Oh dear" Shelagh exclaimed " What a to do".

Ignoring the 'Beware of the Dog' sign, I enter the garden of the house sitting next to the lock. I knock the door but there's no reply. "I know, I'll try around the front". Rounding the corner I come across an Alsatian the size of a horse!!! Fortunately he's in a compound. Unfortunately the fence is not very high.

He looks at me and a speech bubble appears "Dinner!' He starts to bark and my buttocks clench in response. Walking very slowly backward I say "hello, who's a good boy" In retrospect, not the best thing I could have said. He starts barking again. As I get out of sight of him I beat a hasty retreat to the gate with a somewhat increased pulse rate.

Returning to Shelagh I am now determined to get back on the boat. I straddle the sloped wall (some 15 feet) above the level of the water and manage to regain the boat. Trying once again to move the boat with the engine has the same negative result. A calm then descends. I note the bottom of the offending gate is further out than the top. My GTC kicks back in and I come up with a cunning plan. I ask Shelagh to open the top gate very slightly to allow a bit more water back into the lock. This lifts the boat just enough to allow me to move on and out of the lock.

Well I'm sure you'll agree this is turning out to be quite an adventure. A few more hours cruising and we are now moored up near Middle Aston on the Oxford canal. The fire is lit and my soaking wet boots are drying in front of it. We've had our dinner and we're now going to sit down and have a nervous breakdown.

Good night everyone

See you tomorrow.

Tue Nov 27, 2018 at 1:38pm

The countdown has begun to the big day and we are celebrating by having a Narrow Boat Sale!

We are getting into the Christmas spirit by reducing the prices of our narrow boats; meaning NOW is a great time to #realiseyourdream and buy yourself ​that dream narrow boat. The Sale will run ​until 5pm on 23rd December. So to make the most of this promotion you need to start browsing our website for boats that match your requirements. The sale start​ed at the end of November and the boats are selling fast, make sure you grab yourself a great deal and don't miss out on these greatly reduced prices!

So whatever you had planned for the rest of today - cancel, you've got a date with Whilton marina and your new narrow boat! ​Or pop straight down to our marina if you prefer and start your search. You will be welcomed into our festive sales area by our professional team who will let you browse the sales boards and collect the keys to your potential new boat!

To help you keep warm whilst you're looking at our narrowboats and to get into the Christmas spirit, you'll be given a voucher for a free hot drink and mince pie at our on site cafe. Our sales team are on hand to help with any questions you may have and are happy to show you around the boats if required, they are here to help in any way they can during and after the sales process, so don't be afraid to ask if you need assistance..We have boats to fit most budgets, so don’t miss out, get yourself a real bargain; these prices are for a limited time only. After 5pm on 23rd Decmber the boats will revert back to their original price (a bit like Cinderella you only have a limited amount of time!) so what are you waiting for... lets go Narrowboat sale shopping!

Why wait for the New Year to fulfill your new years resolution, when you can #realiseyourdream now? 

Buying a narrow boat now is a great way to end 2018 and start 2019! We look forward to seeing you over the next few weeks and helping you find exactly what you are looking for. We are open seven days a week from 9am till 5pm so there’s plenty of time between now and Christmas Eve to find your perfect narrow boat. Just imagine starting 2019 with the boat of your dreams, and starting the journey you have been planning and wanting for so long.

December is an exciting time of year and buying presents for friends and family is very rewarding, but don’t forget you have worked hard and been good all year and you too deserve to find something you really want in your stocking! Note; You will find that only the keys fit in your stocking!

If we don't have the perfect narrowboat for you, our sister Company Venetian Marina in in Cheshire might do, click on this link to their sale page!

Christmas Closing Period:

We are open until 1pm on Christmas Eve and we re-open on Saturday January 2nd 2016, when we re-open at 9am that day.

Happy Christmas From The Whilton Team​

Mon Nov 12, 2018 at 2:58pm

What is Good Mental Health 

Good mental health is not only feeling happy. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence play a huge part too. So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you. "Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult. But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual. It can help to think about "being well" as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out. No-one can give wellbeing to you. It's you who has to take action.

We've taken the top five steps to good mental health from the NHS website and shown where they can be applied to narrowboating.

Connect with family and friends

Narrowboating can be a very leisurely activity, where you can slow down your pace of life and spend time in the quiet of the countryside. It's ideal to share time aboard connecting with friends and family, and live life in the slow lane, but also to share that time with others.

Be active

Boating is a great way to keep active. If you have a dog you can enjoy leisurely walks in a great environment away from all the stresses of city life. Cruising the canal network will mean that you'll have to navigate locks, which is a great way to get exercise by climbing on and off your narrowboat and walking over lockgates to crank open the lock gate with your windlass. Then you'll have to close the gates again before going on your way. Read our sister company Venetian Marina's blog about how to ​work a lockgate for more information.

Learn new skills

If you're new to boating and canal life, then you'll need to learn new skills, as narrowboating is a whole new way of life to living in a house. You'll need to learn how work your boat, how to moor it and maintain it. Our YouTube videos are a great way to get learning. Learning a new skill concentrates the mind and takes your attention away from thinking too much about yourself, and gives you a great sense of achievement.

Give to others

A great way to give to others is by getting involved with community boating. The NCBA is a network of well resourced, well managed community boating organisations that promote access to UK waterways as well as promoting the safe use of community boats as a resource available for the benefit of disadvantaged and excluded groups in ways that promote social cohesion, protect the environment and support economic regeneration

Or why not volunteer with the CRT or the Inland Waterways Association. There are opportunities to become a Voluntary Lock Keeper, or ​you can adopt a stretch of canal and help it thrive, become part of the towpath taskforce become part of the administrative team, or be a website or publicity officer. This will also help you learn new skills!

Be mindful

Be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learning a new skill such as narrowboating is a great way to be more mindful, as you will be concentrating on learning and be more in the present moment.

Why not give these things a try whether you're planning on taking up narrowboating or not, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life!

Sat Oct 20, 2018 at 4:14pm

It's October already and it's nearly that Spooky time of year! So we thought we'd share our top five ideas for halloween aboard your boat!

Halloween is an annual event celebrated each year on October 31st. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating.


Decorate Your Narrowboat Spookily! 

Make your boat look halloween ready by adding a few specimen jars,by using old jam jars and filling them with eyeballs or spiders. Cover your boat with cobwebs and spiders dangling down The silhouette of a black cat or two will raise the creep factor. A few stuffed rats on the floor will help set the scene. A bucket of dead white flowers will look perfect under your cratch cover. Scatter some tree branches on the deck. Hang a ghost from ​a doorway. Cut some holes in an old sheet and throw it over an old beach ball that you hang from the ceiling. If you have an old rocking chair, cover it with spider webs and put it in a place where it will rock and creak as much as possible! Hang a wreath covered in bats on the front door and splatter some fake blood on, but just make sure it can easily come off!

The well known store B&M have some fantastic halloween props and costumes.


Carve a Pumpkin with a ghoulish face! 








Light up your boat with a creepy glow by ​using pumpkins with ghoulish designs cut out and a light inside to create an errie atmosphere. You'll be surprised at how effective the pumpkins will look! But take care if using candles in the pumpkin due to potential fire hazard, it's probably best to use led or batter operated tea lights.



Watch a Scary Movie!                          








Why not turn the lights out...  so that just your pumpkin lights are glowing and watch a scary movie on TV or video, there's a huge choice of thrillers and scary movies to choose from, many of which are family friendly such as Hotel Transylvania 2012, Hocus Pocus from 1993 or The Adams Family from 1991. But if you have small children do make sure that the film is suitable, you don't want terrified kiddies who are frightened to sleep!


Dress up in a ghostly outfit!






With your boat all decorated to scare the life out of your friends, why not dress up in a Halloween costume. There's lots to choose from; be it a Witch, a Wizard, a bat or a ghost or Dracula, you'll have lots of fun deciding! and you'll be ready for our last idea!....


Have a Halloween Party and invite your narrow boating friends!

Now that you've set the scene by decorating your boat, why not throw a party aboard your canal boat and invite all your friends! There's lots of halloween related games you could play such a apple bobbing or you could all go out trick or treating, but do take care along the towpath in the dark, you don't want to risk falling into the water... that would be a real scare! And do make sure that you're only visiting people who are able to cope with a scare or that you've arranged with first!

Whatever you do on your canal boat this Halloween, take care, stay safe and don't frighten people who aren't expecting it! 

Mon Oct 15, 2018 at 2:51pm

New Boaters usually have many questions, but one of the most frequently asked questions is about continuous cruising.

In this article we are going to try and explain just what is allowed and what's not when continuous cruising on the UK waterways.

Continuous Cruising Licences are intended for boaters who want to genuinely navigate around the waterways, so its not necessary to require them to have a home mooring as a condition of their boat licence.


The Canal and River Trust have rules and regulations relating to where a continuous cruiser is allowed to stop. This is to make sure that the boater is actually continuously cruising and not just moving back and forth along a small distance of the same piece of canal.

Although the CRT don't define an actual distance the boat has to travel during the course of a year, they advise that "it is very unlikely that someone would be able to satisfy them that they have been genuinely cruising if their range of movement is less than 20 miles over the period of their licence" So although there is not a minimum distance of travel allowed in any one year, they will look at the furthest points the boat has visited in order to define if a boat is moving on continuously or not.

The CRT have a team of people on the canals and waterways who note down the boat numbers seen in a specific area. This is used to help them plot the boats movements over the course of a year, so that when their continuous cruising licence comes up for renewal this is the pattern they will look at to establish if it is following the licencing rules.

The Rules

  • You must make sure that you are not just moving back and forth along a small stretch of waterway. 
  • You must not stay in any one spot or online mooring on the canal for more than 14 days at a time.
  • If you have an emergency or breakdown you must notify the CRT to arrange to temporarily stay longer in one spot.

As mentioned in point three above there are mitigating circumstances in which you may be able to stay in one spot for a little longer, such as: mechanical breakdown; emergency stoppages; impassable ice; serious accident or illness, however you must notify the CRT to arrange this.

What to do if your journey is stopped by a closure

Before starting off plan your long term journeys taking into consideration the planned stoppages which are published on CRT website, and not head towards an area that you know will compromise your journey and limit your range of movement. However, emergency stoppages happen and if your route gets blocked then you will need to re-plan, taking into account the expected duration of the stoppage and the options available to you. You should not remain in one place unless the stoppage is short term and you can continue your journey without overstaying one place longer than 14 days. If you have to re-route then there is no set distance or time before you can reverse.

Why are the rules enforced?

Basically because the waterways are busier today than ever before, so the CRT believe it's right to manage the waterways fairly for all boaters, so all boaters have fair access to the most popular locations, especially in places like London and Bath where some places can get very busy and the demand for moorings very high.

Take care to follow the rules, or the CRT might restrict your licence next time you renew it!

For more information see the CRT website

Mon Sep 10, 2018 at 10:03am

Repairs to a narrowboat engine can be expensive. In this article we will give advice on how to maintain your engine to help prevent breakdown later on.

Keep it Clean

A clean engine will be a lot easier to maintain than a dirty one. This is because you'll be more likely to spot water or oil leaks and potential issues, which left unattended for any length of time could end up costing a lot more to repair. If you paint the engine bay in a white or very light colour it will reflect the light and make it much easier to work on.

Inspect Regularly

Make a habit of regularly checking your engine for any signs of leaks, loose wires or other issues. The quicker you find a problem the easier, and often the less expensive it is to fix. It could potentially save you breaking down when you least want to too!


Check oil Regularly

Firstly, check the colour of the old oil. It should look clean: if it’s black you may have an overheating problem, if it’s a milky colour water may be getting into it. In either case, you need to fix the problem before changing the oil.Assuming all is well, remove the dipstick and use a pump to extract the oil. Replace with the oil recommended in the manual, usually either a standard engine oil or automatic transmission fluid, and check the level with the dipstick. Gearbox dipsticks often screw in place – if yours is of this type, don’t screw it in to take the reading as the stick measures from the bottom of the thread.

Change the Oil and filters

You should change the oil and oil filters at least once a year.This is best done at the end of your cruising season so that acidic dust caused by the engine is not left sitting in the engine throughout winter causing corrosion. The engine oil anf filter should ideally be changed every 250 running hours, so how often a year you do this will depend on how much you use your boat.

Read our blog on how to change the engine oil on your narrowboat.

Protect from Frosts

Keep your boats engine cooling systems and any closed gas or solid fuel heating systems from freezing during the winter by putting in enough antifreeze to protect against severe frosts. This will protect the boat against the cost of having to repair a cracked block due to freezing temperatures.

Mon Jul 30, 2018 at 10:39am

Why not go to Blisworth Canal Festival?

18th-19th August 2018

The festival has been running on the Grand Union Canal in Blisworth, South Northamptonshire since 2010 and is now a big annual event along the waterfront.  It is run by the Blisworth Canal Partnership (BCP), which is a non-profit making community organisation with seven Directors, mostly from the village and all passionate about their local canal environment and the waterways beyond.

Proceeds from the Festival go towards maintaining the canal and its environs within the parish of Blisworth, as well as supporting many local organisations and national charities. Blisworth Festival is free to enter, with ample free parking.

Attractions include:Historic & Trade Boats, Boat Trips, Food Outlets, Bars, children's Activities, Rare Breeds, Artisan Foods, Traders, Live Music and much more.

Blisworth Festival is a well established and popular family event attracting crowds of 20-25,000 over the weekend for the last few years. The festival is centred along the canal bank, in the adjacent festival field and at a small number of nearby venues in the village, such as Blisworth Chapel. One of the attractions for our visitors is that the Blisworth Festival is free to park, free to moor (for those coming by boat) and free to enter.

The mix of traders, entertainment, exhibits, refreshments and activities set out across the festival sites creates a vibrant and engaging environment. The canalside is the focal point of the Blisworth Festival and a perfect location.

Shortly after its inception, the BCP formally adopted the stretch of the Grand Union Canal running through the Parish of Blisworth, from Gayton Junction to the Blisworth Tunnel. Working on behalf of, and in conjunction with, the Canal & River Trust, the BCP has made great progress in enhancing its stretch of canal through regular working parties supported by a band of willing volunteers. Examples of work completed include:

Restoring the Tunnel Hut, Installing seating, utilising old lock beams, Creating the spinney on the tunnel embankment with lots more to be done.

The two day event promises to be a great family weekend or day out, with plenty of attraction for all ages, something for everyone, young and old, boater and non-boater alike! Find out more by visiting the Blisworth Canal Festival website, or by following them on their facebook page to get the latest information about what's going to be on at the festival this year.

Tue Jul 3, 2018 at 1:15pm

Sinking Is Every Narrowboaters Worst Nightmare!

Every boaters worst nightmare is for their boat to sink, especially if it's due to their mistake. Apparently boat sinkings are on the rise, according to the River Canal Rescue they numbered 119 during 2015-2016! Which is a fifty percent rise from the previous year. In this article we talk briefly about how to minimise the risk of sinking your narrowboat.

Main Causes of Sinking

Some of the major causes of sinking are; water in the engine room, leaking stern glands, failing to pump bilges, weedhatch faults and getting caught on lock cills or lockgates. 

Avoiding stern gland Leaks

At the end of each day of cruising it is good housekeeping to grease the stern gland, this is best done whilst the engine is still hot. To do this, turn off the engine and locate the stern tube greaser, make sure it is filled with grease, turn the tap until you feel the resistance. This will pack the stern gland with grease and keep it in good order by putting a layer of grease between the shaft and the tube. If this does not stop the leaking it could be that the packing needs replacing , which is best done when the boat is out of the water. See our video on how to grease a stern tube below;


Avoiding Engine Bilge Flooding

Good deck covers are a must to keep water out of the decks. Ensure any drainage points are kept maintained and clear of any debris, this will reduce the amount of water likely to make its way into the engine bilge. Most bilge pumps are wired with automatic on-off switches and are automatic so that you can leave them aboard to kick in should the need arise. However remember that automatic bilge pumps will fail if the electricity supplying them is interrupted. So make sure that you regularly visit the boat to check. A good tip is to carry a spare bilge pump.

Weed Hatch Faults

If your weedhatch cover is not fitted properly or is left off, water can ingress and flood the engine room very quickly causing the boat to sink.

Before every journey check that the hatch cover clamps are secure and tight and the hatch is fitted correctly. Regularly inspect the hatch and seals for corrosion. see our video on how to inspect the weedhatch below;

Danger in Lock Gates and on Lock Cills

When entering a lock make sure that the lock gate opens fully to avoid getting stuck. Keep clear of the cill which is a ledge that protrudes below the water line and is usually marked on the edge of the lock side (see picture below) Be careful as this ledge can can catch the unattentive and make the boat lurch and sink.

If you're travelling downhill in the lock chamber and your stern or rudder gets caught on the cill when the water recedes, the bow of the boat will lower as the water recedes leaving the stern raised and capsizing can occur in seconds.

If you do get the stern stuck going uphill, close the bottom lock gate paddles to stop water emptying further and slowly open the top gate paddles to refill the lock, keeping the boat in the middle of the lock chamber.

If you get the bow stuck under projection of the top gate when travelling uphill, you will need to close the top lock to prevent the lock filling and open the bottom paddles to allow the water level to fall.       

Other Risks of Sinking

Too tight ropes, flooded foredecks and stuck fenders are all other risks involved with causing a narrow boat to sink. 


Make sure that any centre lines you use to control the boat in a lock is only ever half looped around a bollard. Never tie a rope to any bollard whilst in a lock. If mooring on tidal water or a river, leave enough slack to allow for the water level to change.

Flooded Foredecks

Avoid opening the lock gate paddles too early when ascending. Open the ground paddles first until the lock is half full, then open the gate paddles to avoid a fountain of water hitting the boat and flooding the foredeck.

Stuck Fenders

Fenders can easily get stuck when going through a lock, so be aware and keep your eye on the boat, don't get distracted. Good advice is not to use side fenders when navigating narrow locks.

Hull Maintenance

Keep your boats hull well maintained and regularly blacked to ensure that no holes appear. Any outlet holes on the side of the boat such as for sinks and showers should be well above the water line by at least 15cms. If they are too close to the water line water could ingress and gradually sink the boat if not pumped out.

What to do if your narrowboat Sinks

Above all ensure that you and all your crew members are all safe.

Contact your insurer who will ask for a specailist recovery firm to salvage the boat. Contact a salvage expert and the Canal and River Trust or waterway authority where the boat sank. Most insurers will ask for at least one quote for repair works so it is always advisable to speak to your insurance company first and get their approval before you go ahead with recovery and repairs.

Do Take Care Aboard Your Narrowboat and let us know your tips for keeping afloat, by commenting below!

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