Are you ready for summer cruising?
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Tue Apr 2, 2024 at 11:20am

Top Tips for getting ready for summer cruising on your canal boat

Now the summer is here, that long narrowboat cruise will be in your thoughts. It can be a fun filled experience; exploring new areas, discovering new sights, meeting new people, and generally having a great time. BUT it won’t be such a great experience if you aren't prepared. Read our top tips for getting ready and what to take with you!

Boating equipment

Boating equipment should include the following kit;

1kg hammer, mooring pins and ropes (with spares). A good idea is to purchase a couple of  lightweight spare windlasses, just in case you don't come across a chandlery on route to buy replacements, should you need them. Torches are a must as the towpath can be very dark going back to the boat from the pub at night. Be safe and consider having life jackets on board for guests who may not be used to life afloat. A fully stocked first-aid kit, ready for accidents or minor illnesses. It's also handy to have at least one umbrella aboard in case of rain.

Engineering checks

Check your rudder bearing and swan neck bolt and the rudder's overall health. Make sure that your steering system is in good shape. If your boat is equipped with a steering wheel, lubricate the stern gland and tighten the wire cables, rope, chain, or gears and familiarise yourself with how they work and how to fix them if they break.

Check the engine, and all the levels (coolant, LPG gas and oils) Consider having your engine and gear box serviced before the summer cruising season starts. Test the condition of your starter and domestic batteries. Check the alternator output and charging systems. Charging the electronics is absolutely key. Make sure you have spare drive belts for your water pump and alternators. Don't forget to check the operation of the central heating system and the 12 volt / 240 volt inverter, to make sure everything is in good working order.

Other items to pack

For personal boating gear, everyone should have the following essentials: A good set of breathable wet weather gear, a warm mid layer, as if you end up cold, wet, and miserable, you won't be able to enjoy the cruise. Everyone should also have a good pair of waterproof gloves for line handling and for cold weather. A warm hat, a sun hat, a good pair of shoes, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen.

Make sure you stock up with plenty of food and drink for your trip, as well as taking activities, games and entertainment for the children and adults alike, such as board games, DVDs CDs and puzzles.

Other essential things to remember

Clean and repair dangerous places which can be slippery, such as walkways and also the roof of the vessel.

Make sure that you have the following items;

A full spare gas bottle, 

A CRT key (BWB key)

Check the needles are in the green of all fire extinguishers

Spare electrical fuses. 

Your current in-date Boat Safety Certificate

Your Insurance documents

Your 'In Date' Canal and River Trust Licence


Let us know if we've forgotten anything, or if you have any other tips for preparation for summer cruising by commenting below! 

Happy Boating from the Whilton Marina Team!