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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!

Tue May 29, 2018 at 12:52pm

Checking The Stern Gear on a Narrowboat will need to be done when the boat is out of the water for a blacking of a hull survey as you will need to get underneath the boat to locate it. It is extremely important that you ensure that the engine is switched off before embarking on a stern gear check.

What is a stern gear?

A Stern Gear is the general term for the propeller, the propeller shaft and any supporting brackets or bearings. The stern gear assembly is a general term used for the part of the boat that couples the engine to the propeller.

What to check for

There shouldn't be an excessive amount of wear or movement in the stern gear assembly, although a small amount of wear is tolerable as long as the stern gland is kept packed. Turn the propeller by hand to make sure that it moves freely, and give it a tug and a wiggle to test it for movement. If there is a lot of movement inside the stern and bush assembly you can get water ingress through that part of the boat which could fill the engine bilge area around the engine. You need to take a good look at the stern gear to see it's general condition by scraping off any weed, encrustations or paint which could have accumulated on the propeller. Another way of checking is to use a coin to tap the propeller with to see what sound it makes; if it rings like a bell it is in a good condition, if the sound is dull it is electrolysed and will need replacing. You should visually inspect the stern gear to make sure it's in good condition and check all the assembly components. Check for bent or dented blades, check for cracks and corrosion. If bent or dented the blades may be able to be straightened or filled by a professional.

If you are in any doubt ask a marine surveyor or a marine engineer to visit to check the stern gear, better to be safe than sorry whilst the boat is out of the water.

Watch our YouTube video below for a demonstration of how to check your stern gear and assembly.


We re-iterate; For safety reasons is extremely important that you ensure that the engine is switched off whenever you are working near the propeller on any boat. This blog is for information purposes only, Whilton Marina cannot accept any liability.

Mon May 14, 2018 at 10:30am

We will be exhibiting at The Crick Boat Show 2018

If you are looking to buy a narrow boat but you are unsure where to start your search,a great place to begin is the Crick Boat Show!

The show is held over the three days of the May Bank Holiday weekend and you will be able to visit lots of narrow boat brokers stands, so if you're looking to buy a narrowboat it's a great place to start because you'll be able to compare lots of narrow boat specifications in one place.

We will be exhibiting with our sister companies Venetian Marina and Cosgrove Park. If you are going to the Crick show be sure to come and see us in the Kingfisher Marquee on Stand KF8-15.

Our Crick Show Competition

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages in the week running up to the show for more details of what we are planning for our stand at the show.

To enter our Crick Boat Show Competition - Name The Crane, follow us on our social media sites listed above, and leave a comment with the name of the crane for a chance to win some amazing prizes.

Crick Competition Terms and Conditions.pdf

If you are looking for knowledgeable boating advice at the Crick Boat Show you should come and see Whilton marina, we have been buying and selling narrow boats since 1971, at our purpose built marina at Whilton Locks just 15 mins away by road from the showground.

Whats on

At Crick Boat Show this year visitors can take a free boat trip out onto the Grand Union Canal, Trip boats run every 10 minutes from 10.10am, each boat trip lasts 30 minutes.All trips are run by LNBP Community Boating who will be collecting small donations.

At the show you will also be able to take part in a variety of seminars, hosted by Mark Langley the Technical Editor of Waterways World. The seminars cover a large coverage of questions and answers for selling/buying a narrowboat, ensuring your boat is well maintained and to avoid any problems.if you are a novice or a seasonal boater make sure you do not miss this!

Fancy a go at boat handling? why not give it a go at this years show, the handling sessions are designed to build confidence and knowledge.  Hour long sessions will be taking place through out the weekend. Bookings for courses will be open shortly, keep an eye on this website to book your self in - Crick Boat Show

The Music headliners for this years show includes Dizzy Lizzie and ABBA Revival, Dizzy Lizzy will be performing the 70's & 80's rock songs. ABBA Revival will take to the stage on Sunday to deliver all the old ABBA classics.

Canal & River Trust will be there too, with there wildlife,historic displays,activities, workshops & children's  activities. 

There is also a VIP marquee with a tearoom, the tearoom is a quiet space to relax and enjoy savouries, homemade cakes and a selection of teas and coffees.


Get your Crick Boat Show tickets in advance to save up to 20% off the gate prices. Don’t forget to book your mooring or camping place in plenty of time too as places are limited!

Show dates and times

May Bank Holiday Saturday 26th May 2018 - Monday 28th May 2018

Crick Marina,

West Haddon




The Crick Boat Show 2018 will be open from 10am till 6pm every day except Monday 28th May, when it closes at 5pm. 

Mon Apr 23, 2018 at 2:50pm

The gas locker on a used narrowboat and it's installations will be inspected as part of the Boat Safety Scheme examination, however as there are four years time between each inspection, which is a relatively long time in gas locker terms, it is important to check for deterioration between these inspections. The gas locker can rapidly corrode if not kept regularly maintained and this could mean the difference between a BSS pass and a fail and cost even more down the line.

What to do if you suspect problems with your gas systems and installations

Gas work is regulated by the legislation known as Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations, and there is a strict criteria regulating the people who can work on gas systems who must be a qualified Gas Safe registered person. So if you suspect a problem with your boat's gas installations or fittings, you must get professional advice immediately from a qualified gas fitter, as anyone who comes near the boat could be in danger, see the boat safety scheme website for more information.

Inspect the locker and keep it clean and clear from clutter

The gas lockers only purpose on a boat is to contain and protect the LPG gas cylinders and equipment and to ensure that if a gas leak occurs the gas will drain away from the boat safely. It is very convenient to stow all your cruising items away in the locker, but this will make the boat non compliant to the boat safety standards. You should not use your gas locker as a storage area for mooring equipment or anything else, it is only designed to store the gas cylinders and equipment. Therefore remove any unnecessary objects which might block the drains. The drainage openings in the base of the gas locker will be checked by the BSS examiner to make sure they are not blocked, so you will need to make sure that they are kept clear at all times. The drains need to be above the water line to allow for any escape of gas to drain away safely. The gas bottles in the locker need to be restrained by means of a chain to stop the bottles moving around.

Visually inspect the locker for corrosion, clean it and check the paint for damage which can often be caused when moving or replacing a gas bottle. Keep the locker well painted clean and corrosion free. If there is corrosion it can perforate the locker floor or walls and potentially result in leaking gas entering the boat cabin. Preventing corrosion is far better and cheaper than having to repair it at a later date. Check the lid and hinges and regularly grease the hinges.

Watch our YouTube video below to learn more about a gas locker on a narrow boat.

Tue Apr 10, 2018 at 12:58pm

Will the Proposed Daventry Canal Arm Ever Be Built?

A 1.6 mile canal arm from Daventry to the Grand Union Canal near Daventry in Northamptonshire was given approval by the Daventry planning department in January 2017, However building of the new canal arm is still in doubt due to lack of funding. If funding is found the new arm could see Daventry linked up to the Grand Union Canal. It would include six locks and is hoped that it would terminate in a new waterfront development in the centre of Daventry. The proposal has been on the table for more than ten years, and has been open to public consultation twice over the years.

The new canal arm if built would provide a new pedestrian link from Daventry town centre out into the countryside and to existing canal walks along the towpath to local villages Braunston and Weedon. 

History of the Grand Junction Canal

When the Grand Junction Canal (now the Grand Union Canal) was planned in the 1790's running from Brentford to Braunston a number of canal arms were planned to connect with various towns along the route. Daventry was on the list because the engineers planned to use a millstream locally to feed the canal, but for whatever reason the Daventry arm was never built. Instead the Grand Junction Canal Company dug a huge resevoir just outside daventry where the mill stream was.

After World War II a Birmingham overspill of residents saw Daventry rapidly grow, however the North East of the town including the resevoir and country park remained rural. These days the green fields are rapidly being taken given over to more housing and the town is growing further.

The new canal arm to Daventry was originally proposed by David Griffin, who was on the District Council from the year 2000. David was a canal boater at that time and had read about the history of the Grand Junction Canal and learned how Daventry had missed out in the 1790's, so he started to campaign for the new arm and 12 acre waterfront area. David Griffin sadly passed away in 2013.

In the masterplan for the new canal arm a new town centre area would be construced around the waterfront to include housing, offices, bus interchange, comunity centre, college and a hotel. There would be visitor moorings and a restaurant boat. The new arm which would link up the waterfront to the Grand Union would stretch for 1.6 miles and decend approximately 50ft.

Although Daventry Council has yet to find any developers willing to invest in the scheme they decided to grant permission in January 2017 and have three years from that date to begin construction.

It is proposed to split the project into parts. To start in the middle with a lock free summit level canal. The first stage would also see a small besin built with space for around ten narrowboats to moor. A channel would be constructed to run around the adge of Daventry and the resevoir for approximately one mile and on one level, where there are no obstacles and the land is flat, with a couple of bridges built in the 18th century country style. The channel would create a strip of recreational water through the country park. It is hoped this first stage will encourage developers to get involved.

Stage two is intended to connect the channel to the Grand Union Canal. This part will be more difficult to build as the canal will have to decend about 50ft to meet the canal. A boat lift was originally proposed, but instead it is now planned to create locks. It has been announced that the inclined plane which will be built be named after David  Griffin. After a single decent on this plane, the channel would lead to two conventional locks before the junction with the Grand Union.

The cost is believed to be in the region of 22m, but the council has not announced where the money will come from. It is hoped that a community ifrastructure levy paid by the developers to finance the facilities required for the inhabitants of the new housing can be used towards it.

There is still a great deal of oposition from the local labour party and the town council as well as many local residents, mostly due to cost, calling the proposal "an expensive pond" and wanting more practical spending in the town.

Will the Daventry Canal Arm ever be built, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the plans? let us know by commenting below.

Tue Mar 20, 2018 at 11:46am

Spring is Coming and So is the Narrowboat Season!

Winter is beginning to disappear and Spring is most definitely in the air! The days are lengthening and becoming slightly warmer and the Spring flowers are beginning to blossom.

It's the time of year when everyone starts to look ahead optimistically to the summer season which is just around the corner! Soon the baby lambs will be playing in the fields and the baby ducklings will be hatching. It's that time of year when people are starting to think about summer holidays and to plan ahead.

Buying a Narrow Boat?

If you are a narrowboater or are thinking of becoming one and buying your own boat, it's the time of year you'll need to think about finding the right boat. We can help you there, as we have boats for every budget on sale at our marina. However, as it's such a busy time of year, with lots of buyers wanting to find their ideal narrow boat and narrowboats are selling so quickly, the best thing to do is to register for email updates of new boats that come in for sale at our two marina's, so that when a new boat comes in for sale you'll be one of the first to hear! That way you'll be able to be the 'early bird' that catches the boat! 

Selling a Narrow Boat?

If you are thinking of selling your narrowboat, now is the very best time of year to do so! It's definitely a Sellers Market out there at the moment, with demand very strong and prices remaining good, there's a relatively short supply of good second hand boats available to buy currently, so Now is an excellent time to sell!

If you do want to sell your narrowboat we can help you!

We Offer Three Ways To Sell Your Narrowboat!

  • Cash offer for your canal boat:  We could purchase your boat outright and sort out all the paperwork. 
  •  Brokerage: Let us sell your canal boat for a small fee. Our brokerage terms at 5% + VAT are highly competitive for the service we offer. (minimum charge £1,250 + VAT).

  •  Part Exchange: We are happy to arrange a part exchange your narrowboat for another boat we have for sale at either of our marinas.

Contact us today for a free no-obligation valuation by clicking either link above and we'll call you to discuss your options – you could be pleasantly surprised.

Reasons to sell Through Us

  • Free, no-obligation valuation of your boat: If you’re looking to sell, but wondering how much your canal boat is worth we can either come out to see your canal boat to value it or give you an indication of a guide price.

  • Fair price for your boat: We’re the UK’s biggest narrowboat broker with marina's in two great locations; Cheshire and Northamptonshire.  So we’re experts in understanding how much your boat is worth and what buyers are prepared to pay.  We’ll work hard to get you the best possible price for your boat; we just take a commission when it’s sold.
  • Professional Marketing: We go the extra mile to boost your chances of a fast sale.We’ll give your boat its own page on the website.  Our website has thousands of visitors each month that are looking to purchase a canal boat just like yours.

  • Access to a personalised client login area:  So you can go online whenever you like to see how well the marketing process is going. We also advertise in social media and all the major trade publications, making sure that your boat’s unique qualities are promoted to buyers.

  • Matchmaking Service: We have a large mailing database on the inland waterways, with more than several thousand active buyers registered. 

  • Large Footfall: We’re located Centrally in the UK. On the Grand Union Canal, sandwiched between the London-Midland railway and the M1 motorway so we have great access to transportation links, making it easy for people to come and see all the canal boats that we have for sale. 

  • Our team is on-site seven days a week, 51 weeks of the year. 

  • Free moorings whilst your canal boat is being marketed:

  • Licensing is not necessary when your canal boat being marketed As our marina is offline and privately owned you don’t need to license your canal boat whilst it is being marketed.  

  • Competitive sales-based commission

If you need more information we are happy to talk to you, call us on 01327 842577

Fri Feb 16, 2018 at 6:30pm


Why Moor In A Marina?

In the process of buying a narrowboat or wide beam?  You need to think about the main factor first, where are you going to keep your shiny new boat?

You may have this planned already.. but if you do not, you need to act fast! You may require a mooring spot. There are many marinas spread widely around the country, the problem may be finding a mooring in a marina of your choice or in the area you want to be.

Or are you going to be a continuous cruiser? Cruising the canals on a hot summers day sounds fabulous, although you have to remember what comes after summer, the dreaded winter when the darker nights draw in and the weather gets cold and bitter. Do you really want to keep cruising the canal? think about the possibility of getting stranded out on the canal when the weather freezes and you have to travel miles to get coal and gas. Or you could have the best of both worlds where you cruise the summer and find a mooring spot for the winter. 

Different Types of Moorings

Choosing the right mooring for you is essential, there are lots of mooring options available. the type of mooring that will suit you will depend on how you see your self using your narrowboat. Will you be living off your boat? Do you plan to cruise for weeks on end in the summer? Or do you wish to use your narrowboat as an escape for the weekends?

Moorings are usually priced according to the boats length and location. Moorings can be the most expensive outgoing that comes with owning a narrow boat, so you need to make the right decision on which type of mooring is right for you.

Residential Mooring

Residential moorings are mooring spots with formal planning consent for residential use, this type of mooring is in short supply as they are very popular. One reason for this is that people often struggle to get house mortgages, they cannot afford the monthly cost that comes with living in a house, or they simply do not have the income to live in the area of work e.g London. Therefore they chose the live on a narrowboat permanently and have a residential mooring. Residential moorings when they arise can attract a lot of interest and sell for a lot of money depending on the marinas facilities. Residential moorings are offered around the country by a mix of private operators and navigation authorities. 

Leisure mooring

Leisure moorings are commonly known as Yearly or Seasonal moorings, these are mooring spots which are strictly non residential, for boat owners that need somewhere to store their boat while its not being used. Leisure moorings offer security for boat owners that live elsewhere, but want somewhere secure to keep their boat and use as a base  for using the boat for weekends away, summer breaks or just a break from normality. Again these mooring spots are priced according to the location of the boat length. Some marinas may be more expensive the more facilities they have. 


Marinas are the most common form of moorings, setting the standard high with facilities and amenities. Marinas are usually purpose built and have dedicated basins for moorings. Typically finger pontoons are built to extend into the centre of the marina, each boat has allocated a berth along side one of these pontoons. 

When choosing a marina for your boat you need to consider the following :

  • Security 
  • Facilities 
  • Electricity & Water 
  • Boat yard & Chandlery on site
  • Location 


Does the marina have a strong security net work? after all you want a secure place to store your boat. Has it got CCTV around the marina, or a onsite resident?


Marinas do vary massively in terms of facilities which can effect the price of the mooring space. Generally marinas have sanitary facilities such as toilets and shower blocks, but its worth double checking.

Consider whether the marina has a car park, will you be needing to leave your car while you set sail along the canal on a weeks holiday, again is this car park secure?

Larger marinas will have a Chandlery onsite stocking coal, gas, diesel and have a pump out facility. There may be a cafe onsite as well! even better for your morning fry up!

The marina may offer public WI-FI, ideal for planning your route beforehand. 

Electricity & Water 

A big draw for a marina mooring is to be able to connect to the shoreline power, and have water access. Most Marinas have an electricity & water supply at the front of the finger pontoons allowing you to run your 240V electricity cable/ water hose along to your boat, marinas will often ask you to unplug your electricity supply when you're not living aboard the boat if electric is included in the cost of the mooring.  

Boat Yard & Chandlery 

Some marinas you find may have a slip way you could use for blacking and general maintenance on your boat. There could possibly be a workshop in the marina, which could be beneficial as there will be engineers on site to help you with any questions and issues you may have. 

Where will you moor your narrowboat?

Mon Feb 5, 2018 at 11:40am

Our Top Tips for Getting Your Used Narrowboat to Pass the Boat Safety Scheme

The Boat Safety Scheme is a public safety initiative owned by Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency. It's purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions or pollution harming people or the environment on the Inland Waterways of the UK.

Just like a car has an MOT, on most of the UK's waterways, a boat needs to be licenced, insured and have a valid BSS certificate before it can cruise. A BSS lasts for four years and needs renewing every four years by a qualified BSS examiner.

Liquid fuelled heating and cooking appliances must have a means of shutting off the fuel supply within easy reach. LPG appliance flames will be examined to make sure they are burning correctly, the examiner will look for a nice yellow even flame.


All appliances except portable or electrical equipment must be secured to stop it moving on the boat.

Any appliance with a flue must have one that terminates in open air outside any covered area. Flue  pipes will be checked for holes or loose joints, and must conform to manufacturers instruction.

Appliances and their surroundings must not show signs of heat damage or fuel leaks.

Stoves and wood burners must not have gaps or cracks which could allow carbon monoxide to escape into the boat. So check for cracked ill fitting glass doors, check the joints and flue connections.

Stoves need to have sufficient clearance around them to stop combustible material getting hot nearby. 

Above is a picture of a solid fuel stove on a used narrowbot


Ventilation is very important because the total air volume within a boat can be very small. Small quantities of noxious gasses such as carbon monoxide can easily build up from appliances, causing dangerous levels within the small air space. A constant flow of fresh air will dispose of any harmful gasses and top up oxygen levels within the boat. The Boat Safety examiner will do a calculation to work out what ventilation is required in each boat, depending on what types of appliances are on board, boat space and how many people aboard. Appliances are categorsied into groups which require different levels of ventilation for safety. So for example; a gas cooker would need a particularly high level of ventilation due to them emitting fumes and also using up oxygen. If the appliance has a flue however, such as a solid fuel stove, it requires less ventilation due to the flue which takes away the fumes from the boat.

Ventilation must be in the form of both high level and low level vents. High level vents such as mushroom vents are brass mushrooms on the roof of narrowboats. Low level vents are often louvred vented panels fitted over holes cut in the doors of the boat. The ventilation needs to be permanent and not able to be shut off. So you need to make sure that any vents fitted are kept clear and cleaned regularly to prevent dust and dirt building up and blocking the vent.

The picture above illustrates the inside of a mushroom vent on a narrowboat clogged with dust and dirt. In another of our blogs we discuss how to clean mushroom vents.

If you have any gas or solid fuel appliances on board it is safest to fit a carbon monoxide alarm and smoke detectors on board too.

Stay safe and keep your canal boat well maintained.

Mon Jan 8, 2018 at 10:30am

Baton down the hatches bad weather is on its way!  

The good old British weather is a general topic discussed most days, here in the UK. With most of us saying we would just like four proper seasons with the corresponding weather, at least we would know what we were getting. But as each year goes by we realise we get what we are given weather wise and we have to make the most of it.

With the summer over, we now have to prepare ourselves as the really bad weather will be on its way and this can cause some issues for boaters who livaboard over the winter months. By being prepared and not panicking when the weather changes, you and your narrow boat will come safely out the other side ready for the spring.  

It has to be said that maneuvering a narrow boat is very hard work in the wind. Trying to steer a very long boat in a long narrow channel on a windy day does have its challenges, and no matter how talented you are at steering, all this changes when the wind gets involved.

Therefore our advice is to moor up during windy spells or you might find cruising becomes more of a contact sport! If the water is flat and smooth then you can consider it safe to continue cruising, however if any sort of high wind movement starts, it might be wise to find somewhere safe to moor. Keep an eye out for weather warnings on the news or through your phone using a weather app.

Our advice during extreme weather conditions is ideally not to cruise, so if the winds are above force 6 its best to moor up. However some boaters feel this is not necessary, so it all depends on how confident you feel about keeping your vessel under control in adverse weather conditions.

Mooring up can also become a little more difficult in the wind, trying to pull the boat in against the wind is extremely hard work, especially if you are trying to do this task on your own. Fortunately the canal community are a very friendly bunch and if you are in any difficulties then someone will come to the rescue if you are near other boaters.

Our advice is; keep your eye on the weather and if you feel you may get into difficulties then find somewhere to stop before the bad weather takes effect.

Once you are moored up its wise to make sure that any items on the outside of your boat are securely tied down or removed until the bad weather has passed. Also check your canopies are secure and your boat is tied up securely.

The towpaths, locks and your boat can become rather dangerous over the winter months as the rain and mud makes everywhere very slippery, add into the factor that it may also be windy or icy, these areas can become potential accident areas. Take extra care and make extra time to carry out outside duties. If it isn't essential try not to use the locks in high winds.

Winter Survival Tips  

The waterways is much quieter place over the winter months as many boaters decide to return to the land as they want a break from cruising and want their creature comforts over the colder months. The thought of days full of rain, wind and snow aboard a narrow boat isn't for all of us!

However for those who do decide to stay on-board, the canal network becomes an idyllic winter wonderland for those who stay to enjoy it.

Follow our simple but useful tips to make the time you spend on your boat this winter as safe and as enjoyable as possible.  

Keeping warm  

The key to a successful winter on your boat is to make sure you are warm and to do this you are going to need one or maybe two heating options. Many boaters have a multi stove as well as either gas or diesel heating.  

Multi-fuel stoves are still the most popular option and come in a variety of prices, shapes and sizes. They are easy to install and even easier to use. Using coal or wood a multi-fuel stove works through dry heat and the fire will draw in much of the condensation from the boat.                  

*Diesel-fired central heating works the same as a domestic boiler found in a house. Simple to use and compatible with a timer, it will heat the radiators and provide hot water. Popular choices are Eberspächer, Webasto or Mikuni.  

*Gas central heating is another option and this will also allow you to heat your radiators and will provide hot water. However, it is not compatible with a timer because Gas central heating on a narrowboat runs from your gas bottle.  

*Both diesel and gas central heating need a yearly service by a qualified engineer.  

Cruising Advice  

Cruising can be affected by strong winds, which we covered above and also if the canal freezes. If the ice becomes more than a few cms thick you should NOT break through it with your boat. Breaking the ice by trying to cruise through it, will put a great strain on your engine and it will also damage the hull, scraping away the blacking. So in situations where cruising isn’t possible, just sit tight until the ice thaws. It’s really not worth damaging your boat; patience is all you need in these situations.  


Keep a good stock of fuel (coal, gas, wood) – it may seem obvious but running out can be disastrous, and that usually happens when the weather is at its worst.  

Keep your water tank full – taps on the cut do freeze during winter and a frozen pipe will disrupt the supply, so don’t leave filling up until last minute. Have around 30% of anti-freeze in your water and heating system.

And lastly stock up on food and drink. You never know when the bad weather might keep you from getting out, so by stocking up you wont go hungry.  


You can keep up with any stoppages that are happening on the network by checking on the Canal and River Trust website. Stoppages occur over the winter months allowing maintenance and repairs to be carried out and also if there are additional problems like; a fallen tree that is blocking the way and needs removing.       

Dress Code  

Now is most definitely not the time to be a fashion victim. Wearing the appropriate clothes will make even the coldest days bearable. Layering is the best way to keep the cold winds out and sensible non-slip foot wear will keep you safe on wet and icy surfaces.

Be sure you have a warm coat and waterproofs to protect you from the elements. If you plan on working the locks you’ll also want some hard wearing gloves to protect your hands. 

Make sure that you dry your clothes out properly if they get wet, or next time you go to put them on you might not want to if they are still damp!

Until next time keep safe and warm!

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