How To Keep Warm On Your Narrow Boat This Winter
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Mon Jan 16, 2017 at 11:05am

Winter Cruising

There are many advantages and plenty of fun to have during the winter months on the canal network, so if you fancy staying aboard this winter follow our top tips to staying warm on your boat this winter.

Keep a good stock of fuel (coal, gas, wood)

It’s very important that you keep a good supply of fuel on board, so that if you get stuck aboard you are not going to run out of these vital supplies. 

Types Of Heating On a Narrowboat

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

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

Fill Your Water Tank

Another good idea is to fill up your tank, so there’s less chance of running out of water and having problems refilling if the water pipes are frozen at the water points along the canal. Also fill some additional water containers as a backup.

*Have around 30% of anti-freeze in your water and heating system

Stock Up The Larder

You never know when bad weather might keep you from getting out, so it’s essential that you keep your cupboards well stocked with food and drink in case the worse happens and you are unable to get to the shops. 

Check For Stoppages

Over the Winter The Canal and River Trust use these quieter months to carry out maintenance and repairs. By using this link you can check whereabouts work will be taking place. In many cases they have to close the waterway and occasionally the towpath, so it’s essential to stay in the loop of any stoppages, so that your cruising isn’t affected. 

Dress Code

Now is not the time to be a fashion victim! Dress for the weather not your next Instagram selfie. Having said that there is no need to look dowdy, there are plenty of stylish yet practical clothing on the market. Layers and waterproof clothing is a must to make the outside jobs more bearable and keep you in good health. 


Take turns at the stern with the rest of the crew; getting hypothermia isn’t going to do you any good! When it’s your turn you will find a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and the tiller bar in the other is a good combination.

If the canal has frozen we advise you NOT to break the ice if it is thick (anything over half an inch is classed as thick). 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.

If the canal freezes and has two or more inches of ice, then accept that you are going to be staying in your current location until the ice thaws.

If you decide you would prefer to not cruise over the winter months, and do not have moorings, then you may wish to apply for a winter moorings permit, there are basically three options available, find out more here


When looking for places to moor it’s a good idea to find somewhere near the shops or indeed a good pub! At least this way if the bad weather kicks in you will be able to buy provisions and be sociable.

Take extra care getting on and off your vessel, the icy weather will make all surfaces slippery.

Finally enjoy the luxury of having your favourite waterways to yourself this winter whilst the other boaters have gone ashore.