Spring is now officially here, so now you can finally get your boat Summer ready!
The time has come to de-winterise your narrowboat and get ready to go cruising around the inland waterways again.
With over three thousand miles of canals and rivers in Britain, we’re sure you want to get out there and start exploring!
We know this is a task every narrowboat owner wants to get on with, but do you know how to get your boat Summer ready?
There are some similar jobs to when you prepared your boat for Winter. However, there are some other things you will now need to take into account.
Check your engine
Arguably one of the most important things you need to check and maintain is your engine.
There are some common issues you may encounter, but they can usually be sorted if you catch them in time.
Allowing your bilge to get full of oil and water is very dangerous. Leaving this mixture means it could get into the engine and could have disastrous consequences.
Use a product such as Owanett engine bilge cleaner and de-greaser to keep everything clean and working in tip top condition.
*Remember, you must not discharge the oil with bilge pumps into the waterways. Instead, manually dispose of it ashore.*
Loose bolt connection to the propeller shaft
The bolts that connect the propeller shaft to the engine can over time become loose. Movement of this shaft will eventually sheer the propeller off, resulting in a loss of propulsion.
It is possible to even need to have the propeller shaft replaced as well if the propeller has damaged it.
Damaged gearbox or drive plate
Go easy on your gearboxes. They don’t have a clutch arrangement and so tend to receive a bit of abuse. Make sure to get it serviced regularly.
Drive plates are usually the victim when hitting something under water. Be sure to have this looked at if you had a particularly hard bump recently.
Damaged alternator belt
Check your alternator belts before setting off. All you need to do to check them is to simply twist the belt and if the edges look a little ragged, if there are cracks appearing, or if it is making a ‘squealing’ sound, it’s time for a new belt.
If you hear a similar sound on a new belt, it just needs adjusting.
*Remember to always carry a spare alternator belt.*
Inspect your hull
Although this can be an expensive thing to do, we recommend getting your boat out of the water once a year so you can inspect your hull.
As it is constantly hidden under the water, you will not know the extent of any damage, rust, pitting, corrosion, leaks etc. There are professional inspectors that can go into extreme detail to let you know exactly what the issues are and how you can combat them.
It is also recommended to get your narrowboat blackened every few years or so. As the boat needs to be removed from the water to do this, it is the perfect opportunity for you to be able to get a good look at your hull and to fix and protect anything you were not aware of.
Now that the big things are out of the way, you still need to check out the smaller secondary things.
- Check your oil levels
- Replace oil filters
- Inspect battery and refill with de-ionised water
- Look for and tighten any loose bolts
- Check the bilge pumps and bow thrusters are in working order
- Check drive belts for tension and condition
- Inspect cables, ropes and fenders for signs of wear and tear
- Check deck boards are sound and safe
- Check gas connection
- Stock up on gas
- Test smoke detectors
- Check toilet is working
- Top up on toilet chemicals
- Check fuses and carry replacements
- Top up antifreeze
- Check weed hatch and propeller for debris
- Make sure the weed hatch seal is in working order
- Test the horn and make sure your headlights are in working order
Although not a necessity, you may also want your boat to be aesthetically pleasing. If your boat’s gelcoat has become dull and lost its vibrancy, you could use a product such as Polytrol.
It is a penetrating oil which restores the colour and appearance of dull and faded surfaces caused by exposure to sunlight, rain and pollution. It is so simple to apply by using a cloth or soft brush and is ready to wipe off in just 10 minutes!
Take a look at this past blog post where a customer used Polytrol on their narrowboat to revive the bodywork and make it look as good as new again.
Remember, taking the time to maintain your narrowboat will mean you will save yourself a lot of money in the future when it comes to repairs and call-outs. Keeping up with the maintenance will allow you to keep cruising along for years to come.
After everything seems to be in working order, you are now ready to get cruising. Just don’t forget to stock up on groceries!
If you have any comments or suggestions, please share them below – we love hearing from you!