Prepare your canalboat for winter

If the summer cruising season is but a distant memory and you’re planning on leaving your boat un-attended for any length of time over the colder winter months here’s out top 10 tips to keep your boat safe:

  • Keep water out of the engine and gear ceasing by filling up the tank with the correct ratio of diesel and fuel conditioner. If you’d prefer not to leave a full tank of diesel over winter, get an engine water filter fitted as this will do the same job.
  • Empty water tank and disconnect water pump. Leave all taps in the open position and run dry to remove any traces of water. Ensure the shower is drained and shower head removed, with the valves left open. Lag your hot and cold pipes to avoid burst water pipes and top up anti-freeze in any sealed heating system including radiators connected to the boiler.
  • Test the bilge pumps. Consider investing in an automatic bilge pump, which will kick in immediately if a leak develops and prevent flooding.
  • Grease the stern tube before leaving the boat, the grease acts like a seal whilst not in use.
  • Use a silicone-free lubricant to grease the terminals, electrical and gear/throttle slides.
  • Place an oily rag in the exhaust outlet and to cover the air inlet to the engine, this will help stop corrosion of the valve gear.
  • Batteries should be fully charged and ideally left on a float charge from a purpose-built marine battery charger.
  • Make sure the electrolyte level is correct and battery terminals are free from corrosion. Make sure there is sufficient ventilation inside your narrowboat, as condensation can build up during the colder months and result in mould.
  • Remove any soft furnishings and store in a warm and dry environment. Boats should not be left for long periods without some form of inspection especially after a spell of bad weather.
  • Check mooring ropes, batteries, bilge pump and look for leaks.