Now that it’s summer time boaters want to be out and about on the Cut as much as possible. But before you untie your ropes spare a thought for your lovely boat, and treat her to some TLC. She’ll be much more likely to chug along reliably if you make some simple maintenance checks before you leave. Some little jobs can be done by yourself, others may be best undertaken by a marine engineer.

1) Before each trip check the engine oil level, engine coolant level and the bilge levels.

2) When you’ve moored up at the end of the day grease the stern gland by turning the greaser to just beyond the point where you feel resistance. This will stop the drip. Check your bilge levels and pump out if necessary and check the inspection tray under the engine.

3) If you use the boat regularly then check the battery electrolyte levels once a month. You can also check the tension of the fan belt monthly and tighten if necessary. Have a look around the pipework for any diesel leaks and tighten the engine mount nuts if necessary.

4) From time to time you may want to check the cabin bilge for water leaks. These can come from the water pump, shower pump, sink hoses, central heating and pump-out pipes. (We once had a leak from our pump-out pipe and the smell alerted us to this quite quickly!) If you hear the water pump cycling intermittently even when you are not running a tap this can be a sign that you have a leak somewhere. If you’re leaving the boat for any length of time it’s wise to turn off the water pump, as an unchecked leak could empty the entire water tank into the bilges! If you do suspect you have a leak check all connections and tighten jubilee clips. Have a look at the connections on the pump.

5) Your engine manual will tell you how often the oil should be changed but to be honest I leave this to our marine engineer when we have our regular service. He will also change the oil filters.

6) Gas flames, on the water heater, boiler (and fridge if you have a gas fridge) should burn blue not yellow. If you see a build-up of black soot around the appliance, or a yellow flame, phone a registered Corgi gas specialist for advice.

7) If you live aboard then you may be re-lighting your diesel stove when autumn approaches. A drip-feed stove needs cleaning out every 6 to 8 weeks. This can be an unpleasant but necessary job. Clean the glow plug now and then if you have a diesel compact boiler such as an Eberspacher.

8) If you don’t live aboard then make sure you leave the boat safely, turning off the gas supply, the water pump and the battery master switches. Give the stern tube another good twist for luck! Then pat the old girl on her steel-topped roof and thank her for another reliable cruise.

Checking the boat is ready for sale? You may like How to Sell a Boat: The Ultimate Guide

Looking to buy your first boat this summer? Check out How to Buy a Boat: The Ultimate Guide

Disclaimer: These tips are for guidance only, and this is not an exhaustive list. If you have any concerns or queries about undertaking your own narrowboat maintenance seek the advice of a marine engineer.

Image credit: Widebeam 60ft for sale: 1 x Diesel 52hp, Canalline 52


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