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Got a technical question or a boating query? Post your quandaries here and pick the brains of the WW team. You can also add your answers to others' questions, or browse through previous answers.

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Throttle problem on new narrowboat

A friend has purchased a new narrowboat. The throttle lever is in neutral, the end pulls out and allows boat to go forward. When reversing the throttle lever goes back to neutral and then has to pull arm out again to into reverse. This lever is very stiff and sometimes needs two hands to operate it and thus takes her eyes of where she is going. Also, there is no facility when in neutral to rev the engine for charging batteries when moored. There is only a minute charge showing when the engine is idling. Is this normal for a new boat to have no facility for revving the engine?

Asked by: john potter  | Saturday 10 July, 5.27pm | 3 answers

Semi-traction or Leisure batteries?

Have 4 110ahr domestic batteries wired up to give 24v, charged via Adverc. Get fairly heavy use throughout year (around 90 days on boat, but not live-aboard.
Have always used semi-traction batteries, and have had 5 years use from this lot, but now need replacing.
Would Leisure batteries be a better bet? Certainly cheaper than semi-traction, but almost certain to not last as long. Any experience/views gratefully received.
Has this been covered in a WW article in the past, if so, when?

Asked by: Dave Martin  | Thursday 8 July, 3.12pm | 1 answer

Cleaning of hulls?

Hello, We are moving from sailing on the sea onto the canals. Every year we clean off, scrub and anti-foul the hull. This makes a big difference to the speed, commonly going from 5.5 to 6.5 knots at the same engine revs. We notice that, on the canal, many hulls are weedy and rough and never cleaned. The speeds on the canal are between two and four knots so the drag must be quite high with a surface area of about 715 sq ft on a full size boat. I know that many are now having smoother epoxy on the bottom but still no-one seems to scrub off.
Do narrowboaters notice a big difference after blacking? If so, why do they not spend an hour or two scrubbing the fouling off?
Baffled, Andrew and Val.

Asked by: Andrew Durrant  | Tuesday 6 July, 10.09am | 3 answers

Boat security

I am considering putting a GPS tracker on my boat. Obviously it needs to be hidden away. Do these devices work on steel narrow boats without them having to be placed near a window where they would be obvious to a thief?

Asked by: Chris Sims  | Monday 5 July, 9.38pm | 1 answer

what is the difference between trad and semi boats

Please excuse my ignorance but what is the difference between a trad and semi trad narrow boat is it the age or style? As a complete novice to the narrowboating world I find it all a bit confusing.

Asked by: angie bates  | Saturday 3 July, 5.47pm | 1 answer


Hi. Have seen a narrowboat with a 3kw. pure sinewave inverter. Was told this would be sufficient to run a washer/dryer, is this true, or would I need a generator, and whats a travel pack? Many thanks.

Asked by: Anthony Burnell  | Wednesday 30 June, 5.53am | 2 answers

Rotary washing line for narrow boat

Hi, we have bought a umbrella holder to clamp onto the tiller and would like to be able to put a rotary clothes driver into the clamp. All the rotary lines we have found are quite large (turning circle of 1.97m is the smallest) does anyone have any ideas where we can get a mini rotary? thanks

Asked by: Linda McLaughlin  | Sunday 27 June, 8.08pm | 3 answers

Replating bottom of narrowboat

I own a 1983 Mike Heywood 38ft narrowboat which has just been surveyed. Some deterioration and pitting was found in the steel bottom plate(originally 6mm) and the surveyor said it should be replated within about 12 nmonths. I keep the boat at a Boat Club near Warwick (no suitable facilities for this work) and would be grateful if anyone can suggest/recommend boat engineers in this area to carry out the work at a reasonable standard and price?

Asked by: Angela Richards  | Tuesday 22 June, 2.12pm | no answers yet - add one

Central Heating question

Hypothetical question: If there is a gas boiler connected to finrads throughout the boat (and a calorifier) and a solid fuel stove, could the stove be replaced with one that includes a back boiler and just connect it in series (or parallel?) to the existing central heating system at the closest point?

Asked by: David Pinney  | Tuesday 22 June, 1.56pm | 2 answers

Solid Fuel Cooker

Going to see a narrowboat with a Rayburn cooker, having only used gas before was wondering how easy and practical they are to use, and how legal is it to just chop down branches on the side of the cut for wood, and would fresh branches burn? or do you have to let them dry? Many thanks.

Asked by: Anthony Burnell  | Monday 21 June, 10.38am | 2 answers

Varnish woodwork in new fit out

Just fitting out a narrowboat with tongue and groove oak and oak faced ply. Should I seal the back of the oak before I put it up? What varnish would you recommend? Many thanks, Peter Thompson

Asked by: mrpthompson  | Saturday 19 June, 5.45pm | 2 answers

GP surgery

My wife and I are from New Zealand and we intend to spend 2 years on your canals cotinuous cruising.My wife has a UK pasport and I am a Kiwi.Our problem is a GP surgery and prescripions,can you help? Geoff NZ

Asked by: Geoff Griffin  | Friday 18 June, 11.40pm | 2 answers


I am currently planning my life on a narrowboat. I would like to move around alot but it will have to be local to my place of work in Birmingham. I know marinas are an option but it would not suit my personality. Could I move around and stay in different places for a couple of weeks at a time?

Asked by: Lee Kruba  | Wednesday 16 June, 5.37pm | 1 answer


if i had a continuous cruzing licence can i still pay for private mooring for say 3 months or do i have to keep moving thanks

Asked by: andy wakler  | Monday 14 June, 10.17pm | 1 answer

Battery charger & inverter

I have a max 6 amp supply on landline in marina. Can I run a battery charger permanently on my 5 x 110 amp/hr batteries and have a 2Kw inverter permanently connected? This would allow me to occaisionally draw more than the 6 amps allowed on the land line. I normally have lights, bilge and water pumps and radio on 12 volts, and fridge (absorbtion), tv (15" flat screen), microwave, lap top and various rechargeables (mobile, torch etc.)on mains. Do I need to do anything about earthing the mains side, and will there be increased decay of the sacrificial anodes.
thanks in anticipation
Robsuch drank

Asked by: Rob Francis  | Monday 14 June, 2.39pm | 2 answers

Canal Maps

Is there a source for electronic canal maps online?

Asked by: Mervyn Charlton  | Saturday 12 June, 5.35pm | 4 answers

Medical Support

We are (my wife a I) about to start planning our life on a narrow boat. Selling our home etc. and buying an appartment and then a boat. Can anybody advise on medical cover, attending GP surgery for monthly prescripions etc. or for more general medical issues. We intend to live aboard and travel for most of the year.

Asked by: Mike Davies  | Friday 11 June, 11.58am | 1 answer


Hi, as a newby to boating, I know of pumpout and cassette toilets, but composting? I have found out that the waste is heat dried and shaken into a powder and you have to empty the tray 3-4 times a year. Downside is cost, £2000-£3000, upside is savings on pumpouts and emptying of cassettes and as an exteral flue is included, little or no smell, so why is this not the toilet of choice? Or am I missing something? Your comments would be welcome. Many thanks, Tony.

Asked by: Anthony Burnell  | Wednesday 9 June, 10.14am | 3 answers

What paint is best to use to black bottom of narrowboat?

We are on river chelmer and our only access to under the waterline on the narrowboat is by craning the boat out. We want to paint the bottom and wish to use something that would last as long as possible to avoid regularly craning the boat out. What paint/medium do you suggest?

Asked by: Janette Allen  | Tuesday 8 June, 11.24am | 4 answers

The 1908 boat 'LAPWING'

I have heard the name 'LAPWING' being used by a canal boat company - The Floating boater. I have visited this narrow boat in Little Venice, London. This boat was built circa 1912/13.
My father was born on a boat named LAPWING in yiewsley in 1908. Would you be able to help me find any details of this earlier boat please?

Asked by: Anthony Mason  | Friday 4 June, 7.48am | 3 answers

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