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winteriseing narrow boat

we are new to narrowboating and are looking to winterise our boat for the first time what do we need to do

Asked by: Brian Finney  | 11.49am, Thursday 14 October

WW says:

There are several things that need to be done to "winterise" a boat, but they also depend on how you intend to use the boat through winter.
They revolve around avoiding frost damage (which can be very expensive!) and damage from damp (and, to a lesser degree, rodents). It is also a good time for some preventative maintenance.
All engines benefit from an oil and filter change- and possibly running with a flushing oil, before removing the old oil and filter.
Water cooled engines with a skin tank (keel cooling) need to have the correct level of antifreeze (all year round, to avoid corrosion) and this can be measured with a special hydrometer. If in doubt, drain the tank (but DON'T throw the antifreeze overboard, as it is toxic to aquatic life) and top up with an antifreeze solution that you have premixed. If you don't pre-mix, then there is a chance that you will have parts of the solution that aren't protected.
If you have a wet exhaust system, then you need to drain the raw waterpump and exhaust line- and should check the engine handbook.
Aircooled engines might just require a wipe-round with an oil-dampened rag, to remove any dust that has formed.
The bilge should be drained- and a good time to clean. Top up the batteries and ensure the diesel tank is topped up, to reduce condensation collecting. It is useful before this, to drain (or replace) the fuel/water seperator and the engine final filter, and drain any remaining water from the bottom of the diesel tank.
Consider fitting a battery charger, or taking them home, if you won't be using the boat- or fit a solar panel (around 5W per 100Ah of batteries will be enough to stop charge loss).
Also, ensure that that stern tube is not just relying on grease to stop water coming in- if it has been leaking lots, consider replacing the packing properly- unless it is a water lubricated (rubber) stern gland.
Internally, isolate the water tank (it can cope with being frozen, just don't have it full, to allow expansion of any ice formed)- and drain the water pump, calorifier (if fitted) and if you have an instant gas water heater, ensure this is drained.
Ensure that any central heating circuit has the proper level of antifreeze- treat it like the engine, only adding pre-mixed fluid.
Clean and drain all vents to the gas locker, and make sure that all ventilation outlets are clear of spiders webs, etc.
Inside, open all lockers, removing any foods that could invite furry visitors! Stand berth cushions on their end, and either pack bedding into vacuum bags, or take home.
Leave a couple of windows open, so a good throughput of air can keep mould, etc at bay. A closed interior will make things worse, so encourage good ventilation.
If you can, during the winter, run the engine for a few hours- ideally, take the boat out for a few hours cruising, and have the heating on, to get the engine worked well, and to help combat damp. The more a boat is used in winter, the less maintenance it will require in the spring generally- and you will have peace of mind about the boat- as well as enjoying some cracking cruising!
Any further questions, just ask us!

Mark Langley  | 1.10PM, Sunday 17 October

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