Narrowboating, without a doubt, is one of the most idyllic lifestyles in Britain. However, it can be a little less so once winter’s subzero temperatures, dark evenings, and icy canals draw in.
Staying on your narrowboat over winter can have its advantages though. Now the popular summer season is over, a lot of the time you’ll have some of Britain’s best waterways all to yourself. So, if you’re living on your narrowboat in winter, how do you survive? Luckily, Insure4Boats have you covered, with our winter narrowboat survival guide.
1. Mooring in a smart location
If you’re living on a narrowboat in winter, you should avoid mooring in an unfamiliar area. If you’re mooring somewhere you suspect you’ll be a while, it’s definitely a good idea to tie up in a spot where you can easily buy provisions to keep you going.
We also recommend mooring near a good pub – nothing like an endless supply of hot food and cold beer to keep the cold at bay!
Image credit: Whilton Marina
Perhaps the biggest concern about living aboard during winter is how you’re going to keep warm.
One of the most popular options for narrowboaters are multi-fuel stoves since they’re incredibly easy to both install and use. Plus, using wood or coal to create a fire which will draw in plenty of condensation from the inside of the boat, will keep your narrowboat cosy and damp-free.
If a multi-fuel stove is your heating method of choice, then always make sure you have plenty of wood or coal in your fuel stock. You don’t want to be caught cold without any if the weather turns nasty!
3. Dress warm. Drink warmer.
Dressing warm while on your narrowboat in winter almost goes without saying. However, being below deck when it’s nice and toasty can make you forget how cold it really is outside. If you’re facing the elements, you need to be properly kitted out.
We recommend making sure you have a good pair of winter boots with decent grip, so there’s no chance of slipping on those frosty days – on or off your boat.
A coat that is both waterproof and warm is also vital if the weather decides to turn both cold and wet – as is often the case here in the UK. If it’s a particularly chilly day, and you’re operating the locks, then make sure you pop on some hard-wearing gloves to keep your hands warm and safe.
The best way to keep you nice and toasty? Keep a steady stream of hot drinks flowing your way. Take it in turns among your group to be on hot drink duty – this way you’ll never be without a brew while you’re cruising down a wintery canal.
4. A slow cooker
As insignificant as this might sound, we think narrowboating and a slow cooker go hand in hand. Not only can they make a whole range of dishes, but they also use very little electricity – ideal for narrowboats where electrical output is limited.
We also reckon that coming out of the cold, after a long day of working the locks, to a bubbling stew or creamy casserole, that’s ready-to-eat, is a pretty good way to beat those winter blues!
5. (Don’t) break the ice
If you find yourself in a position where the canal or marina ahead of you has frozen, then we advise you not to break the ice with your boat if it’s anything over half an inch thick. If you try and push through the ice it will put an enormous amount of strain on the engine. Not to mention that other narrowboaters won’t be too happy if you cause pieces of broken ice to bump into their boats! Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is be patient and wait it out until the ice starts to thaw. Now, where was that hot drink?
Image credit: Venetian Marina
6. Insurance that has you covered
One of the most important factors to make sure you survive the winter? Making sure your boat is insured with cover that’ll protect you and your narrowboat throughout the cold season.
Fortunately, Insure4Boats’ specialist narrowboat insurance protects you all year round. You can also add on Frost Cover for complete peace of mind when the temperatures drop. What’s more, we’re even offering an EXCLUSIVE 20% introductory discount on every narrowboat policy – so why not get your instant online quotetoday?