Everything You Need to Know When Buying a Narrowboat


People who have never experienced the sense of adventure and simultaneous peace and tranquillity of touring the UK’s waterways on a canal boat are certainly missing out. The next level of ‘canal boat life’ is to invest in your very own narrowboat or barge, and here is everything you need to know when buying your own.

Always Have a Full Survey Conducted

Most importantly, if you have already whittled down your shortlist to a couple of potential boats, you must always pay for a full survey to be conducted ahead of purchase. Just in the same way as buying a house or flat, even with the keenest eye and viewing the boat with an expert, you may either miss something glaringly wrong or be taken in by the aesthetics and forget to look underneath the covers.

Be Aware of the Specific Maintenance Needs

When you buy a second-hand vehicle, whether it be a car, van, or boat, you will naturally expect to encounter (hopefully minor) issues considerably more regularly than if you bought a brand-new one.

There are, as you would expect, many elements to narrowboat maintenance, but checking every aspect of any potential boat before you buy will help to eliminate the chance of expensive renovation further down the line.

Aside from unexpected issues, the following are some of the more common maintenance requirements regularly necessary for narrowboats of any shape or size:

  • Central Heating
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Gas Installations
  • Servicing of the Engine
  • Electrical Considerations
  • Joinery
  • Plumbing

Additionally, you must also be sure that your new narrowboat is secured against opportunistic intruders and thieves and not solely rely on the CCTV systems when moored at a marina.

Embrace the Canal Boat Community

As beautifully peaceful as setting sail along the canal on a quiet Saturday morning is and as beneficial as spending quality time on your boat alone most definitely is, it would be a great shame to deny yourself the opportunity to make a whole new set of friends.

The esteemed Warwickshire ring boating guide would be a great place to start and would serve as the ideal introduction to the canal-boating community, with everyone from complete newbies to seasoned boaters joining in together. You’ll find many tips from experienced boat owners when joining a community.

Lighting the Fire

If you either intend to take a winter holiday on your boat and want to buy it now for this purpose or else want to make your new narrowboat your home eventually, you need to learn how to light the fire the right way.

There are generally two fire-lighting options depending on the boat you choose, either a mechanical heating system or a multi-fuelled simple stove. Always make sure that you know how fire is lit on the particular boat you are potentially buying before you sign on the dotted line. As a general rule, you must ensure the flue is entirely clear of debris, the chimney cap is removed, and the ash pan is completely empty.

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