Preventing Water Ingress In Narrowboats

It is important to prevent water ingress in your narrowboat as prevention is always better than cure. It is much easier and less costly than trying to deal with the problems that it causes.

Water ingress into the engine bay can result in:

Damage to electrical components such as starters and alternators. In turn this can splash onto the engine whilst in operation, causing it to rust.

The narrowboat sitting lower in the water. This means that any outlets from the boat are closer to water level and at risk of failure. For instance, water entering outlets from sinks or showers can result in water overflowing inside the cabin. This is a greater risk in busy areas with passing boats causing waves.

A build-up of water in the bilges can result in:

Water eventually seeping into the gearbox and contaminating the oil, which will lead to gearbox failure in the long run.

Check your dip stick to see if the oil has been contaminated. If it has, there will be a creamy residue in the oil. You will therefore need to flush out the engine and replace the oil before you use it.

In extreme circumstances, it can cause your narrowboat to sink. This is a greater risk if your vessel is left unattended for long periods of time, so frequent maintenance is key. Here are some steps that you can take to prevent water ingress from causing problems in your narrowboat.

  1. Repair or replace worn deck boards over the engine bay. Maintain the marine-ply deck boards with regular coats of paint or varnish, taking care to protect the edges and replace them when maintenance is no longer effective.
  2. Keep the channel around the deck boards clear and regularly check that the drainage holes aren’t blocked. A build-up of debris means that water will flow over the channel sides and into the engine bay.
  3. Check that the stern gland is in good working order. The stern gland prevents the ingress of water where the propeller shaft exits the hull of the narrowboat. The specific maintenance required will depend on the type of stern gland.
    1. Brass collar stern glands require lubricating daily with special water-resistant grease.
    2. Rubber collar stern glands require less maintenance as they are lubricated by a controlled ingress of water, but they do need checking regularly to ensure that they are working effectively.

Removing water from the bilge

Water can collect in the cabin bilge from condensation, leaking water and waste pipes. Narrowboats are usually designed so that any water that leaks into the cabin bilge will drain down towards the rear of the boat. Therefore, a bilge pump in good working order will help you to keep your boat safe and dry. One with an automatic setting will automatically pump out the water when its float switch is activated.

Your narrowboat may have separate engine and cabin bilges, and if this is the case, then you’ll need to have a bilge pump in each are to remove any water than has collected in both bilges.

Keeping on top of repairs and maintenance to your narrowboat will help you to prevent water ingress or deal with it quickly if it happens. It may also be a condition of your narrowboat insurance.

This is a marketing article from Assist Insurance, specialist providers of narrowboat insurance as well as insurance for many types of boats. For further information about our insurance services, please call one of our specialist team on 01604 946779.