Can You Install a Bathtub on a Narrowboat or Canal Boat?

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Many people love taking a cozy bath, as well as cruising the canals on a canal boat. But the big question is…..can you combine the two? Today we will look to address this very question for anyone cruising the canals! Can you install a bathtub on a narrowboat or canal boat?

Yes, you can (and many do). But this is a personal choice for a boater. You need to weigh up whether it is a good choice for you based on factors such as space and available water supply. Clever use of canal side water points or even inflatable bathtubs can help too!

Can I Even Have a Bath on my Canal Boat?

There are several factors that go into this decision, as we will discuss more below:

Water Supply

Water is often a precious commodity on a narrowboat or canal boat. Unlike in a land based home, you have a finite amount of water on a boat. A typical bath tub holds around 40 gallons of water, although most people would use around 30 gallons of water when having a bath. This is a lot of water for any boat, so you will need to consider whether you can realistically take such a hit to your water supply, or put a strategy in place to allow you to get access to such a supply of water.


Unless you like taking cold baths, a portion of your bath water will need to be heated. Whether you boil a pot on your stove or use your boat’s water heating system, this process is taking up energy on your canal boat (another precious commodity). Make sure you are fully aware of the energy used and whether or not this will have a negative effect on keeping your leisure batteries charged.


We keep talking about ‘commodities’ on a canal boat and another one is space. As any narrowboater knows, space is at a premium on such a boat and you want to feel that every inch of space is well used. There would be no point in using up precious space for a massive bath tub only to find out that you hardly use it! Consider the bath in your overall narrowboat interior design and whether it has enough merits.

Boat Type

Boat type plays a massive part in whether or not you can accommodate a bathtub. Obviously, the bigger the canal boat, the easier it would be. A wide beam or large barge based boat would fit a bath tub with relative ease when compared to a tiny GRP cruiser. Don’t forget the weight of the bathtub when filled with water, either! Again, that massive weight of water would be almost unnoticed on a big boat but might lead to unmanageable listing on a smaller boat or lightweight GRP cruiser!


I think it is only worthwhile to put a bathtub on a canal boat if you are going to use it often. Even if you have a big boat and the means to easily run baths, if it hardly gets used, it’s still a waste, in my opinion. Think about how many times your bath would get used before you place it on your boat wishlist!

Cruiser VS Permanent Mooring

Last but not least, the type of canal boater you are will massively affect your capacity to have a bath on your boat. If you are a continuous cruiser, you are likely to find the water needed for a bath tub quite a strain, however someone on a permanent mooring will probably have unlimited water and energy supplies so can manage much better.

Tips for Running a Bath on a Canal Boat

If you really must enjoy baths as a canal boater, here are my personal tips to help this happen!

Water Points Baths

As a continuous cruiser finding 30-40 gallons of water may be a bit of a stretch. However, if you plan your baths around available water points, you would find it much easier. You might even fill up most of the bath tub using water directly from the water point.

Inflatable Baths

If you don’t have a fixed bath tub on your boat but still want to enjoy the luxury of baths, then consider getting an inflatable bath tub. They are easy to store and portable, so you could take it along with you each time you find a water point. These days, there are many options for inflatable baths and hot tubs. The round hot tub would probably be easier for most people to fit on their boats.

Below is an example of an inflatable bath I found over at Amazon. Click the image to go and look at it for yourself.

Although the hot tub style might work better if you don’t mind having to sit more upright.

Bath Water Re-use

Water is in short supply for most boaters, so re-using it could help with the viability of having a bath. Wherever possible, gather some of your bath water and store it for other uses. For example, you might be able to add washing powder and wash your clothes in it. Some people might even wash their dishes with it (although other will find this totally gross! ha ha).

Use Your Bath Tub for Storage

One way to mitigate the massive space used by a bathtub is to use it for storage when not in use. Although I wouldn’t store bags of coal there, I am sure you can find plenty of stuff that would work and can be easily removed. Laundry bags spring to mind.

Bath Lovers Rejoice!

Hopefully bath lovers who live on canal boats can now see some more options for having a bath on their boat. I know there are people out there who consider a bath tub an essential piece of kit for their wellbeing! If that’s you I hope I helped (at least a little bit).

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