Welcome back to Canal Boat UK. Today, I want to list every essential item that a narrowboat owner should have in their arsenal. Lots of things can happen when you are out on the cut. These essential items should make sure you are ready for any situation!
Before we start, if you want to view any of these listed items over at Amazon, simply click on the image. Now, lets get started….
Item 1: The Portable Solar Charger
Power is the number one concern for any narrowboater out on the canals. And therefore, it is essential that you have a solar charger such as this one on hand. I love this one as it is portable, but yet available in a variety of wattages to enable charging a variety of appliances. For example, the lowest 30 watt model would be perfect for low wattage items such as mobile phones.
‘But I have solar panels’ I hear you shouting! Yes, I am aware that most people have solar panels on their boats these days. However, most people don’t exactly have a surplus of solar power. So you could use this portable panel to charge your smaller devices and take them out of your regular solar system. Also, a portable setup is great as a backup when you have to moor under trees and have terrible solar on the regular panels.
Item 2: Solar Powered Exterior Lights
Security is important on any narrowboat, and it is vital to have some motion sensor lights that will turn on if anyone tries to get on your boat. These then double as being helpful for the owners of the boat when they need to come back at night. I like these ones as they are easy to mount on screw holes and provide a good arc of light.
Item 3: Vacuum Bags
Storage is a number one concern for a lot of boaters, and anyone that lives on a narrowboat will often be fighting against a lack of it! Using these vacuum bags can be vital for storing extra bedding and out of season clothing in a compact way. You simply suck all the air out of the bag and it becomes much flatter than storing these items in a regular way.
Item 4: Shears
If you are a continuous cruiser, you have probably needed to moor in places that are less than ideal. By having a nice pair of shears handy you can easily cut and trim any undergrowth or long grass in a mooring spot. This will help you take those awesome secluded spots that most people have to skip due to overgrowth 🙂 I particularly like the one below as they have telescopic handles, making them much more flexible for a wider variety of situations.
Item 5: Combination Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Alarm
It is vital for your safety to have both a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector inside your narrowboat. Being aware of these two factors inside your boat could save your life frankly. So why not save some space and buy a combined smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Installing this on your boat will bring you massive peace of mind.
Item 6: Safety Gloves
These safety gloves will come in handy when you need to release unwanted things from your prop through the weed hatch. Seen way too many people doing this with bare hands! Crazy! You never know what sharp things might be lurking down there!
Item 7: Keyrings that Float
You should have any and every key that you own on a float as a boater. Finding a piece of cork bobbing around in the canal is much easier than using a magnet to fish around on the bottom! And trust me, you will drop multiple keys in the cut if you are on it for any decent amount of time 🙂 A small investment for a massive benefit.
Item 8: Rechargeable Headlamp
There will be multiple times that you will need to move along a pitch black tow path or do something outside your narrowboat in the dark. In these situations, a headlamp is vital. I would say a headlamp over a regular torch, as it frees up your hands to carry and/or interact with things. Yes, you will look silly, but it’s totally worth it! Pick a rechargeable model so that you don’t have to mess around with batteries.
Item 9: Extra Mooring Pins
It is vital that you have extra mooring pins on your narrowboat. You never know when one may break or get lost in the canal (or worse, stolen by annoying teenagers). Rather than being left adrift, if you have additional mooring pins, you can simply re-moor yourself.
Item 10: Magnet Fishing Kit
It is inevitable that at some point in your narrowboat life, you will drop something in the canal. It could be a windlass, a key or anything else you may struggle without. Most of these important things have some kind of metal on or in them, so a magnet fishing kit is a must. In a worst-case scenario, at least you have the ability to fish those items out of the canal.
Item 11: Canal Guides
Any narrowboater worth their salt should have some canal guides at hand. They provide so much information about your possible routes on the canal, as well as the amenities around the canal you are journeying on. By far the gold standard for these are the Nicholson’s canal guides. They will help you navigate in your narrowboat with ease.
Item 12: Burner Phone
In this day and age, we all communicate way too much on our mobile phones. They are pretty much an essential way for us to stay in contact with the world. This is even more the case as a narrowboater, as you don’t have the luxury of landlines or sometimes even people in shouting distance (I like secluded moorings). To guard against dropping your main phone in the canal, you should always have a cheap burner phone available. This way, you always have a way to stay in contact with emergency services no matter what. I like the very simple phone below as the battery will literally last forever! You can stash one or two of these phones in strategic locations in case of emergency.