Narrow Boats: The Wonder of Water Tanks

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As a narrow boater, you will spend a lot of time around water. For starters, you will do everything to make sure that the canal water doesn’t get into your boat for love nor money 🙂 On the other hand, you want to carefully place drinking water in your boat, usually in a water tank. With all that washing up and showers, that water will quickly drain, meaning you need to work out how to get water back on your boat! This is the wonderful world of water and narrow boats!

In this article, I want to talk about narrow boat water tanks and some of the creative methods you can use to fill your water tank up.

What is a Narrow Boat Water Tank?

Well, we all know that this is a tank to hold clean water for drinking, showers, etc. But what does this usually look like on a narrowboat? Typically, this would be a steel water tank placed at the bow of the boat (to help with water flow), often under the well deck. You would usually find a conveniently placed filler cap there so you can fill your water tank with ease.

If you need to see this process in action, Cruising the Cut has a simple but effective video showing his water tank placement and how he fills it up.

Types of Narrow Boat Water Tanks

Believe it or not, steel water tanks are not the only options you have in a narrow boat (although they are surely the most common).

Rather than regular steel, Stainless steel is a good option as it doesn’t rust. Due to this, you would usually find that stainless steel water tanks are fully sealed in boats. They just require santising each year. I have heard of some people placing a stainless steel inside their regular steel water tank, but personally I wouldn’t do that. The condensation building up between the tank outer layers would be a nightmare, as well as the fact that the original steel tank is still exposed and could get scratched and start rusting!

Another option is to get a plastic water tank. Both the plastic and stainless steel tanks are seen as good alternatives if you don’t like seeing the type of rust and sludge that can build up in a steel water tank over time (more on that later!).

According to Tek Tanks, these plastic tanks can provide great tasting water with only the need to sanitize the tank each year. Having not owned a plastic tank myself, I am certainly interested in this alternative. As you will see later, rust and sludge is not fun.

a plastic water tank for a narrowboat.

It is also possible to buy flexible water tanks made out of rubber, but I have never seen one used in a narrow boat myself. These are usually reserved for smaller boats. When I have heard of them used on narrow boats, it is usually to put inside an existing steel water tank to save the constant cleaning!

Narrow Boat Water Tank Maintenance

Let’s face it, most narrow boaters you know probably have a steel water tank. This means it should be well cleaned and even re-lined every three to five years.

The process would look something like this:

  • Empty water tank
  • Clean inside water tank
  • rub down inside water tank (to get rid of rust)
  • Treat any rust you find
  • Re-line with a coating of special bitumen paint

Frankly, this is quite a slow and time-consuming task. If you don’t know what you are doing, best to employ people to do it for you that do. After all, this is what your drinking water sits inside every day, don’t want to get it wrong!

Watch this great video from Making New Memories, where an expert walks us through exactly what he did to clean and re-line their steel water tank. Frankly, seeing the brown rusty sludge that came out of that, I am tempted to switch to a plastic or stainless steel tank myself!! It’s pretty gross thinking that could be leeching into your drinking water!

Filling Up a Water Tank on a Narrow Boat

I am sure you are all aware that you can easily get water on your boat with a hosepipe. If you are in a marina, they usually have a tap close by for you to do this. Whereas if you are cruising out on the canal network, you should check your canal map for the marked water points. This is all pretty straightforward.

However, it can be annoying to move your narrow boat just to get water. Or maybe the water point is being constantly used in Summer and you don’t fancy waiting around.

Most people would then start lugging cans or large bottles of water around, but I recently found out about this amazing invention. Called the Aqua Roll, this thing makes it significantly easier to get large amounts of water along the towpath to your canal or narrow boat. The water container becomes the wheel! Genius! Click the image below to see for yourself over at Amazon.

Thanks for Reading!

Do you have any knowledge of narrow boats and water tanks? If you do please leave a comment below to tell us all about it. I am just someone interested in the world of narrow boats, not exactly an expert!!

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