This is going to be our first winter with a canal boat, and I have been looking at how we can protect the boat against freezing.
I had a few options:-
I could drain all the water out of the boat, i.e. the water tank and the heating system. But we intend to visit the boat over the winter as a jumping off spot for visiting relations.
We do have mains power, so I could place some oil filled radiators in the boat, they would need an anti frost setting. This looks like a viable and popular option, but we have to prepay for electricity and I have no idea how much we would need.
The boat is fitted with a very effective diesel powered heating system, with radiators around the boat. At present, the control system is very primitive, with just an on/off switch, we have used it a few times. I would need to fit a frost thermostat to make it effective.
After much studying and asking questions on Facebook and the online forums, I decided to go with the third option and use the built-in diesel heater. We have a large diesel tank, so this I hope will last the winter.
Our boat is fitted with an Eberspächer D4W Hydronic water heater which heats the radiators and provides hot water when required, which in the summer is not often. It is controlled by a simple pull switch.
I then tried to source a 12v frost thermostat, from what I could see a 12v Honeywell frost thermostat part no 4111263a would do the trick. The prices of these seem to vary from each supplier, but in the end I selected PB Auto Electrics as the price and delivery seemed reasonable.
But when it arrived, it was the T4360 240v frost thermostat, A quick check with PB Auto Electrics and, they confirmed it was exactly the same device, I wish I had known before it would have made finding one a lot simpler.
My plan was to fit the thermostat is parallel with the current switch, so I could still use the switch when needed, the frost thermostat could then operate independently when the internal temperature of the boat gets too low.
To install the thermostat, I made some extension leads from the switch to the new thermostat and mounted it on an internal wall near the control panel.
The switch had two wires attached, a yellow wire and a red wire. The red wire has 12V supply from the heater, and the yellow goes back to the heater to trigger it to start.
Inside the thermostat, I extended the red wire to terminal 1 and the yellow to terminal 3.
When you remove the cover of the frost thermostat it revels a wheel with the temperatures marked on it, it is pretty much a normal thermostat with a cover that stops adjustment. To test the setup changed the setting to above and below the current temperature.
Everything worked as expected, so I finally set it to between 3 and 4 degrees.
Before I left, I did take a photo of our fuel gauge, so I can see roughly how much diesel we use.
Next I will add a frost protection switch, so I can isolate this in case of problems, I could have done this with the current switch, but I expect to add a normal thermostat later which will work with the switch or replace it.
If you have been reading our blog you will know we had a little problem with the paint on the roof, we purchased the boat from Black Prince only a few weeks ago, they have looked at the peeling paint and are going to repair it.
It is an odd problem, looks to me, a non-expert, like some surface contamination under the primer as caused it to lose adhesion, I have seen similar problems this caused by the oil used to lubricate the air tools used when removing the old paint.
Worcester to Stoke Prior
We have been on a trip to Worcester and are going to drop the boat off at their base in Stoke Prior before we set off home.
We broke the trip up this time, turning around at Diglis Basin just in front of the Diglis Lock, we had decided to try and get past all the locks and then rest up for the night just after the M5 bridge at Tibberton, we would then have a simple trip to our mooring at Droitwich Spa Marina the next day, before heading off on the Saturday to the Black Prince Base at Stoke Prior.
Sonia and Obi the dog collected the car from the marina and drove to Stoke Prior while Mary and I moved the boat. Once Sonia had arrived at Stoke Prior, she let them know we were coming and check where they would like us to moor before walking down the canal to meet us.
The trip took us just under 3 hours at a leisurely pace, with just the 3 locks at the top of the Droitwich Canal and then 7 on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. We finally arrived and moored up next to another Black Prince customer boat, “Pub Trawler II” which was known as Ava when she was a hire boat.
We have since heard that they will completely strip the roof and repaint it, should be ready in a couple of weeks. Furthermore, we are hoping to get a battery monitor fitted while she is with them. I have selected the Victron BMV-712 as I can talk to this via the onboard monitoring system I am developing (More on this later).
Each time I tried to login to the licence area, I was asked for more details in a form, that asked for all the details I had already provided when I created the original login.
After probably a dozen attempts with two computers and all the browser combinations I could find (I have a lot) having reset cookies and deleted history, I did the shameful thing and called the CRT for support! I got through the press this for that system and spoke to a nice young lady, who wanted me to try all the things I had already done. We did that and then when all else failed, she reset my account?? And I was left to try again.
I had a break for lunch and tried again, still no luck, so back on the phone. This time they decided to take my money and let me have the discount 🙂 and I would get my licence emailed to me.
I waited for the email and the licence wasn’t attached, but there was a link to download it, yippee. As you have probably already guessed I am redirected to the registration form, which I complete yet again and then by magic I get to the following screen.
I now have a registration problem. Well at-least I have paid and have a licence even if I cannot actually get it printed out to display on the boat. When I paid they did say that they would also post everything, so I guess I will wait to see if it arrives.
I am very sure I don’t want to spend another day on their phone system at the moment or completing that registration form again!
In the social media I see lots of NB owners asking for recommendations for insurance, so being new to this I searched around in the magazines and via google for companies that I could try.
I was not looking for the cheapest insurance, but a company that made me feel that I was going to be looked after if the worst thing happened and I needed to make a claim. I also wanted to know what I was being covered for, over the years we have spent a lot on insurance, sometimes to find that we where not as covered as we had hoped, while other times we had been pleasantly surprised how well things have been handled.
Mostly we take out insurance and have not had to use it, it just makes us legal and feel that our investment is protected.
The basic spec of our boat is as follows:-
Floydtilla (was Chloe)
2007 (First Hired 2008)
I am interested to see what different companies offer to differentiate themselves from the rest and we will see what tempts me the most.
NOTE: While every effort has been taken to keep this as accurate as possible it is not always possible to directly compare these quotes, I am just reporting what I understood from the research we did.
This was all done online over a few of days in March 2021 .
Mercia marine was recommended to us by Black Prince as this was the company they used, and whom we purchased the boat from.
Compared to many of the other sites I visited this one provided so much information, it looked a little text heavy and dated, but I would rather have more info than be left in the dark.
I completed the online form, which asked if I was to use the boat single handed, and as I suspect that may happen I answered yes, this then required a member of staff to review my quote before they sent it out.
When I got the email with the quote it was a little higher that expected at £308.52 pa. They provided a cost breakdown when I logged into the site
QUADRANT COMPREHENSIVE COVER (£3m liability)
MARINE LEGAL PROTECTION (non-refundable, unless within 14 days)
INSURANCE PREMIUM TAX (at 12 %)
POLICY ADMIN FEE (non-refundable)
I checked the nice “Boat Insurance Glossary” on their website and could find no mention of “MARINE LEGAL PROTECTION” or “QUADRANT COMPREHENSIVE COVER” who I assumed is the insurance company.
So I emailed back asking for more information and to see how flexible they are on their quote. The response a few days later basically was that the quote was the best they could do at present.
MS Amlin Promo Offer: Legal cover included as standard
£26.82 p/m £286.23 annual
All the results offered ‘FULL’ cover of between £3 and £5 million, the cheapest towergate insurance was significantly cheaper than the rest at this point, none of the others offered any additional items that could be used to differentiate themselves from the rest from what I could ascertain from the website.
After about 10 minutes of asking for the quotes, I had a call from a very pleasant young lady who wanted to check I had everything I needed.
This site has one of the simplest quotation systems I have used, just four questions.
Year of construction?
Claims in the last 3 years (0,1,2 3+)
Proof of no claims (Y/N)
You then have to Agree/disagree to a short agreement that covers things like boat construction (Fibreglass, Aluminium or Steel), that it for private use only and is not over 80ft long etc etc etc non of which seemed onerous.
I was then presented with two possible quotes with links to email the quote or to read sample documents.
This company I came across in Waterways World Annual 2021 as they had a full page advert.
I visited the website address and clicked on the link to Narrowboat insurance and then the “Get a quote” button, and completed a simple online form. I expected to be asked a few more questions, but no, it seems they will contact me for more details…
A working day later, I got an email asking for lots more information none of it complicated, I am sure this could have been done as an online form when I sent in my initial request, but they did respond, and a few days later we got a package in the post.
The package was very comprehensive with lots of information, the quote was £223.78 for £50,000 Hull, Machinery, Gear and Equipment and £3m third party liability. We could add Marine Legal Protection cover as an option for an additional £13.72
I really liked the All Weather Insurance – Insurance Product Information Document as this outlined what was and was not covered by the policy so there should be no confusion.
This is another insurance company I found in Waterways World, they have an interesting tag line “The UK’s Largest Direct Boat Insurer”. and from what I had seen in social media posts this was the one most often recommended.
The website seemed to ask appropriate questions for the owner of a narrow boat
Completed yet another online form and we now wait for a quotation. a working day later, we get two emails from Westfield, the first one is for £ 172.70 which is followed 12 minutes later by a “Corrected ” one for £ 208.58. While neither quote is out of the ball park and errors do happen, this does not inspire me with confidence. So we won’t be taking this one any further at the moment.