We’re all aware of the 12 days of Christmas song, but is a partridge in a pear tree, turtle doves, French hens, calling birds, golden rings etc really practical? River Canal Rescue suggests the following might be more useful (available from their website and other sources).
Day one – RCR membership. It’s amazing how many incidents involve people who think ‘it’ll never happen to me’. 24/7 breakdown and emergency cover starts at £65 a year – a small price to pay for peace of mind when cruising.
Day two – a copy of Narrow Boat Engine Maintenance and Repair, written by Stephanie Horton. It explains the theory behind the boat’s main systems – including propulsion, cooling and electrics – and gives instructions on how to identify key components, how to locate faults and where possible, how to fix them. There are tips on everyday engine maintenance and how to complete a service and all instructions are accompanied by over 260 colour step-by-step photographs and 60 technical diagrams. £18 from RCR, £20 from bookshops.
Day three – a place on a RCR boat & engine maintenance or electrics weekend course. Held at RCR HQ in Stafford, engine maintenance costs £120 and covers the specification /maintenance of marine diesel engines and boat systems. Electrics for boaters is £150 and covers the specification and electrical systems of marine diesel engines and boat wiring.
Day four – a professional engine service. On offer from mid September to mid March, RCR engineers will change your engine oil (up to 5 litres), replace the fuel and air filters, check your battery, fan belt and anti-freeze and top up your gear box oil. Any gear box oil, anti-freeze and fan belt replacements will incur an additional cost. £170 for non-RCR members, £140 for members and £130 for gold members.
Day five – an engine service kit. If you want to do this yourself, the basic service kit has oil and fuel filters, the correct oil, fuel treatment and essential mop-up mats. Extra items can be added at an additional cost. Prices vary between £35-55, depending upon your engine. To ensure the kit parts are suitable for your engine, RCR only takes orders over the phone. Call 01785 785680.
Day six – WaterNav software and e-canal apps. Compatible with all Windows desktops, laptops and netbooks, iphones, ipads and android smartphones, WaterNav covers 10 areas across the UK. Once downloaded, map access is not dependent on a permanent internet connection, enabling you to plan/track routes and using GPS, pinpoint your exact location and distance from over 60,000 points of interest. Available from RCR, desktop, laptop and netbook UK-wide software is £49 and the apps are £5.99 per region.
Day seven – a free SOS Waterways app. Once downloaded (via Google Play, the App Store or directly from RCR) you can report issues such as a canal breach, an incident or mechanical breakdown, and help will be on its way.
Day eight – a place on a RYA course. Royal Yachting Association approved courses are run across the UK at all levels for the helmsman and crew covering personal safety, on-board communication, boat handling basics, throwing a mooring line, locks and tunnels, lock operations, collision avoidance, how to be a look-out, what to do in an emergency, looking after the environment and introductory engine maintenance. The cost varies depending upon the number of days, people and course taken.
Day nine – an automatic bilge pump. The automatic version is far more reliable than a manual. It immediately responds to water ingress with the float switch dictating when it should pump. Should a leak develop from cooling system, hull or other source (or there’s a build up of rain water), this will keep your vessel safe. Prices start at around £60.
Day ten – a water detek alarm. Internal water leaks, caused by loose or sheered domestic water pipes, a hull breach, or failed shower pump, can be devastating. And water in the engine compartment due to a loose weed hatch, leaking stern gland or ineffective bilge pump can result in potential sinking or engine damage. This compact alarm has a two metre sensor at its tip and is fitted with a watch battery, lasting for a year and sounding for many hours. The detector costs £12.
Day eleven – carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer, so it’s vital you’re able to detect these noxious and often fatal, gases. Alarms start from £5 upwards.
Day twelve – a fuel locking cap. From around £20 you can prevent the theft of fuel from your boat with this ingenious device.
Safe cruising and a Merry Christmas to all from River Canal Rescue.