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Sat Apr 21, 2018 at 9:20am

Types of insulation found in narrowboats


Spray Foam

Spray on polyurethane foam is an ideal way to insulate narrow boats. The foam is sprayed directly onto the inside of the hull and adheres well to steel hulls and most surfaces. As the polyurethane foam is sprayed it expands which makes it perfect for getting into voids and under battens. 

Spray applied polyurethane foam insulation differs from traditional insulation (sheet insulation and rock wool) in several ways. Firstly the speed of application of sprayed foam insulation is a major advantage over sheet insulation and rock wool. Spray foam is sprayed onto the inside of the boat whereas sheet insulation and rock wool have to be accurately cut to size and fitted. Polyurethane foam also has a far better insulation value than rock wool, and this translates to thinner insulation.

 Rock wool

Rock wool Insulation is made from stone, with a non-directional fibre orientation and a higher density, which means not only good levels of insulation, it traps sound waves and dampens vibration.

Easy to cut to fit around cables, pipes, sockets and services,  Insulation is quick and easy to friction fit without leaving gaps or cracks, which can significantly reduce performance.

Good quality rockwool insulation repels water and is vapour permeable, and resists rot and mould.

Being made from stone also means exceptional fire performance again, good quality rock wool is capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1,177C and achieving the highest Euroclass A1 fire resistance classification. rock wool insulation is ideal for use not only in boats, but in residential applications such as home offices, studies, bedrooms and bathrooms, and TV media and gaming rooms.


Early narrow boats for leisure were insulated by big sheets of expanded polystyrene. This material is still used today by some converters and it has its place in terms of cost and ease of use. There are potential issues though.

PVC wiring reacts with polystyrene insulation. Polystyrene causes plasticisers used in the manufacture of older cabling to migrate thus causing the insulation to go brittle. The potential issue is where there is direct contact of the styrene and PVC sheath close to metal parts that may cause a short circuit if the cable breaks or the insulation cracks. Boat builders are aware of this now and so will run services via conduit if they are using styrene sheet.

If you are the owner of an older narrowboat it may be worth checking the integrity of the wiring where it is in contact with polystyrene sheeting. It is good to know that there is polystyrene resistant cabling available for repairs and upgrades. Polystyrene sheets must also be fire retardant.

The other issue is efficiency. It is impossible to completely cover the steel shell with sheets of polystyrene. The sheets have to be meticulously sealed to form a vapour barrier and this barrier can be breached over time. When this happens warm air from the interior gets around the polystyrene sheeting and condenses on the cold steel of the outer shell. This condensation can be considerable. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that over 10L of water could be produced in a very cold month. The only place this condensation can go is into the bilges. Many owners just don’t know it’s there. Come spring and summer, the bilges dry out and there is no issue. However, over time this wetting and drying will cause corrosion. The last place an owner needs corrosion is in a cabin bilge where it is often impossible to see. We would highly recommend making an access hole into the cabin bilge at the rear of the narrowboat so any build up of condensation can be removed as soon as possible.


Happy cruising from Venetian Marina.




Mon Apr 2, 2018 at 11:47am

Getting ready for the season's cruising

With over 3,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers to explore in Britain alone (and over 28,000 miles of navigable in Europe), cruising the inland waterways with friends and family is one of the most relaxing ways you can spend time on the water. Meander at your own pace through the countryside and past towns, embracing the unique lifestyle of the waterways and their fascinating history and heritage.


Whether you love tinkering with machines, or find the prospect of opening an engine somewhat daunting, it is essential that you maintain and service your narrowboat. Repairs or replacements for your boat can be costly, and are often caused by lack of engine knowledge or simply from using the wrong battery. Other times, it could be an alternator failure, water contamination or a broken cable.

Narrowboat maintenance checklist

It's recommended that you regularly carry out the following tasks for your canal boat:

  • Check your oil levels

  • Clean the boat's engine and check it's in good condition

  • Plug any leaks

  • Check the bilge pumps are working

  • Inspect the battery and top-up with de-ionised water

  • Look for any loose bolts or pipes

  • Check drive belts for tension and condition

  • Inspect the cables and control equipment for signs of wear and tear

Common engine issues

Carrying out regular preventative maintenance on the following engine components could save you from a costly repair call-out.

  • Bilges

    If your bilges are full of oil and water, this dangerous mixture could get into the engine with potentially disastrous consequences. It is important that you do not discharge the oil with the bilge pumps into the waterway but to manually dispose safely ashore.

  • Gearbox/Drive plates

    If you hit an underwater object, the drive plate is usually the first victim.  As canal boats don't have a clutch arrangement, gear boxes tend to receive a fair bit of abuse, so go easy and regularly service them.

  • Fan belts

    Always carry a spare alternator belt, and check its condition before setting off. Simply twist the belt and if there are cracks, or the edges are starting to look ragged it's time for a new belt. If you hear 'squealing' from an old belt, it probably needs replacing. If it's from a new belt, an adjustment is required.

  • Couplings

    If the bolts connecting the propeller shaft to the engine are loose, any movement will either sheer them off, which can result in loss of propulsion. Eventually the coupling will need replacing, and you may even have to change your prop shaft if the coupling has damaged it.

Narrowboat hull inspection

The hull of your narrowboat will take the brute force of the elements. This means it should undergo regular inspection to avoid leaks and other damage. It’s best to keep an eye on rust, corrosion and pitting, and don’t forget to have the inside of the hull checked over too.

Since the hull is normally out of view, you will need to organise regular inspections by a professional. You will  be required to take the boat out of the water in order for a marine surveyor to carry out a review of the state of the hull. As a rule of thumb, this should be done every three to four years – or more often if you’ve sustained any accidents.

Hull blacking

Blacking the hull helps to maintain the condition of your narrowboat by minimising the risk of rust and corrosion. Hull blacking involves extensively repainting the hull, and this should normally be done every two to three years.

It is entirely possible for you to black your boat's hull yourself. However, you will, of course, need the means to take the boat out of the water, and the time to paint it – meaning most boaters get it done by professionals at a marina. Blacking the hull will take up to three days and involves cleaning the hull of muck and grime then applying a couple of coats of hard-wearing paint, before drying and returning to water.

Preparing for the long haul

By taking the time to keep your narrowboat maintained, you will save yourself considerable money involved in repairs, replacements and call-outs. Keep our guide handy and follow the steps to ensure you stay cruising for years to come.

Now, just the shopping list to do,...Bacon, wine, beer.........

Happy Cruising from all at Venetian Marina.



Sun Mar 18, 2018 at 8:50am

Three boating knots you may find useful:

Reef Knot

The reef knot is used to tie the two ends of a single line together such that they will secure something, for example a bundle of objects, that is unlikely to move much. In addition to being used by sailors for reefing and furling sails, it is also one of the key knots of macrame textiles.


The Bowline Knot

This knot is used to make a loop or eye that will not slip but is easy to untie.  However much load is put on it the loop will not close but is easily released when the load is taken off.  This is why it is the only knot used by climbers for tying a rope around themselves.  On boats it can be used for putting an eye in a mooring rope so that it can be quickly put over a cleat or bollard on board, or it can be used for joining two ropes securely; a bowline is tied in the end of each, the second one through the first.  This is useful if you need to tow someone, the mooring lines can be used to make a longer line.  This knot needs lots of practice as its not the easiest to tie.  See how to make this knot below:


Hitch Knot

Is used to join two ropes together or a rope to itself.  If done correctly a knot will hold shape regardless of it being fixed to something else.  A hitch is used to fix a rope to another object, such as a carabiner or pole, and relies on that object to hold.  You can see this easily by tying an eight follow-thru onto a carabiner.  Do the same with a clove hitch.  Now take the carabiner away and see what happens – it will fall apart.  Some sources classify a hitch as a class of knot but the general distinction remains the same

A simple overhand knot, where the working end of a line is brought over and under the straight part.

A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object.



Happy cruising from Venetian Marina.

Wed Feb 21, 2018 at 12:50pm

Cruising on the River Weaver.

Last summer my wife and I cruised on the River Weaver. We had a wonderful time and can't wait for the summer to arrive so we can do it all again. The experience of going on the Anderton Boat Lift and cruising with wide open space, which river cruising offers was superb. We recommend giving it a try.

The River Weaver is a river, navigable in its lower reaches, running in a curving route anti-clockwise across west Cheshire, northern England. Improvements to the river to make it navigable were authorised in 1720 and the work, which included eleven locks, was completed in 1732. An unusual clause in the enabling Act of Parliament stipulated that profits should be given to the County of Cheshire for the improvement of roads and bridges, but the navigation was not initially profitable, and it was 1775 before the first payments were made. Trade continued to rise, and by 1845, over £500,000 had been given to the county.

The major trade was salt. The arrival of the Trent and Mersey Canal at Anderton in 1773 was detrimental to the salt trade at first, but ultimately beneficial, as salt was tipped down chutes from the canal into barges on the river navigation. Access to the river was improved in 1810 by the Weston Canal, which provided a link to Weston Point, where boats could reach the River Mersey at most states of the tide, as the water was deeper. The navigation was completely reconstructed between 1870 and 1900, with the original locks being replaced by five much larger locks, capable of handling 1000-tonne coasters. With the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, a new lock was constructed at Weston Marsh, which gave direct access to the ship canal without having to pass through the docks at Weston Point. All water from the river entered the canal nearby, and any surplus was released into the Mersey through the Weaver sluices, which were located just upstream of the junction.

A notable feature is the Anderton Boat Lift, which is near Northwich, and links the Weaver with the Trent and Mersey Canal some 50 feet (15 m) above. It was opened in 1875, to allow canal boats to reach the Weaver, and although closed on safety grounds in 1983, it was refurbished and reopened in 2002. Many of the structures of the navigation are of historical importance, and are grade II listed. They include the Hayhurst swing bridge and Northwich Town bridge, which are believed to be the earliest swing bridges powered by electricity. Both have a sectional pontoon, which is immersed in the river and carries about 80 per cent of the weight of the bridge. Dutton Horse Bridge, which carries the towpath over the weir stream at Dutton, is one of the earliest surviving laminated timber structures. Dutton railway viaduct, which was built by Joseph Locke and George Stephenson for the Grand Junction Railway, is grade II* listed, and a civic celebration was held on its completion, as there had been no deaths and no serious injuries to the workers during its construction.

We totally recommend this navigation. We spent 10 days cruising the full length of the River Weaver. All the locks are manned with keepers who are most helpful and courteous. The river has many great pubs with great local ales and superb locally sourced food.

Happy cruising from all at Venetian Marina.

Sun Jan 28, 2018 at 3:15pm

A short guide to anchors on Narrowboats

Never go on a river or commercial waterway without a sufficiently heavy anchor attached and ready for immediate use. A strong anchor chain or rope (or combination) should be attached. The length of the anchor and chain should be at least five times as long as the deepest part of the river.  Make sure the cable is secured firmly to a strong anchorage point. If the engine fails, you will need to anchor your boat to prevent it from possibly being swept away.

Which Anchor to use.

The most popular type of anchor for inland waterways is the Danforth.

This type of anchor is designed to lie naturally on the river bed so the flukes face downwards so the pulling force makes the anchor bed in and bury itself in the mud/sandy bottom.The pulling force needs to be at a shallow angle so it does not lift too much the securing arm too high thus lifting the anchor off the river bed.

For this reason a heavy chain with additional rope needs to be attached. The amount of rope you should put out is circa 5 times the depth of water. It is a good idea to have a very sharp knife available close to the point where the rope is secured to the boat, just in case of an emergency and you have to cut loose the anchor. You don't have to take it for granted that the anchor has to be thrown in from the bow, in an emergency it can be beneficial to deploy the anchor from the stern, as this will stop the vessel much quicker than a bow launch. As this stern launch will save time and distance as the boat will not turn 180 degrees.

Other types and patterns of anchors.


To raise the anchor

This requires the forward motion of the boat towards the anchor bringing the anchor rope in as the vessel travels forward. When the boat is vertical to the anchor the anchor can easily by pulled up.

Size of anchor and chain.

Narrowboat Length (ft)        Anchor Weight (kg)                Chain/warp (mm)

30                                                    7 -10                                         8 - 12 

45                                                    8 - 12                                        8 - 14

60                                                   12 - 16                                      10 -18

70                                                   14 - 18                                      10 -20


Common Anchoring Mistakes:

  • Letting the anchor go without securing the line to the boat.
  • Letting the anchor go with your foot wrapped in the anchor line.
  • Poor communication between the captain and person in the bow.


Hope this short guide and insight gives you an indication on anchoring your vessel.

Happy cruising from all at Venetian Marina.

Tue Jan 16, 2018 at 10:38am

Winterisation of Marine Toilets

Proper winterisation of marine toilets is extremely important and is essential to save mess, money and masses of work which may be caused by the damage inflicted on plumbing and toilet mechanisms by freezing, so, a few generalisations to start.

It’s a little difficult to separate toilets from the plumbing generally. The higher pipes and fittings are at most risk over winter, those installed lower benefit from the above freezing temperature in the water underneath the boat.

When considering holding tanks, it is almost unheard of for water to freeze in any way that will damage these unless the tank is filled to the point where water is in the tank vent. There is a school of thought that maintains it is better to leave the freshwater tank nearly filled to maintain its cleanliness. If you would rather drain the tank, ideally close the breather in some way, but be sure it is opened before re-commissioning the system.

WARNING: Do not use normal vehicle antifreeze in a domestic plumbing system, it is poisonous.

Winterising your Toilet:

First, you will need to establish if the toilet flushing water is provided from the boat’s freshwater system or from the outside flotation water.

Typical method for treating systems flushed with flotation water.

Winterising your toilet

In these cases winterization of the toilet is entirely separate from winterising the boat’s domestic water system.

Close the inlet seacock and disconnect the hose from it.

Make sure to re-connect this hose before re-opening the seacock.

Make up a mixture of anti-scale solution. This can be vinegar based or a proprietary product such as LeeScale. Draw this solution through the system by pumping the toilet. Leave in system for 24 hours. Block the pipe to contain the solution.

A fresh Water Flushing kit such as a LeeSan Flush-it kit makes this extremely simple.

Next, flush this solution out of system with a strong mixture of water and soft washing up liquid.

Now drain the system where possible following the guidelines for your type of toilet shown later in this article. Reconnect the hose to the seacock and leave with sea cocks closed.

Chemical type:

Chemical toilet

Not much to do with these, make sure they are completely empty, give them a good washing out, dry them thoroughly and perhaps put a small amount of a “fragrant” chemical in the tank to guard against smells. Depending on age and use, (the toilet not the owner!) some chemical toilets have replacement service parts and these should be replaced if they have been malfunctioning or leaking.

Macerator type - Sanimarin

Macerator type toilet

Turn off water supply.

Remove water supply pipe (in this case by pulling from porcelain as shown)

(For other macerator toilets check manufacturer’s instructions)

Hold this pipe over a container at floor level to drain water.

Operate the toilet to open the valve and allow all residual water to drain out.

Dump through type - Traveller

Dump through type toilet

(This toilet is sometimes called a Mansfield and is similar, for winterisation purposes, to the foot operated Vacuflush)

Note: Pedal cover removed for clarity!

Turn off water supply.

Put a shallow tray or cloth underneath the foot pedal.

Remove water pipe by unscrewing from the bottom of the foot pedal mechanism as shown.

Depress foot pedal to empty fresh water.

Hand pump type - Jabsco

Hand pump toilet

Operate the hand pump in “dry bowl” mode to empty bowl as much as possible.

Then close seacock to turn off water supply.

Put a cloth under the drain plug at the base of the toilet to catch residual water.

Remove the drain plug as shown by turning quarter of a turn anti-clockwise.

Operate the pump again to clear any remaining water

Electric Vacuflush type - Dometic

Electric vacuflush type toilet

Turn off water.

Disconnect inlet water hose from supply and hold over a shallow container at floor level to drain.

Operate toilet to fully empty water.

Note: after working on any of the above toilets make certain that all pipes are re-connected. Don’t forget to turn water supply back on before use.

General notes:

Rubber components and seals etc in marine toilets and pumps benefit from not being left dry. A simple way to ensure this is to occasionally flush with a soapy solution.

Over winter ensure that the water pump is switched off.

Check all hose connections for leaks.

Check and tighten all hose clips.

This is also a great time to consider fitting a service kit, new seals or to replace any worn pipes or hoses.

Please remember that just because a hose is “white” it isn’t necessarily Sanitation Grade. Poor quality or non Sanitation Grade hose will almost certainly result in smells permeating through the hose walls.

Happy cruising from all at Venetian Marina.

Tue Jan 16, 2018 at 10:05am

Happy New Year!

Don't let another 12 months go sailing by. This year could be the time to realise your dream of buying a narrowboat, or selling/ upgrading your narrowboat!

Here at Venetian Marina we provide high quality boat sale and brokerage services, which includes free canal boat valuations for owners anywhere on the canal system, and free moorings at our purpose built marina for the narrow boats whilst they are for sale with us..

When you come to buy or sell your narrow boat ,you want to get the most desirable deal, and this is where Venetian can help. You can of course buy or sell your boat privately but, using our boat brokerage services has many benefits such as:

1. We offer maximum buyer visibility through our website. Sellers can use the website to send us details of their boat. See our narrow boat brokerage form on our web site.

2. Expert support from start to finish.

3. We offer free, no-obligation valuations so you know your boats value before you commit to selling it.

4. Venetian Marina is a sister company with Whilton Marina in Northampton, and handle around 120 narrow boats for sale at any one time, so we know how much your boat is worth, and what buyers will pay for it.

5. We’ve got more than 8,000 genuine people on our database looking for narrow boats from between £9,000 to £90,000 in price range.

So if you’re looking to advertise a boat for sale, or looking to purchase in north-west England, you’ll find Venetian Marina professional, friendly and ready to help
. Check out our web site and Social Media for our customer's testimonials.

Please do not hesitate to call us on 01270 528251 or email us at or fill in our online form here and we'll contact you!

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Fri Dec 1, 2017 at 9:35am

Keeping your clothes and linen clean whilst living aboard is a necessity, unless of course you want to be the next Stig of the dump! So how do live aboards cope?  

There are a few options available, which one you choose is down to you;  

1. Using the local laundrette.

Many boaters decide they are happy to take loads of washing to the local laundrette. The beauty of using a laundrette especially in the winter is that you won’t have to turn your boat into a Chinese laundrette over night whilst you try and dry all your washing.

The downside is the distance you may have to travel to get to and from the laundrette and the amount of time you have to set aside to carry out this task. Use this link to find laundrettes and other amenities on the canal system, its broken down into areas for easy use.  

2. Using the laundry room in a marina.

Lots of marinas do have their own facilities like we do at Venetian.  But be warned that these facilities may only be for residential boats and even if you moor there the laundry facilities may NOT be covered in your mooring fees.   

3. Fitting a automatic washing machine on board your boat.

Yes you can actually have a washing machine on your boat. BUT you can’t run the washing machine the same way, as you would do offshore.  Modern automatic washing machines are cold-water filled and therefore draw water off the cold water supply. They then need to heat the water up, so even when washing at low temperatures 20 -30 degrees the washing machines heater needs to heat up the water.

The washing machine heater draws a huge amount of energy, so a 2 – 3 kilo watt heater is going to pull 200 -300 amps of your battery bank, and this will drain your battery bank very quickly. So unless you have a huge battery bank and huge invertor you are not going to be able to use your batteries to run your washing machine.  

So what solutions do we have? Because its true many boaters do have automatic washing machines on board but how they run them varies.  

Option 1.
Many boats have a generator built into the engine, so as long as the engine is running this will give you power to run the washing machine.  

Option 2. Is to go into a marina and pay for over night moorings and use the mains power within the marina. Doing maybe a week or twos washing in one go.

Option 3. Stop for the night in or near a town which has a laundrette, and use the facilities as many people who do not have a washing machine in their home.

In fine weather you may wish to use a small rotary washing line to dry your washing if your washing machine is not a washer/condenser dryer. You can attach this to a Brolley Mate. A Brolley Mate can be used to hold a lightweight rotary washing line onto the tiller so you can dry your washing outside on a fine day. Do make sure that you peg your washing down well as you may be victim to the wind carrying away your items if they are not secured well!  

If you don’t have the space or want to purchase an automatic washing machine you still have another two options when it comes to cleaning your washing.  

The alternative method from an automatic washing machine would be a small portable twin tub machine. Be warned though this will require a lot of input, as it is very much reliant on manual operation, however if you have the time and inculcation this option does work just as well.  

And finally the old-fashioned way; Hand washing in the sink! May be ok for smaller items but not recommended for doing the weekly bedding and towels!  

Photo credit: TR/ Fotolia

So as you can see there are plenty of ways of getting your washing done when you are cruising, and you may use all the options at some point depending on your circumstances.  

NOTE: When using detergents on board please make sure they are environmentally friendly, as the dirty water from the machine will be dispensed into the canal system and this could endanger the wildlife.  


Tue Oct 24, 2017 at 9:15am

Inverters  - Pure Sign Wave Vs Quasi

A power inverter, or inverter, is an electronic device or circuitry that changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).

The input voltage, output voltage and frequency, and overall power handling depend on the design of the specific device or circuitry. The inverter does not produce any power; the power is provided by the DC source.

A power inverter can be entirely electronic or may be a combination of mechanical effects (such as a rotary apparatus) and electronic circuitry. Static inverters do not use moving parts in the conversion process.

Input voltage

 A typical power inverter device or circuit requires a relatively stable DC power source capable of supplying enough current for the intended power demands of the system. The input voltage depends on the design and purpose of the inverter. Examples include:

  • 12 VDC, for smaller consumer and commercial inverters that typically run from a rechargeable 12 V lead acid battery or automotive electrical outlet.
  • 24, 36 and 48 VDC, which are common standards for home energy systems.
  • 200 to 400 VDC, when power is from photovoltaic solar panels.
  • 300 to 450 VDC, when power is from electric vehicle battery packs in vehicle-to-grid systems.
  • Hundreds of thousands of volts, where the inverter is part of a high-voltage direct current power transmission system.

Output waveform

An inverter can produce a square wave, modified sine wave, pulsed sine wave, pulse width modulated wave (PWM) or sine wave depending on circuit design. The two dominant commercialized waveform types of inverters as of 2007 are modified sine wave and sine wave.

There are two basic designs for producing household plug-in voltage from a lower-voltage DC source, the first of which uses a switching boost converter to produce a higher-voltage DC and then converts to AC. The second method converts DC to AC at battery level and uses a line-frequency transformer to create the output voltage.

Square wave

This is one of the simplest waveforms an inverter design can produce and is best suited to low-sensitivity applications such as lighting and heating. Square wave output can produce "humming" when connected to audio equipment and is generally unsuitable for sensitive electronics.

Sine wave

A power inverter device which produces a multiple step sinusoidal AC waveform is referred to as a sine wave inverter. To more clearly distinguish the inverters with outputs of much less distortion than the modified sine wave (three step) inverter designs, the manufacturers often use the phrase pure sine wave inverter. Almost all consumer grade inverters that are sold as a "pure sine wave inverter" do not produce a smooth sine wave output at all, just a less choppy output than the square wave (two step) and modified sine wave (three step) inverters. However, this is not critical for most electronics as they deal with the output quite well.

Where power inverter devices substitute for standard line power, a sine wave output is desirable because many electrical products are engineered to work best with a sine wave AC power source. The standard electric utility provides a sine wave, typically with minor imperfections but sometimes with significant distortion.

Sine wave inverters with more than three steps in the wave output are more complex and have significantly higher cost than a modified sine wave, with only three steps, or square wave (one step) types of the same power handling. Switch-mode power supply (SMPS) devices, such as personal computers or DVD players, function on quality modified sine wave power. AC motors directly operated on non-sinusoidal power may produce extra heat, may have different speed-torque characteristics, or may produce more audible noise than when running on sinusoidal power.


Modified sine wave

 The modified sine wave output of such an inverter is the sum of two square waves one of which is phase shifted 90 degrees relative to the other. The result is three level waveform with equal intervals of zero volts; peak positive volts; zero volts; peak negative volts and then zero volts. This sequence is repeated. The resultant wave very roughly resembles the shape of a sine wave. Most inexpensive consumer power inverters produce a modified sine wave rather than a pure sine wave.

The waveform in commercially available modified-sine-wave inverters resembles a square wave but with a pause during the polarity reversal. Switching states are developed for positive, negative and zero voltages. Generally, the peak voltage to RMS voltage ratio does not maintain the same relationship as for a sine wave. The DC bus voltage may be actively regulated, or the "on" and "off" times can be modified to maintain the same RMS value output up to the DC bus voltage to compensate for DC bus voltage variations.

Numerous items of electric equipment will operate quite well on modified sine wave power inverter devices, especially loads that are resistive in nature such as traditional incandescent light bulbs. Items with a switch-mode power supply operate almost entirely without problems, but if the item has a mains transformer, this can overheat depending on how marginally it is rated.

However, the load may operate less efficiently owing to the harmonics associated with a modified sine wave and produce a humming noise during operation. This also affects the efficiency of the system as a whole, since the manufacturer's nominal conversion efficiency does not account for harmonics. Therefore, pure sine wave inverters may provide significantly higher efficiency than modified sine wave inverters.

A common modified sine wave inverter topology found in consumer power inverters is as follows: An onboard microcontroller rapidly switches on and off power MOSFETs at high frequency like 50 kHz. The MOSFETs directly pull from a low voltage DC source (such as a battery). This signal then goes through step-up transformers (generally many smaller transformers are placed in parallel to reduce the overall size of the inverter) to produce a higher voltage signal. The output of the step-up transformers then gets filtered by capacitors to produce a high voltage DC supply. Finally, this DC supply is pulsed with additional power MOSFETs by the microcontroller to produce the final modified sine wave signal.

Hope this put a little more light on a complex subject for you.

Happy cruising from all the team at Venetian Marina.

Tue Oct 3, 2017 at 9:32am

Life Aboard Made Easy!

If you are in the process of moving onto your narrow boat full time, or considering a full time life on the waterways, we can show you ways to make your move aboard as simple and comfortable as possible.

Adapting your boat to meet your basics needs will make life on the water as stress free and simple as it can be.

There is definitely more work and thought needed when living on the waterways, but if you are prepared to give it ago and learn by your mistakes (and we've all made them) then you will reap the benefits that living on your boat will provide.

Having the RIGHT Narrowboat!

A small 45 foot narrowboat is ok for long weekends and holidays, but living aboard a smaller boat full time really does have its down sides, especially if there is more than one of you living on the boat.

Not only will you not have a permanent place to sleep/sit as you will be changing the sitting area into a bed room and vice versa each day, there will be a huge lack of storage. This way of living will undoubtably lead to quite a stressful and unpractical way of life.

Therefore if you can afford a larger boat bearing in mind the additional costs associated with a longer boat, such as mooring fees, licences and maintenance costs, then this is the best option for living aboard as the extra space will make day to day living so much more comfortable.

The style of the boat is a tricky one but really theres no right or wrong stern, however the traditional stern does tend to be the most popular choice for liveaboards as the internal space is larger than the other options. Having more internal space will making LIVING on your boat more comfortable and practical. 

Other features to consider;

  • Dinettes can be a waste of space especially in smaller vessels
  • Small bathrooms will eventually take their toll 
  • Look for a boat with large windows and lots of doors providing additional light and easy access
  • Remember boats that are painted in dark paint i.e black or navy blue will ultimately be very warm in the summer!

Getting The Basics Right.

If you can get the basics right i.e. have somewhere to sleep, eat, wash and be warm you will be on the right track to a simple and comfortable life on your narrowboat. Get these things wrong and life is going to be rather difficult!.

Sleeping: Ideally have a separate sleeping area as mentioned before, having to change your seating area into a bedroom and back again every day is going to become very tiresome. Also having a bedroom gives you some additional privacy when you want to escape the main living area of your boat.

Cooking: Most boats have gas cookers as electric ones are not practical unless you are always hooked up. Agas and other range cookers can be installed and are delightful in the winter, but rather unmanageable in the summer months when the warmer weather is with us. However the newer Agas can be controlled pretty much like a conventional oven so if you are wanting the look of a Aga but the convenience of a conventional oven then one of the dual control Agas would be suitable. A microwave is also a good investment for heating up meals and for making simple suppers.

Bathrooms: You don't need to have a bath aboard, but a descent size shower is definitely a must. Within the bathroom there is also going to be your toilet and this is a much discussed topic between boaters.

For liveaboards we would suggest the pump out option, this will best suit your living arrangements. The job of emptying a cassette toilet will soon become a very loathed chore. More information on the Big Loo Debate can be found here

Heating: Having two modes of heating is a good plan, so consider a stove that will be attractive and reliable and also a diesel heater, these are much more reliable nowadays.

Electricity: Electricity is needed to pump water, provide light and run the appliances onboard. When moored at a marina you will be able to hook up to the mains, when out cruising you will need to rely on your batteries.

Storage: If only the narrowboat was like a Tardis once you got inside, alass this is not the case and storage is always limited, even to those who consider themselves minimalists. Look for clever storage ideas and use even the space under the bed to gain as much storage as possible. Store things you don't use very often in places that are harder to access like under your bow deck.


So we now address the hardest issue facing livaboards, moorings! First option is to continuously cruise the system staying no longer than 2 weeks in each place before having to move on. This is ok if you have no commitments i.e work, school, family etc but for those with permanent commitments this is not a viable option. 

So what other options are there?

  • Marinas; Can be expensive and hard to come across, but if you have the funds and are able to find a long term mooring this is a great choice providing a comfortable, secure, hassle free facility to live.
  • Boat Yards; Cheaper than marinas but can tend to be noisy.
  • Stop - Start cruising; This is where you cruise around the network, mooring at different marinas or boat yards for a few days at a time then moving on.
  • Small private moorings; Again hard to find but sometimes available with a small area for a washing line or to sit.
  • Winter moorings; Continuously cruising over the summer, then mooring somewhere with good facilities over the winter months.

Our Top Tips To Getting It Right!!

Just a few other ideas to consider when thinking about a full time life on the waterways;

  • Canvas covers provide an additional storage area outside the boat. for wellies, wet coats and other bulky items that can't be kept within the boat. But remember this is not a secure area so items left here are open to opportunists. Casual burglaries are unfortunately part and parcel of life even on the waterways.
  • Have spares of as many things possible. Practical items such as a spare water pump incase yours breaks down, extra kindling and fuel this includes gas! Keep the larder stocked up for times when you aren't near any shops and the family are wanting to know whats for supper!
  • Flatter roofs are safer and better for walking on. Also useful for storage.
  • If the thought of getting rid of possessions is proving difficult when you are downsizing from a house to a narrow boat, then consider self storage for a short period of time. It might not be viable long term, but short term it might help you over the initial adjustment period of leaving a house and moving onto boat. By putting items into storage for a while, it gives you the time to come to terms with not having these things around and eventually letting them go.

If you have just moved onto a narrowboat to live on, please tell us your story and how you are getting on?

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