Essential items you need to have aboard your narrowboat

Whether you’re new to the waterways or are planning to restock your supplies, without a checklist, it’s easy to forget essential items to take aboard your narrowboat. We’ve compiled the fundamentals that you don’t want to be without whilst cruising the canals.


Boating Equipment

These are the essentials that you’ll require for navigating the canals and mooring safely. Important narrowboat tools and hardware includes:

  • Ropes
  • Anchor and chain
  • Poles and hooks
  • Mooring equipment (pins, ropes, boarding ladders etc.)
  • Windlass (lock key)
  • Fuel, gas canisters, wood for log burner and water
  • Dipsticks
  • Spare bulbs for headlight and internal lights
  • Emergency repair kit (to include weed hatch tape, stern gland rope, a leak stop such as Waterweld, a manual water pump and jump leads)


Safety and Security

One of the biggest worries for most narrowboat owners is potential accidents and theft. Read our blog 5 ways to guard your narrowboat against theft for in-depth advice, but the following devices and precautions will provide a good foundation for your defences.

  • Lifejackets
  • Buoys and inflatable rings
  • Carbon Monoxide detector
  • Smoke detector
  • Fire extinguishers and fire blankets
  • All relevant keys for doors/windows, along with pump out and fuel cap etc. - consider adding a cork tied onto your keychain which will float should you drop your keys into the water, enabling you to spot and fish out!
  • Padlocks for additional security
  • Invest in adequate insurance

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Day to Day essentials

Whilst the specialist equipment is top of the priority list, it's easy to forget those daily essentials which can make life onboard a lot more enjoyable (or uncomfortable if forgotten!) From those important bevvies and tasty treats, to gadgets and canal friendly clothing, here are some of the most crucial of everyday necessities:

  • Tea and coffee (plus milk and sugar)
  • Stocks of food and drink
  • Toilet roll
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Torch
  • Firelighters and matches
  • Sunglasses, suncream and sunhat
  • Insect repellant
  • Waterways guide
  • Cash (many canalside shops and pubs don’t accept card payments)
  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Camera
  • Radio
  • Phone, laptop and chargers
  • Binoculars
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit (complete with all the basics, such as screwdrivers, hammer, Stanley knife, WD40 etc.)
  • Cleaning products
  • Water hose
  • Camping chairs

Storage is always going to be an issue onboard a narrowboat, so sticking to the essentials list is important to ensure your boat doesn’t become cluttered. Read our blog 6 innovative space-saving solutions for your narrowboat for our top tips for organisation aboard your vessel.



Be mindful of your fellow four-legged and feathered passengers, ensure that they are comfortable and safe onboard. It is important to ensure the following are available for your animal companions:

  • Food, bowls, bedding etc.
  • Nametag complete with emergency phone number
  • Lifejackets or buoyancy aids


Looking for somewhere new to take your vessel? Use our narrowboat cruising location finder for inspiration.

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