With over 30 years’ experience here at Collidge & Partners, we have heard of every possible narrowboat maintenance issue that can cause breakdowns or in some cases even sinking. One of the most common reasons that narrowboats sink is due to problems with the weed hatch. In this article we are going to share with you how you can check and maintain your weed hatch to ensure you don’t experience these problems.
The inland waterways are surrounded by countryside, which is incredible to experience while aboard your narrowboat but unfortunately, they are filled with floating debris that can wrap around your propeller. You will notice a few changes if this were to happen to you, such as loss of power, engine note changing, feel the steering isn’t right or even possibly stalling the engine.
On your narrowboat, the weed hatch can be located above the prop shaft in the engine bay. The weed hatch gives you access to your propeller within your boat, to save you from having to get in the water whilst on the inland waterways. The easiest and safest way to approach clearing your propeller from any debris is to moor up and turn off the engine and ensure that there is no possibility of the engine starting up.
You will need to undo the watertight seal and lift this off in order to reach down to the propeller. Take care when reaching into the hatch and feel around for the material you need to clear; this could be anything from weeds or leaves and potentially even rope or plastic bags wrapped around the propeller. It is important to remember that the prop is very sharp and can easily cut your hands, so take is slow and steady when clearing. Once you have successfully cleared the prop, you can then put the cover and seal back on. Check that the watertight seal is as tight as can be, failure to secure this properly can cause water to flood into the boat and lead to your narrowboat sinking.
Our main recommendation would be to ensure you have the most comprehensive narrowboat insurance as possible. Most insurers do not cover salvage on their third-party policies, so be sure to check over your policy carefully. At Collidge & Partners we can offer ‘Removal of Wreck’ automatically on our full cover policies, and up to £15,000 is also covered on our third party only policies.