Yearly Archives: 2019

what is a galvanic isolator?

what is a galvanic isolator?

When you connect your boat to a marina electrical supply you also connect your boat to all the other boats in the marina via the earth connection in your shore power mains lead. This creates a pathway for small electrical currents to flow from one boat to another. Unfortunately this pathway leads to increased corrosion of the underwater metals and results in rapid loss of anodes and increased pitting and deterioration of hulls, propellers, shafts, outdrives etc. We can protect against this problem by installing a galvanic isolator.

So how does it work?

A galvanic isolator is inserted into the earth line of the shore power lead. This can be done internally in the boat or by using our plug in waterproof units. You simply unplug the shore power lead from your boat, plug the lead into the isolator and re-insert the isolator flying lead back into the shore power inlet. Job done! The isolator now creates a block for damaging galvanic currents minimising the risk of corrosion. In the event of an electrical fault onboard the isolator senses the fault condition and ensures your trips and rcd protection operate as normal ensuring safety onboard.

If the earth cable causes the problem why not just remove it?

The earth cable is essential for safety. In the event of an electrical fault onboard the earth wire ensures the rcd / fuses/ breakers operate correctly and disconnect the mains electrical supply until the fault is rectified.

How easy is it to fit an isolator?

Internally fitted units are inserted into the incoming earth line between the shore power inlet socket on the boat and the consumer/distribution unit onboard. This is done by locating the incoming shore power lead, cutting the earth cable at a convenient point and inserting the isolator using terminal connectors provided. The live and neutral cables of the shore power lead remain untouched. We supply excellent instructions and diagrams but if you do not feel competent to proceed we would recommend our “Plug and play” units. These units plug into the shore power leads either at the boat or the shore power pedestal of the marina. No electrical knowledge needed… Just 30 seconds to install!

15 amps, 30 amps, 70 amps, 100 amps? What does it mean?

A question we are asked all the time. Basically the amperage rating of the isolator is the amount of current the isolator can handle under severe fault conditions. The isolator must be able to handle more than the available current supplied to the boat. Usually UK marina supplies are either 16 or 32 amps so the isolator must be able safely handle at least 20% more than the maximum current available to comply with legislation. Realistically the higher the rating the more reliable the isolator.

What is the purpose of status monitoring?

Units with status monitoring measure the current flowing through the isolator. If the current flow increases beyond a preset threshold led’s will illuminate to indicate a fault condition. Safeshore models with monitoring also offer increased galvanic protection and easy testing of the installation.

How reliable are your isolators?

Safeshore have now been supplying the marine industry for over 20 years. Our reliability record is superb reflected by our lifetime warranty on all products.

What is the difference between galvanic and stray current corrosion?

Galvanic corrosion is caused by the interaction of differing metals whilst connected together and in contact with the water. Stray current corrosion is caused by poor electrical connections, poor wiring in contact with bilge water and “leaky” power supplies. These currents are often transmitted down the shore power earth wire. A galvanic isolator will help to block both galvanic and stray current corrosion.

Which isolator do you recommend?

If you intend DIY installation model GI 70sm or GI 70smi both offer maximum protection, easy testing and fault monitoring. Model GI 70sm has remote monitoring so if you plan to fit under the floor this allows the monitor to be installed remotely on the dashboard. Model GI 70smi has internal monitoring so if fitting the isolator in an easily viewable position this is the one to use. For “Belt and braces” reliability models GI 100sm or GI 100smi are the upgraded versions.

Plug and play isolators 30 seconds to install!

We supply two plug and play easyfit units:

safeshore galvanic isolatorGI 70 inline is a standard protection isolator for use with blue type shore power plugs utilised by UK/EU marinas.

safeshore marine galvanic isolatorGI 70smi inline offers advanced protection, easy testing and fault monitoring.

Special products: We supply upgraded versions of the inline units specifically designed for use with 32 amp commercial power supplies. These units are fitted with 100 amp internal isolator and heavy duty cables / large blue 32 amp plug and socket. Please phone for details.

Quick check: Not sure which supply you have? Simply measure across the diameter of the plug with exposed pins:
32 amps = 56mm......(16 amps = 43mm)

safeshore marine logo

Over 24,000 UK boats are now protected by Safeshore galvanic isolators!
20 years of professional service.
Tried, trusted, reliable quality with lifetime warranty.
Safeshore supply isolators for every vessel... D.I.Y. internal fitting or easy fit plug-in units, offering maximum protection, total reliability and superb customer service.
Guaranteed protection from both galvanic and highly destructive stray current corrosion.

Trade supply : Generous trade discounts available. Request our trade price list.
Call: 01977 513 607; Write:email; Visit: website

talking anodes

talking anodes

Talking anodes for most people would consist of a series of questions. Every boat owner knows that anodes are needed, but what are they, exactly, what do they do, and why do we need them? What follows is an attempt to answer all of these questions.

anodes - magnesium anodes for welding on to a narrowboatwhat is an anode?

An anode is basically a plaque of sacrificial metal which is welded or bolted on to the underwater hull of a boat. Sacrificial because the anode corrodes through electrolysis more readily than the steel hull, thereby protecting your boat's hull for longer. With steel hulls, they should be welded on, for other hulls they can be bolted on.

how does it work?

There will be a series of different metals which make up the exterior of your boat – the hull, propellor, propellor shaft are made from various metals and alloys. When different or dissimilar metals are in direct contact, and immersed in water, the water acts as an electrolyte and an electron current is sent from one metal to another. This causes elctrolysis: one of the metals loses material in the form of ions (this metal is known as the anode) and another metal gains material (known as the cathode), and which metal loses the material depends upon how noble or corrosive-resistant it is. The noblest or most corrosive-resistant metal would be gold, while the least corrosive-resistant or the least noble is magnesium. Basically the strongest metals are protected and the weakest loses ions therefore breaks up (corrodes). The less resistant material becomes anodic and the more resistant material becomes cathodic.

sacrificial anodesdo I need anodes?

Of all the metals that exist in your boat, the weakest, least noble and therefore least corrosive-resistant one is your steel hull.

So it should be apparent from the above that if you did not have anodes fitted, and replaced regularly, the steel hull of your boat would become anodic and therefore corrode at a much greater rate.

For a canal boat (narrowboat) it is very advisable to get anodes which can be welded on to the hull, as drilling holes in steel below the waterline isn't the best option. The anode then becomes anodic, and the steel hull cathodic - which means it won't rust so quickly.

what sort of anode do I need for a canal boat?

Anodes are manufactured in zinc, aluminium or magnesium. For narrow boat owners, wide beams and other steel hulled canal boats, magnesium is the preferred material. Zinc is used for sea going boats, and aluminium for brackish water. (Brackish water is water having more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater. It may result from mixing seawater with fresh water together, as in estuaries and tidal rivers). Of these, aluminium is lighter (therefore cheaper to install) and less costly than zinc.

sacrificial anodes in placechoosing your anodes

Make sure your anodes are fitted correctly and purchased from a reputable supplier. You will need professional advice about size of anodes, placement and quantity. It is not a good idea to overload the hull with anodes as this can have a detrimental effect on paintwork.

Remember, the anodes are added to your boat to sacrifice themselves, in order to protect other metals. If the anodes are not corroding further investigation would be required as the anodes once fitted and stable should start to show some sign of corrosion soon after.

In summary, make sure you buy anodes from a reputable dealer. Get the right sort for your boat. Get professional advice on size and placement. And get somebody to weld them on to your boat. When blacking or painting your boat, make sure you go round the anode, as painting over it would prevent it from doing its job.

Keep an eye on your anodes, and your hull will look after itself.

Anodes Direct logoAnodes Direct provide anodes of various materials to commercial and leisure craft throughout the UK and Europe. We specialise in providing marine anodes sourced only from the best manufacturers including Tecnoseal, MME, MG Duff, UK Anodes, Performance Metals, Piranha, Vetus, Side Power, Gori, Bruntons & Darglow.  Zinc for Sea Water, Aluminium for Brackish Water, Magnesium for Fresh Water. We are always ready to advise and help, so do get in touch!

Tel: 01621 743540 or 07787 566816  Write  Visit

coping with rising and falling water levels

coping with rising and falling water levels

boat safety in extreme weather

As the UK continues to experience severe and unprecedented downfalls, River Canal Rescue (RCR) is reminding boaters how to cope with suddenly rising and falling water levels.

At the end of October, RCR was called to assist six stranded or precariously positioned boats at risk of capsize across the country; one of which was passed onto the emergency services to recover, due to the boat being inaccessible and the owner at risk if he remained on board.

boat with polesRCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, advises: “The key to dealing with our increasingly extreme weather conditions is timing and balancing health and safety. In order to stop a vessel drifting onto land when water levels rise, position a scaffold pole or poles, or a boarding plank, between the boat and the river/canalside edge and fix it into position.  This acts as a mooring post, preventing flood waters from floating the boat onto land.

“Alternatively use the engine to keep the vessel in position, so when the water rises, the power of the boat keeps it in deeper water. However be mindful that as the propeller is at its lowest point, it can easily be damaged if the boat does drift. These options are not advisable other than in emergencies and if you have the opportunity, moor in a lock as it provides some protection from flood waters.

RCR refloated boat“If the boat has drifted, it’s all about timing; when the water levels start to go down, try to push the boat back into the water or off the land before they drop too far. But be cautious as this can be dangerous, particularly if you’re unable to see under the water.

“We usually dispatch two engineers in dry suits to undertake this manoeuvre because although it sounds and looks easy, knowing the best way to re-launch a boat and where to push depends on the severity of the grounding, depth of the water, its flow and accessibility.

“In cases like this timing is everything and too much or too little water can make the difference to the outcome.”

Over the weekend, RCR engineers were able to get to the locations quickly and save a number of vessels before they were left high and dry. Although on site for less than a couple of hours, it averted the need to spend time and money on cranes, transport, and manpower to move them once stranded.

If a vessel is caught in a situation, RCR urges boaters not to attempt a recovery without assistance. Stephanie concludes: “Severe weather conditions increase the risk to boat owners and simple tasks can easily result in accidents and injury.”  

RCR also reminds boat owners to check their insurance policies. As insurance companies try to minimise their exposure, the firm’s finding more third-party only policies exclude salvage and wreck removal - one of the biggest risks to boats.

musings from the boat painter’s workshop

musings from a boat painter's workshop

thoughts of laser cleaning as an alternative to sanding...

It can be a quiet life, the painting of boats. After the hard work of boat surface preparation is done there is time for quiet contemplation and communing with one’s paint brush. Rather like Mr Miyagi’s instruction of “wax on, wax off”, we spend many hours moving a paint brush from the bottom to the top of a 1 metre cabin side. Paint up, paint across, paint down; all very rhythmic and calming. Some workshops play loud music to fill the hours but, after the din of grinders and sanders, peace and quiet is what we prefer.

boat painters workshopSo, what goes through our minds as we literally watch paint dry?

Of late, I have been thinking about laser cleaning. I’d seen a couple of YouTube videos and thought – Wow! That can’t be real surely and, if it is, why aren’t we cleaning boats with lasers?

A good paint job is all about the preparation; if narrowboats could be properly prepared, cleaned and de-rusted with minimal mess, minimal effort but maximal cleaning and rust removal narrowboat painting could be revolutionised.

The current options of grinding or shot-blasting are very messy, very labour intensive and are only as good as the effort that is put in.

Laser cleaning vaporises the paint and rust – cutting down the mess, the laser “gun” is not heavy – cutting down the effort and the finish is clean enough for the nuclear industry.

Want to know more?

I took the time (so that you don’t have to) to make further enquiries, attending a symposium on the applications of laser cleaning.

Laser cleaning equipment is used in many industries. Artworks from the Old Masters benefit from laser cleaning. The depth of the laser penetration can be very finely tuned so centuries of dirt can be removed without any damage to the painting. At the rougher end of the spectrum, laser cleaning was adopted for the cleaning of concrete walls on Dublin’s Harbourside as more standard, but more aggressive, methods of cleaning such as shot-blasting was not permitted.

Laser cleaning has been used in high tech industries for around 30 years. As a boat painter, the most relatable for me was the use of lasers for the pre-cleaning of metal prior to welding. This is done for the welding of car components and nuclear waste containers (where the strength of the welds is super important!). Typically, lasers are used in conjunction with robotic systems. The “laser robot” will clean the metal plate seconds before the “welding robot” does the weld. Cleaning the contaminants seconds before the weld increases weld penetration making the bond stronger.

But, I hear you cry, weld joins only cover a very small area; it would take forever to clean a boat with a laser beam of 0.02 mm width. Fortunately, beam width and laser power have been increasing with developments within the laser industry. Laser heads now exist that are a suitable proportions to work with narrowboat sized objects.

I have seen the technology with my own eyes on my own dirty, rusty, painted piece of steel, you will have to trust this YouTube clip

Can your boat be cleaned by lasers?

Yes! But, as a small business owner, I have to say it will be no time soon. For laser equipment of a suitable size to clean a narrowboat it would cost around £500,000. That’s a lot of boats to be cleaned before it pays for itself.

But who knows what the future holds. Today, we each carry more computing power in our hands than could have been bought with £500,000 forty years ago. Laser technology is constantly developing and being adopted by different industries. Maybe in time it will be affordable enough for every boat yard to have their own laser cleaning equipment.

willow boat painting logoWillow Boat Painting is a great little team operating out of Swanley Bridge Marina in Cheshire. We are headed up by mum and son Sally and Alex with much able assistance from Charlotte Seabrook. We are dedicated to high quality coach painting of narrowboats and take enormous pride in our work. We approach each narrowboat with a firm plan for how to provide a durable paint job and every attention is given to ensure our boats are meticulously well finished.

Contact: 07791 245134 Write: Email Visit website

gailey wharf training centre

birmingham and midlands marine services – water safety training centre

Gailey Wharf Training Centre 'BMM' is a small business; just myself (with the help of 'Morgan' the dog, my Lurcher), my Wife Francoise assists with the website, Frans, Aubrey, Bob, Carl and Adrian are all part-time, freelance instructors with Bob acting as equipment manager and helping me run the jobs and training we offer.

As a canal based business we are quite unusual; based at 'Gailey Wharf' on the Staffs & Worcester Canal we are predominantly 'commercial' trainers for personnel working within three metres from the water's edge and of course, on boats as part of their job. We also train members of the public who have been told by their insurers to get a qualification in boat handling prior to being able to obtain cover for private canal and river boats.

The 'Leisure' industry on the canals and rivers in the UK is a hugely well catered for sector: the commercial side of things was an untapped market. 'BMM' are filling this gap with a range of services that was otherwise untouched.

A few points that most Folks are unaware of:

  • Anyone steering a boat whether as paid employment or a volunteer requires a licence to do so. A Maritime & CoastGuard Agency 'BoatMaster's Licence (Passenger operations / towing and pushing / workboat endorsement) is the main licence, the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate / NCBA Certificate in Community Boat Management / IWA Certificate of Boat Management or the RYA Powerboat Level 2 licence / qualification are the MCA 'recognised alternatives' to the BML.
  • An employer / organisation / trust putting personnel near the water's edge; 'should the risk of accidental immersion have been shown in the risk assessment' are obliged to provide water safety awareness and APPE (Aquatic Personal Protective Equipment) training to their personnel. Particularly relevant should those personnel 'be managing groups'.
  • Anyone working within the wider civil engineering / construction / maintenance / utilities / rail / environmental sectors within three metres of the edge (same point of reference 'R.A' as above) is obliged to have received water safety awareness and APPE training under the 'Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
  • An employer / organisation / trust issuing 'APPE' to personnel (paid or volunteer) such as drysuit, waders, lifejacket, buoyancy aid, helmet, throwbag should ensure that the recipient has been properly trained in the equipment. Not having an accredited qualification or sufficient in-house training by an appropriately qualified instructor would be seen by a Judge in the case of a fatality at work as negligent, resulting in a 'corporate manslaughter' charge.

Having worked as an MCA BoatMaster commercially  since the 1990's and many years as a safety & rescue boat operator and rescue technician the evidence was seen on regular basis to show that professional commercial training was needed for the canal and river environment. That was why we started 'Gailey Wharf Training Centre'; to try and make a difference.

Clients arriving for training with their own lifejackets, issued to them by 'work' far too regularly have not been shown how to wear them correctly, what to check, and we find many lifejackets wouldn't activate in the case of an immersion because they are not set up correctly. A bit worrying really! Folks issuing lifejackets without a grounded knowledge of how they operate isn't acceptable!

Initially we began running 'commercially orientated' skipper training aboard a commercial vessel. Many folks that have undertaken a boat handling licence did so on a 'holiday hire' type vessel or a standard narrowboat. This is ideal for 'leisure' boating but does not train the candidate in commercial handling, for example all the manoeuvres and control needs to be from the stern rather than crewed from the bows - no access through on commercial vessels when loaded.

We than became RYA trainers; Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate courses, then MCA BoatMaster training including water safety & personal survival, boat fire safety and small craft first aid.

We then branched out to water safety awareness then rescue training via the Royal Life Saving Society: for employers we provide the 'National Water Safety Management Programme' and Outreach Rescue 'Water Rescue Awareness' and Water Rescue First Responder' training. For those personnel without a statutory duty to respond we also run a short course; the 'Water Rescue Equipment Training' course developed again by the RLSS.

Next we commenced training Powerboat operators intending upon a career in the marine rescue sector - RYA Powerboat Level 2 and Outreach Rescue 'Powered Boat for Rescue Response' - ensuring that safety boat teams working on contracts on the inland waterways have a comprehensive background in ensuring their clients safety. This is something that needs to be acted upon as the accepted industry standard is a very basic qualification and leaves room for accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Further to our training role we provide workboat, safety boat and marine rescue services: with rescue boats 'in-water' swimmers and 'bank-rescue' teams. We provide workboats and procurement services to organisations working waterside, sourcing boats, pontoons, scaffolding, divers, APPE and rescue equipment.

Finally, we move commercial vessels by water to and from 'site' on behalf of commercial contractors and commercial boat hire companies - nice to get some peace and quiet on the way to 'B' from 'A'!  

birmingham & midlands marine servicesRYA, RLSS, Outreach Rescue & MCA Training Centre Principal; Gailey Wharf Training Centre.
Occupational Water Safety & Commercial Helmsman, BoatMaster & Coxswain Training Operations Manager; Birmingham & Midland Marine Services: - Marine Access, Inland Marine & Open Water Safety  / Rescue Specialists

Telephone: 07527 727169 Write; Visit

bow thrusters you can trust

wondering what is the best bow thruster for your boat?

THE VETUS BOW PRO THRUSTER SERIES - the best of all worlds!

This (r)evolution from VETUS is a combination of our renowned electric bow thruster series and the latest induction motor technology. We are pleased to present the all-new BOW PRO thrusters, the best of both worlds!


Vetus pro bow thrusterPrecision control at your fingertips, you command as little or as much power as needed!

• Fully proportional control from zero to full power

• Endurance Rated Run-time - In excess of 5 minutes at full power

• Maintenance-free brushless motor

• Sealed ingress protection construction - motor sealed for improved corrosion resistance in damp environments

• Built-in over-temp and low battery voltage protection

• Suitable for highly demanding applications (e.g. for use in rental & charter vessels)

Revolutionary concept matched with proven technology

Our BOW PRO thrusters use proven induction motors without carbon brushes. As a result, the bow thruster motor is maintenance-free and has Endurance Rated* run-time!

Why is this important? A conventional DC motor creates a lot of heat and the running time is limited by the amount of heat it can dissipate. Typically this could be just 3 minutes in an hour before the thermal cut-out trips. The carbon brushes in a DC motor also wear. The higher the current and heat, the faster this happens and can cause a lot of black carbon dust in the boat. The BOW PRO has none of these issues.

The induction motor is controlled by the VETUS MCV motor controller which can handle both 12 V or 24 V on board systems, making the new BOW PRO thruster suitable for almost all boats. The built-in over-temp and low battery voltage protection, combined with the brushless induction motor make the BOW PRO thruster series highly resistant to abuse and ideal for beginners or experienced users alike!

The BOW PRO thruster is controlled by a proprietary CANBUS protocol (digital control) network. There are two fully-proportional panels available for the BOW PRO thruster series; one standard panel (BPPPA) and one panel with lock-and-hold capability for easy docking (BPPJA).

BOW PRO thrusters utilize the same propellers and gearboxes proven in VETUS thrusters for over 30 years. Upgrading a boat with an existing thruster to a BOW PRO thruster is easily achieved as the BOW PRO thruster was made to share tunnel sizes with current VETUS thrusters as well as many other brands.

*BOW PRO thrusters will run for 5 minutes at full power, providing the battery bank allows this. After this time they will automatically reduce the power output, but will continue to run until the battery is depleted. If less than full power is used from the outset, then the run time is greatly extended!

All this technology is available for not significantly more than a conventional DC thruster and the installation costs are roughly the same. If you are considering installing or changing your bow thruster then ask whether you will get the following benefits:

  • Full proportional control from zero to full speed.
  • Option for “lock and hold” control panel. Set the thruster at whatever speed you choose and lock it running while you moor the boat.
  • Brushless sealed motor with no maintenance, no wearing parts and no carbon dust.
  • Long run times. Five minutes or more at full power and considerably longer at lower speeds.
  • No thermal cut out. The motor will continue running as long as the battery bank allows.

Boating Leisure Services were one of the first builders in the UK to install a BOW PRO thruster. They fitted model BOWA0651 into their new narrow boat displayed at Crick Boat Show in May 2018.

installation of Vetus bow thrusterBoth the owner and his employees were very impressed with the system.

After a trial of the boat in the windy Heyford Fields Marina, business owner Gary Manning said “The installation is as easy as any other thruster. It is the best system I have ever used and well worth the money.” When Gary was asked whether he would install a Vetus Bow Pro again, he said “Definitely! It is an amazing bit of kit and it re-invents how thrusters can be used with a whole new concept. I’m very impressed!”

The installation looked neat and tidy with ventilation either side of the locker. The noise from the thruster is lower and less harsh than a standard DC thruster giving a smooth operating noise.

The system is powered by 2 x 105Ah batteries. Controller used is the BPPJA proportional “lock and hold” joystick.

Installation of Vetus Bow Pro Thruster     joystick control for Vetus bow thruster

To find out more about this amazing new thruster range, please click here to view the brochure or talk to a Vetus dealer.

Boat control has never been easier!

For more than 50 years, VETUS has been an internationally operating developer, manufacturer and trading company, selling marine engines, generators and technical equipment for recreational craft and small commercial vessels.

We design our products to make your life on your boat easy and enjoyable.

Tel: 023 8045 4507; Write Email;  Visit: Website

clear blue loo, brought to you

clear blue loo brought to you

by wessex chemical factors

The family run business based just outside Bournemouth started out supplying the engineering industry with lubricants and cleaners, but over the years have developed solutions for a myriad of different industries, becoming specialists in marine, motor-home and leisure applications.

The secret to their success is their willingness to work with their customers to find the right solution for every job, concentrating on lower costs and environmental safety at every step in the process.

No other product illustrates this versatility more than their groundbreaking environmentally friendly toilet fluid Blue Bio. Launched at a time when 99% of the leisure industry used formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde based products that simply preserve waste until it can be off loaded at a suitable processing station to be treated as hazardous waste, Blue Bio was a game changer.

A new generation, multi-purpose toilet fluid that could be used in cassette, waste and flush tanks in motorhomes, boats and narrowboats, but also suitable for septic tanks, boat holding tanks and grey tanks, Blue Bio quickly became an essential part of many boat and caravan owners 'must have' products and the reason for this was simple. Blue Bio was different.

Working alongside mother nature, Blue Bio utilises natural live bacteria to break down waste meaning that at no point in the process is your waste ever classed as hazardous or chemical waste, greatly reducing our customers impact on the environment and reducing disposal charges as their waste could simply be flushed down a toilet.

Blue Bio quickly became one of the company’s fasting selling products, with Linda French of Ownasharecruising becoming one of our best customers, using the product across her fleet of narrowboats.

Last year however Linda contacted us with some feedback that would change everything. Something that’s unique to narrowboats is that many of them have stunning wooden interiors that even with the washable dye mbv could easily become stained or tarnished by the colour of Blue Bio if a spillage occurred, so whilst Linda’s feedback was overwhelmingly positive she did ask the question of whether or not a clear version could be produced.

Taking this on board, we developed a prototype clear version which Linda kindly set about testing, finding it to be the perfect product for use in toilet tanks within all their boats. Linda told us “all boaters that have trialled this new Clear Blue Bio have reported that it successfully cleans the toilet as well as getting rid of all bad odours, with the improved fragrance of the fluid also being very well received”.

Linda also highlighted that the improvement of adding citric acid to the formula prolongs the life of the seal in the toilet as it doesn’t scale up as quickly, making it rare that you need to do anything more to look after the toilet tank. Linda feels that one of the main benefits of Clear Blue Bio (and Blue Bio before it) is that it can also be used to clean the toilet bowl itself and this multi-purpose function is incredibly valuable when you are restricted as to which products you can use to clean your pride and joy.

Summing up, Linda told us “In a time where we are all more focussed on making sure out actions are environmentally friendly, Clear Blue Bio is the perfect product to use on all narrowboats and canal boats.

We know it contains no nasty chemicals so there are no concerns for our health either. Clear Blue Bio is a product we highly recommend for treating toilet tanks in all boats”.

Wessex Chemical Factors (WCF) is a family-run, specialist chemical company that has been trading since 1983

We design and develop specialist chemical products for the marine and boating industry delivering superior cleaning and valeting solutions for all boats and yachts.

What makes us unique is that we work closely with our customers to develop bespoke and innovative cleaning and treatment solutions based on their needs. We also constantly test and develop our existing product range to ensure they are as effective as possible and easy to use.

All of our products are designed, manufactured and supplied by us and our factory is ISO 9001:2015 Certified and run by IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) trained staff.

Phone:  01202 823 699; Write: email; Visit: website

boat maintenance tips

boat maintenance tips

from river canal rescue

In a bid to reduce the number of incidents on our waterways, River Canal Rescue (RCR) shares the main causes of this year’s call-outs and offers some maintenance, grounding and lock cill tips to help boaters enjoy stress-free cruising in 2020.

During 2019, RCR on average attended 105 call-outs a week (covered by its membership service). Of these, 18 per week were for major rescues and repairs, chargeable outside membership, the remainder were classed as minor.

Minor is defined as situations which on attendance, can be resolved (within two to three hours) without the need for a full rescue team. Major, as submerged, partially sunken or grounded craft, plus salvage work (engineers typically spend a day on each call-out).

Minor call-outs were primarily due to fuel, alternator, electrical, battery, cable, cooling system, gear box, starter and propeller problems. They included;

Gearbox, propeller, drive plate, coupling, prop shaft, engine mount, hull and rudder damage, due to hitting underwater objects or locks

  • Loss of propellers and nuts/rudders coming away
  • Domestic water ingress due to a lack of bilge pumps
  • Engine electrics catching fire

maintenance tips

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “Fuel problems are mainly caused by diesel bug and contaminated water. Diesel bug is an enzyme that lives off water in the diesel, either appearing as black dust/ soot or a black slime/jelly. Once in the system it clogs the engine’s fuel arteries and stops the engine working. Mild cases will respond to a fluid ‘Marine 16’; it prevents bacterial growth and kills anything that may be forming in the tank. More severe cases require a diesel bug shock treatment. Dirt and debris can also block filters and contaminate fuel so check and service regularly.

“Alternators operate in a damp, hot environment which is not good for electrics. If the bilges are full of oil and water when the engine’s running, it will be thrown over the engine, hitting the electrical components. If left for a long period of time, rust can also develop and affect their operation, so it’s important to check the bilges and run the engine frequently.

“Electrical issues are usually due to overlooked connections. Check for corrosion, wires coming away, loose connections or disconnected wires before starting a journey and use a water resistant spray or petroleum jelly to stop damp getting into isolators and block connectors.

“Starter systems must have the right batteries. A cranking battery delivers a high output quickly while a leisure battery delivers a lower continuous output, so needs regular charging to maintain capacity. If in a good condition, each battery in a bank generally requires two to three hours charging as a minimum to keep them topped up and will require more if discharged.

“Each battery cell can affect the whole battery bank so to prevent deterioration, regularly check and top up the cells’ water levels with de-ionised water. If one cell’s water level drops to below 50% it will bring the battery bank capacity down to the same level, irrespective of how good the other batteries are. Never mix batteries and always replace a whole bank of old with new.

“As most of the cable terminus is set outside, if not used regularly, cables will rust. To prevent this, grease the end of the cable, particularly if leaving the boat for a long period of time, and when setting off, check for any roughness or stiffness. If fitting new cables, keep bends to a minimum (they’ll suffer higher stress and so may fail in the future).

“Overheating is usually due to an air lock in the cooling system. To identify this, feel the top and bottom of the swim tank – there should be a difference in temperature. If not, find and unscrew the bolt sitting on top of the swim tank. This releases the air locked in the system. Overheating can also be caused by a coolant hose rupturing, a water pump failing, a fan belt shredding or at its worst, a head gasket failing.

“General wear and tear is the main cause of gear box and drive plate failure, so regularly service the gear box. When hitting an underwater object, it may affect the drive plate, but not necessarily the gear box. With a fouled propeller, loss of propulsion is commonly due to the prop being covered in debris such as weed or leaves. Clear by putting the engine into reverse.

“Prevent water ingress by keeping an eye on water levels within a craft and installing an automatic bilge pump. When there are stormy weather conditions and periods of heavy rain, water can seep into a boat, build-up and if not addressed, cause it to sink.”


RCR reminds this can occur anywhere if owners stray from the middle of the water course, cut a corner to take the shortest route or fail to check water levels before setting off.

Stephanie continues: “If your boat grounds, put on a life jacket and put the boat in reverse to see if it moves away from the obstruction. If this fails, identify the area of shallow water, by walking around the vessel testing the surrounding water depth with a boat pole.

“If the front of the boat’s grounded, move ballast that may be holding it down to the rear (gas bottles, the anchor, chains etc) and turn on the taps to empty the water tank (always at the front). This creates more buoyancy at the front and potentially lifts it a vital few inches. Half a ton of water can create a six inch difference. If it does clear, put the boat in reverse.

“If the boat’s grounded on one side, it’s a similar scenario; move anything that’s weighing it down in this area to the opposite side. Be cautious however, as if over-balanced, the vessel could list and take on water.

“If people are on board, one person should take the helm and the remainder can rock the boat gently to see if the momentum moves it. If the rear of the boat’s aground and the propeller’s lifted (a rare scenario), the boat will probably need a tow. But this should only be undertaken by an experienced boater - we’ve had cases where the person towing has got into trouble and two boats have had to be rescued. Hire boaters will invalidate their insurance if they undertake a tow.

“Once the vessel’s free, check it thoroughly, particularly the hull, as this could have been damaged.”


The most heart-breaking scenario – a boat sinking – in many cases could have been prevented with a bilge pump. Cases included:

  • Water ingress due to outlets close to the water line/leaks causing vessels to sit lower in the water
  • Water ingress via redundant air vents, caused by flood water and high winds
  • Leak from tank/shower pipes, bowl thruster pipes, water pumps, stern tube seals and stern glands
  • Incorrectly fitted and unsecure weed hatches/broken weed hatch seals
  • Too tight ropes and rising water levels allowing water to seep in
  • Caught on lock cills

lock cills

These below-water protrusions, positioned close to the top gates of most locks, catch many people out. Stephanie advises: “If travelling downhill in the lock chamber and the stern, ie rudder, gets caught on the cill, when the water recedes only the boat’s bow will lower with the water level, leaving the stern raised up. Sinking or capsizing can happen in seconds.

“If the stern is caught, close the bottom gate paddles to stop the water receding further and slowly open the top gate paddles to refill the lock. To stay safe in a lock, position the boat centrally and where possible keep the engine running with a centre line to hold it in position whilst tying off.

“A boat travelling uphill can equally get its bow stuck on a projection under the top gate – causing the stern only to rise with the water level. If this happens, close the top gate to prevent the lock filling and open the bottom gate paddles to allow the water level to fall.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue go to their website check out their Facebook page call 01785 785680 or email

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