easter checklist

easter checks

advice before setting out for that first journey

before you make that journey 

As Easter fast approaches, River Canal Rescue is reminding boaters to undertake preparatory checks before setting off on what could be their first journey of the year. Managing director, Stephanie Horton, reports calls are already coming in from people experiencing flat batteries, fuel leaks, water leaks and electrical problems.

Our rivers and canals are likely to be busy over Easter, so a few simple maintenance checks before setting off could reduce the likelihood of calling us out,” she comments. “It’s also good to have some toolbox essentials onboard and know what to do if an issue arises.” 

maintenance tips 

  • Ensure you have enough fuel to complete your journey and inspect all fuel lines and shut-off valves for leaks.
  • Where possible obtain a sample of your fuel, check there’s no debris floating in it, it smells like diesel and is clear and not cloudy. If it’s cloudy or smells of ‘paint thinners’ this indicates contamination which needs to be dealt with before going anywhere.
  • Drain off any water from pre-filter housings or the agglomerator.
  • Check batteries are charging correctly and that the charge rate from the alternator to the batteries is as it should be.
  • Check the morse control is working correctly and the throttle and gears are selecting smoothly. Stiffness indicates the cable may be due for renewal or has rusted due to disuse.
  • Switch isolators from one position to another to clean contacts. Give them a spray with WD40 contact cleaner.
  • Check the condition of the stern gland, ensure there’s plenty of grease supplied to it and that the prop shaft is turning freely.
  • Check the engine oil and gearbox oil levels and top up if needs be.
  • Check the condition of the fan belt - if it’s worn get it replaced.
  • Check all coolant hoses for leaks and wear and tear. Replace if required. For raw water-cooling engines, check the seacock, impeller and filter and all pipe work for leaks.
  • Check the condition of the engine mounts, and look at the engine mount bracket for signs of cracks or breaks. If they are worn replace them or if the bolts seem loose, tighten before cruising again (but only adjust the top bolt).
  • Check all coupling bolts and connections are tight.
  • Check the air filter and if dirty, replace or clean as needed.
  • Check the weed hatch seal is intact and the weed hatch is secured.

toolbox essentials  

  • A multi-meter (battery tester) 
  • PTFE tape (for dealing with unexpected domestic leaks)  
  • Adjustable spanners  
  • A flat head and multi-faceted Phillips screwdriver  
  • Pliers 
  • A hammer  
  • Spare lengths of electrical wire/ insulation tape 
  • A socket set    

Spares should include: morse cables for steering, throttle and gear selection, fan belt, impeller, spark plugs, fuel filter, bulbs, bolts and fuses, plus a supply of oil and ‘stop leak’ or putty for unexpected hull breaches. 


  • If you’re losing propulsion and the propeller is slow-moving, put the engine in reverse.  The prop may be fouled with bags or weeds. 
  • If the engine cuts out when in gear, check the propeller for an obstruction. 
  • If the engine cuts out when revved, check the air filter - it may be blocked with dust (you can remove and run without it in an emergency).  Alternatively check for blocked fuel filters (Vetus has a small fuel pump filter that’s usually overlooked). 
  • Is the engine overheating?  It could be an air lock in the cooling system.  Resolve it by unscrewing the bolt sitting on top of the water tank - this will release the air.  
  • If the boat won’t go into gear, check the cable is moving the selector arm on the gearbox, if it is then the cable is fine.  Check the oil in the gearbox.    
  • Engine won’t turn off?  Know where the manual stop button or lever is situated, usually on the right hand side of the engine. 

As ever, RCR is here if you need us,” Stephanie concludes.

Find out more at www.rivercanalrescue.co.uk

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About River Canal Rescue

River Canal Rescue offers 24/7 marine breakdown assistance and recovery across the UK's inland waterway system. It also undertakes engine servicing and inspections, offers additional services (from plumbing and domestic electrical work to hull repairs, engine refits and insurance work), devised the world's first environmentally-friendly filter 'Bilgeaway' and has an online chandlery.