You’ve finally made the life changing decision to purchase a canal boat or narrowboat, but do you have the right cruising equipment on-board to make your maiden voyage? Here is a list of essential cruising equipment that you will need to set sail on your narrow boat; whether you are buying a new or second-hand narrowboat you are likely to require at least some, if not all, of the equipment listed below.

Keys required on a narrowboat for use at sanitary stations, locks and pump-out toilets
Narrowboat key floats are essential for those keys accidentally dropped in the canal
Mooring pins and a mallet may be required if there is no cowling or mooring rings to moor your narrow boat against

Cruising Equipment… A Shopping List of Requirements!

You have spent many hours researching the right boat for you; you have found the ‘perfect’ one; made the decision and finally purchased your first canal boat or narrowboat; you are now gearing up ready to move on-board as maybe a live-aboard or to simply enjoy many weekends and holidays cruising the network, but do you have all the right equipment for that first cruise? Can you get through your first lock?

Here is a list of essential cruising equipment you will require on your narrow boat. Some boats may come with some of this equipment included as part of the sale, but you are likely to need to purchase some or all yourself from a marine chandlery.

If you are purchasing a new canal boat or a sailaway, consult your narrow boat builder to confirm what equipment is included with your purchase, otherwise you may find yourself with a hefty shopping list!


  • BWB Handcuff Anti Vandal Key – used on some locks
  • BWB Sanitary Key – used at facilities block and also some electric locks
  • Pump out toilet key – this may also be used to open the diesel and water filler caps on your canal boat
  • Key Floats – essential for those keys accidentally dropped in the canal!
  • Windlass (or lock key) – there are plenty to choose from here at a variety of prices; long rotating, short rotating, aluminium, carbon-fibre, engineered with built in gearing, dual purpose

Mooring Equipment:

  • Mooring pins – either with eye or without
  • Mooring hooks – for use when mooring against cowling/armco, sometimes also known as piling hooks. These can either be a ‘nappy pin’ or a curved pin with a line eye.
  • Mooring ropes
  • Lump mallet
  • Mooring chain – can be used to create a canal boat mooring against a pontoon when no mooring ring is available or for additional boat safety.
  • Hi-Vis mooring pin safety covers to alert other canal path users to your perturbing mooring pins
  • Fenders and buttons – bow and stern fenders and side fenders to protect the boat from inevitable knocks and bumps. Also fender hooks that can be placed along the cabin sides as and when required when mooring up.
  • Gang plank and boarding ladders – whilst not essential for all, depending upon your mooring choices these may prove valuable.
  • Poles and Hooks – very useful for pushing, poking and rescuing items!

Safety & Security:

  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms – ensure you have sufficient alarms in the boat and also if they are in working order and the correct type
  • Fire extinguishers and fire blankets – these should be included with all canal boats (new and used) as they are required as part of the boat safety scheme, but it is worth checking the age/condition and you are satisfied with the quantity on-board.
  • Life Jackets for all crew members
  • Life bouys/rings and throw bags
  • Anchor & chain
  • Padlocks for any external doors without a key operated lock and lockers


  • Shoreline electrical cable
  • Hosepipe

There is of course an endless list of other tools, equipment, products that you may need at some point whilst on-board your canal boat or narrowboat.

Life jackets are essential if you intend to cruise any of the UK rivers on your narrow boat.
Fenders will help to protect theb paint work on your narrow boat from bumps and scrapes
A shpreline electricity cable will be required if your narrow boat has a mooring with hook up

Cruising Equipment

Not what you're looking for? Try some other items within this chapter...

crick boat show 2024

(Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May 2024)


Britain's biggest inland waterways show.

Advance tickets can be ordered by phone and online until 12midday on Friday 17 May 2024. If you are planning to purchase advance tickets, we recommend that you do so well before this deadline to allow time for postal delivery.
Children 16 and under – free entry Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Trade & Preview Day – Friday 24 May 2024
Get ahead and visit The Fit Out Pontoon before everyone else on Preview Day!
Preview Day tickets are strictly limited to a maximum of 1,000 pre-booked visitors and give entry to the Show from 10am – 6pm on Friday 24 May.