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Jemima-D's Handbook

Please send any suggestions or corrections to John Talbut.

Liz's new manuals

Bed Instructions

Beginners guide to coming aboard Jemima

Beginners guide to leaving Jemima

Beginners guide to the fire

Beginners guide to what to bring with you

Part One: Getting Started

Battery switches

Each battery has a key-operated switch. They are located inside the boat, below the second shelf below the radio - to the left (as you go out) of the back door. Switch on by inserting a red plastic key and turning 90 degrees clockwise. The key must be left IN while a switch is on. Remember to switch off and take the keys out whenever you leave the boat.

Switch off engine (aft) battery key when not using the engine.

Do not ever take out the red keys whilst the engine is running. This is likely to destroy the alternator.

Starting the engine

Before starting engine please:-

  1. Check the oil level in the engine. The dipstick is located forward of the engine, underneath the steps. The oil is a heavy duty diesel lubricating oil SAE20, i.e. Morris Golden Film SAE 20 Classic Motor Oil, and not a modern multigrade oil. A container of engine oil is kept under stern decking. If you use the last of it, please replace. There are two filler caps on the top of the engine. One of these is under the steps, the other more visible from beneath boards. It doesn't matter which one you use. Do not overfill with oil, which does the engine no good and can result in oil getting everywhere, eventually into the canal.
  2. Once a week or so, check oil levels in gearbox and reduction unit. The dipsticks for each, one on each side of rear of the units, are fairly well concealed. Oil for both is HYPOY 90. There is a filler cap for each gearbox. The oil in both units has tended to go milky (emulsify): this is apparently normal for these units. We just have to change the oil fairly often (see Part Two). However, more recently this has not happened and the oil levels have stayed constant.

To start the engine:

  1. Set the speed control lever to approximately 1/3rd speed with the gears disengaged: red knob below the control lever should be pushed in
  2. Turn the starter (and alternator) key - one click clockwise.
  3. Operate starter motor by turning the starter key clockwise for a few seconds
  4. Once the engine fires, return the lever to the idle (vertical) position. The alternator light should go off and the buzzer stop. It seems that the starter motor sometimes used to stick. If this should recur, turn the starter on and off a few times and keep trying.
  5. If engine turns but doesn't burst into life, check that the cut-off knob is pushed in (see "To stop engine" point 3, below).

Step 1 is usually unnecessary, the engine should start by just turning the starter key for a few seconds with the control lever vertical. The gearbox will disengage as soon as the engine starts. It will usually then be necessary to briefly rev up the engine to start the alternator charging, turn off the alternator light and stop the buzzer.

The engine will continue to run with the starter key in the off, anti-clockwise position. Do not do this as it means that the engine running hours are not recorded.


  1. Before casting off check that engine/gearbox/propeller are actually working in both forward and reverse: push throttle lever forward and check water for propeller turbulence; lever backwards and ditto. If no turbulence, make sure the red knob is out, and try again.
  2. Only untie after you've done all this, to prevent drifting helplessly towards/over weir, plastic boats, irate fisherpeople, CART staff, et al.

To stop engine

Wait until you've tied up before stopping engine, in case there's any manoeuvring to be done.

  1. Put gears into neutral (lever vertical)
  2. Pull up the engine cut-off handle, located at the base of the gear column, and hold it out until the engine stops completely. Then push it back in (otherwise the engine won't start when you come to set off again, and you'll be wondering why not).
  3. Turn off the starter switch..

The engine will not stop if you just turn off the starter switch.

After stopping:

Turn the handle on the stern gland greaser clockwise one full turn. The greaser sticks up from the stern decking just by the tiller.

When the grease gun is empty (i.e. it is fully screwed down) please refill with grease, which is in a tin in the tool cupboard. To refill, either a) unscrew the top under the handle, upturn the grease container on the body and press down or b) unscrew the body of the greaser from the bottom, place it over the hole in the disk in the grease tin and withdraw the handle as you press down. Any grease will do and, once again, please replace when empty.

Switch off engine battery key when not using the engine.

While running:

Keep an eye on the dashboard. Check that:

  1. The alternator light is off. It requires an initial burst of power to persuade it to go off, achieved by revving up the engine (in neutral) for a second or two. If you don't do this the batteries will not recharge. Sometimes the light will go on while the engine is idling - while waiting in a lock for example. It's really important to get the light off again if you want to start the engine later!
  2. The headlight is off (unless you're in a tunnel!). The switch (on the rear of the control column) is clockwise for 'on' and straight up for 'off'.

The engine does not like being run most of the time at low load, this is likely to lead to engine oil being burned and a lot of blue smoke (some blue smoke is normal as is black smoke when increasing the engine speed). When conditions permit (i.e. wash is not too much of a problem) run the engine at high or full speed. She should happily run at full speed all day!

The horn is operated by the push button above the light switch.


The brass filler cap is on the stern of the boat, between the tiller and the gear post. Check level of diesel fuel in the tanks with some sort of dipstick. The tanks take around 200 litres of fuel. It is best to keep them fairly full as this can reduce problems arising from water vapour getting in.

Only use diesel fuel supplied for canal boats. Some (but not all) diesel points are shown (as D) in Nicholson Guides. The proportion of fuel used for propulsion is taxed at a higher rate than the fuel for domestic (heating and lighting) use. Suppliers may ask you to declare what proportion you use for each. Alternatively they may use a standard split of 40% propulsion and 60% domestic (of the volume of fuel).

If there is less than 3 inches of fuel put more in as soon as possible. If the engine runs out of fuel it is both difficult and expensive to get it going again, and users who let this happen will have to pay for it themselves.


We have River Canal Rescue (RCR) retainer membership. This operates rather like the AA, they will come out if the boat has broken down for a fixed charge of £40. The numbers to call (freephone 0800 0718021 or landline 01785 248793) and our membership card are in the Boat Handbook on board. Our membership number is 104873. Check the Membership Booklet which is also in the Boat Handbook or look on line at Retainer Membership.

Note that this only applies to engine and drive breakdowns that result in the boat not being able to go. They can be telephoned for advice about other serious events. Any other call outs will be carried out by their contracting branch (see end) and charged for at their rates.

Part Two: Regular Maintenance

The Engine is a Lister SR2. There is a copy of the handbook here and on the boat.


Installed early 1988. If it is cleaned out enough it cuts down the need to clean or change the fuel filter so often. It's a silvery metal drum in the fuel line, near the fuel tank. It's under the rear decking in the same corner as the fuel filler cap. To clean, first turn off the fuel stop-tap, a small valve in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the sedimenter. If you don't do this diesel will start dripping out when you undo the sedimenter. Then you can either unscrew the two black plastic plugs on the bottom of the sedimenter (only fingers necessary for this) and let out whatever muck there is, or (better) undo the bolt on the top of the sedimenter with a spanner and clean out the two bowls with a rag. Make a note of how it comes apart so you can put it together again correctly.

It is suggested that this is done whenever the engine oil is changed.

Engine oil change

The engine oil needs changing every 200 hours or so. The old oil can be pumped out with the brass hand-operated pump on the engine. Pump it into an empty oil can and dispose of same at a boatyard. If you pump and no dirty oil comes out then the pump probably needs 'priming'. Unscrew the top of the pump cover and pour a little oil on top of the valve. Screw back cover and try again. Putting a finger over the spout for the first two or three pulls can also help. New oil goes in the top of the engine. It takes a gallon. Check the level with the dipstick.

Use a heavy duty diesel engine oil SAE20 i.e. Morris Golden Film SAE 20 Classic Motor Oil.

Gearbox oil change

See the Lister manual, not a regular maintenance item.

The bilge pump

If you look under the stern decking you can see that there is always some water there. The point is to keep the level down. The bilge pump is used to pump this water out. It has an automatic level switch inside the bilge pump itself. There is also a test button, a black dot on the outside. It takes power from the engine battery and is not disconnected by either the ignition switch or the battery switch.

Engine bilge/drip tray

The drip tray is below the engine. It doesn't drain into the rest of the bilge (which empties into the canal), so unless it fills and overflows the canal doesn't get polluted with oil from the engine. The drip tray needs emptying occasionally. There's a special hand-operated pump for this, a long (rusing) silver thing with a plastic pipe at the top and bottom, stored under the aft deck. Pump the contents into a suitable container and dispose at a boatyard, as per old oil from an oil change. Some boatyards will suck it out for a nominal fee.

Make sure that the channels under the deck boards are kept clear. These drain away water off the deck. If they are blocked rainwater will go into the engine drip tray which will then have to be emptied more often.

Fuse box

This is above the radio on the left hand side of the door as you look out of the cabin. There should be spare fuses (which are continental type car fuses) in the tool box on the bottom shelf. Please replace the fuses if you use them up.

Part Three: Services and Odds and Ends

Fresh water

The tank is under the bow decking. The water is drinkable. It is much easier to top the tank up every couple of days than wait till it gets low - it takes well over an hour to fill from empty.

To fill, unscrew chrome filler cap in middle of bow deck with a coin. The hose (clean the end you're putting into the tank please!) is kept in one of the bow deck compartments. There are water points all over the place - at most CART service points and many boatyards - mostly marked (W) in Nicholson.

Water pump

We have a Jabsco Par Max pump. It is located under the steps at the forward end of the cabin. The switch is located under the radio. Please switch the pump off if you leave the boat for more than a few hours. There is also a stop valve (a silver handled ¼ turn valve) on the bulkhead just to port of the pump. Water is on when the handle is in line with the pipe.

To drain water system when frost is likely

Turn off the stop valve, pump and water heater. Have a container underneath he drain valve by the water pump to receive water. Open the drain valve by turning with a spanner. Use a piece of hose to syphon the water into a container outside of the pump box, start the syphon by sucking on the tube. Open all taps. Mop up water which has overflowed from the inadequate container. Have a drink to get the taste out of your mouth! Leave both taps open but close the drain valve.

Gas supply

The two gas bottles in the front bow compartment are propane (red). Only one should be connected at a time, with the other (full) as a reserve. To connect/change gas bottle: turn the old cylinder off by turning the tap fully clockwise, then disconnect it by turning the nut clockwise with attached spanner (or ask passing he-person to do it when the nut's been screwed too tight by previous he-person, or hit it with a rubber fender); unscrew disposable plastic cap from new bottle; connect new bottle by turning nut anti-clockwise by hand and tightening with spanner. It probably will need hitting to make it gas tight, check for any smell after a while. Turn on the tap on the cylinder.

Replace an empty gas bottle as soon as possible.

In order to light the gas appliances, sometimes you have to clear air from the gas pipes by turning a cooker tap on for about 30 seconds.

Make sure that the vents in the roof are always clear.

When leaving the boat for more than an hour or two, please turn off the gas using the valve on the cylinder. The gas taps at various points in the piping are there for testing purposes and not intended for general use.

Water heater

To light the pilot light: Press the top knob it and turn until it clicks, check that the pilot light is lit, if not repeat. Hold in for a few seconds then turn to low or high flame and release.


After emptying and rinsing out, put a quantity of “Blue” deodorant in the bottom container, see the instructions on the container of “Blue” for the amount. The capacity of the bottom container is 19l. Except for freezing weather, it is all right to use less than the recommended amount (300ml seems enough).

Do not put blue in the top container, fill this with fresh water only.

There are Elsan emptying points at most CART service points and some boatyards, mostly marked (S) in Nicholson. You will need the CART key to get in.

When emptying the bottom container it's a good idea to give the whole toilet a hose down as well, especially if it's sunny so everything dries off quickly.

Cabin bilge

The cabin bilge is not connected to the engine bilge, it should be dry at all times. There are gaps in the cabin floor behind the seats , which give access to the bilge for checking.

If it does fill up all of a sudden, it means there are serious leaks and you should perhaps head for the bank as quickly as possible...

Pumping out this bilge can only be done by hand.

Propeller fouling

The canals are full of anti-propeller materials. If you hear a 'clunk' while on the move, disengage the gears at once; it's likely that something solid has hit the propeller and may have chewed bits of it off. You'll be able to see if anything floats out behind the boat. If the boat is very sluggish at normal revs you've most likely got plastic bags, rope, weeds, leaves, a sleeping bag or some other foreign body round the propeller. Sometimes running briefly in reverse will clear the debris. Otherwise, try stopping and fishing about round the propeller with a boat hook. If that doesn't work, you'll have to use the weed hatch. It's located under the stern decking between the two fuel tanks.

Before opening the weed hatch, turn off the engine and put the keys in your pocket. Undo the bar by turning screw anti-clockwise. Lift off the plate and the thick rubber gasket and you will be confronted by the top of the propeller under a couple of inches of water (and layers of foreign body or you've been wasting your time). If the water's incredibly cold you can make the job more palatable by tipping in a kettle-full of hot water before you start un-weeding.

Please replace the weed hatch carefully; otherwise the boat will sink. When tightening the weed hatch use the mallet to give a last quarter turn to ensure it's watertight.

Life jackets

Are under one of the aft cabin seats.

Carbon monoxide alarm

This is situated to the aft of the cabin over the starboard side seat.

If the alarm goes off open the doors and get out of the cabin. When it seems safe to do so nip back in and press the reset button (on the left of the front of the unit), or press it on the way out. If carbon monoxide is still present the unit will reactivate after a time depending on the concentration of carbon monoxide.

Test the alarm weekly, press the reset button and there should be a short beep followed 5 seconds later by the alarm going off. Press the reset button again to stop the alarm.

A chirp every 30 seconds with the green light flashing means the batteries need replacing, with the red light flashing the unit is faulty and needs replacing.


Please bring in any ropes not being used for mooring when leaving JD for any length of time.

Maximum number of passengers

Never have more than 12 people aboard (excluding children under 1 year old). Boats carrying more than 12 passengers must have a passenger certificate from the Department of Transport and - guess what - we don't.

Part Four: The Good Mechanic Guide

Canal Cruising Co Ltd,
Crown Street, Stone ST15 8QN
01785 813982, email:

Canal Cruising have done much of the work on Jemima in recent years.

Canal Contracting

is a company created specifically to provide all the additional services that may be needed beyond the remit of our River Canal Rescue cover, see RCR above.

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