Think of this page as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up and we'll send you a monthly summary and reminder email.
This is the place to find the latest boating news and views. Of course, we don't want this just to be one way. Some of the articles below ask for your views so please send them to me, Damian Kemp. My job title is bit clunky but, in brief, I'm here to talk and listen to boaters. Drop me a line if you feel like it - maybe you'd like to share something with the boating world? I can also be found on our Facebook Boating page.
When, every month, I sit down to write this part of Boaters’ Update I always try to give some sort of insight into the Trust. So, here I sit wondering what you’d like to know. Of course you want to know that the breach on the Trent & Mersey is just about fixed and will be open for the early May bank holiday. You might also be interested to hear that the route between Bath and Bristol has also reopened.
They’re important bits of news but does it give you an insight? Probably not. There are, however, a couple of topics that might.
Firstly, boating buddies. Ok, so it sounds slightly American and cheesy but the intention is good. In brief, a handful of boaters have volunteered to give up a little of their time to take some of our office-based staff out for a cruise. The aim is give those in the Trust with little boating experience a better understanding of the needs and challenges you face. Of course, it also gives the boaters involved the opportunity to ask questions of us!
We’re not looking for any more volunteers just yet – let’s see how it goes and, if successful, we’ll definitely be looking for more helpful boaters.
I’m not going to say too much about the second topic as there’s a full article about it below. All I’ll say here is that we’re going to run a pilot scheme in which boaters are rewarded for recruiting ‘Friends’. You have the knowledge and passion to be highly persuasive, so why not?
In a way these are symbolic of our thinking. We don’t value boaters just because they pay a licence fee (of course it helps!) We value boaters because they share our passion for canals and rivers more than most, if not all, other users (towpath or otherwise). Because of this passion and knowledge we’re certain that a closer relationship and a better understanding can benefit all of us.
It is a win-win.
PS Don’t forget, we now have an additional place to get the inside view from a wide range of Trust staff – the blogs!
As we do around every March, the enforcement team carries out our annual survey of boats. The good news is that it reveals that 96.1% of boats on our waterway network hold up-to-date licences. It is the second year running that the figure for licence evasion is below 4% and the fourth year in a row that evasion has been below 5%.
Visiting over 31,000 boats on waterways in England & Wales the survey gives a comprehensive snap-shot of licence evasion, with the information used to support the day-to-day enforcement work.
Simon Salem, marketing director, said: “It’s positive news that licence evasion has remained below 4%, following the record low of last year. We are now seeing year-on-year consistency, with four consecutive years below 5%, and is particularly encouraging when you consider evasion was over 10% just over five years ago.
“I would like to thank boaters who continue to renew their licences on time, it enables us to save time, effort and ultimately money that can better spent on improving the waterways. We remain committed to reducing the evasion rate in the future and one area of particular focus will be tackling overstaying.”
We don’t like doing it but during 2012/13, we had to remove 72 boats from the network that had failed to obtain a licence or were in breach of other terms and conditions of their licence.
That’s right, prizes. In this particular instance the prize could be money off your licence fee! Earlier this year boater John Sloan approached us with an idea. The gist of it is that, seeing as though boaters are a year round presence, why not ask them to recruit Friends (regular donors/volunteers) for you? In return, boaters can earn points (money!) for every Friend they’ve recruited.
After a bit of deliberation we’ve decided to give it a go, starting with a small trial this summer. So, we’re looking for 20 boaters who would happily hand out leaflets and convince towpath users to become a Friend. All of this can be done anytime, anywhere along the towpath. If you’re interested then just drop me a line – hurry up though as it’s first come, first served. We will provide some basic training and also involve those taking part in the trial in the development of the rewards scheme.
John says there are two significant benefits: “Firstly it is a fairly cheap way to recruit Friends compared to the Trust’s contracted face-to-face fundraisers. In discussions with the Trust they also agreed that the ‘rewards’ and training would be funded by the fundraising team so it doesn’t impact maintenance spending. Secondly, it’s a way of encouraging non-boaters to contribute to the waterways – so not only could boaters earn a little bit of money, it could, if boaters use their usual knowledge and passion to convince people to sign up, mean more money to spend on maintenance!
Beryl McDowall, general secretary of the Residential Boat Owners’ Association, has written some very useful advice for those of you using visitor moorings.
“How many times have you arrived at your chosen destination to find boats dotted along the length, with spaces in between them? You find yourself thinking “Why can’t they tie up next to each other?” We know sometimes a boat leaves, and a shorter boat arrives, but that doesn’t account for all spaces. We accept that some prefer to tie up “out in the sticks” and so we should respect that, and not moor too close. Visitor Moorings are a different issue; you’d expect to find other boats moored there. But many boaters won’t tie to a bollard or ring if another boat is already using it, resulting in spaces developing along the moorings. Don’t be one of those who’s “collared the bollard” or claimed sole use of a mooring ring. Be a considerate boater – Prepare to share!
“It’s easy to pass your rope through a ring which is already in use, tying off on your boat; if there are bollards, share them. Don’t just tie your rope over the one that’s already there. It’s harder for you both when it comes to untying. Instead, run your rope from your dolly or T-stud, round the bollard, below the other rope, back to your boat, and tie off. Then, ropes can be untied independently. Ensure your ropes are tight enough to prevent your boat moving backwards and forwards, but don’t forget, on rivers, that you should allow for possible rise or fall in the water level. Once moored, if another boat arrives, - prepare to share!”
Acclaimed British artist Rob Pointon will be exhibiting and working at this year’s Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival, to be held at Crick Marina near Rugby in Northamptonshire, 25-27 May.
At the show, which is organised by Waterways World in partnership with the Canal & River Trust and Crick Marina, over 200 exhibitors will showcase thousands of inland waterways products and services - from boats, engines and chandlery to holidays, brokerage and insurance.
The event also offers an exciting programme of family entertainment, including boat trips, free traditional children’s fairground rides, live music, children’s activities, arts and crafts stands, a large variety of food and drink stalls, competitions and talks.
Rob Pointon was the Regional Winner in last year’s ‘Fine Art Open Competition’ at Weston Park and his exceptional talents have been recognised by a host of commissions and acquisitions by high profile collectors, including HRH The Prince of Wales and Her Grace Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire.
Rob is attending the show as part of his ‘Year of the Boat’ project, where he spent a year travelling the UK canals by narrowboat and produced a series of large-scale oil paintings depicting waterway scenes.
Rob Pointon explains: “I’m looking forward to working and meeting visitors at the Crick Boat Show, where the waterways world gathers every year to celebrate the canals. As well as working on a new painting at the show, which aims to capture the spirit of the waterway fraternity, I will be showing works from ‘Year of the Boat’ and telling people about the special exhibitions which are taking place.”
Peter Johns, Publisher of Waterways World and Show Director, adds: “Rob is one of the most exciting artists living and working in Britain and we are delighted to be welcoming him to this year’s show as our ‘Artist in Residence’ for the three show days.
“It’s appropriate that Rob’s ‘Year of the Boat’ project will be highlighted at Crick Boat Show – the biggest event of the year show-casing our canals and rivers. It’s is the perfect place to find out more about boating with free boat trips, the chance to climb on board and inspect more than 40 brand new canal boats, or for the experienced boater to visit hundreds of boating businesses in one place.”
Rob’s enthusiasm for boating even extends to generously donating a percentage of his sales of the paintings to the Trust!
The show will open from 10am till 6pm every day except Monday 27 May, when it closes at 5pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance (Tel 01283 742950), saving up to 29 per cent on gate prices. Family tickets (two adults and two children aged 5-16) are £24 if bought in advance or £32 on the gate. Entry is free for under 5’s on all three show days and all children (16 or under) go free on the Monday (27 May). So on Monday 27 May, a family of four can visit the show for just £18 if tickets are purchased in advance or for £24 if bought on the day.
Sorwar Ahmed, Boater Liaison Manager (London).
Ordinarily, I’d ask someone to give the readers a brief bio and their ambitions for the role. But, it wouldn’t be fair on Sorwar – he’s literally only been with us a couple of days and has been bombarded with briefings and introductions. So, what I’d thought I’d do is, when his feet have been under the table for a bit longer I’ll ask him to give us his first impressions!
In the meantime I thought it’d be helpful for you to know what he’s here for, so here goes…
- To build positive relationships with waterway users (particularly boaters) in London and work with their representatives to develop and implement a plan for towpath mooring management that fairly balances the needs of all users: a relationship and understanding exercise for the Trust as well as the wider boating and user community.
- Give appropriate support to developing social enterprise initiatives that hold good prospects of containing waterway operations costs while improving their quality.
- To support and gain wider ownership of the vision of a vibrant waterway, well served and well connected, with everyone getting on well.
The points above may sound a little corporate so it may help if I put it another way. Sorwar is here to create opportunities for all types of boaters to contribute to the way we manage boating in London. This means he wants, you, boaters to work with us and other canal or towpath users to make our wonderful waterways thrive – at this stage Sorwar is learning the ‘why’s’ and wherefores’ but in the not-too-distant future he’ll be actively seeking your views if you boat in London.
So, if you see a slightly bewildered guy wandering up the towpath in London over the next few weeks say ‘hi’!
Please note, not all bewildered towpath users will be Sorwar.
Even though we started out in drought conditions last year, when it did rain, boy did it rain. Stephanie Horton, managing director of River Canal Rescue – one of the Trust’s corporate partners – says the £1.9billion* paid out by insurers to those who suffered flood and storm damage is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
“The figure should be higher as the damage and loss to canal and river boats is not included in this figure; it comprises home, business and motor claims. We attended 75%** more call-outs to emergency situations in the period from October 12 to January 13 and specialist insurers also confirm the bad weather caused an increase in claims.
“Last year’s weather caused devastation for those on water as well as land and it’s important their losses are acknowledged. We helped retrieve 45 sunken, partially submerged or grounded vessels, and in some cases these craft are the owners’ home, business and form of transport. Over half of these were insurance claims.
“Insurers who have not given River Canal Rescue delegated authority to make repairs as part of the claims process spend more on claims settlement due to customers’ having to source repairers themselves and agree quotes.
“Those that do give us delegated authority save a minimum of 25% on their claims costs. Last year, however, we reduced their bill by 65%***. By allowing us to take ownership of the claim, we can quickly source and make repairs, reduce the total loss amount and speed up the process. This means less hassle for the boater.”
“We’ll never know the true costs incurred as a result of the terrible weather last year, but it is important to prepare for more floods and storms and have support at hand to minimise losses if damage occurs. Even as we approached British summer in March last year, the country faced freezing conditions and more weather warnings, which is very rare towards the end of March.”
River Canal Rescue issues warnings and reminders for people to check their craft on Facebook and via email alerts to customers. To find out more, visit www.rivercanalrescue.co.uk or phone 01785 785680.
** River Canal Rescue call-outs Oct 11 to Jan 12 v Oct 12 - Jan 13
*** Based upon potential claims cost v amount paid for cases in 2012
This month, hire boater, Paul Renouf has penned a, perhaps polemic, article about speed. More precisely, about a boat’s speed when passing past moored boats. It’s sure to inspire some of you to drop me a line, Damian.firstname.lastname@example.org, so have a read and let me know if you have any advice or comment for Paul and in a couple of weeks’ time I’ll post the best here.
I haven’t got an eternity…
“The essence of canalling is to slow down the normal pace of life. Isn’t it? Well it depends . . .
“Friends and I have been hiring narrow boats for over 30 years, usually one week per annum. In that time we have seen the number of boats increase dramatically. In the 1970s hire boats were the majority. Now it seems they are definitely not, with owned or shared private craft predominating.
“People have various ways of enjoying the canals, from seasonal cruising, living aboard, weekend runs and ‘working the cut’. This latter way is the one we enjoy, maximising our precious week to explore as much of the system as time permits. This often involves a ring route.
“Now there are severe costs involved if you return your boat to base late, never mind the inconvenience to the next user. So when we plan a cruise, ring or ‘there and back’, we don’t have an open-ended schedule, or none at all, such as long term cruisers can enjoy. We cannot afford to just meander as the fancy takes us. On a ring there is a point of no return and we have to get back to base.
“Our crew is easily capable of ‘doing’ the Leicester, Four Counties, or Cheshire ring in a week, often adding side trips. We do this within legal speed limits and never create wash. But to do it we need to maintain a steady speed and sometimes work long days, like the working boats used to do. So we avoid peak periods. It is our way and we love it.
“Delays, however, can threaten to frustrate our plans. One cause of delays is moored craft. Not the occasional boat but the long, long, lines of them, such as you will see at some northern and southern sections of the Shroppie, and the New Cut, among others. I mean where the off side is lined with hundreds of yards of moored boats, some with their sarcastic signs like ‘What don’t you understand about Slow Down?’
“Now it seems to me that if you moor your boat at a farmer’s field with no fixed moorings other than pins or makeshift posts in wet ground or rickety board walks, then, leave it for weeks on end, you are taking a risk. You will never eliminate all turbulence, so isn’t it up to the owners to take a bit more care about how they fix their ropes and fenders, instead of expecting total tolerance from those whom they obstruct?
“We are more than willing to slow down and always do, although sometimes it tests our patience to do it for miles on end. But judging by the glowering faces of some the owners of these craft, we do not slow down enough for their liking. So it would be interesting to have some views on this. How slow is slow? Is it tickover speed? We find that half normal speed causes minimal disturbance but enough to upset some people, some of whom seem to be looking for trouble.
“Some indeed can be abusive. My equally robust response can vary. Like stop hindering my progress and put it in a marina and if you can’t afford that, get off the cut, which I realise is equally intolerant but plead provocation! But surely some limits to off side mooring are becoming necessary? The canals were never built to accommodate such numbers of long term stationary craft.”
In This Section »
Boaters' Update May 2012Welcome to this bumper edition of Boaters’ Update. We’re getting very close to the Canal & River Trust’s takeover of BW’s responsibilities. We don’t know the exact date yet but this hasn’t halted our preparations. Following on the heels are the Council elections, appointments are being made to seven expert advisory groups including heritage and navigation. A huge volunteer effort is about to get underway to update canal-side signage and details of a new local rate number to get in touch with us will be published soon.
Boaters' Update April 2012Welcome to April's edition of Boaters’ Update. Following on from last month’s excellent announcement that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will be the Canal & River Trust’s founding Patron, The Charity Commission has confirmed the registration of the Canal & River Trust (number 1146792). In other boating news, there are details of a new text service for licence applications/renewals, an update on the continuing battle with water resources (lack of them!) and exciting news about Crick Boat Show. There’s also a reminder about the new listing facility for waterway businesses and organisations on the Canal & River Trust’s new website.
Boaters' Update March 2012This month we are delighted to report the announcement that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will be the Canal & River Trust’s founding Patron. There have also been a number of other important milestones for the Trust ahead of it taking over as the guardian of British Waterways’ canals and rivers in England & Wales. We take a closer look at plans for the 2012 boating season and find out more about a volunteering memory wall for visitors to Crick Boat Show.
Boaters' Update February 2012This month we are delighted to report on the long term government contract and funding agreement for the new waterways charity in England and Wales, bring you news about BW’s mooring permit price review and an update for all business licence holders. Plus we take a closer look at an exciting programme of entertainment planned for Crick Boat Show.
Boaters' Update November 2011This month we report on the nomination process for boat licence holders to stand for election to the Canal & River Trust’s inaugural governing Council. The Council will play a pivotal role in the success of the Trust when it takes over responsibility for the care of the waterways in England and Wales. As the temperature plummets we feature some boating top tips and reminders for safe winter boating and take a look at some of the options for keeping warm afloat during the colder months.
Boaters' Update October 2011This month we report the new name of the charity that from next April will take responsibility for the care of the waterways in England and Wales and look ahead to what the future holds for the waterways through the eyes of the charity’s transition trustees. With the winter drawing in, we’ve teamed up with the Residential Boat Owners Association to offer guidance for BW mooring customers explaining what services will be provided in extreme conditions.
Boaters' Update September 2011This month we are delighted to link to an open letter from the Waterways Minister confirming the intention to proceed with the new waterways charity in England and Wales next year. And with the charity now just a few months away, we report the recruitment process for the Chairs for a number of exciting new Waterways Partnerships that will give local people a greater role in how their waterways are managed, and take a closer look at winter waterway maintenance in action.
Boaters' Update August 2011This month we feature some watery suggestions to help make the most of your bank holiday weekend. We bring you a taste of chocolate history as the newly restored narrowboat Mendip, who prepares to recreate her old route to the famous canal-side Bournville factory. We look ahead at the options available for boaters seeking winter moorings and ask for volunteers to lend a virtual hand testing features of the New Waterways Charity’s website.
Boaters' Update July 2012This is where you'll find the edition that was published in July 2012 (on the Canal & River Trust's launch day!)
Boaters' Update October 2012Think of this page as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up and we'll send you a monthly summary and reminder email.
Boaters' Update November 2012This was the November 2012 edition of Boaters' Update. Some of the news may have been superceded - please read more recent editions for the latest news and views.
Boaters' Update December 2012Think of this page as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up and we'll send you a monthly summary and reminder email.
Boaters' Update January 2013Think of this page as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up and we'll send you a monthly summary and reminder email.
Boaters' Update February 2013Think of this page as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up and we'll send you a monthly summary and reminder email.
Boaters' Update March 2013Think of this page as your one-stop shop for up-to-date boating news. It's packed full of useful information about boating on canals and rivers as well important safety announcements and upcoming events. To make sure you don't miss out, sign up and we'll send you a monthly summary and reminder email.