A follow up to our previous blog about considerate double mooring, taking on board customer comments.
A huge thank you to everyone who’s got in touch via email and social media about our last blog on double mooring and triple mooring. It’s certainly a hot topic generating a variety of opinions as to what constitutes considerate mooring.
As we’d anticipated quite a few wide beam craft owners got in touch about double vs triple mooring. It’s a big issue in central London as the number of boats in London has increased so dramatically. Also adding possibly to congestion on towpath moorings where it is possible to double up is the enormous popularity of large wide beam craft for cruising in recent years.
Not every wide beam craft is the width of two narrowboats together. As a few correspondents pointed out, the most popular width (or beam) is around 10 to 12 foot (3m – 3.6m) so a wide beam craft moored on a narrowboat would only extend an extra 4 or 5 foot out in the navigation. So is double mooring of a wide beam with a narrowboat ever acceptable?
Our waterway teams receive complaints every week regarding moored boats obstructing the safe navigation of other vessels - the main cause being triple mooring of narrow beam craft, wide beams on narrowboats and boats moored too close to bridge holes and on lock landings, especially in London. Having more than 14 foot (4.3m or two narrowboats) worth of boats (in width) moored side by side on the towpath side of the waterway can be a real nuisance to other boaters. It impacts on the space available for craft to pass each other. It can also affect sightlines for safe navigation, particularly on bends in the canal and on approaching bridges, locks and tunnels. On narrow canals in many places even the double mooring of narrowboats can be problematic due to the width of the canal.
In terms of the waterways’ history and design, canals were built for navigation and boats rarely tied up anywhere other than docks and wharfs to load and unload. Broad canals such as the Regents Canal & River Lee Navigation were designed so that two pairs of narrowboats or single wide beam craft could pass each other unimpeded. The actual shape of the canal is usually a dish shape with the edges being significantly shallower than the central channel. The main channel of deeper water is normally slightly closer to the towpath side bank. This is why it’s important not to have too many boats moored up on the towpath side extending out into the deeper water. On canals such as the Grand Union above Berkhamsted which were originally designed as narrow beam, the main navigable channel is significantly smaller so that pairs of narrowboats would run with the motor boat towing the butty behind it otherwise they would run aground passing another pair, for instance on the Tring Summit.
We do have options as to how we may deal with boats that are doubled tripled up and causing an obstruction or danger. Options include, for example:
As you can imagine with so many badly moored craft the resource implications for us to move every boat causing an obstruction every day in accordance with section 8(5) would be enormous and would have a knock on effect to the other work we can do to keep the canals open for navigation. In addition, we would prefer to educate customers about the importance of not causing an obstruction through doubling and tripling up, as opposed to relying on its byelaws where possible. Although there may be circumstances where we will have to rely on Byelaws.
We’re asking boaters to be considerate and to ensure that casual towpath mooring does not extend any further out a canal than the width of two narrowboats. There will be occasional exceptions to ‘the no doubling/tripling up rule’ for properly organised boat festivals sanctioned by us and also for certain hire fleets on busy turn around days. In these two instances we ask that other boaters navigate with care and to be patient and wait their turn to pass. There are also some moorings, such as Treaty Street on the Regents canal where we do expressly permit wide beams to moor up to a narrowboat after taking into consideration the character of the waterway and safety factors.
If we say “No” to triple mooring of narrowboats how can we come up with a simple rule that is easily grasped and remembered by relatively new boaters about when it is, or when it is not acceptable, for a wide beam boat to double up with a narrowboat? Or is having a “rule” too simplistic?
A simple check as to whether or not it’s ok to double up if you are a wide beam boat is to use your eyes and common sense so that you don’t end up with your boat’s photograph on one of the popular boating Facebook groups. Check the width, check the sightlines, check how far from any bridge, lock landing, tunnel etc. and if it looks like you could cause an obstruction, don’t double moor up! Narrowboat owners should also use their common sense and also not moor on the apex of a bend, a lock landing, right up against a bridge hole, on a lock landing or service mooring either, only the use the latter two whilst locking or using the services.
Thanks again everyone for letting us know your thoughts on double mooring etiquette and keep those top tips coming. We will be publishing a top ten list from all the responses we receive a little later this year.
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