Boaters' Update 1 Dec 2017
Say what you will about 2017 but we can't accuse it of being slow. Where has it gone?!? In this penultimate edition you'll find out how to prepare for a Christmas afloat so you can enjoy a leisurely festive period, how we're staying up to date with your mooring status and much more besides!
Welcome to the penultimate 2017 edition of Boaters’ Update. With just over three weeks to go until we find out if we’ve been good or not this year, we start with an article about preparing for a Christmas afloat where you’ll find plenty of handy tips and hints whether it’s your first or fifteenth festive period aboard.
Once the first article’s been digested (along with a mince pie or two?), I was hoping you could spare a few minutes, before reading the rest of the edition of course, to write a few lines about your favourite boating moment from 2017 – it’d be great to read your highlights.
There’s plenty more to read below such as how we’re staying up to date with your mooring status, a bundle of other news, this weekend’s stoppages, and ways in which you can get involved – so I best let you dive in!
If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition then do get in touch.
In this edition:
- News round-up and the fortnight ahead
- Cruise through Christmas afloat
- More validation for moorings
- More ways to get involved
- Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend
- Bits and bobs
Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
- 20 Nov – We announced that we’re working with a team of local metal detectorists on a project to help uncover the 200-year history of the Grand Union Canal in Aylesbury.
- 24 Nov – A £50,000 dredging operation is now underway as we make it easier for boaters to visit Stratford upon Avon.
- 27 Nov – Two lock gates, each weighing more than an African Bush Elephant, have been craned into Lincomb Lock on the River Severn in Worcestershire.
- 28 Nov – We've begun a major, £700,000, overhaul of the Shropshire Union Canal as part of a five-month winter maintenance programme on canals and rivers across England and Wales.
Below I’ve picked out some highlights to see and do over the next fortnight. Of course, there are plenty of other activities (including Santa trips in pretty much every part of the country!) and volunteering opportunities around the network: visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.
Also, this year we're counting down to Christmas on the canals with our advent calendar of exciting events, festive activities and great gift ideas - just open one door a day for some seasonal surprises...
- 2 & 3 Dec – Want to avoid the shoulder barges, long queues and relentless festive muzak but need to buy some presents? Look no further than Bradford on Avon’s Christmas themed floating market. Still not in the festive mood? You could always put it off a week and go along to the ones next weekend in Birmingham or Berkhamstead then…
- 2 & 3 Dec – Of course, you may be super-organised and have finished your Christmas shopping already, leaving you plenty of time to go along to our Open Days on the Rochdale Canal in Manchester and/or at Derwent Mouth Lock on the Trent & Mersey!
- 2 Dec to 7 Jan – Catch The Puppet Theatre Barge’s new Christmas production, ‘The Little Christmas Tree’, which combines exquisitely carved wooden marionettes and beautiful shadow puppets to tell the poignant story of the unique friendship between a boy and a little Christmas tree.
- 9 & 10 Dec – Christmas is coming to Porters Row at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port where the cottages have been traditionally decorated. You will be able to experience the sights, sounds and smells from our special Victorian cooking demonstrations and Mr Charles Dickens (in the guise of his most famous old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge) will tell his tale of Christmas Bah Humbug.
At this time of year if, like me, you regularly watch those programs that promise to help you get ready for Christmas without a fuss (but only confuse further) then you might be interested in the following article. And it’s got some good tips for everybody, even if you think you’ve thought of it all!
It’s a condensed version of a blog written by colleague and liveaboard boater, Debbi Figueiredo. If you’re going to be afloat this Christmas then here’s what you need to know:
‘Here’s just a few things I’ve learnt from hard experience and from fellow boaters. If this is your first festive season on board, you may find this blog rather useful as a means to prevent expensive repairs and ruined friendships.
‘“Be prepared” is not just a motto for scouts and guides but most definitely for boaters too. Let’s start with the essentials and as a boater, trust me, you need to think about this lot before you even start thinking about food.
‘You need to prepare for guests onboard in very much the same way that you need to be prepared for bad weather or a long cruise. You can start by asking yourself these questions:
- Water tank full?
- Fuel tank full?
- Gas bottles full?
- Batteries fully charged?
- Toilet tank/cassettes empty?
- Plenty of fuel for the solid fuel stove or heating system?
- Medicine chest/First Aid cabinet stocked up?
- Mobile phones charged?
- Carbon monoxide/smoke detector working?
- Emergency lighting? (solar lights, wind-up torches and candles/tea lights in glass jars, and don’t forget the matches!)
- Tool kit & spares ready?
‘Running out of any of the above can lead to frosty relations and frayed tempers even before any festive spirits have been guzzled.
‘It’s likely that your guests will be landlubbers who think it’s perfectly normal to shower twice a day for 15 minutes, to use half a rainforest of toilet paper on each visit, as well as putting wet wipes and unmentionable inedible items into your toilet tank. Before the water runs dry and the loo gets blocked up, they will need to be instructed in the ways of the boater.
‘In the run-up to the big day, try and do your advance shopping whilst your boat is moored within an easy trolley or bike trailer run of the shops, or a suitable drop-off point for an online shopping service.
‘Buy perishables as late as you can as it saves on fridge space which can be used to pre-chill drinks. When you need the fridge space, stash these chilled drinks in the coolest part of your boat and with any luck they will stay cold, especially if insulated in newspaper or similar. If the weather is cold you don’t need to worry so much as you can use the free “outdoor” fridge but be mindful of security. There are some Grinches out there who will spoil your Christmas given half a chance.
‘If you really want a stress-free and fun Christmas dinner afloat, share the load with at least two other boats. As long as one boat has a large enough oven for the turkey it’s much easier to share the task of creating a festive feast. One of my best ever Christmas Days in recent years was a shared lunch with boating friends after a sparkling frosty cruise along the Grand Union Canal.
‘Ask one boat crew to sort out starters, one to cook to the turkey and the other to cook the vegetables. Share dessert and cheese board duty between you all. With three boats, there should be sufficient fridge, cupboard and cooker space for everything you want for your perfect Christmas day.
‘Stocked up, with tanks full and/or empty as required, it’s time to take advantage of the festive window between navigation closures and go boating. Whatever you're roasting, whether it's the traditional turkey or something else, it will do well as a very slow roast. Put the bird in the oven on a low heat (no higher than Gas Mark 3) and don’t forget the foil and plenty of seasoning. Grab some hot drinks and mince pies and cruise somewhere lovely for Christmas Day.
‘The waterways are a perfect place to relax and over the holiday season you’ll find passing boaters and walkers are even friendlier than usual, or it might just be that they’ve had a few in the pub. Life and Christmas dinner is always better by water.
Going from having a home mooring to being a continuous cruiser (or vice versa) usually involves a change in some circumstances for most boaters, whether it’s a case of retiring from the 9 to 5, a hunger to explore, or a desire to experience a different way of boating. With everything that’s going on it’s understandable (but please try not to!) that some forget to tell us that their mooring status has changed.
With this in mind we’re working with mooring operators to confirm that the records we hold for boats’ moorings is correct. This will help ensure we are monitoring boats against the correct terms and conditions, and will give mooring operators the confidence that their sites aren’t being used fraudulently.
The roll-out follows a pilot involving twelve mooring operators, with the help of the Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs and British Marine. Following a routine check of the sites, we gave the operators two lists of information to check; boats recorded as having a mooring at the site but not seen, and boats seen moored at the site but not being recorded as having a mooring there. The operators reviewed the lists, following which the boats’ records were updated and, where necessary, boaters were contacted to get an update on the home mooring status for their boats.
All-in-all the process worked so we’ll now ask all mooring operators if they would like to sign up to the scheme as, for the time being, it’ll run on an opt-in basis. Mooring operators that wish to be involved should contact us via customer services on 0303 040 4040 or the ‘contact us’ page on our website.
Jon Horsfall, interim head of boating at the Trust, said: “Our boat licence customer support team does a fantastic job making sure that boaters have the information they need to use the waterways fairly. We want to make sure that the data we hold for boaters is up-to-date, so that we can work with them as effectively as possible. The new mooring validation process will also be good news for mooring operators, who will be able to check that the boats on their moorings are the ones that are meant to be there.”
Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:
- In previous editions I’ve been sharing the wonderful recipes from boaters who’ve used nature’s bounty to create mouthwatering dishes (just go to the main Boaters’ Update page and you’ll find some in the last three editions). Perhaps the final one for this year is incredibly simple and delicious – Creamy Mushrooms (there’s a good mushroom guide recommended in the recipe). If anyone has a particularly festive recipe then please do send them to me and I’m sure we can squeeze it in. Just remember that not every ingredient has to be foraged – goodness knows what a baking powder tree looks like!
- Don’t forget that the proposed strategy options for the London Mooring Strategy (created by a broad range of users) are now online. So if you boat in the capital then please do find the time to have a read through and let us know what you think – the consultation runs until 18 December.
- Thousands of you have already responded to the consultation about how boats are licensed in the future, thanks. If you haven’t yet sent your thoughts in (you have until 18 December) and you’re a licence holder, boating group or organisation then you should have received an invite to take part. If you haven’t then please get in touch with customer services on 0303 040 4040 and they’ll get one out to you. We’d really appreciate it.
We’re now into our £38million winter restoration programme - we get out our big toys and restore things while you’re less likely to be out on the cut. Of course, there are other times when we need to fix things that unexpectedly break. So, below, you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happening that may affect you if you’re planning on wrapping up for a winter cruise.
Just click on the one where you’ll be and a webpage will open listing any stoppages for that region (if your region isn’t listed then, yay, there aren’t any navigation closures there!). If you’re not quite sure which region your planned cruise falls in to please take a look at this map.
- East Midlands
- Kennet & Avon
- Manchester, Pennines & Potteries
- North Wales & Borders
- North East
- North West
- South Wales & Severn
- South East
- West Midlands
When any restrictions to navigation happen, we get them up on to our website as soon as we can – always best to have a scan before you set off for a cruise. If you have any questions about a specific closure then you’ll find the email addresses for our regional offices on our contacts page.
- Now that the mercury has really started to plummet there are some gorgeously crisp and frosty sunrises to enjoy (without getting up at a ridiculous hour). So if you’re out on the cut this weekend and spot one, please do take a snap and send it in – I’d love to have a boater-taken picture leading the final 2017 edition of Boaters’ Update.
- Don’t forget that the stay time at visitor moorings has now reverted to 14 days unless local signs say otherwise. They’ll stay like this throughout the winter until 31 March 2018.
- In October 2015 we published our Water Resources Strategy, ‘Putting the water into waterways’. It set out our aspirations for the period 2015-2020 as well as looking as far ahead as 2050 to understand the longer-term pressures and challenges on water supply and use. We have just published our latest annual update which details our progress over the past year against the strategic actions outlined within the strategy.
Wrap up well this weekend and happy boating!
Last date edited: 1 December 2017
About this blog
Think of this blog 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 as important safety announcements and upcoming events.See more blogs from this author