News article created on 1 June 2018

Boaters' Update 1 June 2018

Welcome to the latest edition where you'll find out why we've re-positioned ourselves as a waterways and wellbeing charity (and how boaters are at the heart of what the Trust is for). You also read how to steer clear of issues with your tiller and rudder, some advice for wide beam boaters and much, much more besides!

Crick Boat Show 2018 Crick Boat Show 2018 v2

Welcome to the latest edition. I’m going to start this one with a big thank you! It goes out to those who stopped by our marquee at Crick Boat Show last weekend. It was fantastic to see so many of you and I’m always inspired by your passion and enthusiasm for the waterways.

Of course, that’s not all that’s happened since the last edition. Below you’ll find out why we’ve re-positioned ourselves (and changed our look) as a waterways and wellbeing charity. You can also learn how to look after your steering mechanism and what considerations you need to think of if you’re a wide-beam boater.

As ever, there’s a round-up of the latest news, events and stoppages. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition then please just drop me a line.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead                       

Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:

  • 21 May – A group of students from Hope College, in Wigan, are working with us to tackle the thorny issue of declining hedgehog numbers by providing the small mammals with purpose-built homes.
  • 21 May – After our latest fish monitoring studies at Tees Barrage, it’s been revealed how seals can be put off from catching salmon with a certain sound.
  • 23 May – Aylesbury MP Dr David Lidington visited the Grand Union Canal and the important community work to resurface and improve sections of the towpath.
  • 23 May – We set out how our former industrial waterways can improve the wellbeing of millions of people. Our canals and rivers run through some of the most heavily populated communities in England and Wales, providing accessible green and blue space where it’s needed the most. More on this below.

Below I’ve picked out some highlights to see and do over the next fortnight. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network: visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • 1 to 3 Jun – There’s lots to do for all the family at the Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show... have a go at canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, archery, hover crafting, lake rides; and see the famous Newfoundland dogs, vintage cycle bikes, and cooking by the lake with Kipperman.
  • 2 & 3 June – Leicester Riverside Festival, now in its 21st year, features fun on and off the water for free.
  • 10 June – Join naturalist Phil Taylor for a guided walk along the Pocklington Canal to identify some of the plants and trees and discover the importance of these local species.
  • 16 & 17 June – For two days the historic Foxton Locks plays host to an exciting family festival. Activities include; a craft marquee, live music, food stalls, children’s activities and historic re-enactments!

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Boating and our new brand – a message from chief exec Richard Parry

Ten days ago we launched the Trust’s new branding, as we highlight the Trust’s role in providing greater wellbeing for the millions of people whose lives could be improved by coming to the waterways, right on their doorstep.  The reasons for the changes are explained elsewhere in this Update, but I know from conversations I’ve had, and commentary that I’ve seen, that some boaters felt our message last week ignored the core purpose of the canal and river navigations – that is, for boats to use. 

The assurance I want to give you is that boats and boaters will always be at the heart of what the Trust is for, and central to what we do – the majority of our annual expenditure (well over £100m per annum) goes into keeping the waterways operational and safe for boats to use and Richard Parry at Crick Boat Show 2018boaters to enjoy.  I am committed to active ongoing communication with you at all levels to hear your feedback about where we need to target our efforts, to deal with any issues you encounter and deliver the boating experience you expect.  

So my plea would be not to take offence – as I know most of you don’t – when our message isn’t specifically about boating; it really is in everyone’s interest that we seek to address and engage a wider and different audience – including critically those who are younger, more diverse, and digitally-active   But I don’t discount the importance of ensuring that we continue to garner your support as well. To be fit for the future, the Trust needs to change, but boats and boaters need to be with us on that journey, and we will keep working to achieve that.

Richard Parry

Chief Executive, Canal & River Trust

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Becoming a waterways and wellbeing charity

As Richard says above, boating remains the core of what the Trust is for. But, now, it's on to the nitty-gritty of why we've re-positioned ourselves as a waterway and wellbeing charity. Firstly, new independent research published last week shows that simply spending time by the waterways can make you happier and improve your life satisfaction, with an equivalent estimated wellbeing value of £3.8bn per year.

This is crucial because we want the eight million people who live close to the waterway to appreciate the benefits they can provide. As Richard also mentions above, we have to connect with, and build support amongst, a much larger and broader group of people than know about us now. 

The re-launch is critical to achieving this boost in awareness and support over the long term so that, many years from now, we have the resources to enable us to care for the waterways as effectively as we can today.

That is why investing time and effort in re-positioning the Trust, and revitalising our brand, will give us a significant return, many times

You can watch Richard, Allan Leighton (our chair) and Heather Clarke, (strategy, engagement and impact director) talking more about this new chapter in the Trust’s story on our website.

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Steer clear of maintenance problems

In this latest maintenance article the experts at River Canal Rescue tell us how to deal with problems arising from your steering mechanism:

“The steering mechanism on a narrowboat is very simple; a tiller connected to a curved ‘s’ shaped steel bar, known as a swan neck, that fits into a flat rudder protruding out the back of the boat. In order to stop the tiller wobbling, there’s a top bearing at the base of the swan neck where it joins the protruding rudder.

What can go wrong?

“Rudder - one of the more common and frustrating issues encountered by boaters today is catching the rudder which in turn, often results in the vessel becoming difficult to steer.  At River Canal Rescue, we call this ‘popping out of the cup’ as it refers to the rudder lifting out of its locating joint.

“While such lifting out is rarely damaging, it can be difficult to re-insert the rudder once dislocated. If damage does occur it usually affects either the skeg (the support beam extending from the bottom of the boat), or the top bearing (responsible for ensuring your steering has a smooth operation).

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to avoid damaging the skeg, apart from being diligent and ensuring you position your vessel correctly in the lock.

Rudder and propellerRudder – the shaft in particular can wear out if it’s a split shaft design. A split shaft design consists of two sections - a hollow square profile tube fixed to the bottom half and a solid square profile shaft fixed to the top half. If you experience lots of play in the steering (having to move the tiller before it moves the rudder), the shaft may be worn and need replacing/repairing. 

“Tiller – this may wobble or vibrate when cruising, indicating the top bearing is worn and needs replacing. 

“Swan neck – this may become loose from the rudder assembly, meaning that when it moves, the rudder doesn’t. To put right, locate the central bolt at the base of the swan neck (this bolt pinches the swan neck into a tapered shaft), centralise the swan neck to where the rudder’s pointing and tighten down the bolt. Do not over-tighten as if the bolt shears, the cost to repair can be extensive.

“In general, if there’s an issue with steering, it’s either a replacement job or the boat needs to come out of the water for further investigation.”

Thanks again to River Canal Rescue for sharing its expertise. In the next edition we’ll be covering the things that push you along!

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Wide beam, wider considerations

If you’ve been on the water for a few years then you’ll have noticed that wide beam boats are becoming more common. It’s easy to understand why - if the boat is a permanent home then all that extra space comes in very handy!

Boats at Brecon BasinUnfortunately, wide beam boats do not have the same qualities as the Tardis – big on the inside still means big on the outside. Increasingly, we’ve been hearing concerns that, as with any boat on a canal or river it wasn’t designed for, some wide beams have inadvertently caused issues.

If all canals and rivers had broad canal dimensions there wouldn’t be any issues but, as you know, they don’t. Some were originally built for short and wide boats and others quite the opposite! While width is probably the main limiting factor (especially at bridge holes and locks), longer narrowboats can come unstuck in places like Yorkshire where some locks can only accommodate up to 57ft.

So, if you’ve got a big ‘un (anything wider than 7ft) or are thinking of upgrading or buying one, what sort of things should you consider?

  • Budget – as with buying pretty much anything, if it’s bigger it’s going to cost more!
  • Cruising – a couple of the considerations are mentioned above (locks and bridge holes) but it’s worth pointing out that even if none of the visible structures will impede you, the navigable channel might – narrow canals are not dredged for passing wide beams - you could find yourself running aground on a narrow canal every time an oncoming boat needs to pass you, potentially damaging your boat and the canal. Check out our waterways dimensions if you’re unsure.
  • Mooring – ok, so this is stating the obvious but, wide beam boats take up more of the channel even when moored up. This just means you need to be extra vigilant that you’re not causing a navigation hazard by obscuring views or mooring opposite a boat on the other bank.
  • Location – because of the way canals were built it’s likely that you’ll be confined to roughly the area you buy your boat in (unless you’re prepared to pay for a contractor to move your boat by road). If you don’t have a home mooring in that area then you need to be able to comply with the ‘Guidance for boaters without a home mooring’.

Boat moored in SkiptonRegardless of how wide your boat is, we know that the overwhelming majority of boaters are considerate and conscientious. Most have a blissfully fulfilling time because they know life is better by water. That said, we do appreciate that the bigger the boat, the bigger the list of considerations so we’ll be here to help over the coming months and years with more advice and information. So, if you have a wide beam boat and would like to share helpful tips or advice for others in the same, erm, boat then do please get in touch.

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More ways for you to get involved

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:

  • Do you have any tips on great environmentally-friendly products for boaters (including those that reduce plastic waste)? If so, then let us know and we’ll start compiling a list to share on our website.
  • Don’t forget that we’d still love for you to spare a moment thinking about winter. In particular our plans for the 2018/19 winter stoppage programme. Simply search for stoppages you want to comment on and then click through to the individual stoppage and leave your comments at the bottom of the page. Thanks! 
  • Did you know that the wild rabbit population has dropped by 60% in 20 years? Recently the BBC did a short feature on it and, as you’ll likely see a few out by the cut, I thought you might be interesting in doing some mammal mapping!

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

As someone who’s out, or by, the water more often than most you’ll know that there are 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 an early summer 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. Please note that we’re moving to our new regional structure next week (4 June) so these areas will change!

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.

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Bits and bobs

  • In the last edition there was a feature on how to keep water out of your fuel using different types of filters. What it should have also pointed out is that any filter device in an engine space has to meet the specifications of the international standard ISO 10088, basically it will provide two-and-a-half minutes resistance in a fire situation so that it won’t fail and add more fuel to the flames. These precious seconds allow people to escape and gives emergency responders more time to control the situation and prevent the fire spreading to other boats and adjacent property. This means the choice of filter and any associated accessory is critical. The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) checks related to filters (and all other BSS checks that examiners perform) can be found on the BSS website.
  • If you’re new to boating or just want to refresh some of your locking skills then have a look at this great video about using lock paddle gear safely.

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The boaters' update

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 important safety announcements and upcoming events.

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