Boaters' Update 10 February 2017

Welcome to the latest edition. Read on to find out why visiting Crick Boat Show is a must-do for boating enthusiasts, what you want others to do when mooring up and which lock worked the hardest in 2016.

Flowers on a boat Crick 2016 Flowers on a boat Crick 2016

Welcome to the latest edition. Did you know that we’re now closer to the clocks going forward than we are to last Christmas?

With this increasing amount of daylight my thoughts have naturally turned to how I’m going to spend more time on the water and towpath. One such opportunity is the Crick Boat Show and below you’ll find ten good reasons to join me. For a more instant fix you can come and visit the Trust’s staff who are opening up the drained lock at Stoke Bruerne this weekend to offer free behind the scenes tours.

Aside from that we look at the lock statistics from last year and reveal where you boated most in 2016. And, continuing on from the last edition’s article on overtaking moving boats, the discussion moves on to mooring up.

Of course you’ll find the usual upcoming events and stoppages as well but, if there is something else you’d like to see, then do get in touch.

In this edition:

Happy boating,


News round-up and the fortnight ahead

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

And if you’re wondering what you can enjoy on or by a canal in the next couple of weeks then you might be interested in these events:

  • 11 & 12 Feb – As mentioned in the intro there’s a whole weekend of waterborne and waterside activities at the Stoke Bruerne Open Days – you’ll find everything from angling and canoeing through to boat trips and a boatman from the 1800s sharing some stories from his time afloat.
  • 11 to 19 Feb – Looking for something to keep the younger members of the family occupied this half term? Then head along to the National Waterways Museum Gloucester where they’ll be able to follow a special trail around the museum to search out fascinating waterway wildlife.
  • 12 Feb – Know your whitethroats from willow warblers? If not, join our monthly three-hour bird walk around Fradley Junction and learn how to tell the difference between one bird and another.
  • 18 & 19 Feb – See what work is happening at Fradley Junction.  Visitors will be able to come along and walk in the drained lock chamber and see the remarkably well preserved brickwork and learn about the essential works that are being undertaken.

Of course there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.


Ten reasons to visit Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival

With a winter chill expected to seep in this weekend I thought it’d be nice to start with an article that hopefully inspires you to dream of warmer days by the water (and to visit us at Crick Boat Show).

Crick Boat ShowHeld over the Bank Holiday weekend of 27-29 May at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, the annual event is organised by Waterways World in partnership with us and Crick Marina.  It’s the UK’s biggest inland waterways festival and you’ll find 300 exhibitors from across the canal world at the show.

It’s not just a huge one-stop-shop for all your boaty needs though – there’s a huge range of things to do and see. The list below shows just ten of the many reasons we hope to see you there:

  • Let someone else take the tiller and take a free boat trip along the Grand Union Canal aboard boats run by volunteers from the London Narrowboat Project. The half-hour trips run every ten minutes from 10.10am each day of the show.
  • Climb aboard one of 40 display boats. If you’re looking to buy a new narrowboat or widebeam to cruise or live aboard you’ll be spoilt for choice. With Britain’s finest inland boat builders all represented it gives you the chance to inspect more boats in one place than anywhere else in the whole boating year.
  • Get advice on budget boating – British Waterways Marinas is hosting an affordable boating feature with tips on how to get afloat on your own boat. More advice can be had at the free seminar programme which includes advice from Waterways World experts on buying a new or used boat, living afloat and boat maintenance.
  • Listen to live music - live bands will be performing throughout the Show in the Wheatsheaf Bar Marquee, with the ‘T-Rextasy’ tribute band headlining on the Saturday evening, and the ‘Fleetwood Bac’ Tribute Show and ‘Murphy’s Marbles’ on Sunday evening. 
  • Try artisan food – the Food & Craft marquee offers a wide selection of independent food specialists, offering tasty samples, great gift ideas and live demonstrations of culinary delights.   
  • Enjoy some waterway-themed children’s activities - children aged 16 and under can visit the show for free where they’ll find a variety of special activities, including a treasure hunt, ‘build a canal’ challenge and Roses & Castles painting in our marquee. 
  • Vote for your favourite boat - the Favourite Boat of Show competition is a long-standing Crick tradition. You get to vote for your favourite and the result is announced mid-afternoon on 29 May. Everyone who votes is entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Marks & Spencer voucher and Waterways World subscription.
  • Step back in time on a historic boat – as well as dozens of new boats to look around a number of historic boats will also be on show. You’ll be able to find out how working boat families lived in such a tiny cabin and the journeys they made to make their living.
  • Find out about volunteering on the canals – some of our volunteers will be in our marquee throughout the Show to talk about their experiences of all sorts of waterway volunteering.
  • Reconnect with your boating buddies – as the biggest inland boating show of the year (over 27,000 visited in 2016) it’s to be expected that the vibrant and warm nature of the boating community shines through. With food, drink and entertainment on hand, there’s no better place to (re)connect with like-minded souls.

Crick Boat Show will be open from 10am till 6pm every day except Monday 29 May, when it closes at 5pm. Evening entertainment runs from 7.30pm to 11.30pm.


More on mooring

The last edition’s article on overtaking moving boats was, as expected, not much cause for controversy. I did, however, get a couple of replies suggesting that, while the actual manoeuvre in itself isn’t difficult, it’s just that some won’t allow, or acknowledge, the faster boat to pass.

Crick and Grand Union CanalAs boaters you’ll know if, and how often, this has happened to you. One correspondent has suggested that there should be a generally accepted method of signalling that you would like to pass without appearing overbearing or aggressive. Does such a signal already exist? If not, what would work? Please do drop me a line with your thoughts.

This edition’s topic is mooring. More specifically, what happens after you’re safely alongside. Quite a few of you have written in asking me to highlight certain aspects and I’ve added some of my own but, if there’s others that you think should be on this list, do let me know.

  • If you’ve bought a long term mooring (it’s technically known as a linear mooring if it’s on the line of the canal) then it’s good practice to display any permits you’re issued. In some cases, depending on who you’re renting you’re mooring from, it’ll actually be part of the mooring agreement that licences are displayed.
  • Without a waterways equivalent of ‘Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners’ some of you have told me that’s hard to know what to do when you’re cruising past moored boats. To quote one ‘the alternative is to pass whilst rigidly looking ahead, which might make the occupants of the moored boat think I am being unsociable and unfriendly if they are the "waving" type.’ So, what’s the consensus? If you’re moored up, would you advise the correspondent quoted above to casually glance and raise a cheery wave or keep eyes front? Let me know.
  • Mooring stay times are clearly signposted at visitor moorings. If there are no signs, it means that it’s a 14-day mooring. As you may know, visitor moorings revert to 14-day stay times during winter (1 November to 31 March) unless the local signs say otherwise. There are circumstances, such as breakdown, that may prevent you from moving but some of you have asked me to point out how incredibly frustrating they find it when they spot someone ‘hogging’ a mooring longer than they should be.
  • Schedule 5, clause 4(e), of your licence Terms & Conditions states that ‘you must not obstruct the towpath or use our land for storing items from your Boat’. Judging by some of the comments I’ve had it looks like one or two boaters may have ‘forgotten’ this clause. Aside from that clause one boater pointed out, after a personal experience, that ‘towpath clutter’ is usually unintentional but especially a hazard in winter when you leave your boat early, in the dark, to go to work only to trip over a bicycle and spend the next half hour cleaning dirt out of grazed hands…
  • When selecting your spot to moor there’re some obvious points to bear in mind – lock landings are only for those using the lock, don’t moor near bridge holes, on sharp bends (basically anywhere that you may cause a navigational hazard). Less obvious, as one boater reminded me, is not to moor close to winding holes. Long, 60ft +, boats need a lot of space to wind!
  • Moor alongside stickerYou may have seen colleague Debbi Figueiredo’s recent blogs about breasting up.  Well, one solution used by the Environment Agency was to hand out these stickers (right), for their windows, to boaters who didn’t mind having another boat moored alongside. Would this work on our waterways? Do let me know what you think.
  • Generators should only be run in between the hours of 8am and 8pm. If you’re absolutely sure you’re moored in isolation, out of earshot of other people, then you can run them outside of these hours but the cows in the neighbouring field might not like it.

These are just some of the things that you’ll be considering when mooring or moored. As mentioned above if there are other principles or etiquette you’d like to share with the boating community then please send them in.


2016’s hardest working lock

You’ll know where you cruised in 2016 (at least I hope you remember!) but did you go through the busiest lock on the network? Every year we publish an annual lockage report as the monitoring of lock operations remains an essential element in our water resources management because it helps us understand the changing patterns in use.

Sun rises over Hatton Locks on the Grand Union canalBefore getting in to the detail of the report it’s worth noting that, during 2016, we restructured a number of waterway boundaries, with the Central Shires Waterway being incorporated into the adjacent West Midlands, East Midlands and Manchester & Pennine Waterways. As this change took effect within the year, this Annual Lockage Report presents data from the 11 previous Waterways. Next year, the report will present data for the ten current Waterways.

At this point you may be asking ‘what is a lockage?’. Well, it can be defined simply as lock usage through the filling and emptying of a lock chamber which in turn allows the movement of water and passage of boats. It is important to distinguish lockage from boat movements, which are the actual number of boats which travel through a lock.

We’ve separated boat movements from lockage to acknowledge that averages can be skewed by the boat:lockage ratio (in the case of a typical broad lock, the ratio can be between one and four boats per lockful of water used).

For this report, we have based the analysis of each Waterway on those sites with complete records for both 2015 and 2016 (known as the comparison sites). The number of comparison sites included in the 2016 report is 179, an increase of two compared with the previous report. In the Appendix we have included, for information only, sites where the data was of insufficient quality for 2015 and/or 2016, and therefore could not be used for year-to-year comparison.

Nationally the total recorded lockage in 2016 was effectively the same compared with 2015. Increases in lockage numbers were seen in the Kennet & Avon, South Wales & Severn Waterways, East Midlands and North West Waterways.

Perhaps you could have guessed it but the hardest working (or busiest) site recorded was Locks 2&3, Hillmorton, on the ever-popular Oxford Canal. It saw a total of 9,598 lockages in 2016 (there are paired locks at this location), an increase of 5% since 2015.

New Marton Lock on the Llangollen Canal was the next busiest with 9,104 lockages recorded in the year, an increase of 4% since the previous year.

There’s a whole bundle of reasons for the year-to-year variations across different Waterways and individual locks. In terms of weather 2016 was not an average year. Heavy rainfall at the end of 2015 caused significant damage to many northern waterways and their prolonged closure, for repair work, can be clearly seen in the decrease in lockage, particularly on the Rochdale Canal and the Calder & Hebble Navigation, for much of 2016.

Further afield the winter floods did not cause any long term restrictions to navigation and therefore it is considered there was very little overall impact on the 2016 annual lockage for the whole network.

For those of you who want to delve into the detail the full 2016 Annual Lockage Report is now online.

If you want to see how we maintain these vital pieces of heritage why not get along to one of our Open Days – starting with Stoke Bruerne this weekend!


Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

Now that we’re deep into this winter’s major restoration and repair programme the list of works that may affect your cruising is quite long if you actually planned to traverse the whole of the network!

So as your cruising may be confined to a particular region of the network I’ve provided links below to the respective stoppages. Just click on the one where you’ll be and a webpage will open listing the stoppages for that region. If you’re not quite sure which region your planned cruise falls in to please take a look at this map.

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.


Bits and Bobs

  • We’re still on the look out for green fingered gurus who like to garden aboard (however small a space you have)? If so we’d love to hear from you as, later this year, we’ll be celebrating the wonderful contribution you make to the waterways.
  • This Valentine’s you may be planning to wine, dine and generally show your partner how much you love them but do please also take the time to #showthelove to our wonderful waterway environment – see the last edition for more information.

Happy boating!



Last date edited: 10 February 2017

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The boaters' update

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