Welcome to the latest edition of Boaters' Update. In this fortnight's update you'll find all the usual events, stoppages and news along with articles (inspired by boaters) on generators and your common questions, among others.
We’ve reached that point in the year where, even as an early riser, you’ll likely see a sliver of daylight on waking and those at work may be getting home before the sun disappears below the horizon.
With more daylight comes more sunshine (at least that’s the theory) and with it some warmth. With it being slightly less bracing there’s no good reason to avoid the great outdoors and, of course, your local canal or river.
If you need an extra incentive come along to one of our Canal & River Trust Open Days. You’ll be warmly greeted by one of the team and get to see what we’ve been doing over the winter to make sure your canals and rivers are ready for you to enjoy when you’re back out on the water (if you’re not already…).
You’ll find details of the next fortnight’s Open Days in the events section below along with the usual mix of recent news, this weekend’s stoppages and an array of articles. If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition, then do get in touch.
In this edition:
Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
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.
Before continuing with our series of reader-requested articles I wanted to take a moment to say thanks. That is, thanks to everyone who has been in touch since the last edition. The main reason most of you dropped me a line was to request a downloadable version of the ‘moor alongside me’ poster so you could print it off and stick it in your window.
Well I’m very glad to say (and take absolutely no credit) that one of your boating peers, Andy, has gone one better. Follow this link to find a variety of versions to suit your taste and, if you don’t see what you’re after, drop Andy a line and he just might create your own version for you!
This edition’s subject is generators. Perhaps in a future edition we’ll look at best practice in maintaining them but for now it’s about their use.
Those that have contacted me about generators have asked for two particular points to be mentioned:
Firstly, I’ve been asked to highlight that Schedule 5 of boat licence Terms & Conditions states the following: ‘…you must behave considerately towards others (boaters and non-boaters alike) and in particular you must not: …use any electricity generator, including the Boat's engine, at any mooring along the Waterway between 8pm and 8am, unless you are moored in isolation, out of earshot of other people…’
Positively, some have told me that there does seem to be an increased awareness of the 8-to-8 rule but it still needs reiterating. With this in mind, if you do hear a fellow boater running their generator outside of these hours, just politely point out that it’s not just frowned upon but actually in breach in of their licence Terms & Conditions.
Even if everyone stuck to the 8-to-8 rule it wouldn’t necessarily resolve the second point – exhaust fumes. Most know, partly through reinforcement from the Boat Safety Scheme, that carbon monoxide is a deadly gas emitted when running generators.
It’s almost second nature to check that it’s not blowing into your own boat – and if you get the faintest whiff of the exhaust in your cabin then immediately turn the genny off.
What’s not always obvious is whether your fumes are entering neighbouring boats. Given the potential dangers, part of the process of starting up your genny should be to check the wind direction and its relation to any openings on nearby boats, and if close enough, buildings, to ensure your fumes are safely blown away from others.
I’ll end this article with a question posed by a boater, who had never needed a generator in 20 years of boating - Are generators an absolute necessity these days? Is the problem too few batteries or too many power hungry gadgets? Do please write in with your views.
This time last year we had just about sized up the mammoth repair job needed after the Boxing Day floods. This year, thank goodness, has had a much quieter start. As you’d expect with one of the world’s finest pieces of working heritage, it needs a 24/7, 365-day approach to maintenance. So, in this article, I look back at the things that we’ve had to unexpectedly fix to keep canals and rivers fit for you to cruise and enjoy.
In total there were only 24 times when, across the whole 2,000-mile-network, we had to close navigation for more than four hours. Over half of these (13) were a result of Abbey Lift Bridge on the Montgomery Canal which couldn’t be raised due to safety issues – the local team had resolved this by 13 January.
Another eight were to enable us to prepare for some emergency repairs needed at a couple of sites (one on the Huddersfield and one on the Worcester & Birmingham). The remaining three were a combination of fixing paddles and inspecting things that we suspect may need fixing!
If you’ve signed up to receive stoppages you’ll notice that we categorise them in to general reasons, such as repair, inspection or vegetation.
Of course, when we’re dealing with such old structures, it’s not always as straightforward as ‘repair’ so we offer more detail in the body of the stoppage notice. But, in case you were wondering, here’s a handy guide to what we classify as a repair, maintenance, inspection and so on.
Returning for the first time in 2017 is a compilation of the questions that you’ve been most frequently asking our lovely customer service team over the last couple of months.
What are the new licence fees?
After capping licence increases to inflation for the past three years, and as announced last October, licence fees are going up by 2.5% from 1 April. The rise will raise income to ensure that we can continue to sustain the increased spend on waterway maintenance over recent years. This has seen an improvement in the structural condition of the waterways and a significant reduction in the amount of disruption experienced by boaters (with almost 300 days fewer of unplanned navigation closures compared with 2014/15). The full list of fees can be found online.
How far is far enough?
This question and answer combo is for continuous cruisers (or those considering it). Without getting in to the legal jargon, the BW Act 1995 does not stipulate a minimum distance. It does set out the requirement to use the boat bona fide for navigation, and the Trust’s Guidance is our interpretation of this requirement.
While this means that we cannot set a universal minimum distance for compliance, we can advise that it is very unlikely that someone would be able to satisfy us that they have been genuinely cruising if their range of movement is less than 15-20 miles over the period of their licence. In most cases we would expect it to be greater than this. For more information visit the dedicated section of the website.
Can I get a refund on my Gold Licence?
No, Gold Licences are non-refundable. Please see the Terms & Conditions for more information.
Can I get a refund on my standard licence if I purchase a Gold Licence?
Absolutely. We would issue you a refund on your standard licence once your purchase of a Gold licence has been processed. Refund terms can be found on page 21 of the licence Terms & Conditions.
Do I still need to display my licence discs?
Yes. This extract from licence Terms & Conditions explains why: ‘It is very important – and a legal requirement – that you display your Licence. Although we don’t need this for licence checking purposes (the index number tells us if the boat is correctly licensed), it demonstrates to other boaters that you are complying with our requirements and not evading your responsibility to contribute to the cost of maintaining the Waterways.’ You can order a pair of plastic holders for your licence, free of charge, from our online shop.
Will my licence auto renew like my mooring does?
Not at the moment but do watch this space. We’ve been looking into ways of doing this and hope to be able to announce something soon!
What happens at the end of the winter mooring period? Can I stay on at the berth I have booked up to the time limit for the mooring? And can I arrive early?
No, your winter mooring is only valid for the dates outlined on your documents. You can’t arrive early and must move as soon as the time period has expired. For any period that your boat is on the winter mooring site without a valid permit (which would be the case prior to the mooring start date, or after the mooring end date) you may be charged an overstay charge of £25 per day. Full details are set out in the terms and conditions.
As always, if there are other questions you think it’d be useful to cover in Boaters’ Update then do get in touch. Thanks!
The winter’s major restoration and repair programme is just about still ongoing so 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.