News article created on 15 June 2018

Boaters' Update 15 June 2018

Welcome to the latest edition where you'll find a veritable feast of news, events and helpful features. And what would a Boaters' Update be if, at some point, it didn't ask for your views? So do please take five minutes to take part in the poll or send in your thoughts (why not both?!)

Boats moored along towpath on Upper Trent Boats moored along towpath on Upper Trent, courtesy of veggiesosage, Flickr

Welcome to the latest edition. As most of you will know, earlier this week (12 June) a suspected collapsed culvert on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal caused a section of the canal to drain into an adjacent field. It’s still very early on in the recovery and repair process but a short update can be found below.

Now before you, hopefully, enjoy the main course of this update, I thought I’d ask a question for starters. Did you know that last week the Trust changed to a new regional management structure? While it won’t make any difference to your boating experience, it might matter if you want to get in touch with the local team. Find out more on our ‘regions’ page.

Now the appetizer is out of the way, the entrée consists of some ripe boating news, refreshing events and some pleasingly filling articles on environmentally friendly boating and how to maintain your propulsion gear.

For pudding? May I recommend a cruise, walk, jog, or cycle along, or on, your local canal or river. I’m sure you’ll feel better for it

Happy boating,

Damian

PS If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition then please drop me a line.

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead             

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

Below I’ve picked out some highlights to see and do over the next fortnight (or treat Dad to this Father’s Day!). 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.

  • 15 to 24 Jun – Enjoy amazing music, food and drink as the sun goes down over Weorgoran Pavilion. Watch its illumination against the night sky at the beginning of our ten-day free family festival as part of The Ring, a new arts programme led by the Trust, celebrating the 21-mile circle of waterways which make up the Mid-Worcestershire Ring.
  • 16 & 17 June – Among other waterside attractions, you could treat Dad to a day out at the Foxton Locks Festival, Anderton Boat Lift or the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port
  • 23 & 24 June – Come along to Granary Wharf and Brewery Wharf for one of Leeds' biggest annual festivals – its Waterfront Festival. Enjoy music, activities, boats, entertainment and more.
  • 30 June & 1 July – Head to the Chesterfield Canal Festival for a wide range of attractions including trip boats, an entertainment marquee, children’s rides, birds of prey, a brass band, street theatre, Morris dancing, canoeing, canal ware, model boats plus food stalls and a real ale bar. Oh, and parking is free too!

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Leeds & Liverpool Canal culvert failure update

As most will know, there was a culvert failure earlier this week (12 June) on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The canal is currently closed to navigation from Bridge 10 (Holmes Swing Bridge) near Burscough into Liverpool. In the video below, project manager Richard Spencer gives a brief update from the site on what we’ve been doing.

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Environmentally friendly boating

Over the last couple of editions I’ve been asking what tips you have for Solar Panels at Caen Hillother boaters who want to reduce their environmental impact. Thanks to all of you who have been in touch.

The list below is what’s been suggested so far. You’ll see that it’s a very broad range from conserving water through to how to wrap your food:

  • Waste engine oil… I have found that small auto workshops near the canal are prepared to take old oil as they put it in their recycling tank. This saves having to find recycling centres etc.
  • Catch the first litre or so of water when going for a shower and use for rinsing in the kitchen - it’s too cold to shower in!
  • Use the washing up water, when finished, to flush the loo = less grey water in the canal.
  • When cleaning the boat outside, use canal water rather than gallons of fresh water from a hose at the water point.
  • Bamboo toothbrushes (available on The Onion Barge), no plastic on veg, Bees Wax Wraps instead of clingfilm.
  • A way all boaters can engage with and improve the canal environment is to have a string bag and a fish landing net on board. While boaters travel and admire the countryside if they notice rubbish and plastics floating in the edges of the canal stop and pick it out with the net. The bag can be emptied in the C&RT waste disposal point.
  • This retailer was suggested on social media - https://naturewatch.org/compassionate-shopping
  • Use of water-based epoxy paint systems reducing the time between repaint and lower the amount of hazardous chemicals introduced into the water system.
  • Site more recycling points & waste collection points for boaters to use adjacent to waterways to encourage waste segregation at disposal.
  • Pick up litter whenever you stop, if we all did this at every stop our water ways would start to look a lot better – especially if the Trust increase the number of available recycling and waste points.
  • Install solar hot water system to heat water during the summer instead of running the engine.
  • Install solar panel and/or wind turbine for battery charging.
  • Remove the log burners and replace with alternative electric or gas heating.
  • Power by electric drive or go hybrid if you need to do an engine change or if you are doing a new-build project.

While the list above is pretty comprehensive, do you think any angles have been missed? If so, do please let me know. In the next edition I’ll report back on any further ideas you might have before we, collectively, whittle them down to the Top Ten environmental tips.

But, before your mind wanders from all things environmental, did you know that next Thursday is National Clean Air Day? With the Government already committed to banning new petrol or diesel cars in 2040, we’re interested to know if you think this should be the same for inland waterway boats too? Take part in this super quick poll to let us know. Thanks!

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Maintaining your propulsion gear

In terms of how it would affect your cruising, having nothing to push you along is just about as bad as it gets! So, in this latest maintenance article from the experts at River Canal Rescue, you can learn about your boat’s propulsion, how to tell if it’s not working properly and what to do about it:

“The propulsion components comprise: propeller, prop shaft, stern gland, a thrust-bearing coupling, gear box and engine mounts.

 "Propeller – if you hear odd noises, experience vibration or lack direction, the chances are the propeller is bent, chipped or damaged.  If you hit something and hear a humming/whistling/grinding noise this suggests the prop is misshapen in some way.  The vibration can cause the stern gland to leak or be damaged if left undiagnosed.

View from prop shaft end“Prop shaft – If you hit something and the shaft is damaged (bent) it will allow the propeller to oscillate. This puts pressure on the stern gland and can cause excessive wear or damage beyond repair. 

“The propeller and prop shaft (right) should not protrude out the back of the boat more than the width of the shaft. If it sticks out 5mm and the shaft is 2mm this leaves 3mm which is susceptible to damage. If it’s more than the width of the shaft it will need adjusting. It’s best however, to ask an engineer to do this as it usually requires a coupling adjustment to resolve.  

Stern gland“Stern gland – also known as the stern gear. There’s a general misconception that stern glands stop water coming in, so naturally people want them as tight as possible. But there needs to be a small amount of water in order to cool the prop shaft. If they are over-tightened it causes friction on the turning shaft which causes overheating. If left undiagnosed, this will cause the ‘packing’ to wear away sections of the shaft. If this wear occurs, it will cause the stern gland to leak more and increase the chance of prop-shaft damage. This only applies to traditional stern glands not stern seals.

“To test if your stern gland is overhearing, after an hour’s cruising, check if it’s hot, if it is, the gland is too tight.  

Coupling and prop shaft“Couplings - if the bolts connecting the propeller shaft to the engine are loose, any movement will either sheer them off, resulting in loss of propulsion, or make the coupling bolt holes oblong, resulting in delayed drive.  Eventually the coupling will need to be replaced, and you may even have to change your prop shaft or gearbox if the coupling has damaged them. A simple check before each journey will stop this happening.

“Gearbox/drive plates – If you hit an underwater object, the drive plate is usually the first victim of this underwater collision.  However, if you’ve damaged the drive plate, it’s unlikely you’ve damaged the gear box.  General wear and tear appears to be another cause – and because canal boats don’t have a clutch arrangement, gear boxes tend to receive a fair bit of abuse, so go easy and regularly service them.   

Engine mount“Engine mounts – Engine mounts affect all the above-mentioned components and if left without maintenance can cause extensive damage. These can be checked by observing from above whether the top nuts are touching the engine legs. The top nuts are set to the correct alignment and should not be touched or tampered with.

“If there’s a disconnect between the top nut and engine leg then this needs maintenance. There will be another nut below the engine leg which is used to make adjustments. Tighten the BOTTOM nut until it compresses the engine leg onto the top nut. This has now re-aligned the engine, ensuring no further damage is being caused. Check regularly and if in doubt ask an engineer to do this for you.

Common problems - People often catch their mooring ropes around the propeller, so if they drop into the water, take the boat out of gear to prevent them being swallowed. Also avoid shallow water and be mindful what can be lurking beneath you – we’re often called to remove industrial fencing, barbed and razor wire, mattresses and tyres from propellers.

“Be aware of the dangers of rudders – if you clip the rudder while turning, it will swing the rudder around which in turn impacts the swan neck causing it to change direction. If you’re standing to the side of the tiller, rather than in front where you should be, you could be knocked off your feet by the sudden movement leaving you wet and embarrassed or, it could crush you between the tiller and the obstacle, which can cause serious injury. Worse still if the vessel is in gear, the boat could drive over you. Always stand forward of the tiller.”

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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:

  • As you may have seen in the events section of this edition, The Weorgoran Pavilion pops-up in Worcester this summer, hosting a vibrant programme of literature, music, dance and workshops led by local artists as part of The Ring arts project. What isn’t mentioned in the events section is that we’re still on the lookout for volunteers to help with the event. So, if you’re in the area why not have a read about this opportunity to part of something special.

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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 of anything that’s happening that may affect you if you’re planning on a cruise this weekend.

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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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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