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You'll find an article about the ongoing boat licensing consultation, a feature on boating on rivers, a bundle of other news, this weekend’s stoppages, and ways in which you can get involved and more in the latest edition.
Not that we need it, but the much-hyped John Lewis advert is now regularly reminding us that Christmas is nearly upon us. That said, we still have 38 days. Much sooner than that, this weekend marks the start of our Open Days - a welcome interlude from the bustling shopping centres and high streets!
At each of them you’ll get the chance to have a natter with our experts who’ll be on hand to explain what we’re up to. While we look forward to seeing you at one of the Open Days, there’s another important pre-Christmas date we’d like to hear from you before – it’s the subject of the first article in this edition.
There’s also a feature on boating on rivers, a bundle of other news, this weekend’s stoppages, and ways in which you can get involved. 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:
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.
It seems incredible but it was nearly a month ago now that I included news that the final stage of the consultation on the future of boat licensing was beginning.
Many of you have already taken part, with over 6,000 responses to the consultation received so far. As this is something that will affect all boaters on the Trust’s waterways, we want to ensure that everyone has a chance to have their say. While you may still have until 18 December to send in your views, we all know how manic it gets in the run-up to Christmas (and you need to leave time to come and see us at one of our Open Days too!).
With this in mind, Jon Horsfall, acting head of boating, says: “There’s been a great response to the consultation, with thousands of boaters letting us know their thoughts, feelings and suggestions. Thank you to those who have already taken part. If you haven’t had a chance to read through the proposals yet there’s still plenty of time as the consultation is running until 18th December.
“It’s important to let us know what you think. This is about the future of boat licensing – not least how to make sure that the important financial contribution made by boaters is spread fairly across the boating community both now and in the future – and you may be affected by any changes that may be made. We want to work together with the boating community to shape a licensing system that it simple, fair and will stand the test of time.”
We published a series of licensing options based on the feedback given by boaters in the first stages of consultation held during the spring and summer, including:
If 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.
Once the responses to this stage of the consultation have been reviewed we’ll then make a final proposal, including details of when any changes will come into effect. In the meantime you can find out more about the boat licensing consultation, including reports from stage one and stage two on our consultations page. ………………………………………………..................................................................................................
We’re lucky enough to have a diverse range of inland waterways in this country, whether you want to cruise the scenic and tranquil canals that weave their way through (and under!) every type of countryside or the mammoth rivers that reach out to the sea. For some, though, the latter can be a bit daunting.
If the last sentence sounds a bit like you then it could be worth drawing on the expertise of Beryl McDowall, general secretary of the Residential Boat Owners’ Association:
“For many of us who use our boats on the inland waterways, most of our time is spent on canals, with the occasional foray onto rivers, mostly the smaller, non-tidal ones such as the River Soar. If possible, it is a good idea to take someone with river experience with you for your first visit to tidal waters such as the lower Trent.
“One very basic rule, which is easy to follow, is that if you are travelling upstream (against the flow of the river), you should give way to boats travelling downstream (in the direction in which the river is flowing). The reason for this is that it is easier to control your boat if it is facing up into the current. One example of where you may need to give way is at bridges.
“Following on from this, it is also easier to come in to the bank to moor if you are facing upstream. If you are travelling downstream and you are sure the river is wide enough for you to come about (turn your boat round so that is facing upstream), then you can go straight in alongside and moor; but if the river isn’t very wide, or you are not sure, you will have to moor facing downstream. Unless there is a very strong wind, this can be achieved by steering towards the mooring, putting the stern end in to the bank first, and securing a rope. The flow of the river will then bring the fore-end alongside, and you can take your front rope off and tie it to a bollard or stake.
“You can learn a lot on rivers by watching the surface of the water, and learn by experience what it is telling you. Look out for side currents joining the navigation via a culvert or large outflow, as these can push a light-weight boat off course, and you may need to compensate for this by steering very slightly into the side current.
“There are many aspects of river navigation which we could look at, but the last point in this piece is that you need to have adequate ropes when you moor. Adequate means both strong enough to hold the weight of your boat; long enough to allow for a river rising or falling (floods conditions don’t just happen in the winter); and at least four ropes, two at the bow and two at the stern. One at each end will run to the bank, at right angles to the boat, and the other ropes will be used as springs, one running forward of the boat and the other astern of it.
“If you are hesitant about river boating, you might consider going on a short course with a recognised service provider, specifying that you want specific experience of boating on rivers. If venturing onto tidal waters, your boat insurance needs to cover this (check with your provider if you are not sure).
“Once you’ve taken the plunge, and made your first trip on a river, you will probably want to go back. In many places, the scenery is wonderful, and wildlife abounds. Make the most of these special navigations.”
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:
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.
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.
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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