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News article created on 17 November 2017

Boaters' Update 17 Nov 2017

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.

River Stort at Harlow River Stort at Harlow

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:

Happy boating,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

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

  • 7 Nov – We are working on a £250,000 project at Bugsworth Basin in the Peak District, to improve the water flow to the Peak Forest Canal by installing new pipes from Black Brook River.
  • 9 Nov – Hundreds of fish were rescued from the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal near Llanhamlach. The rescue operation was carried out ahead of a project to restore the walls of the 200-year old canal.
  • 10 Nov – We announced a number of changes to our executive team. We're seeking to simplify how it works as we aim to ensure a secure, sustainable and positive future for boaters and the waterways.
  • 14 Nov – Chirk canal tunnel, Thomas Telford’s 200-year-old engineering masterpiece, went under the microscope as we carried out a vital inspection of one of the centrepieces of the 11-mile Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site.

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 Nov to 14 Jan – Discover the stories and memories of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from our outreach boat George at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port.
  • 18 & 19 Nov – Not far from the oldest working dry dock in Britain (Tooley’s Boatyard) you’ll come across our first Open Day of the season at Banbury Lock where you can descend into the drained chamber and chat to our experts.
  • 20 Nov – The South Wales & Severn Waterway Partnership would like to invite you to take part in our annual public meeting. Either in person or, for the very first time, via a live webcast! More on this below. The London Waterway Partnership is also holding its this week – get in touch with the local team for more details.
  • 25 Nov to 22 Dec – Why take the kids to Lapland to see Santa this Christmas when they can visit him by boat in his underground grotto deep in the Dudley Caverns?

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A month left to tell us how you want boats licensed in the future

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.

Brindley Place in BirminghamMany 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:

  • Licence considerations for wider beam vessels on the waterways.
  • Consideration of the range of licence discounts offered to different customers.
  • Considerations in respect of the Prompt Payment discount.
  • Considerations for short term licences.
  • Licence considerations in respect of mooring status.
  • Impact of any changes following the consultation.

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.  ………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Boating on rivers

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:

River Severn at Diglis“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.

River Trent and Newark Castle“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. 

View of River Weaver from top of Anderton Boat Lift with boats on river“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.”

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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:

  • In previous editions I’ve been sharing the wonderful recipes from boaters who’ve used nature’s bounty to create mouthwatering dishes. There’ve been Crab Apple & Rosehip Tart and Spicy Plum and Butternut Chutney recipes which I hope you’ve tried. But, before reading this latest one for Apple & Hazelnut Teabread, just remember that not every ingredient has to be foraged! Please do send in any recipes you may have where one or more of the ingredients could be foraged. Who knows, this time next year we might have our very own boating bake off!
  • There’s still a little time yet but, for those who boat in the capital, don’t forget that the proposed strategy options for the London Mooring Strategy (created by a broad range of users) are now online. Please do find the time to have a read through and let us know what you think – the consultation runs until 18 December.
  • On 20 November the South Wales & Severn Waterway Partnership would like to invite you to take part in its annual public meeting where you'll see presentations by the Partnership members about its work this year, focussing on the key projects across. Either in person, or, for the very first time, via a live webcast!

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

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.

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Bits and Bobs

  • Don’t forget that the stay time at visitor moorings has now reverted to 14 days unless local signs say otherwise. They’ll stay like this throughout the winter until 31 March 2018.
  • Following on from a query on Facebook I thought it might be helpful if I answered the ‘Can I fish from a winter mooring?’ question here too: As stated in the winter mooring terms and conditions, if the winter mooring site is in a location regularly used by anglers, boaters should leave at least 5 metres between their boat and the next one along to allow space for fishing. Boaters must be prepared to move temporarily to facilitate match pegging and where anglers are aware of when match pegging will take place, they will give you reasonable notice (usually 2 weeks).
  • Inspired by becoming a father, welfare officer, Sean Williams, has blogged about how important it is to talk about Mental Health, and how get help if you need it.
  • And finally, you might see some signs like these going up at your local elsan point. We can do quite a lot with £6,000…

Happy boating!

Damian

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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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