Boaters' Update

Welcome to the latest edition. In 2016’s penultimate Boaters’ Update you’ll find the usual broad platter of news, opinion (yours) and events along with an assorted mix of mild festive cheer – and the odd request for help!

Gloucester Docks 30 Nov 2016 Gloucester Docks 30 Nov 2016

Welcome to the latest edition. In 2016’s penultimate Boaters’ Update you’ll find the usual broad platter of news, opinion (yours) and events along with an assorted mix of mild festive cheer – and the odd request for help!

As always, if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition, or a regular feature you think will be useful, then please get in touch. In the meantime, click on the links below to jump to the article of your choice:

Happy boating,


News round-up and the fortnight ahead

Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:

  • 23 Nov – We announced that we are on the lookout for volunteers to help teach school children in North Yorkshire about the wonders of their local waterways through our ‘Explorers’ education programme.
  • 23 Nov – We called on entrepreneurs who would like to drop anchor on London’s busy canals to get on-board with an exciting new commercial opportunity in Little Venice, one of the Capital’s most picture-perfect spots.
  • 25 Nov – England’s first ever coast-to-coast canoe project, the Desmond Family Canoe Trail, invited canoeists to join in a ‘Santa Splash’ festive paddle along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Liverpool on Saturday 10 December and Blackburn on Sunday 11 December.
  • 25 Nov – Work started to restore four lock gates on the 200-year old Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Wigan as part of a £170,000 upgrade to the waterway.

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:

  • 17 Nov to 2 Jan 2017 – Get your skates on and head to the National Waterways Museum Gloucester to show off your footwork at some ice-skating.
  • 3 to 24 Dec – Join Santa and his crew at Anderton Boat Lift for a festive cruise along the River Weaver Navigation sharing songs and stories, and with a gift for each child.
  • 17 Dec – Head along to the first ever Foxton illuminated boat fest – there’ll be lantern-making, boat trips and a festive boat parade accompanied by fireworks and a fire sculpture with a £250 prize for the best dressed boat.
  • 3 to 18 Dec – If, like me, you can usually be found on Christmas Eve dashing around the shops trying to bag that knock-out present then why not dispense with the stress this year and have a more relaxed shopping experience in the next couple of weeks on or next to a canal – you’ll find them on various days in Bradford on Avon, Birmingham, London and at Standegde Tunnel.

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.


Deck the boat with boughs of willow

If, at this time of year, you can often be found retorting ‘bah, humbug’ then you’re unlikely to be bothered by underwhelming Christmas decorations. On the other hand you may revel in celebrating the festive season with a dazzling display.

Snowed in narrowboat on the canal at Apperley BridgeWhichever camp you fall in to there’s no denying that decorating a boat comes with it’s own challenges. With years of experience, colleague and boater Debbi Figueiredo shares her thoughts on the options.

“December already and it’s barely three weeks before the big celebration. This year has disappeared so quickly, sadly most likely a symptom of my advancing years.

“Christmas celebrations are a bright spot of colour and fun during the darkest part of the year. I just can’t wait for the dark to be over and like to brighten up the boat with festive decorations. In the confined space of a narrowboat cabin you can’t go too mad. A full size Christmas tree, in my opinion, is rather over the top.”

Christmas Tree or seasonal alternative?

“We’ve never had a tree whilst I’ve lived on a boat and I do hanker after one, haunted by childhood memories of pine scent, the hanging of sparkling glass baubles and twinkling fairy lights. Sadly we don’t even have a spare shelf or table space for a mini tree so this year is going to be a compromise: hanging up my sustainable willow and foraged foliage swags on the exterior of the boat from the rails.

“I am always somewhat envious of other boater’s trees, proudly displayed atop gas lockers, cratches and tug decks, some even with lights! Maybe one day I will win over my partner and we will have a tree too.

“Decorating the interior of the boat is done with economy bearing in mind the limited storage space. We run a long line of ribbon from the galley bulkhead to the bow doors on which to hang our Christmas cards.

“I embellish the line of cards with home-made cross stitch & felt decorations hanging below the cards which gives the boat a very festive feel. After the holidays are over the decorations are small enough to live in my sock drawer.”

Garlands and lights

Boat moored near the Scarisbrick Arms in the snow“We’ve tried in the past using the traditional holly, ivy and mistletoe but found they made closing the curtains tricky and they didn’t last particularly well due to the heat from the solid fuel stove. This year I might try making garlands for the cabin by stringing up popcorn and cranberries for an extra festive look that’s easy to recycle. I also can’t resist fairy lights, the lighter the cabin is during December the better for me so I’m going to treat myself to some new LED lights that won’t eat too much power.

“If you want to see lots of illuminated and decorated boats and have some fun with the family you’re in luck if you are within easy reach of Foxton. Otherwise there are many other festive events where you are likely to see decorated boats if that’s your thing. I, for one, will be seeking sparkling inspiration for next year to see me through the bleak mid-winter.”


Cruising past moored boats – more of your views

You’ve not disappointed me! Lots of you have been in touch after the last edition’s round-up of your views on the best practice when cruising past moored boats so a big thank you!

Cruising past moored boats Leicester Line Grand UnionBelow is a brief summary of the next round of comments you’ve sent in. As before, it doesn’t cover it all – there’s far too much to include here – but, if you’ve got the time, it’s well worth reading them.

In the last summary I included an overview of the general opinions being aired. So how have they changed? 57% of respondents thought that most boats go too fast past moored boats (down by 1%) and 69% (down from 74%) said you should be at tickover when passing moored boats.

Slightly down, from 32% to 30%, is the proportion of you who think that, ultimately, it’s the moorers responsibility to ensure their boat is securely tied up. Those are the hard statistics but, for those who haven’t the time to read all the responses, here’s a summary of some of the advice, suggestions and opinion given:

  • Overall it should be good manners to slow down three boat lengths before you pass a boat. You use/live on a fluid (there’s a clue there) environment and should respect moored boaters as we all moor and encounter these issues. We live life in the slow lane (clue number two), so let’s be considerate of this.
  • I always cruise past moored boats at a snail’s pace, usually much slower than most boats can do on tick over but still I get shouted at because most people are unable to judge the speed of another boat and hearing the engine at 1500 rpm jump to the conclusion that my boat is going too fast. Other than that it’s a great system, but I just wish that people in moored boats would stop being so quick to complain! 
  • There appears to be more people living on boats now my view is that canals were built for transport not linear moorings and they should make sure their boats are secure. Soon you will not be able cruise above 1 to 2 mph anywhere.
  • I wholeheartedly agree with the comment about slowing down whilst passing mooring boats but the reality is given the miles of moored boats in the London Region alone to expect cruising boats to pass them all on tick over is quite unrealistic. I am of the opinion that whilst slowing down is good practice, slowing to tick over is too much to expect.
  • A big problem I find that does not appear to be mentioned is when a passing boat has passed the last boat and immediately accelerates, presumably to make up the time they have lost slowing down, a lot of boaters do not seem to realise that this action pulls the last boat or two on the mooring causing the same problem they were trying to prevent.
  • Temporary moored boats are one thing. However, I have no sympathy for the endless lines of permanent moorings.  If you don't like the passing boats then move to one of the ever expanding choice of new marinas.

Moored boats Leicester Line Grand UnionI would have liked to include more comments and the above covers the most frequently mentioned points. If you’ve got the time do have a read of them all.

Reading through the responses the two messages that didn’t stand out in the last article but have been mentioned more since are, firstly, that there are too many boats moored on the line of the canal causing long delays and, secondly, those on moored boats tend to complain if they hear high revs before seeing what effect the passing boat actually has.

It’s pretty clear by the passion and volume of replies that this is a topic that needs following up in the new year – watch this space for more discussion, and suggested solutions based on your feedback, in January!


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

  • While we may be mostly focussed on Christmas, why not let your mind roam free and think about late Spring 2017? I don’t just mean the warmth, or the early blooms, I’m talking about Crick Boat Show! Tickets for next year’s show went on sale yesterday and with a 20% Early Bird discount, you could bag yourself a nice little Christmas present!
  • You may recall that back in October 2015, we published our first external Water Resources Strategy (2015 – 2020). It set out our aspirations for the next five years in addition to investigating the longer term pressures and challenges on water supply and use. We have just published our first update which details our progress over the past year against the strategic actions outlined within the strategy.
  • Many of you will have seen that over the last few months I’ve included an invitation in this section to anyone who wanted to help us keep our online maps up to date (which I blogged about). Thanks to those of you that have! Your help is still needed though – just have a read of the blog linked above and there’s a link to the sites that we’d like boaters to cast their eye over.

Happy boating!



Last date edited: 2 December 2016

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The boaters' update

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