Welcome to the latest edition. If you're looking for an escape from the 24/7 election coverage then have a read of Boaters' Update, get inspired, and then head to your local canal or river!
What a difference a fortnight makes! Two weeks ago we were all focussing our attention on how to make the most of the Easter weekend. Now, as you couldn’t help but hear, we have 48 days until a General Election – our third nationwide vote in as many years.
With this in mind, there’s some advice in this edition about how, if you live on your boat, you can register to vote.
No doubt there’ll be wall-to-wall coverage stoking up election fever. But, rest assured that you’ll be able to use Boaters’ Update as a place to escape to with the vast majority of column inches being devoted to the joys of boating and the wider canal and river network.
Along that theme, you’ll find the usual mix of news and this weekend’s stoppages as well as an update on the plans for this year’s Crick Boat Show and also on the boat licensing review among others. 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:
It’s a busy couple of weeks on and around the waterways so below you’ll find some highlights but 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.
Here we are again. Another national vote and while those who’ve been living on a boat for a few years will have had the information when published prior to last year’s EU referendum, those of you new to a life afloat (and those who didn’t get round to it last year) may need to know how to register to vote. The clock’s ticking and you have until 22 May so here goes…
Firstly, check that you fulfil the eligibility criteria:
All good? Then read on!
If you have a permanent mooring then you’re effectively a resident of that area and the process is the same as for your land-lubbing neighbours. Just visit the Government’s voting registration website.
It’s slightly more complicated if you’re always on the move and don’t have a home mooring. If this is your situation then you must register a declaration of local connection, which, when approved, will be valid for 12 months (or until you cancel it).
It’s not too hard though, find your local electoral registration office via Google. You’ll then need to pop along, explain your local connection and fill in a form. The ‘local connection’ should be at a place you spend the most time or where you have some connection. This could be where you were last permanently registered or any boatyard or marina you regularly use for maintenance.
Ta-da! If you didn’t apply to vote by post, all you now need to do is turn up on 8 June at your nearest polling station…
Around the country we have Waterway Partnerships, full of knowledgeable volunteers, to help shape plans, guide decisions about spending, and help develop local engagement. The South East Waterway Partnership has a dedicated boating group and one of its members, David Daines, offers some useful advice about conserving water as we head into the main boating season:
“There are currently a number of locks on the southern Grand Union Canal that, for engineering reasons, need to be left empty when not in use. Official Canal & River Trust instructions, on the balance beams, tell boaters to leave the lock empty as in this one (right) at Lock 46, Cowroast.
“This usually requires a bottom paddle to be left up, though leaving a bottom gate open would actually be just as effective. All such official signs will give the reason for that instruction, as this one does. Unfortunately, and quite frequently, this raised bottom paddle is not being noticed, and numerous boaters recently have filled the locks (or tried to) with a bottom paddle still wide open.
“It takes a long while, and makes opening a top gate very difficult, yet people still don’t realise why! Of course, this results in a serious waste of water and can lead to possible structural damage, or indeed physical injury, when the top gate being closed, ‘bangs to’, under the influence of the open paddle.
The Golden Rule
“Boaters are urged therefore always to look before raising any paddles at any lock, wherever on the system, in case a paddle has been left open, or not closed completely, whether inadvertently or intentionally. If you ignore an open paddle at a lock the fault is not only with the person who may have failed to lower it, but also with you for not noticing it.
“Another ‘Golden Rule’ is, before turning round any lock, look to see if another boat is approaching from the opposite direction, for whom the lock may well be set. If there is one, you will save copious amounts of water, and yourself much effort, if you let them through first, following which the lock will be ‘set’ for you.
“Then, when you have worked through a lock, any lock, anywhere, always look again to see if there is another boat approaching from the opposite direction. If there is one, leave the gate open for them as you leave the lock, it is atrociously bad manners to close a gate in someone’s face, but it happens all the time. Why waste effort closing a gate that someone else is going to have to re-open in just a few moments?
“Water is the most precious resource we have on the canal and we should all strive to conserve it whenever we can. The old canal companies would heavily fine boatmen for wasting it…”
Many boaters help keep canals and rivers open for everyone to enjoy by volunteering or donating. But, being such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, there’re always others ways you can get involved:
We’ve just enjoyed a four-day weekend and, hopefully, many of you managed to get out on the water for a cruise. Failing that, most will have at least experienced the curative effects of a gentle stroll along the towpath with like-minded people.
Whichever one you did, or will do this coming weekend, you may also have spotted the boat of your dreams or learnt something new about boating or the waterways. Oh, and you may have had a bite to eat and enjoyed a little tipple in one of the many waterside pubs.
While it may seem like a bit of an odd way to start an article about Crick Boat Show, I’m hoping that in the next few paragraphs I can convince you that you will be able to get all the above, and then some, at this year’s Show.
Out on the water
There are free boat trips running from the marina every 10 minutes but, due to popularity, it’s a good idea to book yours soon after you arrive at the festival to avoid disappointment. If you’re looking to sharpen your boaty skills then, for a small price, you might consider an hour long Boat Handling Taster Session (filling up fast so book now!) as an ideal way to build confidence and get a feel for what’s involved.
Think of your boat club’s last social event or the most recent evening in your local waterside pub when you bumped in to some other boaters and multiply it by a huge amount – there’s a tangible feeling of being part of a passionate boating community that cannot be underestimated at Crick.
A bite to eat, a little tipple
With a specialist food marquee and the more traditional vendors all in one place you won’t go hungry. It’s worth noting that you’ll also need it to fuel your dancing, as you enjoy top-class cover bands (such as T-Rextasy and Fleetwood Bac)! Far be it from me to suggest that you may also need to visit the onsite beer festival provided by Crick local The Wheatsheaf, to super-charge your moves.
Learnt something new
As in previous years, Crick’s seminar programme returns. With subjects ranging from budget boating through to living on, and maintaining, a boat there’s likely to be a topic of interest whether you’re a novice or seasoned boater. Of course, alongside this you’ll be able interrogate some of the 200+ exhibitors about their boating products…
Despite the festival site nestling in a stunning backdrop of gentle, rolling, hills your eyes will be drawn inwards towards the dazzling array of showboats. Whether you’re window shopping or looking to place your order you’ll be able to see the whole spectrum of boats from budget boating through to top-end wide beams.
That should be convincing enough but, if not, don’t forget that we’ll also be there in our own marquee in day-glo orange t-shirts – surely you don’t want to miss that?
Britain’s biggest inland waterway festival, Crick Boat Show, is on the late May Bank Holiday weekend (27 to 29 May) and early-bird tickets, giving you up to a 20% discount, are on sale now.
Earlier this month Simon Bamford, director of asset delivery, gave an eye-opening presentation on the work the Canal & River Trust has been doing over the last 12 months to keep canals and rivers open for all to enjoy.
With such a broad range of things to mend, maintain and make better, you’ll have to forgive the stat attack below but I think it’s the best way to convey the sheer size of the job at hand:
While the stats above give you the ‘big picture’ view of the huge undertaking, the article below examines the detail behind those things we didn’t expect to be fixing…
This regular column looks back at the previous month to see what things the Canal & River Trust had to unexpectedly fix to keep canals and rivers open for you to enjoy. In March, thankfully not a lot!
In total there were 12 instances of a canal or river being closed to navigation for more than four hours. These amounted to a total of 37 days were cruising was affected. The biggest culprits were locks – on five occasions we had to unexpectedly repair a lock with damaged cills or paddles being the main reason. The only other unplanned events to cause more than one closure were fallen trees. Three fell, maybe after being weakened (yes, I’m looking at you Storm Doris) and blocked a navigation.
The remaining four instances were a faulty bridge, a blocked weir, a leaky canal bed and a collapsed culvert.
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.
Keeping your canals and rivers ready for you to enjoy is a year-round job. From time-to-time this includes some major engineering that we need to temporarily close the navigation for. Below you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happen that may affect your cruising.
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.