News article created on 22 March 2019

Boaters' Update 22 Mar 2019

In this latest edition you'll find out how our winter maintenance will help keep the water in the cut (and how you can too). There's also news of an update to our online mooring policy, a look back at past Crick Boat Shows as it nears its 20th birthday along with other latest news, stoppages and events.

Historic narrowboats Nuneaton and Brighton carrying coal Historic boats Nuneaton & Brighton on the Trent & Mersey canal

Welcome to the latest update. We’ve now reached that time of year when the days are longer than the nights and, in a little over a week’s time, the clocks go forward and it should start to properly feel like we’re on the march towards long lazy days on the cut.

In this edition you’ll be able to read about the work we’ve been doing over the winter to help conserve water during the busy summer period and, of course, how you can continue to help do this too. You’ll also find some news about our updated online mooring policy as well as an assortment of the latest news, stoppages, events and, talking of events, a look back at the Crick Boat Shows of 2010 & 11 as we near the 20th outing of the country’s biggest inland waterway festival.

 If there’s an article you’d like to read in a future event then do please drop me a line.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead   

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

  • 8 Mar – We asked for over a dozen volunteers to come forward to take on the iconic role of lock keeper at Britain’s deepest lock, Tuel Lane Lock on the Rochdale Canal in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, that lowers and raises boats by almost 20ft (6m) as they make their journeys over the Pennines.
  • 14 Mar – Fast action from our team in Wigan saved thousands of fish from dying in a pollution incident on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
  • 14 Mar – As part of Community Roots – a project which encourages communities to help care for their local waterways – eight students from Coventry University, along with a team of volunteers, helped clear litter from the Coventry Canal.
  • 15 Mar – Work began on the restoration of the Roundhouse in Birmingham, the jewel in the crown of Birmingham’s waterways.

Below I’ve picked a few events you might be interested in over the next few weeks. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities if none of the below take your fancy. Just visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • 24 Mar – Want to learn to fish? We'll get you up and netting in no time! It’s a great way to unwind and spend time outside in the fresh air with your family so why not join Prince Albert Angling Society at our Junior match and coaching day at Rugeley this Sunday?
  • 30 Mar – Join us at Victoria Quays in Sheffield to try paddle boarding and help us to care for the waterfront by removing lots of plastic bottles and other waste both on the water and from the offside bank.
  • 30 Mar to 28 Apr – Prepare to be immersed in the strange and beautiful world of beetles, grasshoppers, wasps and dragonflies as The Puppet Theatre in Little Venice brings them to life with traditional hand-carved marionettes in ‘The Insect Circus’.
  • 31 Mar – This Mothering Sunday why not treat your mum with a free trip to the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port? After enjoying the whole host of activities on offer you’ll be able to treat mum to lunch in the Waterside Café!

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Winter maintenance programme helps keep the water in

Earlier this week I was chatting to a boater moored on the Lancaster Canal. He never thought he’d get sea sick on a canal but, thanks to Storm Gareth, there was a very real chance he would! The contrast between now and last summer, the hottest ever recorded in England, couldn’t be starker.

It wasn’t only hot. It was also the driest start to a summer since modern records began in 1961. Just 50.8mm of rain fell between 1 June and 19 July. Despite this, over 90% of canals remained open for you and other boaters to enjoy.

Rochdale Canal from the air at TodmordenMost of our reservoirs are now about where we would expect them to be thanks to the rain we’ve had over the winter although we still need a bit more for them to be full. But, as our water management expert, hydrologist Adam Comerford, explains, we’ve also been working to help water supplies last throughout the coming summer cruising season: “Every year we spend around £38 million on winter works, often relining locks and replacing leaking gates, while reservoir inspections are part of our annual work programme. Particular highlights over the last few months have been on the Rochdale Canal and the Northampton Arm and Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal where we’ve been able to couple lock gate replacement and relining work with re-grouting of some of the locks.

Grand Union in Northampton, Lock 17“While we’re doing all we can with maintenance, the vital contribution of boaters shouldn’t be underestimated. Thanks go to those boaters who make it their mission to save water wherever possible and without them last year’s drought could have had a far greater impact.

“It’s impossible to know what this summer will bring but we need boaters to continue to think what they can do to save water. As the overwhelming majority of boaters know, it’s the simple things such as sharing locks, reporting leaks and shutting gate paddles that, combined, make a huge difference. We’d love to see every boater taking these steps year-round so that everyone can get out on the cut whatever the weather because life is better by water.”

For more information visit our water saving hub.

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Online mooring policy updated

The popularity of boating remains as strong as ever and, in turn, so does the need to fairly share space out on the cut. With this in mind, and following a consultation at the end of 2017 and further review and discussion since, we’ve now updated our Online Mooring Policy.

There are two key areas of change. We will be ending the automatic online reduction policy, whereby we’d previously removed one long-term online mooring for the creation of every ten off-line marina moorings.

Whiton MarinaOver the past ten years nearly 630 online permanent moorings have been removed as thousands of new offline moorings have been created. The new policy does not support the creation of lots of new linear moorings, but in certain circumstances they may be appropriate if they meet strict criteria.  Moorings that have been removed to date will not be reinstated, and this will not affect existing marinas or those currently in development where online mooring reduction has already been agreed.

Secondly, single ‘end of garden’ mooring applications will now be considered against privately-owned land, not just that which has a residential dwelling on it. Permission will only be granted to the landowner and sub-letting the mooring will not be permitted.

Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support, said: “We have updated our Online Mooring Policy to reflect the current waterway environment, and to ensure we have a clear and robust policy to help us manage the waterways for the benefit of boaters. It’s more important than ever that towpath moorings are shared fairly, especially in busy areas, and that we make the best possible use of space.”

More information on mooring can be found on our website

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Crick Boat Show’s 2010 & 2011

I started writing about Crick Boat Show in the dark days of mid-winter. Back then, as I reviewed the first ever two Crick shows, it took some effort to visualise the warm, fulfilling, days spent among like-minded boating enthusiasts at the end of May.

Now, as we celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary by looking back on the 2010 & 2011 shows, it doesn’t take much effort at all…

2010

Crick Boat Show 2018The year started and ended with weather dominating the headlines as major cold spells brought widespread snow. Natural events continued to be front page news as the unpronounceable, unless you happen to be Icelandic, Eyjafjallajökull caused the largest air-traffic shut-down since World War II as volcanic ash clogged up European skies.

A couple of weeks later we headed to the polls and, for the first time in over a decade, voted in a Conservative-led Government.

On the waterways big changes were also afoot as the outgoing Labour Government, later ratified by its successor, announced that British Waterways would move to the charity sector after 62 years under Government control. Also, the Kennet & Avon Canal celebrated its 200th birthday!

While other shows were cancelling or drastically down-scaling due to the depressed economy, Crick maintained its’ position as the show to be at if you’re after an upgrade or new boat.

2011

Boats at CrickMore positivity could be found the following year as within the first week we’d won The Ashes and a few months later we were celebrating a royal wedding, between Prince William and Catherine Middleton, over a four-day weekend.

It was a bittersweet year for ‘Potterheads’ however as the final Harry Potter film hit screens (Deathly Hallows part two). If needed, they could have found consolation in the West Midlands as, after 35 years of restoration work, the Droitwich Canals opened and completed the 21-mile circuit of the Mid-Worcestershire Ring.

It was a good year at Crick Boat Show too, the first to include the seminar programme. Visitor numbers were up by 20% and exhibitors reported brisk trade.

Talking of the seminar programme it’s still going strong and, whether you’re just considering getting afloat or are a seasoned boater, there’s likely to be a topic you’ll find interesting.  What better place to feed your passion than at Crick so why not book your advance tickets now and save up to 15 per cent on the entry price for the event? It takes place at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, during 25-27 May, with an extra Trade & Preview Day to be held on Friday 24 May in association with LeeSan.

Thanks go to Waterways World for its help in providing archive material for research.

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Get Involved

Many boaters go the extra mile in helping to keep canals and rivers in good condition by volunteering (such as those who contributed to the 1,000 hours of help that our construction team had in January) or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, and life better by water, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:

  • We’re inviting disabled boaters and/or their carers, partners, or family, to a meeting next week to talk about their experience and how things could be improved. It’s at St Margaret’s Hall, Bradford on Avon, and is on 26 March at 2pm. If you're not able to attend but would like to contribute, we’d still like to hear from you. You can send questions, comments, or suggestions – please get in touch. The notes from the last meeting, held in Newark, can be found here.
  • The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that we’ve now refreshed many of our boating pages on the website to improve accessibility when browsing the site with a mobile device. The boat licensing and boat licence customer support team pages have seen the most improvements. As ever we welcome any comments you have as to any further improvements we can make to make the site easy to use.

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

As someone who’s out on, 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.

Of course, we’re still working on our winter stoppage programme and, as you can see by the list below, there’s a hive of activity repairing and restoring a variety of things. Below you’ll find, by canal or river, those that may affect your plans 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. The tech savvy among you may already know that you can set up your smartphone to notify you if a notice is issued for a canal or river that you’re interested in. For those that didn’t know, check out this guide to setting it up.

If you have any questions about a specific closure then just get in touch.

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Bits & bobs

  • Did you submit one of the 7,000 entries into our winter photo competition? If so, you might want to check out the list of winners that have just been announced! Thanks to everyone who took part in the competition – the range of images just goes to show how diverse, and beautiful, our wonderful waterway network really is.
  • Gloucester Lock continues to be a major thorn in our side and divers have, over the last few weeks, been working in difficult circumstances to clear the silt and obstructions around the lower lock gates. We hope to begin installation of the dams, to make the lock watertight, next week and then can we assess what needs doing and give a clearer indication of when the lock might reopen. We appreciate that this is a frustrating time for people needing to use the lock and very much appreciate everyone’s patience while we continue to complete the repairs – keep an eye on this notice to stay up to date. Should you require any further information about this or any other matter on the Wales and South West Region please contact us at the Gloucester Dock Office on 01452 318012 or our Customer Service Desk on 03030 404040. If you’d prefer, you can e-mail - southwalessevern@canalrivertrust.org.uk.
  • If you’ve read the last edition you will have seen the advice we gave about refuelling your boat. A few readers have been in touch, thanks, with further advice: If it is not possible to get a tray under the engine (as on my boat) people can purchase oil absorption mats which are excellent for catching those odd drips of diesel or engine oil which are inevitably there, particularly after work on the engine or an oil change. And of course dispose of them responsibly. I’ve carried some for years, supplied by local BW teams (that’s how long I’ve carried them) after a major oil leak on the Calder & Hebble Canal. If boaters come across small contaminating leaks on the canal just lay some mats on the surface to absorb the oily mess. They float but don’t absorb water which brings me on to the next thing. Another very useful tip that I was given a few years ago is disposable nappies which do absorb water and some oil/diesel. Especially good under the stern tube if the packing gland is dripping. But change regularly or the pellets inside make a mess if the paper outer rots.

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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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