Boaters' Update 4 Oct 2019

Welcome to the latest edition. Read on to find out about upcoming elections for our Council and how you can vote for boaters. There's also a roundup of your suggestions for future topics, a request for your expertise along with the latest news, stoppages and events (among others)!

two people walking along towpath in Hebden Bridge beside narrowboat walking in Hebden Bridge

Welcome to the latest edition. I think it’s safe to say that autumn is here! With calmer weather predicted for the weekend, you’re likely to want to get out on, or by, the water and give your wellbeing a boost.

Before you do, I hope you’ll find time to read about our Council elections (and how we’re looking for new representatives from the boating community), how things took a tern(pun intended) for the worse on a boat in the west country, and our thoughts on safety, along with your suggested list of future topics and a request for your boating advice.

As ever, there’s the regular roundup of news, upcoming events, and the latest stoppages.

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

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and upcoming events            

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

  • 23 Sep – We're investing around £800,000 over the coming months in the East Midlands to replace a number of handcrafted lock gates and carry out repairs to historic waterway structures. The works will start in November and continue until next March.
  • 1 Oct – If you’re in the Solihull area of the Midlands then we’re looking for help to solve a mystery pollution issue affecting Olton Reservoir.
  • 1 Oct – Talking of reservoirs, the initial series of four public open days in October at Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire have been announced.

Below I’ve picked out some events that you might be interested in over the next month. 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.

  • 4 Oct – Go batty at the National Waterway Museum, Ellesmere Port, with a fun evening learning about bats before heading out on to the towpath with a bat detector to spot these fascinating creatures.
  • 13 Oct – Ever wondered how to make your very own rag rug to cosy-up your boat? Look no further than the National Waterway Museum Gloucester…
  • 16 Oct – Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Pocklington Canal on a free organised walk run by our volunteer walk leaders. These walks are part of the Heritage Lottery-supported ‘A Gem in the Landscape’ project and around six miles long.
  • 19 to 27 Oct – Become immersed in the strange and beautiful world of beetles, grasshoppers, wasps and dragonflies as they demonstrate their dexterity with wit and humour. Expect dramatic lighting and exquisitely composed music, punctuated by the ambient sounds of enraptured children – all at the Puppet Theatre Barge’s production of ‘The Insect Circus’ on the Regent’s Canal

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Canal & River Trust Council elections – boaters needed!

We’re looking for boaters to stand for election to our governing Council with nominations opening on 21 October until 18 November.

Council Meeting in Birmingham, September 2018The Council is currently made up of 50 elected and independently nominated members together with six Regional Advisory Board chairs.  Together they reflect the wide appeal of the waterways – from boating and angling through to walking and conservation.  The Council is responsible for the appointment of Trustees, helps to shape policies and provides guidance and perspective to Trustees.

Of particular note, given that this is a boaters’ update, is the information relating to private boating representation on the Council:

  • There are four posts available
  • We’re including roving traders in the private boating category
  • To be eligible to put yourself forward as a candidate, you must hold a 12-month canal or river boat licence (including roving traders) on 19 September 2019 and be supported by three sponsors who each meet this criterion.
  • Nominations are open from 21 October to 18 November. Eligible private boaters will receive an email with a link to the voting portal (this is different to our normal website). Candidates will be asked to upload some information about themselves, a manifesto (200 words), a photo (optional, but we suggest they provide one so their peers can recognise them) and the names of their sponsors.
  • A reminder email will be sent out to those who haven’t put themselves forwards. Candidates can start their application form, save it and return to it once you’re ready to complete and submit it. You must however submit it by the deadline of 18 November otherwise it won’t be counted.
  • The entire election process is online. If we do not have an email address for private boaters, they will receive a letter but will need to go online to put themself forward as a candidate. All of the information on how to do this will be in the letter.
  • We’ll announce the results on 25 November.
  • If the number of candidates is greater than four, we’ll open for voting in January. If we receive only four nominations, those individuals will be appointed and the election for this post will end.
  • Successful candidates will start their term on Council in March 2020

More information, including FAQs, can be found on our website. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for then please get in touch.

Allan Leighton, chair of Canal & River Trust, said: “We are excited to be holding these elections to our Council and I would encourage boaters to stand as candidates. The Council plays a vital role in our governance framework and this is a fantastic opportunity to get involved with our work, find out more about the opportunities and challenges we face, and channel the views of these constituency groups.”

The election process will be run independently of the Trust by Civica Election Services.

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A tern for the worse

Back in the warm glow of summer you may have read an article about a Chihuahua being snatched by a seagull. Another article then discussed whether the UK had a ‘seagull problem’.

Tern eggsWhat wasn’t mentioned was a similarly agressive cousin of the gull, terns. A boater got in touch to tell me about how his boat was invaded: “In early June I got attacked by a pair of terns whilst trying to get on to my 57ft canal boat which I keep in Saul Junction Marina.

“The birds had taken up residence in one of the flower troughs on the cabin roof – probably because I was delayed in putting fresh bedding plants in them. They subsequently laid and hatched three chicks.

Terns roosting“Checking with the RSPB, I was told on no account should I move the trough or the boat, otherwise I would be fined heavily (many thousands of pounds evidently) as terns are high on the endangered protection list!

“It effectively meant I was unable to use my boat for nearly eight weeks.

“Once the birds had flown, it took me two Tern chickdays to scrub all the poo they had deposited all over the cabin roof. Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular with my fellow boaters as the parents kept dive bombing them.

“Note that the picture of the chick is slightly coloured due to the fact I was sheltering under an umbrella to keep the parent birds off me!”

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Safety first

We’ve all heard that old line trotted out – health and safety has gone mad. It’s not helped by the regular retelling of myths such as the banning of hanging baskets in case someone bangs their head. Thankfully the Health & Safety Executive has debunked the more common ones.

The reality is that health and safety is vital in every workplace. It’s especially the case if, like us, you have to heave two tonne lock gates in to place, inspect and repair centuries old tunnels and deal with major emergencies such as we had at Toddbrook Reservoir in July.

While the environment, uniqueness and sheer scale of some of our work can be a challenge, it’s no excuse to work in an unsafe way as Julie Sharman, chief operating officer, explains: “Our first consideration is always safety. It doesn’t matter what the job is. Whether building a massive lock gate out of English oak in one of our workshops or skilfully repointing an historic humpback bridge with lime mortar, safety will determine how the job is done.

“We don’t always get it right but we’re committed to improving how we can do things more safely in the future. If boaters see something that they think can be done more safely then do let us know because we’re  continually reviewing the way we work to make sure we’re doing our jobs in the safest possible way.”

There are a range of ways to get in touch, visit our ‘Contact Us’ section for more information.

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Your suggested topics and a request for your expertise

Over the last four or five editions we’ve been discussing a variety of boating activities; cruising past moored boats, wide beam boating and mooring up, to name a few.

In the course of it all some of you have dropped me a line to suggest other topics you’d like to see (thanks!). So, in no particular order, here are the four most suggested, please click on the links to send in your thoughts and advice:

  1. Single handed boating; what’s the best way to get through a lock, navigate a swing bridge, moor up and so on. Basically, if you’re a single handed boater, send in your best advice for boating alone.
  2. Courtesy and etiquette on the waterways. To help explain this a little more I’ll use an example sent in by a boater: On arriving at a visitor mooring there was space to moor up so said boater started the process of doing so only to be told that the space was being reserved for two boats that were shortly about to arrive, a 70ft and 50ft, and that they, in their 58ft boat, should squeeze in to a space further down the stretch. Seeing as though the space was really small it was suggested that the soon to arrive 50ft boat was better suited to the small space further down. The suggestion was unpleasantly rebuffed and left the boaters in the 58ft boat the choice of a tricky manoeuvre to get into a space that barely had a foot to spare at each end or moor elsewhere. This isn’t the only example that’s been sent in… So, in these, and other, situations such as locking or using facilities, what can you reasonably expect from your fellow boater? Please bear in mind that we always expect moorings to be used on a first-come, first served, basis...
  3. Dog poo. I hope you’re not eating your supper right now! I think the rules are pretty unequivocal – always clear up after your dog – but what is your experience of it? Is this a perennial gripe that some will always have or does it feel as though it’s a problem that’s getting worse – or better?
  4. Hull blacking. One correspondent summed this up perfectly: “I don’t know how much information on this subject is factual and how much is opinion but I would like to understand the relative value of comastic, epoxy, bitumen, two coats etc. and how often you need to have the boat out the water for each. Also, most of my time is spent on the Thames and so what effect river water quality over canal water quality might have – pollution, flow rates etc.” If you’re a hull-blacking expert then we’d love to hear from you, if you’re not, please do let me know what has, and hasn’t, worked for your hull-blacking.

Please don’t feel constrained just to write in about one of the four topics above. If there are others that you want to see covered then do let me know. Thanks!

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Going the extra 9,500 miles for customers

Ok, so the title to this article employs a little artistic licence. That said, the story you’re about to read is one of dedicated detective work and poetic coincidences.

When boater David Hill accidentally dropped his camera into the River Weaver four years ago he, like the rest of us would have, thought he’d lost the treasured memories he’d captured forever.

Lady on moored narrowboat talking to volunteer on bankEnter, stage left, senior engineer Ian Draycott. Earlier this year his team was working on a stoppage when, among the debris cleared out as part of the work, they came across David’s camera.

Appreciating that its contents would be valuable to someone, Ian set about cleaning up the memory card (the camera had long since passed the point of repair) in his shed at home. After a few attempts Ian managing to access the photos and found a picture of a boat (including its name), and set about tracing its owner.

As luck would have it David, who now lives 9,500 miles away in Australia, was in the UK visiting his parents when he got a call from Ian, and was reunited with the long-lost camera.

David wrote in an email: “I can’t commend Ian enough for his detective work and his attitude to customer service.” Ian said: “It was a pleasure to reunite David with his photos. It was touch and go as to whether the memory card would work again – it needed a little bit of attention in my shed before it sparked back to life!”

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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.

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 and bobs

  • Finally, just a reminder that winter moorings are now on sale and there are only 84 days until Christmas. Ho ho ho.

Happy boating,

Damian

Last date edited: 14 October 2019

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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 as important safety announcements and upcoming events.

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