News article created on 9 February 2018

Boaters' Update 9 February 2018

In this edition you'll find out what jobs you need to be doing to keep your boat in tip top condition and which lock was the busiest in 2017 along with the usual round-up of news, stoppages, events and ways to get involved.

Official re-opening of Elland Bridge Official re-opening of Elland Bridge

Some of us, now we’re out of January, have already started to look forward to the lazy warm days of spring and summer. Alas for many of us, and as I type this, snow is gently falling to remind us that there are a cold few weeks left ahead of us yet. If the chill won’t keep you away from your boat this weekend then perhaps you might want to crack on with one of the maintenance tasks mentioned in the first article.

The first article is in response to your suggestions last month – maintenance related topics were the most requested – so we’re starting with a boat maintenance schedule and in subsequent editions we’ll get in to the nitty gritty of individual jobs.

Elsewhere in this edition you can find out which lock was the busiest in 2017 along with all the usual news, events and stoppages roundup.

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead  

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

  • 26 Jan – We were delighted to have attended the 2018 People’s Postcode Lottery annual Charity Gala where it was announced that £93.4 million (including £1.7million for our waterways) was awarded to charities and good causes in 2017 – thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
  • 1 Feb – We're asking you to share your favourite pictures of the famous Caen Hill Lock flight on the Kennet & Avon Canal as part of a photo competition to ‘Share the Love’ for this popular canal.
  • 1 Feb – We have joined forces with the West Midlands police to launch a new neighbourhood watch scheme on the region’s historic canal network.
  • 1 Feb – We are carrying out £30,000 of vital repairs to Anderton Boat Lift - a scheduled ancient monument near Northwich in Cheshire.

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. Or you may just want to escape out on your boat, in which case these cruising ring guides might be handy!

  • 10 & 11 Feb – Come along to see Foxton Locks as you've never seen them before, including the remains of the historic Inclined Plane, at the Foxton Locks Open Weekend.
  • 10 to 18 Feb – What better way to demonstrate your love for your beau than heading to the magnificent Caen Hill Locks and joining us for free heartfelt fun on our floating Visitor Centre, 'The Admiral'.
  • 16 Feb – Come to the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port and hear how the Arts Council England grant allowed our National Waterways Museum to secure the future of our historic boat collection.
  • 20 to 23 Feb – Get busy this half term and join the Little Skippers at the Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust for a 45 minute boat trip followed by things to make and do. Discover how locks work with on a miniature canal, get messy making some watery paint pictures and create a paper fish complete with scales for its fish pond!

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Boat maintenance schedule

As promised in the last edition, and thanks to those who got in touch, this one starts with a general look at the things you need to be doing, and when, to keep your boat in tip-top working order.

Repairing boat engine electricsBefore we go on, thanks have to go to the experts at River Canal Rescue who’ve also helped put together the schedule – we’ll be dipping in to their wealth of knowledge throughout the year as we start looking at the detail of the individual tasks.

Now, this may sound like common sense, but it’s worth bearing in mind that your boat is unique. Over the years one tinkerer or another may have put a dog leg into a pipe or subtly changed the wiring on that bit of kit – the schedule discussed here is a rough guide only and expert advice should be sought if you’re ever in doubt.

A man using a pump outOn to the list then. I must warn you that when I first saw it I wondered how on earth you’d ever get a chance to actually go boating! While there is no quick fix (unless of course you get an expert in to do it all), the motto ‘little and often’ may become a useful mantra.

The full schedule is far too big to replicate here so what I thought might be useful is to focus on the things that you should be doing in the next few months. To get the most out of these maintenance articles I thought it’d be best if you told me which of the following you’d like to see covered in more depth. Simply click the link(s) you’re interested in and then send. I’ll then, before the 9 March edition, tally up the scores and feature something on the two most suggested jobs.

The list below describes the system, the task and its frequency:

As you can see, some of the tasks are dependent on how much you cruise – for those covering large parts of the network these will be need to be done more often.

If you have the time, it’d also be great if, after having a scan of the full schedule, you could let me know if there are any particular jobs on there that’d you’d like to covered later in the year.

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The most popular lock in the country is…

The monitoring of lock operations across our network remains an essential element in the way we manage water resources but also helps us understand the changing patterns. The latest report marks the 17th year of publishing an Annual Lockage Report, and covers the period January to December 2017.

In case you wondered what we meant by ‘lockage’, it can be defined simply as lock usage through the filling and emptying of a lock chamber, which in turn allows the movement of water and passage of boats.

It is important to distinguish lockage from boat movements, which are the actual number of boats which travel through a lock. We have separated boat movements from lockage to acknowledge that averages can be skewed by the boat:lockage ratio (in the case of a typical broad lock, the ratio can be between one and four boats per lockful of water used).

Nationally, the total recorded lockage in 2017 was around 2.6% lower than in 2016. The busiest site recorded was Locks 2&3, Hillmorton on the Oxford Canal, which saw a total of 9,552 lockages in 2017 (there are paired locks at this location), a difference of less than 1% since 2016.

Boating on the Llangollen CanalNew Marton Lock on the Llangollen Canal was the next busiest lock with 8,831 lockages recorded in the year 2017, a decrease of 3% since the previous year. The reasons for year to year variations across the different Waterways and individual locks are really varied. For example, Old Royd Lock on the Rochdale Canal had a 628% increase due to the damage caused by the Boxing Day floods that shut parts of it for a sizeable chunk of 2016, but it returned back to normal levels of use in 2017.

Talking of weather, 2017 started with a prolonged period of dry weather, which continued to develop in the south whilst the north received heavy rainfall late in the summer. Closures and restrictions led to local short-term reductions in lockage, however it is considered there was very little overall impact on the 2017 annual lockage for the whole network.

So, now you know which was the hardest working, can you guess which by comparison had is relatively easy? If the suspense is frustrating then check out the full report as it includes the full 2017 lockage data, ranked from the busiest lock to the least busy, to allow easy identification of where a lock sits nationally in terms of its usage. Maybe it’ll be on your to-cruise list? If you have any queries, or would like to see the data in a different format or for a specific purpose, please drop a line to our water management team or if you’re planning to visit the Crick Boat Show this year you can come and say hello to them in the Trust’s Marquee. They will be demonstrating the different ways they help manage water across the network.

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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:

  • If you’re a regular visitor to other parts of our website then you’ll likely have come across our online map. Since its first introduction we’ve continually updated and added new information. There’s now another map, the Towpath Access Map, which displays towpath access points as well as the towpath surface and gradient. This will help you plan the best spots to moor up to enable easier access to surrounding amenities and attractions – especially important if you have mobility challenges. We haven’t made a big song and dance about it just yet as, before we do, we’d like your help to refine the information. Please check out the areas you know well by zooming into the map. If you think that anything is amiss, please fill in our online feedback form which you’ll find a link to after you’ve clicked on the particular stretch of towpath, or access point, you want to comment on.
  • Have you decided what you’re doing at Easter? If not, you might consider joining dozens of boats from around the country who will be heading to the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port for the annual Easter Boat Gathering (30 March to 2 April). If this sounds like you then the entry form is now available online or you can call the museum on 0151 355 5017 to book your place.

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

We’re now into the second half of our £38million winter restoration programme – where 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

  • From March 2018 those with a boating business will be able to manage their licence requirements using our online licensing system. Existing business licence holders will be able to renew online as well as update their details and make any amendments to their licence requirements. Please note that if we have your email address then we’ll be in touch that way so keep an eye on your inbox!

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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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