Falling back into the dark

With the end of British summer time we’re asking everyone using our towpaths to take extra care in the dark, especially new boaters heading into their first winter aboard.

Nightime view of canal between buildings towards illuminated bridge Worcester & Birmingham Canal at night

At the end of October we are plunged back into the dark during the late afternoon and evening until the return of spring. Accidents tend to peak during the first couple of weeks whilst we get used to the darker afternoons. Make sure you are prepared by giving some thought to your safety, both going to and from the boat, and to the security of your boat.

Buddy up

If you must walk down a dark towpath by yourself, try and buddy up with a friend by telephone. Let them know when you are going onto the towpath, and roughly how long you are going to be. Once you are safely onboard inside your boat, call them back to let them know that a search and rescue party isn’t required.

It’s probably best not to be seen talking on the telephone whilst you actually walk down the towpath, especially in areas such as central London where unfortunately some boaters have been mugged for their telephones and other possessions.

If you don’t have a friend to buddy up with on the telephone it’s worth carrying either a whistle or loud personal attack alarm. The ability to scream or shout can evaporate in a crisis so it’s good to be able to attract attention by making a lot of noise if you need to.

Slips and trips

Be careful getting on and off your boat in the dark, especially in slippery conditions such as rain and ice. Take extra care if you’ve been drinking alcohol or if it’s foggy too. It can be hard to see where the bank ends and the water begins.

Take care not to trip over your mooring ropes. Make sure they are visible both for your own sake, and the sake of other towpath users. If you haven’t got fluorescent or white mooring pin covers you can improvise by tying either light coloured plastic bags or fabric to your pins.

Every year people sadly drown on our network of canals and rivers. Don’t let it be you. Do have a read of our water safety advice.

Stay safe out there and if the worst happens please make sure you report any incident to the police and also let us know too.

Last date edited: 27 October 2017

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Our boating team bring you news of their work across our network, as well as the stories of boaters they meet

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