Boaters' Update

Welcome to one of the most ever diverse editions of Boaters' Update. With such a broad range of topics I hope most of you find something you like!

Heritage boat Kennet on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

I thought I’d introduce this latest edition with some questions: Are you curious about the signs that have been popping up around the network? Ever wondered what you can do to stop the spread of non-native wildlife? Have you thought about renting your boat out?

I could continue but I think those three questions alone typify the diverse range of topics you’ll find in this edition. There are plenty of other tangents so please read on as I’m hopeful that at least one of them will catch your fancy!

As always, if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition, or a regular feature you think will be useful, then please drop me a line. In the meantime, click on the links below to jump to the article of your choice:

Happy boating,


News round-up and the fortnight ahead

Since the last edition you may have heard, or seen, that:

And here are just some of the things happening over the next fortnight:

  • 12 to 14 Aug – It’s all happening at Ellesmere this weekend. The town’s festival is already underway with a huge range of activities as well as shopping opportunities. As part of it you can visit the Ellesmere Historic Yard and get a behind the scenes look at what we do.
  • 13 Aug – You have another chance of getting a behind the scenes look at what we do this Saturday with a guided tour of the Tees Barrage,where you’ll see how we control these massive structures.
  • 13 & 14 Aug – At the Long Eaton Canal Festival you’ll find a great range of activities for all the family to try – on or beside the water. Attractions include historic boats, activity taster sessions, boat trips, local craft stalls and more.
  • 13 & 14 Aug – Boat trips, dog shows and historical re-enactments are just a tiny fraction of the huge range of things to see and do at Blisworth Canal Festival.
  • 20 & 21 Aug – The well-established Brighouse Canal, Beer & Music Festival free event gives families a great time enjoying not only the canal activities but also a street food and craft market, live music and a real ale festival.

Of course, 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.


Going abroad? Don’t bring back more than you bargained for!

If you’re off in search of sunnier weather and new waters remember to Check, Clean, Dry to make sure you don’t bring back any hitchhikers!

Some of you may know that invasive non-native species can damage boat engines and props, block up waterways, make navigation difficult, and harm the environment. What you may not know is that you can unwittingly spread them from one water body to another. Animals, eggs, larvae and tiny plant fragments can easily be carried on equipment, shoes and clothing, and some can survive out of water in damp conditions for over two weeks.

Two examples of where this has happened are:

  • Water primrose is a highly invasive water weed from South America. In France, where it is widely established, it blocks waterways and overgrows ponds and lakes making it impossible to fish, sail or move in them. Several million euros are spent there each year trying to control the existing populations. Here in Britain it is only found in a few sites where it is under eradication. If it were to establish widely it would cost many times more to manage.
  • Quagga mussel was discovered in Britain in 2014. Like the Zebra mussel it can grow in dense clusters which block pipes and smother boat hulls, propellers and other structures, and significantly alter whole ecosystems by filtering out large quantities of nutrients.

Once established in a new waterbody, invasive species can become unmanageable. You can help to protect the canals and rivers you cruise on by remembering to Check, Clean, Dry:

  • Check your equipment, clothing and footwear.
  • Clean everything thoroughly before you return, use hot water where possible.
  • Dry everything as some species can live for over two weeks in damp conditions.

For more information visit


Renting the right way

Whenever I meet up with a boater we’ll spend a good few minutes, as you do, chatting about more general things. This might be a critique of some offside vegetation spotted on a recent cruise or a review of a recent canal festival.

Simon ChouffotIncreasingly though there’s been a recurring topic – those that I speak to are reporting that they’re being asked about living aboard and, in most cases, how to rent a boat.

With the above in mind we thought it’d useful if we spoke to a boating landlord who rented their boat out and shared their experiences with you. Step forward Simon Chouffot (right), a boat landlord on the Regent’s Canal.

How did you get into boating?

I wanted an alternative way of life and an affordable way to live! I didn’t know anyone who lived on board but when I was looking into different ways to live I realised that boating had everything I was looking for. I wanted to have the freedom to travel place to place, the chance to stay in some beautiful countryside as well as right in the centre of town.

How long have you owned a boat?

I’ve owned a boat for six years.  I did all the original fit out myself – I bought a new shell but did everything else from scratch.  I’m pretty hands on!  One of the things I love about boating is how close you are to everything: if something goes wrong or there’s something that needs doing, you can sort it out for yourself, or there’s a great community who can help you out.

Why do you rent your boat out?

After three or four years I had got tired of constantly cruising – I wanted a mooring of my own. I spent time researching areas where I might be able to set up a mooring of my own. This site at Gainsborough Wharf was my third attempt, and everything seemed to come together. 

Once we got the go-ahead from the Trust, my business partner and I got to work with the build: putting in new pontoons, building sheds (I’m very proud of these – they’re made out of larch which is really strong and a classic wood for waterside use) for the facilities as well as offering extra storage for the boats, seeding planters with native foliage, getting into debates with the environment team about what sorts of lights we could use that wouldn’t upset the bats…  We’ve now got seven residential moorings and one floating hotel – our boatel, The Palmer – along this stretch of the Regent’s Canal.

Has it proved popular?

Since the boatel opened its doors in February it’s had 90% occupancy – I found out recently that the industry standard you should base your business around is 70%.  So I’m pretty happy!  And the guests love it too. I get some great messages in the guest book – the other day someone wrote “She said yes!” in it!

How did you go about becoming a ‘boat landlord’?  Was the process easy to follow?  What support did you get from the Trust?

When I decided that I wanted to open a boatel, I knew I needed to talk to the Trust about getting it all set up properly.  It wasn’t simply a case of just opening up for business!  As I already had a residential mooring it was more about making sure that the boat was safe and that I had the correct insurance.  I talked to the Trust’s business boating team about what I was planning and they were really helpful in flagging up things I should be considering.  Overall the whole process was pretty straightforward – it didn’t take too long to go from applying to receiving the licence.

What ‘rules’ come with being a boater’s landlord?

It’s very different living on your own boat to renting one out – there’s lots more things to consider. The most important thing is safety. Once I had the right insurance and an enhanced boat safety check I spent a lot of time putting together a detailed handover document.  We also take our guests through how everything works when they come on board.  Then it was a case of fixing out the little niggles.  A boater knows their own boat: they know that hitting the boiler with a hammer a few times will get it working again, but you can’t say that to someone coming to stay!

Can anyone rent out their boat?

I’d advise people who are thinking about renting their boat out to be realistic about what they’re getting into. If it’s a B&B type operation like the boatel, it can take up a lot more time than you might expect: doing the handovers, all the laundry, cleaning things up, replenishing stocks, managing bookings…  I’d say you’ve got to be pretty organised and hands on to make something like this work.  But when it does it’s great!

For more information visit the ‘Renting a boat to live on or hiring out your own boat’ section of the website.


Marine Accident Investigation Branch calls for exhaust fumes vigilance

Boaters need to pay attention to exhaust gases, particularly petrol engine exhaust fumes if they can smell them in the boat’s cabins because they can contain carbon monoxide (CO) in quantities that will harm or kill warns UK Parliamentarians and the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS).

The call follows the publication of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch safety bulletin concerning the recent deaths from CO poisoning of two people on their moored motor cruiser in Norfolk. Investigations found that exhaust fumes from running the engine could blow back in and fill their boat’s cabin space within three minutes.

Jonathan Shaw, Chief Executive of Policy Connect and the former Minister for Waterways, had this simple message: ‘If you can smell exhaust fumes in the cabin there is an issue that needs your attention. If those are petrol engine fumes act immediately.

‘At low concentrations over longer periods it can cause long-term health and memory problems. Higher amounts of CO can kill in just a few minutes.’

Graham Watts the BSS manager said: ‘CO is a colourless, odourless gas, hence the well-known silent killer tag, but you can smell the fumes from the exhaust, so that is why we promote the simple advice if there are exhaust fumes in the cabin, find out why,  act to stop the problem and don’t put it off.

‘Safe boating is to understand and take control of all risks. This includes knowing about the CO risk and being able to recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning.’

‘The symptoms of poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning as the toxin begins to take effect, these include headaches, nausea and dizziness. As time passes and, or the amount of CO builds, you may suffer chest pains and breathlessness leading to seizure, unconscious. So the early recognition of the symptoms is critical, but if nothing is done, death can happen quickly.’

‘Our records point to the fact that those new to boating may not be so aware of the CO risk as experienced boaters. If you know someone new to boating, why not have a chat about CO and point to the safety advice on our BSS website.‘


Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

While we work hard to protect the 200+ year old network of canals and rivers and keep them in tip-top condition, it’s not always possible. The list below is what we already know will affect cruising over the coming weekend. This list highlights those instances where, for one reason or another, cruising won’t be possible.

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.


Bits and Bobs

  • Can you help us keep our maps up to date? As many know we’ve developed a simple online form for boaters to report any differences they spot between our maps and what they come across out on the cut. I blogged about it a while ago – read now for more info! Your help is greatly appreciated…
  • Over the last few weeks a few of you have been in touch to ask why we’ve been putting up banners at waterside locations to announce the location and who we are. Well, one of the things we’re keen to do in 2016/17 is raise awareness of the Trust – many millions cherish the waterways in one way or another but they don’t know always know that, if they’re by one of ours, that we’re a charity and would love their support. So, now you know!
  • Strong Stream Warnings, usually at an entry point to a river, give boaters advance warning of adverse conditions. To help make these warnings more accessible we’re trialling a system where, via some gadgets that I don’t understand, we display them on our website. We’re at the early stages of the trial and only have a few locations online so far but if you do have any thoughts on them do get in touch.
  • Please keep your eyes peeled for a boat that was stolen from Mercia Marina on 11 July. The boat was not sign written. It’s a 50' NB cruiser stern in dark blue, maroon and cream stripes and a cream roof. It has a distinctive metal curved stern. It has the Stenson logo SB laser cut into the steel. The boat has a TV aerial roof mounted, flat white plastic disc type with a telescopic aerial. If you think you might have seen it or want more identifying details please email
  • If you can spare a few minutes please take part in a survey to gauge the level of demand for boaters wanting to visit London together with their interest in being able to pre-book a short-stay mooring ahead of their arrival. The survey closes in just two weeks’ time on 26 August.

Happy boating!


Last date edited: 22 May 2017

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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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