Boaters' Update 19 May 2020

All the latest news regarding how coronavirus is expected to affect your boating in the coming weeks.

Tewitfield by Craig Hutton Tewitfield by Craig Hutton

Now that the Government has taken the first small steps in easing the lockdown, if you’re not already living aboard, you are now able to visit your boat, provided your mooring provider has agreed to support access, and go for a short cruise.

This update takes you through the key milestones out on the cut in terms of what activity you can expect to see and also a few reminders about important factors to consider as we all continue to follow Government guidance and strictly observe social distancing.

If you are in a high-risk group, and need to continue to shield or self-isolate, then special arrangements can be agreed with your licence support officer if you haven’t already told us.

Stay safe, stay alert,



Only visit your boat if you can answer yes to these four questions:

  • Have I confirmed with my mooring provider, e.g. marina, that I can access my boat?
  • Is my boat near enough that I can travel to and from it safely in one day (no overnight stays are permitted)?
  • Can I get on my boat while still strictly observing social distancing?
  • Am I, and my boat, in England (different rules apply in Wales)?

Some of you have been in touch to say that your marina is not yet permitting access. While government guidance does allow for private boating it is down to individual businesses to decide what actions they need to take to comply with government guidance and you should continue to deal directly with them.


Key boating milestones

This week you can:

Undertake short boating trips only– avoiding using locks and any staff-operated structures if possible – providing, as per current government guidance, you do not stay away from home overnight and return to your home mooring (where you have one).

Some considerations:

  • We have agreed with our vegetation contractor, Fountains, that they will restart their mowing programme this week, commencing 18 May. Both the Trust and Fountains are very mindful of the need to respect social distancing, and we need your cooperation to be able to achieve that. We ask that as mowers/strimmers approach you, please move out of their way and, if necessary, go into your boat to achieve the necessary separation as they pass. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause but it will only be as they pass you. With the grass having not been cut for a few weeks longer than is normal, it is likely that there will be more cuttings on the towpath than usual.
  • If you haven’t been on your boat for a while, to reduce the risk of polluting the waterway, or damaging components on your boat, you should carry out some basic checks. We’ve previously published an article on this.
  • If you are a liveaboard boater and in a high-risk group, shielding or self-isolating and have not already told us, please get in touch so we can provide more information and support as boat movement resumes.

From this coming Saturday, 23 May:
Mooring exemptions will come to an end and our guidance for continuous cruisers comes back into force. This doesn’t mean that every boat without a home mooring needs to move on this day, just that we’d expect you to move off your current mooring within 14 days (i.e. by 6 June).  

Some considerations:

  • Short-stay visitor moorings return to their summer stay times so please do not stay on these longer than stated on local signage.

From Monday, 1 June:
On this date, we anticipate that our navigations will re-open in full, subject to the consideration below, and you will be able to undertake longer journeys.

According to current Government guidance, those who do not liveaboard should not stay overnight at present. We will seek further clarification as to whether overnight stays will be permissible once full navigation resumes.

Some considerations:

  • Please bear in mind that it will take time to get the entire network fully operational, and booking for some passages and services will be required. Some sections may be closed for a further period. Our website will be updated with the details closer to the time.

From Saturday, 6 June:

You need to move your boat by this date. If you are unable to do this because you are self-isolating or shielding you need to ensure that you’ve told your local licence support officer.


Boat Safety Scheme extension

The suspension on BSS examinations has been lifted and new guidance for boat owners on preparing boats for examination in the time of COVID-19 has been published here: BSS Examination Preparation Linked to Covid-19 protocols.

As there is now a considerable backlog of boats needing to renew their certificates, the temporary extension to safety certificates for those craft requiring an examination has been extended until 31 July 2020 to provide all boaters awaiting their examinations with sufficient time to arrange this.

We strongly urge those who can to book their examinations to do so as soon as possible so that examiners can resume working in line with the agreed BSS Examination Preparation protocol, to start to address the backlog of examinations and keep the waterways safe for all to enjoy.

If you are a boat owner who is self-isolating or are in a high-risk group who is ‘shielding’ and whose BSS certificate has or is due to expire and require an examination, you should contact your licence support officer to discuss your circumstances.


Keeping you up to date with things that may affect your boating

As circumstances and guidance is subject to change, it’s important that we’re able to contact boaters quickly and reliably. Last week we were able to get in touch with the majority of boaters, via this update, within a few hours of the Government clarifying that private boating was permitted.

Those who haven’t registered an email address with us or those who have but have set ‘post’ as their preferred method of contact wouldn’t have received news of private boating being permitted until the message plopped through their letterbox today.

If you received Boaters’ Update and a letter through the post then you’ve probably fall in to the latter category.

To help us not only get the news to you quickly and reliably, but also save money, can you please log in to your boat licence account and check the following:

  1. Are your details correct (particularly mobile numbers and email addresses, which can change more regularly than postal addresses)?
  2. Have you provided an email address or mobile number to us to use to contact you about your boat licence/boating?
  3. Is your contact preference up to date (i.e. if we have an email address can we use it instead of mailing you a letter?).

If you know of a boater who doesn’t receive this update then please point them towards this webpage and it’ll take them seconds to fill in the basic form -

Additionally, as the waterways reawaken, we may come across one or two problems with infrastructure as it gets used for the first time in months. To ensure you get notified of any issues in your area, or on your planned route, please sign up for stoppage notices via your MyTrust account.


There’s a whole host of frequently asked questions about coronavirus and boating on our website. If there’s a question that’s not covered, please get in touch but note that due to a high volume of correspondence it is taking longer than normal to respond.

Stay safe, stay alert,


Last date edited: 19 May 2020

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