Boaters' Update 3 May 2019

Read the latest Boaters' Update to find out about alien invaders, saving water on your cruise, Crick Boat Show and our plans for maintenance this winter along with the usual roundup of the latest news, events and stoppages.

Montgomery Canal - Aston Locks

Welcome to the latest edition. It may just be me but this year seems to be flying by! We’re already in May and the mercury is steadily rising. With that in mind this edition starts with more ways in which you can help make the network’s water last longer this summer (and, of course, what we’re doing to help with this too).

Elsewhere, and with only a few weeks to go until Crick Boat Show celebrates it’s 20th anniversary, you can read about what’s on offer. You’ll also find out about alien invaders and how you can help control their spread, along with the regular latest news section, stoppages and events!

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

Happy boating,

Damian

In this edition:

News round-up and the fortnight ahead            

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

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

  • 3 to 6 May – St Richard’s Canal Festival (on the Droitwich Barge Canal) is a great weekend for boat owners and vintage car enthusiasts, and will be back again this year taking place in Vines Park and the Town Centre in Droitwich.
  • 4 to 6 May – The colourful and vibrant IWA Canalway Cavalcade festival in Little Venice is back once more to bring you a fun weekend for all the family.
  • 11 & 12 May – Why put up with the hustle bustle of the high street when you can get your retail therapy on the towpath at Market Drayton?
  • 11 & 12 May – As you’ll see when out cruising, roses and castles painting is still very popular, and if you head along to Stoke Bruerne, you'll get the chance to have a go yourself at this two-day course.

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How to make water last longer

This time last year we were heading in to the hottest and sunniest May on record. The heat didn’t truly break for another three months. With the record breaking warmth, and dryness, water levels suffered.

Summer boatingOnly a couple of weeks ago another record was broken as we basked in the sun on the hottest Easter Monday on record. So it’s rather good that, over the past few editions, we’ve been discussing how to save water while out on a cruise.

It goes without saying that your time afloat would be greatly affected if there wasn’t enough water in the cut. As most boaters know, there are a few key habits that make a big difference to how efficiently water is used:

  • Share locks wherever possible
  • Close all gates and paddles once you’re through the lock
  • Report leaks so we can focus our efforts on fixing those that have the biggest impact

Apart from fixing leaks we’re working hard to keep water levels up in the areas that need it most.

On the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, between Barrowford Locks and Gargrave, we’re controlling use of the locks to ensure that they’re being used efficiently and that they’re all secure at the end of the day.

Similar controls will also be in place on the Grand Union and Oxford Canals at Watford, Foxton and Buckby from next week (6 May).

You can find a whole bunch of advice on our water saving hub but before going there how about one final tip from a fellow boater?

Rather than making your own ice cubes with water obtain some reusable ice cubes which can be frozen time and time again. Advantages are you save water (a small tad) and your drink doesn’t dilute. Cheers!

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Alien invaders

From 13 to 17 May organisations across Britain, including us, are coming together for Invasive Species Week. Although it sounds like a celebration, it’s not, we’re raising awareness of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) and, hopefully, inspiring people, including your good selves, to take action to prevent their spread.

Zebra mussels in line on rockAnimals and plants from around the world have been introduced to Britain by people for hundreds of years. Many are harmless but 10-15% aren’t and become invasive – harming the environment, impacting the economy, while some can even pose a risk to our health and the way we live.

On our waterways Japanese knotweed and signal crayfish cause serious damage to structures; floating pennywort blocks navigation; and giant hogweed can cause harm to people.

INNS cost Canal & River Trust. We have to control their growth and repair the damage they cause. Some, such as Japanese knotweed, can seriously increase the complexity and cost of a simple maintenance job. Sometimes we also have to put in place special measures or restrictions such as temporarily closing a navigation so we can clear away something that shouldn’t be there which, for you as a boater, can bring added frustrations.

As you may know the spread of many INNS is due to human activity. This can be as seeds, bits of plant or young animals on people’s clothes, equipment and boats; or through the dumping of plants in the wild. Often it’s done without even noticing.

A type of INNS you may be seeing growing on the bottom of your boat are zebra mussels. They may seem harmless, but they will grow on any hard surface and can reach such densities that they can block pipes, paddles on locks and water intakes. They can attach to a boat moving at 3mph and will attach, and stay attached, to a prop, increasing drag. This will cause our waterways issues.

They are widespread across the network now and there is currently nothing we can do to manage or eradicate them. And a new INNS mussel species has recently been found in the south east: the quagga mussel. They are smaller than zebras but we’ve still had reports of them blocking the water cooling intake pipe for engines. Ideally, we’d like to prevent them getting out of the south east and limit their impact on our waterways.

Of course, it is difficult to clean a boat of INNS as it usually stays on the water. That said, there are some general rules you can follow while moving around and especially if you go on to other waterbodies. You can help stop the spread with the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ philosophy:

  • Check the boat, equipment and clothing for mud and live organisms - particular in areas that are damp or hard to inspect.
  • Clean everything as thoroughly as you can, pay attention to fenders, prop and the lip around the boat.
  • Dry, drain water from every part of your boat, and dry everything for as long as possible before using it elsewhere. Some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.
  • If you are getting your boat lifted out of the water, for reblacking or transport, please ensure that ALL the hull is jet washed including the bottom. This should be done as soon as it comes out of the water.

If you ever do take an INNS out of its habitat, under the law it is illegal to put it back. This applies even if that INNS is common in the area. An INNS taken out of its habitat must be placed in a location that prevents it getting back into that habitat or another e.g. floating pennywort will quickly dry out if left on dry land and Himalayan balsam will quickly die if pulled out and placed on a hard surface. With animals there is no requirement or expectation to dispatch them, just to stop them spreading or returning to the water.

Check, clean, dry poster

Visit the dedicated website for lots more information on INNS and Invasive Species Week.

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Crick Boat Shows 2016 & 2017

Since early January I’ve been charting the history of Crick Boat Show to celebrate its pedigree as the show, in three weeks time, marks it 20th birthday. In this edition it’s the 2016 & 2017 shows…

2016

It was a wild start to the year, especially in the north, with widespread flooding. This turbulent start would continue as the year progressed; there was an EU referendum, Leicester won the Premier League and we had a change in Prime Minister after David Cameron resigned.

Respite could be found on the back pages though as Chris Frome retained the yellow jersey in winning the Tour De France for the second year in a row and Team GB had its best medal haul in over a century, coming second in the medals table at the summer Olympics.

The waterways suffered in the previously mentioned floods (which came to be known as the Boxing Day Floods) with the Calder Valley, particularly the Rochdale Canal, bearing the brunt and sustaining millions of pounds worth of damage. Thankfully the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, celebrating its bicentenary, remained largely unscathed.

While the floods could be seen as a depressing low point of the year, Crick Boat Show, in contrast, could be the high. Over 27,000 attended and, of those, 6,500 visited the Canal & River Trust marquee – some visitors came to talk to the reincarnation of James Brindley as he celebrated his 300th birthday!

2017

CRT marquee Crick 2017The following year, as if trying to outdo its predecessor, wasn’t especially quiet either. The Queen had a double celebration – a sapphire jubilee and a 70th wedding anniversary (platinum if you’re interested) but, although relatively big news in most ‘normal’ years, they were quickly crowded out by Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap general election. For the third time in a row the Conservatives won the most seats but would now have to administrate in a minority government as they lost their majority in Parliament.

It was also the year in which Britain went a whole day without using coal power – the first time since the industrial revolution.

Out on the cut it was far quieter, perhaps the ideal place to escape the hullabaloo of a general election. If you were one of the lucky ones to escape to the water you may have been found, for the first time in a generation, being welcomed back to the Bow Back Rivers after a ten-year transformation project.

Crick Boat Show was a record breaker. There were more visitors than ever who enjoyed browsing the stands of more exhibitors than ever. It was lauded as a place to meet like-minded friends (or even make new ones).

This year will be no different. Whether you want to wander around show-boats, buy new gear for your boat, enjoy a free boat trip, educate yourself with a seminar, or brush up on your boating skills you’ll be doing it with others who share your passion.

There’s now only two weeks left to book your advance tickets and save up to 15 per cent on the entry price for the event. It takes place at Crick Marina, near Daventry in Northamptonshire, during 25-27 May, with an extra Trade & Preview Day to be held on Friday 24 May in association with LeeSan.

Thanks go to Waterways World for its help in providing archive material for research.

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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, and life better by water, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:

  • Next week we’ll be uploading a list of the major repair and restoration projects we plan to work on next winter, while the cut is quieter, and we’d love to hear what you think of them. After this we’ll consider your comments and amend our plans as required. You’ll then get another chance to have your say.
  • Talking of stoppages, also from next week you’ll notice a change in the way they’re displayed on website. Following feedback from you, and with the help of a working group, we’ve made it easier than ever to find out if there’s any work taking place on the route of any cruise you’ve got planned. You can use a map or a streamlined drop down list to find the bit of the network you’re interested in. After using the new system, it’d be great to hear what you think!

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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

  • This year’s national boat count saw the number of boats with valid licences remaining above 95% (at 96.5%) for the tenth year in a row. Thank you to all you boaters who pay your licence on time and contribute to the huge task of keeping our canals and rivers open.
  • Following a spate of call-outs where River Canal Rescue has come across inadequate or incorrectly-positioned bilge pumps, the assistance firm is urging boaters to pay more attention to their devices, reminding that two are better than one to keep a vessel safe. Read more on the RCR website

Last date edited: 3 May 2019

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