Boaters' Update

The latest edition contains lots of useful tips and information such as how to cruise past moored boats, boat safety and security and this weekend's stoppages, among others...

Fireworks, courtesy of WDWParksGal Fireworks, courtesy of WDWParksGal

Welcome to the latest edition. We’ve reached that time of year again – it’s dark before dinner, the kids have had their Halloween fun and, after this weekend, the fireworks will go away until we welcome in 2017.

It’s timely then that my colleague, and liveaboard boater, Debbi Figueiredo has written a couple of helpful blogs about the things boaters might want to be considering at this time of year. You’ll find a shortened version of one of them below as well as a link to the other. Other than that you’ll find news of moorings at King’s Cross, details of how you can get in touch with us and lots more besides.

Oh and don’t forget, now we’re in to November, visitor moorings revert to a 14 day stay time limit unless there is a clear safety or other need to provide otherwise. Those not reverting to a 14 day stay limit will clearly say that the shorter than 14 day stay time applies all year.

The usual latest boating news and upcoming events are also below along with other bits and bobs. But, 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 get in touch. 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:

  • 26 Oct – A team of divers braved the cold to carry out important repairs needed to a canal lock which forms the gateway to Lincolnshire’s waterways.
  • 27 Oct – A major new UK wildlife project, to unlock the River Severn for people and wildlife, has just secured £19.4 million funding, including £10.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £6 million from the European Union LIFE programme.
  • 1 Nov – People in Birmingham and the Black Country were being urged to help combat illegal fly tipping along the region’s canals, after over £100,000 was spent tackling the issue in the last year.
  • 1 Nov – People local to the Pocklington Canal were invited to hear about exciting plans to improve important wildlife habitats and historic features on one of Britain’s most picturesque canals at a special event taking place on 17 November.

And if you’re wondering what you can enjoy on or by a canal in the next couple of weeks then you might be interested in:

  • 5 Nov – What’s better than fireworks on Bonfire night? Fireworks and lasers of course! Head along to Gloucester Docks for a dazzling display of both.
  • 5 to 20 Nov – Want to combine Coleridge’s classic tale of the ‘The Ancient Mariner’ with spending time by the water? Then look no further than The Puppet Barge.
  • 8 Nov – If you’re in the North and have an interest in freight by canal then don’t miss the opportunity to hear David Lowe of the Commercial Boat Operators Association give a free talk on the subject.
  • 11 to 13 Nov – Just a short hop from the Grand Union, at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, you’ll find the most intricate, many hand-crafted, model boats at the International Model Boat Show.

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.


Safety and security tips from a boater

Colleague and boater, Debbi Figueiredo, has been busy curating topical, and hopefully helpful, blogs about life aboard a narrowboat. When a new one is published I usually stick a link on the Boating Facebook page. I thought, seeing as the latest one was particularly well received, that I’d feature an abridged version here for those of you who may not have seen it.

Spooky Halloween canal scene‘If your boat is your home, you probably already take security pretty seriously and will have invested in decent locking systems and possibly even an alarm and GPS tracking system in case someone steals the boat itself. If you haven’t, it’s time to do it, there’s loads of good advice and systems out there if you surf the net.

‘Easy in, easy out?

‘Padlocks on hatches are always a dead giveaway to a potential thief that there’s no-one on board and it’s the work of seconds with a battery powered angle-grinder or a crowbar to open these. Try and replace padlocks with key, bolt and bar type systems that can be easily opened from inside the boat, but are much harder to break into from the outside.

‘"Beware of the Dog" stickers and alarm/tracker system stickers in the windows can also help as a deterrent, even if you haven’t got a dog or an alarm. If you do have a padlock system try to get the sort used on commercial vehicles and remember never, ever, ever have any padlocks on exterior doors or hatches if you are inside the boat. How would you get out in a fire?

‘Is it safe? Is it secure?

‘When you moor up somewhere new have a good look around at the surroundings in daylight. Are there places between the boat and any exit points from the canal towpath where someone can lurk and potentially creep up on you? What’s the lighting like, if any? Does it look like a safe place to moor? Are there houses close by or not? Do you know the postcode or nearest street name in case of an emergency? There's some good advice on the Metropolitan Police website.

‘Never leave your boat key in the ignition and never have your boat keys on the same keyring as your ignition key. Carry a whistle or personal alarm. When I’m scared I can barely speak, let alone shout for help! If you have a long and lonely walk along a dark towpath try and have a buddy system with another friend via mobile phone.

‘What to do if the worst happens?

‘If the worst happens call the Police first – 999 if the emergency is in progress and 101 after the event. Always report it and always get a crime number and ask them to forward the information to Project Kraken. If the Police don’t know there’s a problem on the towpath, they won’t be able to put resources into protecting us.

‘Your next call should be to your insurance company, depending on what and how much was stolen. They’ll need the crime reference number to process a claim which is why you should call the Police first.

‘Third point of contact should be the Trust via our incident reporting form. Just like the Police, we can’t put resources into making things better if we don’t know there’s a problem. If your boat has actually been stolen we can even help you find it by checking our boat sighting data.

‘Use the power of internet

‘Finally use the power of social media and the internet to try and get your things back. There are lots of useful boating groups on Facebook. On Twitter use the hashtag #boatsthattweet and check out internet forums too. Use the internet to search Gumtree, Ebay, and local classified sales type websites to see if anyone is selling items nearby that look like your stolen items, quite a few stolen goods have been found this way. If your boat's been stolen try not to panic too much. To the best of my knowledge there’s only been one narrowboat stolen on the canal network that disappeared completely and wasn’t found via the power of the internet.’

Thanks Debbi! To read the full article, and Debbi’s other helpful blogs, please visit the boating team’s blogging page.

If there’s a particular subject you’d like Debbi to blog about then do please let us know.


Getting you answers more quickly

In the last edition I included a short mention that we’re changing one of the ways you can get in touch with us. We’re making it easier for you to get your enquiries answered quickly by introducing a new web contact form.

A few of you have been in touch since then asking for a rundown of the different ways to get in touch so here goes:

  • Online contact form – The aim of the form is to funnel your question to the person most likely to be able to answer it. It uses a drop down menu to categorise queries and, seeing as it’s only been up and running for a couple of weeks, we’re keeping an eye on the types of enquiries so we can continue to refine it to make it as efficient as possible.
  • Local waterway teams – Sometimes your questions or comments will be geographically specific such as a broken water point or a fallen tree. In these instances, the local team will be best placed to help. If you don’t know which office is best to contact, just check this map to see where our waterway team boundaries are.
  • Local enforcement teams – On other occasions, perhaps if you’ve had a letter or message from us about your boat licence, you’ll want to talk to someone from your local enforcement team. This downloadable PDF contains all the regions and associated contact details.
  • Customer services – We love to hear from boaters and still have the same 0303 040 4040 phone number but you’re likely to find that your query will be answered more quickly if it’s channelled through either the web contact form or via a local team as, in essence, by doing it one of the latter ways you’re cutting out the middle man/woman!
  • There are other times when you might want to get in touch that aren’t directly related to boating. There’s a good chance that the best people to contact in those instances already have their contact details on our website whether it’s about volunteering, the environment or water-related issues.

Rather coincidentally, I was chatting to a member of our customer service team last week and was told that there was a significant increase in the number of boaters calling to declare their boat out of the water – did you know that you can do this, and much more, via the online licensing website?


Trial new visitor moorings at King's Cross

We’re introducing a trial stretch of new visitor moorings on the Regent’s Canal in King’s Cross following a consultation last year into how the space in this increasingly popular area can be shared fairly.

Moored boats at King's Cross in LondonSeven-day visitor moorings will be introduced between York Way and the Tiber Gardens pocket park while the remaining moorings up to Treaty Street will continue to be 14-day casual moorings.

To ensure safe navigation, the moorings in the area will be restricted to double mooring only, with a maximum of two narrowboats or one widebeam on a visitor mooring, and two rows of boats on the remaining moorings.

This trial is an interim measure while we develop plans for installing electric bollards along the stretch, and consider future mooring space allocation across the capital through the London Mooring Strategy. The trial will run for up to six months from November 2016 to April 2017.

All the local signage is being updated, including details of the stay times, a clear description of the location and the post-code and grid reference in case of emergencies.

Sorwar Ahmed, London boater liaison manager, said: "King’s Cross has undergone a massive amount of regeneration over the past five years and the Regent’s Canal is right at the heart of it. It’s become a popular place to moor for boaters from London and further afield and we have to find a way to manage the moorings fairly for all, while making sure there’s enough space for boats to cruise past safely. We consulted widely with the boating and waterside communities and these plans reflect the range of responses we received. We’re continuing to work on how London’s towpath mooring space can work best for boaters and we welcome feedback."

More information on the consultation and the plans is available here: King's Cross visitor mooring trial.


Cruising past moored boats

In the last edition’s ‘Your questions answered’ article I relayed the advice given by boaters on our Facebook page to the question ‘how many boat lengths do I have to allow to enable me to slow down so that I pass a moored boat on tickover?’

Image of narrowboat cruising past other boats on the canalThanks to those of you who got in touch about this. Considering the eloquence, passion and knowledge sent in I thought the wider readership might be interested in what’s been said:

‘I’m moved to comment on the quoted attitudes of some boaters regarding the speed that it is acceptable to pass moored boats. It is a reflection of society in general that people adopt a selfish attitude when considering their impact (sometimes literal) on others. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect boaters to pass moored boats at a speed that disturbs stability as little as possible, but apparently it is. A significant number don’t take any notice of speed limits at all, whether passing moored boats or not, and get quite abusive when requested to slow down. As to the onus being on the moored boat crew to tie up properly, this is a popular, yet totally fatuous, opinion. If ropes were steel hawsers they may stop movement of a moored boat, but ropes are elastic and even when fairly taut allow the boat to move significantly when passed at speed. The movement is not just a matter of comfort of those on board, it can result in pulled pins or chafed and snapped mooring ropes. More importantly, on a canalised river such as the Kennet & Avon the water level may vary massively depending on weather conditions, so mooring firmly can be suicidal. Interestingly, I have noticed that contrary to popular opinion hire boaters are not the worst offenders, if anything they are mostly the best behaved ones.’

‘Can I please take issue with the passing mooring boats comments. Firstly, the answer is, disturbance caused both when passing and approaching moored craft varies every time. It depends upon the width and depth of the canal, on how far away you are able to move past the moored boat and it depends upon how your particular hull displaces water. And a combination of all these come into play and will differ except for the hull of course. So generally, the best option is to observe boats as you approach and move past, and ask yourself if that would be acceptable if it was yours. If not, slower next time. Secondly, although the point about it being the moorers responsibility to be secured properly is well made, it rather misses the point that this is also an issue for boats on rings. Speeding boats cause considerable disturbance which when the line goes taught, arrests the boat, which then bangs back against the mooring afterward. And no, not everyone can, or should have their mooring lines as tight as guitar strings in this situation.’

‘Can I turn the question the other way around, “Why wouldn’t you slow right down for boats that are moored?” How do you know that the boat you are passing is securely moored? Maybe they are ‘novices’, maybe the boat is moored with mooring pins in soft, wet ground and the pins will pull out easily. Why are you in such a hurry that you won’t slow down, to tickover, a good boat length before a moored boat or boats?’

As you can read, there’s plenty of passion, advice and opinion in the three responses I’ve highlighted. It’s been a while since we’ve talked about this subject in any depth in Boaters’ Update and some readers will be new to boating so I’d like to continue the discussion – please send in your thoughts, advice (or general rant) and I’ll provide a synopsis in the next edition.


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 (at this time of year we’re out fixing a lot of the big things!), 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

  • Voting has opened in the Tesco Bags of Help campaign! Eight of our projects in London, South East, North East, West Midlands, East Midlands and on the Kennet & Avon, have been shortlisted to get funding of up to £12,000. Look out for the the in-store signs and please vote for the local Canal & River Trust project next time you’re in! Voting closes on 13 November.
  • Many of you will have seen that over the last few months I’ve included an invitation in this section to anyone who wanted to help us keep our online maps up to date (which I blogged about). Thanks to those of you that have! Your help is still needed though – just have a read of the blog linked above and there’s a link to the sites that we’d like boaters to cast their eye over.
  • If you like history and canals or perhaps the history of canals then you might like to vote for the Chesterfield Canal Trust who are bidding for funds from the Aviva Community Fund for a community dig at Staveley.
  • Congratulations go to River Canal Rescue which have been recognised as Medium Employer of the Year at the 2016 North West National Apprenticeship Awards – nearly 60% of its employees were, or are, apprentices!

Happy boating!



Last date edited: 10 November 2016

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The boaters' update

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