We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

News article created on 18 November 2016

Boaters' Update

Welcome to the latest edition. Before you dive in to the articles, and if you were one of the many who got in touch in response to the article on cruising past moored boats, thanks! It seems to be a hot topic and I’ve summarised what’s been said below.

Gloucester Docks Nov 2016 Gloucester Docks Nov 2016

Welcome to the latest edition. Before you dive in to the articles, and if you were one of the many who got in touch in response to the article on cruising past moored boats, thanks! It seems to be a hot topic and I’ve summarised what’s been said below.

Along with that you’ll find out how Mike Grimes, head of boating, got on when he was asked to answer the questions you’ve most frequently been asking the customer service team. There’s also a great video reflecting on how waterways were used in wartime and, as usual, a list of the maintenance, repair and restoration work that may affect your cruising this weekend.

The usual latest boating news and upcoming events are 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,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

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

  • 7 Nov – A beautiful stretch of Nottinghamshire’s waterways has been named in a leading national magazine as one of the nation’s best waterside spots – can you guess where it is before clicking on the link?
  • 8 Nov – A knife, tyres, bike frame, wheel clamp, scaffolding poles, and even a set of keys and a wine glass, were amongst a bumper haul as volunteers and Trust staff deep-cleaned Little Venice.
  • 8 Nov – The 200-year-old Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal underwent an important health check, with engineers from the Trust painstakingly inspecting the 3¼ miles of Britain’s longest and deepest canal tunnel.
  • 10 Nov – We joined up with the People’s Postcode Lottery to launch a competition inviting primary schools to design a habitat for wildlife inspired by those found along the nation’s canals and rivers.

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:

  • 20 Nov – Why not treat yourself to a nice Sunday lunchtime roast and, to make up for the pudding you couldn’t resist, take a stroll along the towpath with the IWA from King’s Cross to Camden.
  • 26 Nov – Elland Bridge was damaged beyond repair during the Boxing Day floods last year. The arch was fractured and the road surface above collapsed so the bridge was dismantled brick by brick and is being rebuilt. During this Open Day you’ll be able to take a tour around the mammoth bridge works, including walking across the new bridge, learning about the modern and traditional skills need for this project.
  • 26 Nov – 60 or so miles to the south west, at Lock 72 on the Trent & Mersey, you’ll find another free Open Day in Middlewich where you’ll learn about the works we’re doing to repair the lock chamber including replacing the bottom lock gate.
  • 26 Nov – By the time you read this there’ll be no more than 37 days until Christmas so don’t be surprised when you see Father Christmas out on the waters of the Chesterfield Canal and the Dudley Canal Tunnel.

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.

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Cruising past moored boats – your view

First and foremost, I’d like to reiterate the thanks given in the intro to all of you who got in touch to share your thoughts about this topic. The volume and passion conveyed clearly showed that this is more than just a bug bear for many of you. On the other hand, some think it’s much ado about nothing.

Boats at a city mooring at nightThere’s not enough space to include every response here but if you’d like to read all 12 pages then here they are.

So, what did you say? In summary, 58% of respondents thought that most boats go too fast past moored boats and 74% said you should be at tickover when passing moored boats (with 10% adding that some situations such as strong crosswinds prevent slowing to tickover).

Interestingly, nearly a third (32%) said that, ultimately, it’s the moorers responsibility to ensure their boat is securely tied up. Those are the hard statistics but, for those who haven’t the time to read all the responses, here’s a summary of some of the advice, suggestions and opinion given:

  • Why not install "speed-guns" and cameras in vulnerable locations?
    As a community of boaters we have wondered about introducing signs asking other boaters to slow down when passing moored boats but are unsure how to go about this. Perhaps your other contributors may have more experience with this?
  • I am an instinctive slow-down-to-tickover boater, but if there is a serious wind blowing across the cut, then I may need to pass moored craft faster than would otherwise be ideal, in the interest of maintaining way. In other words, if CRT are not to close windy canals, perish the thought, the lesser of two evils is to chug through at something a bit quicker than tickover, rather than arrive sideways as the happy moorers are tucking into their boeuf bourguignon.
  • Whilst I do slow down for moored boats, I don’t see it as my responsibility to cater for circumstances that are the responsibilities of others (mooring correctly) and I don’t see this as being selfish.  If anything, it is selfish of others to expect me to pander to them.  We should take at least some responsibility for ourselves.
  • May be speed humps are the answer!
  • On my mooring a spring is fitted (normally pulling the stern forward to ease boarding), primarily because I moor in an area used by rowers who are allowed to achieve 6 mph. Although this does not stop the boat from rocking, it does prevent the boat from rubbing back and forth along the bank.
  • Watch the reaction of the boat you have just passed. If you see a lot of movement or hear it bang against the side, you need less speed next time. Imagine that there may be a boater in there who has just stepped into the shower. Think ahead and slow down please!
  • There is no excuse for boaters on permanent moorings who tie up with several feet of slack mooring lines; we have had boats moved 4ft towards us when the lines have been too slack and that is on tick-over, the only way you pass such boats without causing excessive movement is in neutral; is that reasonable when passing anything up to 2 miles of moored boats?
  • My general approach when nearing moored boats is to start to reduce my speed several boat lengths before I get to the moored boat, typically but not always, about 5. I will pass a little above tickover as by reducing my speed too much I could lose steerage. I then, if I can, watch that boats ropes. If they start to tension I slow down even more. I try to imagine that my wife, or somebody’s wife, is below their decks about to lift off a boiling kettle. A boat going too fast could well lead to a nasty scold.
  • On rings or hooks I will now invariably use springs as well as fore and aft lines.  (Springs absorb more of the shock and tend to change a moored boat’s fore and aft movement to a gentler in and out movement.) When using pins, in anything but the hardest of ground, I will use a spread, double pin arrangement.  (This spreads the load and reduces the risk of a pin being pulled out.  One pin through the eye of another is not much use as it doesn’t spread the load.)  If it is a troublesome location for speeding boats, I also use springs.

I would have liked to include more comments but the above covers the most frequently mentioned points. If you’ve got the time do have a read of them all.

Reading through the responses the two main messages from the majority were that slowing to tickover a good few boat lengths before reaching moored boats was good practice and, if you’re mooring up, try using springs.

Do you agree? If not, do let me know why!

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Head of boating Mike Grimes’s monthly column

The last few articles from Mike have mused about a busy summer, the hectic winter of maintenance ahead  and the series of Open Days that are now in full swing. For this edition’s contribution Mike has chosen to answer the questions you’ve most frequently been asking our customer service team.

Mike Grimes“Just one flick through any edition of Boaters’ Update underlines how broad the boating topic can be. With this in mind I wasn’t quite sure what questions to expect when it was suggested that I use my monthly column to answer the ones you’ve been asking the most.

“Thankfully no-one asked which two-stroke diesel engine is best or which metal polish will keep a tiller pin gleaming for years to come. I could have guessed at the second but my answer to the first would have gone no further than ‘a reliable one…’

“More thankfully, the thing most were keen to know is how you can update your boat details online – name, mooring, insurance details and so on – I know this one!

“There’s a handy online licensing website that you can use to do all of those things. If you’ve not already registered it only takes a few minutes and from there you’ll be able to keep everything right up to date.

“The second question you’ve been asking a lot is, now that it’s getting to winter and you’re taking your boat out of the water, how do you let us know and get a refund for that part of your licence (and how long will it take to come through)?

“You can let us know that your boat is out of the water using the same online system I mention above. With refunds it’s hard to be exact as sometimes we’re busier than others, but we’ll usually issue it within 15 working days and then it’s down to your card provider as we try to reimburse the card used to make the licence payment, which can take five working days, otherwise it’ll be issued in the form of a cheque.

 “There were two final questions which relate more to your time on the water. Firstly, and particularly relevant considering the winter repair and restoration programme is in full swing, you’ve been asking how you can find out about any stoppages or closures that may affect your cruising.

“The best way is to use the stoppage system on our website – search by canal, and/or dates, and it lists anything (including lock opening times, booking details etc.) that affect navigation or towpath use.

“The final commonly asked question was about winter moorings. More specifically, how do you know which spot is yours when you turn up at your designated winter mooring location?

“Individual boats aren’t allocated a specific stretch. There’s space at each site for the number of permits sold so it’s just a case of turning up and finding a spot within the signed stretch that suits you best!

“Phew, that could have been a lot tougher! In my next column I’ll be looking back at the highlights of this year, my first full one as head of boating, and looking ahead to what lies in store for 2017.

“Happy boating.”

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

War on the waterways

A week ago the country stopped to remember those who served in previous conflicts and wars. To coincide with this, our heritage team produced a video to share their stories of how war has left its mark on our canals and rivers.

You may also be interested in reading our annual Waterways Heritage Report that was published yesterday (17 Nov) – if you love the wonderfully colourful history of the canals then you’re likely to enjoy reading about how we, along with volunteers, have cared for it over the last year.

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

What went in wrong in October

If you’ve read the heritage report linked to in the article above you’ll see that we have hundreds of buildings and structures that are centuries old. So, from time to time, things will unexpectedly go wrong.

To give you a better idea of what we dealt with in October I’ve summarised the reasons we had to close navigations – when combined there were only 30 instances of unplanned stoppages, with 25 of those coming from Abbey Lift Bridge on the Montgomery Canal which, for safety reasons, can’t be raised but we are working on a fix.

Four other unplanned stoppages were in the Manchester & Pennine region where we had to fix a hole in the bed of the Trent & Mersey and, at another location, remove a large tree that had fallen into the canal.

The only other one was in London on the Regent’s Canal where we had to do some emergency repairs to Acton’s Lock.

For the curious among you, we classify a closure as anything which stops navigation for more than four hours. If you’ve signed up to receive stoppages you’ll notice that we categorise them in to general reasons, such as repair, inspection or vegetation.

Of course, when we’re dealing with such old structures it’s not always as straightforward as ‘repair’ so we offer more detail in the body of the stoppage notice. But, in case you were wondering, here’s a handy guide to what we classify as a repair, maintenance, inspection and so on.

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

Now that we’re deep into this winter’s major restoration and repair programme, the list of works that may affect your cruising is quite long if you actually planned to traverse the whole of the network this weekend!

So as your cruising will be confined to a particular region of the network I’ve provided links below to the respective stoppages. Just click on the one where you’ll be and a webpage will open listing the stoppages for that region. If you’re not quite sure which region your planned cruise falls in to please take a look at this map.

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

  • There has recently been a rise in reports of fly tipping in and around the rural areas of Solihull, including near the canal. Solihull Police is working with the Environmental Health Team to catch those committing these crimes but your help is appreciated. If you see anyone doing this, or come across dumped waste, please report them using the Police 101 number or phoning the council on 0121 704 8001.
  • In response to the last edition’s article about boat safety and security, a boater got in touch to suggest that SmartWater could also be a useful deterrent as well increasing the chances of getting back anything that’s been stolen.
  • If you’re considering a life as a continuous cruiser, or are already ‘living the dream’, you might be interested to know that we’ve recently published a wide-ranging set of frequently asked questions – if there’re any others you have but they’re not included then do please let us know!
  • 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.

Happy boating!

Damian

About this blog

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 important safety announcements and upcoming events.

Sign up to receive the Boaters' Update by email

See more blogs from this author