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News article created on 20 October 2017

Boaters' Update 20 October 2017

Welcome to the last October edition of Boaters' Update. There's a very eclectic feel below with news of two consultations (licensing and London), the world's oldest working steam engines, the first designs of the GOODBOAT guidelines and a tart to name just a few. Enjoy!

Bridgewater autumn Bridgewater autumn

It’s quite unlikely that there was much ‘shepherd’s delight’ as the red sky earlier this week gave way to a stormy night. Some trees did Tree blown across boat Oct 2017succumb and fall across canals (and boats, see right, thankfully it was only the paintwork that was damaged). At the time of writing we’ve pretty much cleared up Ophelia’s mess… Just in time for the winds that the southern half of the UK is expected to see tomorrow

If you were one of those with hatches firmly battened, hunkering down from the storm, then maybe you used it as an opportunity to give us your views on how we should licence boats in the future.

If not, don’t worry, you’ve still got plenty of time to send in your thoughts – more on this below. Along with news of the licensing consultation you’ll find the first versions of the ‘GOODBOAT’ postcards, a recipe, the usual news round-up, this weekend’s stoppages, and ways in which you can get involved. If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition then do get in touch.

In this edition:

Happy boating,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

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

Below I’ve picked out some (some spooky!) highlights to see and do over the next fortnight. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network: visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.

  • 21 & 22 Oct – Go to the Stourbridge Navigation Trust’s 32nd family-friendly annual open weekend which will attract well over 100 boats, traction engines and classic vehicles along with lots of amusements and a craft fair.
  • 22 Oct – Whose duck can swim the fastest from Wales, across Chirk Aqueduct, to get to England first? Come and cheer your duck on its way at perhaps the world’s only International Duck Race.
  • 23 - 31 Oct – There’s a whole week of Halloween fun at Standedge from activity trails and discos all the way through to kids yoga!
  • 28 Oct – Music, food, a licensed bar and fireworks fired from the River Weaver will light up the night sky over the amazing Anderton Boat lift.

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Time to have your say on the future of boat licensing

We're asking all boaters and boating groups to take part in the final stage of our consultation on the future of boat licensing.

A series of licensing options have been published based on the feedback given by boaters in the first stages of consultation held during the spring and summer. We've now emailed or written to all licence holders and other boating groups and organisations to invite them (and you!) to take part. We will then put forward a final proposal, including details of when any changes will come into effect.

The options being consulted on include:

  • Licence considerations for wider beam vessels on the waterways.
  • Consideration of the range of licence discounts offered to different customers.
  • Considerations in respect of the Prompt Payment discount.
  • Considerations for short term licences.
  • Licence considerations in respect of mooring status.
  • Impact of any changes following the consultation.

Ian Rogers, customer services and operations directorIan Rogers, our customer service and operations director comments: "The consultation sets out to get boaters’ views on the future of boat licensing, including how to make sure that the important financial contribution made by boaters is spread fairly across the boating community. 

"We’ve been pleased to see so much interest in the consultation from boaters and I’d like to thank everyone who’s taken part so far.  Now we’re asking for the entire boating community to take a look at the proposals we’ve developed as a result of these conversations and let us know their thoughts.  Nothing is set in stone and we’re still open to new ideas so we welcome any and all feedback.

"All our boat licence holders will receive either an email with a link to the consultation, or a letter inviting them to take part.  We want the consultation to be as accessible as possible and, for those boaters who may not have easy internet access, we can provide paper copies either by post or from our offices.

"I’d urge boaters to read through the proposals and tell us what they think.  We want to work together with the boating community to shape a licensing system that it simple and fair."

Coventry Canal in the autumnBoaters have until 18 December to respond to the consultation.  After the closing date the Trust will draw up a final set of proposals to be approved by the charity’s Trustees.

If you see a link to the consultation survey somewhere online please don’t click on it! Links to the survey are specific to individuals to prevent one person or group submitting multiple responses and, potentially, skewing the results. If you haven’t already received your invite, or are having problems completing the survey, then please give customer services a call on 0303 040 4040 and we’ll get it sent to you.

More information about the boat licensing consultation, including reports from stage one and stage two, and the stage three proposals, can be found here: National Consultations

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Your boating guidelines 

Mooring in autumnMore of you have been in touch to suggest some tweaks to our GOODBOAT mnemonic, thanks. The feedback you gave was positive and constructive but, as you might expect, it wasn’t all suggesting the same changes.

To accommodate the varied views I’ve developed a few different versions. Aside from the wording, please don’t think that the designs are the final either – I’ve just mocked up a few so that it’s easier to visualise the end ‘product’.

The first version is the one the one that reflects the most broadly suggested rules. Let me know if you like this one the most.

This second version reflects a suggestion made by quite a few  that it should be extended to ‘GOODBOATER’ which enablkes a couple of further guidelines to be added. Let me know if you like this one the most.

This third and final version again uses the extended ‘GOODBOATER’ mnemonic but the last two guidelines are different. Let me know if you like this one the most.

In case you missed it, below each version is a link to express your support for that particular option. Simply click on it and an email will open, then just click send – you don’t have to add anything to the email (unless you want to!).

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What went wrong in September

In this regular feature we look back at the things that we had to unexpectedly fix to keep the canals and rivers open for you to enjoy. We carry out planned proactive maintenance to try to keep canals and rivers in tip-top shape.

There were 16 separate stoppages that closed a canal or river for more than four hours. Only five of these extended to more than 48 hours - subsidence at the Marple Flight (Peak Forest Canal), low water levels on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union and emergency lock repairs on the Ripon, Huddersfield Narrow and the Ashton Canal.

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.

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More ways for you to 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, I thought you’d like to know about other ways you can get involved:

  • If you read the last edition then you may recall the excellent article sent in by a fellow boater about towpath foraging. Keith gave an insight into the wide range of dishes he’s been able to create just from foraged produce. Well, if that wasn’t encouragement enough for you to get picking then maybe this Crab Apple & Rosehip Tart recipe from another boater will inspire you.
  • Many will know, especially if you boat in the capital, that we’ve been working on a dedicated mooring strategy for London’s ever-popular waterways. A broad range of users have been helping with this and the proposed strategy options are now online. Please do find the time to have a read through and let us know what you think – the consultation runs until 18 December.
  • Canal restorations are long, arduous and usually only possible with the dedication and passion of volunteers. Much like the mid-20th Century canal visionaries, there’s a whole band of organisations and groups around the country able to see past the effort and appreciate that the fruits of their labour will be handsomely rewarded. That’s exactly what’s happening on the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal. The ‘Owd Lanky Boaters Group’ is now working with us, along with the Lancaster Canal Trust, on the restoration from Tewitfield to Holme Village. Of course, not all of you are based in Lancashire and will be able to sign up to help them! However there is a handy resource that’ll show you which is your most local restoration project

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Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

Keeping your canals and rivers ready for you to enjoy is a year-round job. From time-to-time this includes some major engineering that means we need to temporarily close the navigation. Below you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happening that may affect your cruising.

Just click on the one where you’ll be and a webpage will open listing any stoppages for that region (if your region isn’t listed then, yay, there aren’t any navigation closures there!). If you’re not quite sure which region your planned cruise falls in to please take a look at this map.

Please note that in the past if you’ve wanted stoppage notices for the Leicester line, and associated arms, then these were selected separately (rather than as part of the Grand Union Canal). However this has been changed so if you are planning on cruising the GU and want to receive notices for the Leicester Line then please log in to your MyTrust account and check the box next to Leicester Line which you’ll now find under the GU. If you already receive them you’ll continue doing so.

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. If you have any questions about a specific closure then you’ll find the email addresses for our regional offices on our contacts page.

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Bits and Bobs

  • River Canal Rescue (RCR) is asking people to vote online for the company and help it win the People’s Choice category at this year’s Midlands Family Business Awards.
  • In the last edition I mentioned the use of ash buckets and that hot ashes should not be dumped in or under hedgerows. A couple of boaters have rightly pointed out that I should have been clearer – once full of hot ash, buckets or caddies should not be kept inside your boat as they will be giving off Carbon Monoxide (CO). Instead they should be left in the open air on a heat resistant surface and not anywhere that will permit the emitted CO to be blown into your boat.
  • Congratulations go to Ivor Caplan who has been elected as the new chair of the Inland Waterways Association.
  • Congratulations also go to the oldest working steam engines in the world at Crofton Beam Engines. It has been awarded more than £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help secure the future of the steam driven engines once used (and occasionally still does) to raise the summit level of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
  • If you cruise the Tamworth area please note that due to the imminent relocation of our old Fazeley office to central Birmingham, the customer bins have already been removed and the Elsan facility is likely to close in the near future. We appreciate that these are key facilities so the local team wants to thank those in the area for their patience and make you aware that they are close to agreeing alternative facilities close by.
  • After receiving reports of 'knock off' versions I thought you'd appreciate a head's up - if you want a pump out card (or sanitary station key, for that matter) that works please don’t buy cheap copies. Either get them directly from us or one of a limited number of chandleries who sell items on our behalf and, if you’re not sure, give us a call (0303 040 4040).

Happy boating!

Damian

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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 important safety announcements and upcoming events.

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