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News article created on 23 September 2016

Boaters' Update

Another edition packed to the brim with boating news and opinion - you’ll find references and news of everything from a, literally, labouring CEO and Batman all the way through to snakes and job opportunities – to be clear though, not job opportunities for snakes.

Dudley Canal & Tunnel Dudley Canal & Tunnel

Welcome to the latest edition. You may have noticed, going on the last few editions, that the enduring theme of late has been that there’s not been one! In the last six weeks we’ve covered everything from quagga mussels to renting your boat out (but definitely not to quagga mussels).

This edition’s the same. You’ll find references and news of everything from a, literally, labouring CEO and Batman all the way through to snakes and job opportunities – to be clear though, not job opportunities for snakes.

If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition, doesn’t have to be about superheroes or reptilia, 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:

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

  • 23 Sep – You were promised news of Batman in the intro – our very own Paul Wilkinson, ecologist aka Batman, will be giving a walk and talk around Earlswood Lakes reservoir to spot bats swooping and diving as they come to feed.
  • 24 & 25 Sep – It’s the Bi-Annual Parkhead Canal Festival organised by Dudley Canal Tunnel Trust and Worcester-Birmingham & Droitwich Canal Society – lots to enjoy including, boat trips, vintage vehicles and model boats.
  • 1 Oct – Enjoy a free family fun day out at the Nottingham Canal Festival and have a go at waterway activities, learn about the history of the canal or browse stalls for local handmade crafts. Lots of activities for children too!
  • 2 Oct – Venture to the bottom of the drained Long Eaton Lock chamber and find out more about the repair and restoration works being carried out. These include replacing the bottom lock gates along with repairs to the lock quadrant and approach walls.

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.

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Your questions answered

Boating rightly has a majestic image of tranquillity and escapism. But, if you’re reading this, you probably have more than a passing interest in boating and will have doffed the rose-tinted glasses a while ago.

Employee stood by boat on towpath using mobile phoneYou’ll know that, just like anything else in life, to escape to those moments of tranquillity you need to take care of the other aspects of boating – planning a cruise, filling up with water and licensing your boat to name a few.

So, to speed you on your way to those blissful boating moments, I thought it’d be helpful if I shared the questions, and answers, about boating that our customer service team gets asked the most:

Do I need a licence for my boat?

Yes. If you’re boating on any waterway managed by us then you’ll need one. There’s a dedicated section on the website that lists all the different types – short or long term, business, with a home mooring and so on. You’ll also find a handy guide on what you need to licence a boat (safety certificate and insurance), how to go about it and how much a private licence costs.

What waterways do you cover?

Lots! We currently maintain over 2,000 miles of waterways. As some will know, we’re currently investigating the feasibility of assuming responsibility for Environment Agency navigations, including the Thames. The best place to find out whether it’s one of ours is on our map – they’re clearly highlighted and, even better, you can zoom right in to see associated boating facilities. Which brings me on to the next frequently asked question.

Where is the nearest Elsan point or pump-out station?

As mentioned above, the best place to find this out is on the map. Besides learning where to get rid of your waste, you’ll also find details of visitor moorings, events, stoppages and winding holes and locks so it’s a great place to start when planning a cruise.

How long can my boat stay in one place?

It depends! In some popular locations we have visitor moorings ranging from 4 hour ‘stop and shop’ spots to 24 and 48 hours or 7 days so that more boaters get to enjoy that particular location. Where there’s no local signs indicating a shorter mooring time then you can moor up for up to 14 days. Of course, if you have a home mooring you can leave your boat there all year round if you really wanted to.

So, there you have it, four commonly asked questions answered. I hope to make this a monthly feature, with help from our customer service team, so if there’s a question you think readers would benefit from knowing the answer to then do let me know. Thanks!

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Head of boating Mike Grimes’ monthly column

In his last column Mike looked back on a busy summer. With his latest entry he turns 180 degrees to look ahead to the coming months.

Mike Grimes“I enjoyed writing my last column, delving into the wide variety of work that we did over the summer. I hope you did too because this time round I’m going to do the opposite!

“As you’ll know, we spend the quieter winter months getting our big toys out to do some big essential engineering projects. Don’t get me wrong, and as my last column showed, we do some hefty pieces of work during the summer but we try to limit these to avoid causing you any delays when all you want to be doing is cruising.

“So, what have we got planned this winter? I can’t list them all – you might want to have a look at the map and detail for your region by clicking on the links below – but thought I’d highlight some of the big things:

  • North Wales & West – Shropshire Union, Audlem flight, 4 Jan to 14 Feb 2017: Repairs and/or gate replacements at locks 8, 9 and 13.
  • North West – Leeds & Liverpool, Wigan flight, 7 Nov to 21 Dec 2016: Repairs and/or gate replacements at locks 72, 73, 81 and 84.
  • North East - Calder & Hebble, Horbury Culvert (near Netherton), 4 Jan to 17 Mar 2017: Construction works to completely replace culvert.
  • East – Coventry Canal, Glascote Locks, 23 Jan to 10 Mar 2017: Repairs and/or gate replacements at locks 12 and 13.
  • South East* – Grand Union, Lock 54 (Berkhamstead), 13 Feb to 13 Mar 2017: Replacement of the lock gates including repair to the towpath side wall.
  • London (inc. rivers Lee & Stort) – Regent’s Canal, Lock 4, St Pancras Lock, 16 Jan to 24 Feb 2017: Installation of a single span footbridge between the Triplets site and Camley Street and replacement of lock gates.
  • Birmingham - Tame Valley Canal, Aqueduct 7, Spouthouse Aqueduct, 9 Jan to 24 Feb 2017: Repairs to aqueduct and waterway walls.
  • South West – Grand Union, Hatton flight, 7 Nov to 16 Dec 2016: Repairs and/or gate refitting at locks 26, 28 – 30, 32, 33 and 46.
  • Kennet & Avon - Semington Lock, 4 Jan to 17 Mar 2017: Polyurethane resin injection to seal lock leakage.
  • South Wales - Monmouthshire & Brecon, Llangattock and Dardy Channel, 31 Oct 2016 to 31 Mar 2017: Relining channel between Br 115 and 116, concrete lining repairs between Br 118 and 122.

“The list above just scratches the surface and, inevitably with a 200+ year old network, there will be other things we have to fix in amongst it all (as highlighted in the last edition’s ‘What went wrong in August’ feature).

“The late autumn, winter and early spring months aren’t just about what we’re doing though. Now’s definitely the time to start preparing! Winter mooring permits go on sale in 10 days’ time, on 3 Oct, so if you’re planning on buying one it’s a good idea to register with the online booking system now and have a browse of what’s available.

“Aside from that, you might want to consider preparing your boat for winter as colleague and boater Debbi Figueiredo recently blogged about. Also, if you’re a member of a boating club or canal society and are planning on some festive events then do make sure you enter them into our events calendar for the wider community to see. You never know, a big man with a beard might turn up (see photo above right!).

“Happy cruising.”

*Please note that earlier this week the winter maintenance plans for the South East were modified. The dates for the works at Lock 39 (Aylestone Mill Lock) and at Lock 34 (Dunns Lock) have been changed so that we can also fit in much needed repairs at Lock 54 (Bishop Meadow Lock).

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Online booking service coming soon

From 14 November we’ll be introducing a new online self-service booking system which will allow you to book passage through some of the waterways’ most famous landmarks.

Once it’s up and running, if you’re planning trips through Anderton Boat Lift, Standedge Tunnel, Liverpool Canal Link, Ribble Link and Frankton Lock, or wanting to use Wigan and Ellesmere dry docks, you’ll be able to book up to two years in advance. If it’s popular then we’ll look to expand online booking to other bookable passages and dry docks across the network.

Sitting within the boater’s portal on our website, you’ll have 24/7 online access and it’ll remove the paper element of the booking process. You’ll know immediately if the booking has been successful and can track and change confirmed bookings online. Some things are staying the same: there will be no additional charges to those currently applied, and, if you’d prefer you’ll still be able can talk to staff who can book passage for you.

We’re still in the testing phase of development but will announce weblinks and a ‘How to…’ guide nearer the launch date so watch this space!

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Annual Public Meeting

As trailed in the last edition, we held our Annual Public Meeting in Birmingham earlier this week where over 80 guests came from around the country to hear about our progress over the past year and our plans and ambitions for the future.

Allan LeightonAllan Leighton, who was reappointed by our governing Council to serve a further term as chair, welcomed guests before chief exec, Richard Parry, gave an overview of achievements during the financial year 2015/16.  These included an increase in expenditure on the waterways and a growth in the number of people donating and visiting, volunteering, and adopting stretches of waterways.

As well as talking about future ambitions, the meeting saw director of asset management Julie Sharman give a presentation on the way we manage and prioritise maintenance of the unique network of 200-year old locks, bridges, embankments, aqueducts and other assets.

The Council met after the Annual Public Meeting where they considered topics including the possible impacts of Brexit and the potential transfer of the Environment Agency Navigations, as well as discussing an update on the work of the Waterway Partnerships.

The Council also ratified the appointment of four new Trustees to our unpaid board, which is legally responsible for overseeing the work towards our charitable objectives.  Dame Jenny Abramsky, Nigel Annett, Janet Hogben and Tim Reeve* replace Tom Franklin and Simon Thurley who conclude their time on the board, having served two terms as Trustees in line with our constitution (and Steve Shine who left the Trust early in 2016).

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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, 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.

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Bits and Bobs

  • 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

 

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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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