Welcome to the latest edition where you'll find news of plans to review how we licence boats, your response to last edition's mooring article and a feature on cycling and cyclists. Of course, you'll find the usual news roundup, latest canal closures and event listings.
Welcome to the latest edition. Firstly, a big thank you to the many of you who got in touch after reading the article on mooring in the last Boaters’ Update – there’s a summary of what you said below.
Secondly, I’d like to apologise for jumping the gun earlier this week when I posted on our Boating Facebook page something along the lines of ‘the weather is warm so turn off your stove, let it cool, and then clean out your chimney and stove baffle plate – it’ll help reduce the risk of chimney fires and CO poisoning…’
If you’re anywhere north of the midlands then you’ll have spent yesterday, Thursday, sheltering from gale force winds and, a bit further north, blizzards too. I hope everyone is OK and apologies again for tempting fate…
In this edition you’ll find the usual upcoming events and stoppages as well but, if there is something else you’d like to see, then do get in touch.
In this edition:
Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
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.
We are announcing the start of the first phase of an independent consultation about how boats are licensed on our waterways. The current licensing system has remained largely unchanged for more than two decades and is often cited by boat owners as being complex and out of date.
The consultation will be run by Involve, an independent charity specialising in public engagement. It aims to ask boaters the fairest and simplest way to split the important financial contribution made by the different types of boats and boaters towards the upkeep of the waterways.
The first step in a three-stage consultation is just starting. In stage one, Involve will interview representatives from the main boating organisations to find out their views on how the consultation should work and what it should cover.
During the second stage, which will run from April, Involve will host a series of in-depth workshops with boaters across the country.
The final stage will be a consultation for all boat owners to give their views on the options developed during the two previous stages.
Ian Rogers, our customer service and operations director, said: "The current licensing system has been in place for over twenty years. Boating has changed a lot in the meantime and we want to ensure the licensing structure is fit for purpose. Feedback from boaters suggests that many feel the current licensing is overly complex and can be perceived as unfair, and this consultation seeks to discuss these areas of concern.
"It’s more important than ever that we plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of our waterways so that boaters can continue enjoying them both now and in the future. With income from licensing playing an important part in the charity’s finances it is essential that it is spread fairly across all types of boaters as well as other income sources like property, utilities and fundraising. This is the most significant review of licensing in a generation and I welcome the fact that boaters will be helping to decide the shape of things to come."
Diane Beddoes, Associate at Involve, added: "We’re delighted to be able to help the Trust complete this important piece of work. Our brief is to apply our principles of transparency, inclusiveness and collaboration to ensure that boaters are fully involved in helping create a balanced and simple boat licensing system."
As mentioned in the intro plenty of you took the time to get in touch about mooring – it’s really appreciated. There are nine pages of responses which are well worth a read. For those short on time, I’ve summarised the four main themes you talked about:
Give us a wave
Without variation, those that mentioned it, said if you’re cruising past moored boats then a cheery wave is de rigueur. See page seven of the full list of responses for a great rundown of who in particular gets a wave from that particular correspondent.
A few pointed out that, indeed, there were already existing signals to relay your intention to overtake. The signals are found in ‘COLREGS - International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea’ which apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels.
Unless you’re a regular mariner and frequently toot your horn, the picture below is a useful reference. The dashes mean longer blasts of your horn and dots shorter ones. I've also saved the image below as a PDF so, if you want to, you can download and print it off.
Shuffle up and share
While not explicitly mentioned in the mooring article, a fair few of you talked about your pet hate – courtesy gaps at busy visitor moorings. Specifically, this is where a 10ft gap (sometimes more) is left between moored boats. One correspondent pointed out that you only need seven of these, combined, and you can fit another narrowboat on the mooring.
A great slogan has been mentioned before – shuffle up and share (mooring rings).
And finally, stickers inviting others to moor alongside were widely accepted as a good thing. The main downside was that no-one could seem to find where to get them. Well, one enterprising boater created his own, see below and page two of the full responses for ‘alternate’ designs.
Please do let me know if you’d like a standard format made available for download from our website.
Walk along any towpath and gongoozle the boats and you’ll see that a decent proportion will have bikes secured usually on the cabin roof or on the stern. It came as no surprise then, when I asked at the start of the year for article suggestions, that quite a few of you said you’d like something written about cycling.
As many of you will know we promote considerate use of towpaths via our ‘Share the space, drop your pace’ campaign. Our national towpath ranger, Dick Vincent, talks more about it in the video below. But, before you watch it, I’d like to draw your attention to a recent question on Facebook. It asked what you should do if the worst happens and there’s an accident or incident involving a cyclist
Having discussed it with colleagues, we came up with a number of different scenarios where the facts would determine a different course of action in each case, so it’s probably best to say that there is no single answer.
However, what I can say is, we are keen to encourage people to act in a safe and responsible manner when out on the towpath, so it’s always a good idea to inform us of an accident or near miss incident. You can do this in a number of ways and there is more information on our website. You can also e-mail the local team (check this page if you’re not sure who that is!) us with a query. This is useful as there are colleagues who monitor accidents and near misses nationally, to identify trends and local issues so we can take action where appropriate. You may also wish to contact the Police if you think a crime has been committed, in which case the Trust will be happy to co-operate whilst they carry out their investigation.
There’s a whole bundle of bicycling information, including great routes, in its very own dedicated section.
So far in this edition you’ve seen a video about the licensing review, another about cyclists and now, completing the trio, is one about the lovely Lancaster Canal filmed to coincide with the removal of 15,000 tons of silt and muck…
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!
So as your cruising may 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.
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.See more blogs from The boaters' update