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News article created on 27 January 2017

Boaters' Update 27 January 2017

Hello and welcome to the latest Boaters' Update. In this final edition of January 2017 you'll find mentions of everything from golf carts and green hearts through to otters and overtaking. Enjoy!

Boating Buddy

Gulp. That’s January nearly gone already! As the days have flown by I’ve seen and heard colleagues beavering away (or should that be ottering away?) at one thing or another – everything from pulling golf carts out of the Grand Union to abseiling nearly 100ft to carry out vital work on the Marple Aqueduct.

Hopefully this edition will give you a flavour of the buzz of activity that’s going on across the country – you can get a taste of it first-hand at our St Pancras Lock open weekend - but it really is only scratching the surface. Aside from that you’ll find lots more below: we ask you to #showthelove, Mike Grimes, head of boating, looks ahead to the year and there’s an article on overtaking moving boats.

Of course, you’ll find the stalwarts of Boaters’ Update – 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:

Although the first article does cover the subject, if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see, or a regular feature you think will be useful, then please get in touch.

Happy boating,

Damian

News round-up and the fortnight ahead

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

  • 12 Jan – As hinted at in the introduction, we are on the lookout for ‘volunteer otter spotters’ to carry out the first formal survey into how one of the nation’s best-loved mammals is faring on Birmingham’s famous canals.
  • 13 Jan – We also hope to hear from visionary volunteers as our North Wales & Borders Waterway has launched a search for up to five new members to join its partnership caring for waterways in Cheshire, Shropshire, Powys, Denbighshire and Staffordshire.
  • 23 Jan – At the start of this week, a £1.5 million repair programme to refurbish Acton Swing Bridge, near Northwich, got underway.
  • 24 Jan – We are investing around £250,000 on essential repairs to the 200-year old Ashton Canal in Droyslden and Openshaw this winter.

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 these events:

  • Now to 31 Mar – To celebrate a record year of Santa boat trips, with over 8,500 people enjoying a visit to Santa’s underground grotto in the limestone mines, Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust is discounting its 45-minute boat trip tickets to just £3 for everyone up until the end of March.
  • Now to 19 Mar – The Puppet Theatre Barge perform the Red Ballon at Little Venice - this String Theatre production tells the story of a small's boy's friendship with a balloon and explores the poignancy of a child's imagination.   
  • 1 Feb – If you’re in the north west, and like your historic engineering, then you might consider the Chester Canal Heritage Trust talk: 'Industry and the canals, inclined planes, tunnels and shafts of Shropshire'
  • 4 & 5 Feb – History lovers in the south will get the chance to learn more from heritage experts, engineers and volunteers about St Pancras Lock on the Regent’s Canal during our Open weekend.

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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Overtaking moving boats

In the last edition I asked what you’d like to see in forthcoming issues of Boaters’ Update. Thanks to everyone who got in touch – there were plenty of suggestions as well as a few of you writing in with your own tips. If any more come to mind as you read this, then do let me know.

Lots of hire boats on the moveI thought I’d start with the most suggested topic – overtaking moving boats. Most who suggested this didn’t necessarily think it was a controversial topic, just that some clarification would be helpful. Here goes…

While we all appreciate that boating is not a race, some simply want to reach their destination a little sooner than others. However, unlike driving a car, the etiquette to overtake is a bit more refined out on the water.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you should only overtake another boat after its' skipper has signalled it’s safe to do so and on which side you should pass (usually left). Once this has been done it’s quite straightforward:

  • The boat being passed slows down (but keeps enough momentum to maintain steerage) and moves over to allow the other boat to pass.
  • The overtaking boat approaches and moves past the other boat slowly.
  • If you’re being overtaken it’s important to remember that your boat will be drawn towards the other boat – this effect will be felt most strongly just as the other boat’s stern clears your bow.

Ultimately, the navigation, or cruising, channel on most canals is too narrow to safely pass another boat. If there’s ever any doubt then it’s always best to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery!

I haven’t decided which suggested topic will feature in the next edition but, so far, the list consists of:

  • The dos and don’ts of generators
  • Etiquette around anglers
  • Etiquette around historic boats
  • Cycling etiquette – for boaters and for cyclists
  • Going through locks
  • The dos and don’ts of mooring
  • Condensation – how to ditch the damp
  • Hints and tips for maintaining your boat’s exterior
  • Boat blacking
  • How we drain a canal

If there’s something not on the list that you’d like to see, or tips and advice you’d like to give about one of the above, then do please get in touch.

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Head of boating, Mike Grimes’, monthly column

A colleague recently asked me what’s the best thing about boating. Up until that point I’d not really thought about the singular best thing. What with being head of boating though, I thought I’d better come up with a good, straightforward, answer. I couldn’t. Let me explain…

Mike GrimesMy first thought was that I have to clarify that boating is more than just an activity. It can be an almost ethereal experience. If you’re cruising in that fantastic light just after dawn, or as dusk falls, and you’re on a quiet stretch it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported back a century or two.

But then, equally satisfying, are the times when the boating community comes together. This could be at a boat rally, show or just in a more popular location. I can only liken the bonhomie to something you get when those with shared passions come together – think Glastonbury or the Hay Festival rather than a football crowd.

Finally, there’s that place in between the two where we escape to. That place is actually more of a feeling; in a long pound, where the mesmeric throb of the engine combines with the sun on your back to melt away the normal, everyday, stresses.

We all get different rewards out of boating. No doubt you’ll have your own best thing. And that was my answer – you only really know your best thing once you’ve been out on the water. Thankfully, some of you have already signed up as a ‘Boating Buddy’ so my colleague will be answering their own question soon.

On this note, we want everyone who works here at the Trust to know what it’s like for you who cruise, and live on, the waterways. It helps newcomers understand just how crucial boats and boaters are to our canals and rivers.

To this end we’re reviewing the way we manage the Boating Buddy scheme – we’ll get in touch with those who are signed up but even if you’re not, but have taken staff out on trips, then we’d really appreciate if you could take five minutes to fill in this survey.

And, just in case my colleague does go for a cruise on a quiet stretch and doesn’t experience the bonhomie I rave about, I’ve encouraged them to come along to this year’s Crick Boat Show – the biggest inland waterway festival in the country. There’s such a buzz about the place and I definitely recommend it as the venue to really feel the boating community come to life. Oh, and, buy tickets soon to get a 20% Early Bird discount!

I hope to see you out on the water,

Mike.

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Unpicking safe use of lock paddle gear

If you’re wintering in the sun (or, for our Australia-based readers, melting in the sun) or just haven’t cruised much over the past few months then you might like to refresh some of your locking skills by watching this useful video…

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Show the love

The industrial age, with its furnaces and factories belching noxious fumes, fuelled canalmania in the late 18th Century. Ironically it’s now the green and lush corridors of the modern waterway network that attract millions of people to them every day.

Boat moored in front of bridge on Lancaster CanalIn our more enlightened age we’ve come to appreciate that pollution, and its effect on climate, needs to be reduced to prevent lasting damage to our most cherished places. We’re doing our bit at the Trust – we have a Green Plan and over the last two years we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by 6.7%, partly by reducing the amount of energy we use and also by getting all of our energy from renewable sources. On the back of this, we were recertified to the Carbon Trust’s Standard.

Reflecting our commitment to care for the environment we’re supporting the #showthelove campaign. Next month, on 14 February, people across the country will make, wear and share green hearts to Show The Love for the places, people and life we want to protect from climate change.

As a boater it’d be great if you were to take part – simply make your green heart (there are templates) and display it somewhere prominent such as in your window. Then just moor up in the spot you want protected from climate change. If you can, take a snap and post it on social media with the hashtag #showthelove – if you’d prefer you can send them to me and I’ll stick them on our boating Facebook page.

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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!

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.

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Bits and Bobs

  • Are you a green fingered guru and like to garden aboard (however small a space you have)? If so, we’d love to hear from you about tales or tips for gardening afloat and what your horticultural plans are for this year.
  • In the last edition I mentioned that Gold Licences can be purchased at any point in the year – this is true but I’ve been asked to highlight that the licence runs from 1 Jan to 31 Dec and costs the same, regardless of when you apply during the year.
  • 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.
  • And finally, rock legend Dave Berry, famous for classic hits like The Crying Game, has been appointed as Restoration Ambassador for the Chesterfield Canal Trust. Congratulations Dave!

Happy boating!

Damian

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