Welcome to the first edition of May. Lots of boating information including the latest reduction in licence evasion, a video guide to licensing your boat online, boating on a budget and much more besides!
It’s a great time of year with bank holidays coming thick and fast. We’ve another at the end of the month to make the most of and leading us into summer.
I know exactly where I’ll be for the next bank holiday – soaking up the sunshine (well, you’ve got to be optimistic haven’t you?) at the Crick Boat Show. I look forward to meeting and talking to as many of you as I can - more on this below.
For some people, Crick is where they buy their first boat and, if it is, there’s a video below about how you can use our online licensing system to get it all ready to go out on the water and news of how we’re making it easier for boaters to keep their boats licensed.
You’ll also find the usual mix of news and this weekend’s stoppages as well as ways in which you can get involved to help shape our plans for the winter restoration and repair programme. If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition, then do get in touch.
In this edition:
Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
It’s a busy couple of weeks on and around the waterways. You’ll find some highlights below but 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.
Forget the ‘terrible two’s’ or unidentifiable stains on your carpet and, of course, teenage strops. The adoptions being championed by the Canal & River Trust shouldn’t give you sleepless nights but they do mean a lot of love. In some cases, the ‘child’ will be over 200 years old but you might still find yourself talking about the birds and the bees!
The aim is for a quarter of our waterways to be adopted by local people. It’s part of our wider plans to ensure that the nation’s waterways continue to thrive and don’t fall back into the dereliction of the mid-twentieth century, when they were almost lost forever.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Trust, says: “Volunteering on the canals is a win-win for everyone. The love for the outdoors is very much alive across the nation, but there aren’t always easy opportunities to get stuck in. Waiting lists for allotments are testament to this, or the number of people who would love a garden but aren’t able to get one. Even outdoor volunteering experiences can be in short supply in some areas. We think our adoptions could provide an answer, benefitting you, the waterway and the community.”
Adoption groups will work in partnership with us to make their mile of waterway shine; anything from improving wildlife habitats and access for local people, to creating a linear veg-patch for the community. Each group works at least one day a month for 12 months and agrees the projects they want to prioritise to make their mile matter.
Make your mile shine
There are 170 amazing waterway adoptions already working across the country, including scouts, neighbourhood societies and schools as well as established boating groups and organisations. The aim is to get a quarter of our network (500 miles) adopted by 2025.
Richard Parry continues: “Our waterways are arguably as important today as they have ever been. They have evolved from freight highways to linear parks in our towns and cities. They are places for us all to escape – havens for both people and wildlife. But to make sure this valuable legacy thrives into the future, we need to capitalise on the huge pride people have in them and encourage groups to work alongside us to make it happen.“The nation’s waterways are enjoying a renaissance, with more visitors and more boats than even at the height of the industrial revolution. We see how much a stretch of canal is improved if local people are helping us to look after it, that’s why we’ve set this ambitious target for people to show their love for their local canal.”
Emptying sewage tanks, filling with water, Boat Safety Certificate, insurance, car tax, MOT, gas, electricity, water, TV licence and voting. That list is probably just the tip of the ‘must-remember’ iceberg for most of us. So, following feedback from boaters, we are reinstating an option for boat licences to be renewed automatically – one less thing on your list!
Licences which are due to start on the 1 June 2017 will fall into this process if applicable. All you need to make sure is that your licence details are up-to-date. You can do this via our licensing website and, if you want some guidance, there’s a video below to help.
We will continue to send a notice of renewal each year so you can check that your licence details are correct. The renewal will also let you know if any details are no longer valid and give you the option to opt out if a licence is no longer required. A message will also be sent if the licence was unable to be auto-renewed.
Amanda Crosland, our business support & licensing manager, said: "The option to auto-renew will mean there’s one less task for boaters to worry about. They won’t need to fill out the same form every year. We’re always looking for ways to make things easier for boaters and would love to hear any further suggestions."
Many boaters help keep canals and rivers open for everyone to enjoy by volunteering or donating. As you’re such an integral part of what makes waterways so wonderful, there’re always others ways you can get involved:
We all dream and if you’re reading this but don’t yet own your very own boat then yours may include doing just that. With this in mind, marina operator BWML will be using this year’s Crick Boat Show to demonstrate that the joys of the inland waterway network are accessible to those with a far smaller budget. It will be showcasing glass reinforced plastic (GRP) boats in a Budget Boating feature to show a cheaper alternative to narrowboats and widebeams for cruising the canals.
The annual event, now Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival, showcases the inland waterways industry with 300 exhibitors from across the canal world, and offers a fantastic day out for all the family with dozens of boats to look round, free boat trips, live music, children’s activities, a real ale marquee, and a large variety of food and drink stalls.
Rod Grant, head of retail, from BWML, explains: “Getting afloat doesn’t have to be expensive which is why we're going to show people how to get afloat for less at this year’s Crick Boat Show.
“GRP boats are frequently found on rivers, but given the correct beam they can also be a great option for cruising the canal network.
“With prices starting at £3,500, we will be exhibiting budget craft in differing sizes and condition to give a sense of what people can get for your money.
Mark Langley, technical editor of Waterways World, says: “Whether your ambition is to holiday on the inland waterways, check out all the latest products and services or even buy a boat, Crick Boat Show brings the canal world together in one marketplace and covers every aspect of boating life.
“This year we are delighted to be teaming up with BWML to advise visitors on the more affordable ways to get afloat. As well as being good value, GRP boats are easy to maintain, their motors can easily be exchanged and they tend to be shorter so their running costs are lower.
“We will also be advising people on all the other aspects of owning a boat that need to be budgeted for, including licences, moorings, insurance, Boat Safety Certificates and maintenance.”
Mark Langley and BWML will deliver a daily Budget Boating seminar at the Show, offering people the chance to find out more about affordable ways to get on the water and ask the experts questions.
Mark’s tips on getting afloat for less, include:
“Work out your budget in advance to consider what you’re able to spend and what you'd need to do to ensure your boat can cruise properly. If you’re buying an older boat, consider the costs of ‘doing it up’ too.
“A full survey comes in at £500-plus, which may be disproportionate to the cost of the boat you’re looking to buy. If you choose not to have a survey, then check out specific areas and take an experienced boater with you to spot things that you don’t.”
If you’re considering coming to Britain’s biggest inland waterway festival to learn how you can get afloat for less don’t forget that there’s also music, food, drink and stuff to keep the kids entertained so expect, at least, to enjoy a full day out (although you can fill three days!) Crick Boat Show will be open from 10am till 6pm every day except Monday 29 May, when it closes at 5pm.
Time’s running out – only two weeks left if you want to order by phone – to get discounted advance tickets so book now!
The annual national boat count shows that licence evasion has reduced by 0.7% overall in the past year to 3.7%, with 96.3% of boats holding up-to-date licences. This is the eighth year the rate has stayed below 5%.
Jon Horsfall, interim head of boating at Canal & River Trust, said: “Boaters’ licence fees contribute in helping us to carry out the huge task of keeping our canals and rivers open. It’s important that everyone plays their part and we are delighted that the evasion rate has reduced again this year. Our boat licence customer support team has done a fantastic job working with boaters to make sure they are licensed correctly.
“Unfortunately, a small minority continue to enjoy the benefits of boating on the waterways without putting anything back to fund their upkeep. In 2016/17 we had to remove 101 boats from our canals and rivers as they were unlicensed or in breach of our terms and conditions. There’s also an important safety aspect: if a boat isn’t licensed we can’t know that it’s safe, which could be a risk for both the boat owner and other boaters.”
The national boat count also paints a picture of the changing numbers of boats across the country. Waterways in London have seen an increase of 339 boats – an increase of over 9% – with numbers in the central East, the South West and the South East regions also rising. Boat numbers in the North, North Wales and Midlands have seen a slight drop.
Jon continued: “The popularity of the boating lifestyle in London remains high. Congestion aside it also puts a lot of pressure on the Capital’s 200-year old waterways: the facilities are seeing more use than ever before. It’s a challenge to meet the demands of this soaring growth but we are working with boaters, other stakeholders and canal users to develop a strategy that will help identify ways to address some of the challenges that it presents. We want the Capital’s waterways to work for all the boaters who know and love them.”
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 we need to temporarily close the navigation for. Below you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happen 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.
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