We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

News article created on 9 September 2016

Boaters' Update

Welcome to the latest edition of Boaters' Update where you'll find out what we unexpectedly had to fix in August, what your fellow boater said about cruising in London and much more besides including news, events and this weekends stoppages.

Bingley 3 Rise, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Bingley 3 Rise, Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Welcome to the latest edition. I think we’ve now entered that strange phase of the year where it’s still not cool enough to stow the shorts nor reliably warm, or dry, enough not to have a coat too far from the tiller.

As full time liveaboards will confirm, canals don’t ‘stop’ when the fair-weather crowds thin after the summer. Many leisure boaters also revel in a fresh and frosty winter morning cruise too! Like both of the former, things don’t slow for us either during the colder months, quite the opposite in fact.

We do hope you find the time to come along to one of our Open Days, details below, to see what we’re up to. On the note of things that affect cruising, and in a first for Boaters’ Update, I’ve included an article that looks back at some of the unexpected things that we responded to in August to minimise the effect on cruising.

If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future edition, 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 this weekend then you might be interested in:

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.

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

What went wrong in August

Did you know that the oldest motorway in the country is still less than 60 years old? Bear with me. And, how many times have you had to slow to a crawl or completely divert from the M1 because of roadworks? Lots I bet.

The reason for the seemingly abstract introduction is to highlight that even with relatively ‘young’ infrastructure there’s usually something that needs fixing. As a boater you’ll know that most of the waterway network is 200 or so years old so, and from time to time, things will unexpectedly go wrong.

While we do our best with planned preventative maintenance, we aren’t yet equipped with a crystal ball to predict exactly when that tree will fall or when a paddle will be accidently left open.

So, and as suggested by a couple of boaters, I’ve summarised the reasons we had to close navigations in August. For the curious among you, we classify a closure as anything which stops navigation for more than four hours.

Hopefully this will give you some insight:

  • There were 55 unplanned occasions when we had to close a navigation (and another ten due to circumstances outside of our control)
  • If you were in the South West & Severn region or the North West then you may have noticed that none of these were in your area!
  • Over half of the total stoppages (31) were in the North West and due to bridge or lock repairs. One bridge in particular, Plank Lane Swing Bridge, has been the cause of 27 of these as we wait for an essential part to be delivered (although we have been opening the navigation for a short period most days to let boats through)

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.

If you’ve any thoughts on the above or have a suggestion as to what other information would be handy please do let me know as I’m planning on making this a monthly feature!

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Improving customer support for boaters

From early 2017 our enforcement team will become the boat licence customer support team.  This reflects the team’s ongoing focus and share of the time they spend supporting customers to meet the terms of a boat licence to stay on the water.

As Mike Grimes, head of boating, explains:  “As part of the evolution of becoming a charity, we’re highlighting the emphasis we’re putting on supporting boaters.  That includes improving the ways in which we communicate and interact with boaters as well as being there to help facilitate the support that’s available from external agencies for those in need.

“For the vast majority of customers it’s about being there on the towpath or at the end of a phone to help them keep their licence rather than the minority where enforcement action is the unfortunate last resort.

“The team is always there to talk so if you’re having problems do get in touch.”

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Survey shows demand for pre-bookable moorings

As some of you will know, over the summer, we carried out a survey to gauge the level of demand for boaters wanting to visit London’s bustling waterways together with their interest in being able to pre-book a short-stay mooring ahead of their arrival.  Thanks to the many (1,400) who View of Regents Canal / Corbridge Crescenttook the time to respond.

The survey showed that perceived pressure on mooring space was putting some off visiting London.  Of the 27% of respondents who hadn’t visited the capital by boat, 85% said it was because they weren’t certain they’d find a place to moor. There was appetite for an increased range of mooring options, with 59% of all respondents saying they’d consider paying for a reserved mooring.

The results also showed:

  • 73% had visited London by boat, of which 45% had visited in 2016 and 18% in 2015.  10% had visited before 2010.
  • Most visiting boaters moored on general towpath moorings (64%) or visitor moorings (63%), with 14% stopping on paid private moorings.
  • 59% of respondents said they would consider paying for a reserved mooring, with most boaters saying they’d pay £10 a night.
  • When thinking of cruising into central London, having a safe and secure place to moor was important to 92%, while having a guaranteed place to moor was important to 74%.  63% wanted to moor close to local services, attractions or transport links while 50% thought it was important to moor close to boat facilities.

Matthew Symonds, from the boating team comments:  “We’ve had a great response to the survey and I’m pleased that boaters have got in touch to share their views, both positive and negative, of boating in the capital. It looks like being able to guarantee a mooring spot will give many boaters peace of mind and encourage them to visit.  Taking this into account we’re planning to trial pre-bookable short-stay mooring spots at Rembrandt Gardens in Little Venice later in the year. We will be announcing more details soon.

Boats moored in Paddington Basin“We’ve also had a lot of feedback on how we can improve boating in London, and I’d like to thank the 923 boaters who shared their thoughts. It’s no surprise to see that boaters want to see more facilities, and we’re doing what we can to find suitable places to put them. Boaters also want to see more mooring spaces and rings and we’ve worked hard to get funding to install rings along 3.5 km of canal over the past two years, creating or improving around 195 mooring spots. We will continue looking for opportunities like this.  Also high on the list were requests to reduce overstaying and better enforcement of the rules. We’re going through the comments carefully and they will prove really useful in the development of our wider London mooring strategy, which seeks to meet the needs of boaters and others who enjoy these historic, and increasingly popular, waterways.”

“And, while we’re on the subjects of London and surveys, if you’re currently cruising in the capital please do keep your eye out for an invitation later this month to take part in a survey which aims to give us a better understanding of who’s on London’s boats and what they want out of boating so we, and our partners, can better meet their needs.”

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Maintenance, repair and restoration work affecting cruising this weekend

While we work hard to protect the 200+ year old network of canals and rivers – check out our plans for this winter - and keep them in tip-top condition, it’s not always possible (see above!). 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.

………………………………………………..................................................................................................

Bits and Bobs

  • Regular readers will have seen that over the summer I’ve included an invitation in this section to anyone who wanted to help us keep our online maps up to date. This has included both waterside facilities and a survey of winding holes (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.
  • As talked about a few editions ago, we’ve published the list of available winter mooring sites and we’ve now stuck all of the accompanying maps online so you can get a better idea of their location.
  • If you’re regularly searching for boating associated gear then you might want to bookmark a new website - www.canalsonline.uk – although in its infancy, the site plans to become the online compendium of all things boating!
  • A boater recently got in touch to ask that I make a mention about lock landings. The feedback was that, increasingly, the boater in question is noticing more and more boaters tying up on them and using them as regular mooring spot. So, we’d echo his request that boaters should only use lock landings if they’re using the lock.
  • And finally, I just had to share news of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust’s plan to fight back against the railways that started the gradual decline of many canals around 150 years ago. If you haven’t guessed already, the plan is to restore the Newent train station platforms, which are still in situ, and run the canal between the platforms – see image below. Inspired! You can find out more about its plans at an open day tomorrow – more details here.

 Newent Station with canal through platforms

Happy boating!

Damian

 

About this blog

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

See more blogs from The boaters' update