Victor: Shrinking

Published: Sunday, 23 July 2017

I WONDER if the waterway locks, after 200 odd years of use have about reached the end of their tether, as many seem to be shrinking.

In addition to the well known ones like those on the Aylesbury Arm and Wolverhampton 21, we now have problems with Filance, Sandiacre and Hurleston locks—the latter on its second, or is it its third shrink, all trapping boats that are that little bit over size.

At least we boaters can't get the blame for those—can we?  Mind you, it is not only boaters that are blamed nowadays, 'vandalism' is a favourite and of course often too little or too much rain, or even ice, but never, you will have noticed what is usually the real  reason—Cart's lack of maintenance. vigilance or skills—take your pick.

Normal practice

Here's a good one. Cart tell us that the the offside ground paddle is out of action on Hillmorton Top Lock on the Oxford Canal, then go on to tell us that—wait for it—the lock is fully operational!

Fully operational? Clever, eh?

Swing bridges

Alas, it is not only locks, but swing and lift bridges that now regularly fail, with the latest being yet another on the Leeds & Liverpool—Niffany Swing Bridge at Skipton, that gave up the ghost yesterday.

It has 'issues with the lock arm' we are informed.  Whatever that means.

Should not have done it

Though of course we cannot but feel for Dawn Samples whose boat was sunk in the Leeds & Liverpool by someone she hired it out to, it was really a silly thing for her to do.

Arranging the hire on the internet and being told he could not afford a deposit should both have set alarm bells ringing, but it seems the prospect of extra cash was a little too tempting. As the man was obviously a rank beginner should also have made Dawn wary. Trusting her 'pride and joy' to someone who obviously knew little about boating was really a bad decision. 

Coupled with the fact that her boat had a normal cruising licence that does not allow for hire for reward, so if anything happens there was no insurance—and there wasn't—makes the transaction a very stupid one indeed.

Perhaps others—and I know of two—who do the same, should take it as a warning.

Cost a great deal more

The suggestion that getting the sunken boat back to its former glory will cost £8,000 is way off the mark, unless Dawn wants to live in a stinking boat.  All the woodwork will have to come off and be cleaned, and whatever insulation is present ripped out and thrown away.  All the furnishings, bedding and curtains will be ruined by the filthy water as will any carpets, so they will all have to go, as will many other items such as clothing and such.

As to the engine, being in water for so long...  £8,000? It will hardly touch it.

Good idea

One boater tells me that given the behaviour of canoeists it would be prudent for boaters entering tunnels such as Foulridge to video their journey through the tunnel, adding that video evidence could be crucial in the event of any incident.

Vehicle dash-cam video cameras are cheap enough and would easily connect to the normal boat's 12 volts system, and then there would be no controversy.

Still they come

There was a ceremony at Anderton Boat Lift—yes, it was working—when Canal & River Trust gave itself an award. Well at least it gave its British Waterways Marinas Ltd  one.  But not any old award, but the top award.

I'm not very clear what the award was about, but we are told it was the winner of the 2017 Waterways Alive Award for Innovation & Productivity, that gives a live view of of customer data, delivering faster response times to queries, improved quality of service and it also allows customers to make payments and service their own account online.

To me, that is all normal business practice, and why it should get an award for doing what after all it should normally be doing, beats me.

The real reason?

Ahh!  But after this award, no doubt we will now often be told that British Waterways Marinas Ltd are 'award winning' marinas!  Is that what it's all about.

My regular readers will well know my feeling about awards, that are now being spread like confetti.

Still more

Cart has cottoned on to the fact of Green Flag Awards.  So we can expect lots of these, telling that the various canals are 'green'.

Of course they are—all go through the country, that is definitely green, especially at this time of year!

There were five more last week, so soon every canal will be described as 'award winning'—you watch! 

I just wonder what next?  Someone will think up something.

Victor Swift