Victor: Boatless

Published: Sunday, 25 June 2017

THE good news is that our narrowboat passed its MOT with no problems, but the bad news is that it is in dock with Mick & John at Trent Lock for new windows and a paint job.

When it was first built there was not a large choice of sliding windows, virtually all boats being turned out with top opening bus type hopper windows, that none of us preferred, wanting a window that opened as obviously do sliding ones.

At the time we purchased aluminium Channel Glaze that to put it bluntly were not much good—the aluminium of poor quality and quickly pitting, and the window locks on the smaller upwards sliding two windows falling off, and having to be held by two pegs, as no way could the locks be replaced.

Paint last yearThe paint job

It was six years since we last had the boat painted, at Kegworth on the Soar, and at the time I congratulated the painter on a very good job indeed, managing a good gloss on the finished product.

Talking to others we expected that this would last a good ten years, as it was an expensive job our wanting the best, with the old paint scraped down to bare metal. Yet it was early last year—after just five years—the roof started flaking and rust appeared underneath, resulting in our scraping large sections of rust off and re-painting, time and time again. 

The above photograph taken on the Caldon Canal last year shows the areas that had to have the rust scraped off that we re-painted. The photograph below was taken on Tuesday, showing how the paint flakes off.

Roof Jun2017Yet the sides of the boat are fairly good, with only the odd small bit of rust showing, most likely due to wear and tear, though rust is now breaking through on the front deck.

And though I for one thought we could get away with just painting the roof, Jan did not trust it with the other areas now showing rust, so plumbed for another complete paint job.

Personally I believe we made the mistake of having the boat painted in the winter, with the painter working under a plastic covered construction allowing the very cold air through the roof that caused the subsequent rusting, to my mind—for the want of a better explanation—the paint did not 'take'.

Already nationalised

The Morning Star championing the traditional narrowboat show at Braunston let fly with both barrels at the Canal & River Trust, stating:

'Sadly it is the fifth anniversary of one of the most devious examples of de-nationalisation by Cameron’s Tory government—one that changed British Waterways into the begging bowl wielded now by the Canal & River Trust charity in 2012.

Experienced and skilled canal workers have been thrown on the redundancy scrapheap and replaced by well meaning but unpaid volunteers'.

The Morning Star then wants 'the forthcoming Corbyn-led Labour government to renationalise' Canal & River Trust, which is something I just do not get as the Trust is under the control of the government and so not in private hands, so surely it is already nationalised.

Rings true

For all that, the statement that 'Experienced and skilled canal workers have been thrown on the redundancy scrapheap and replaced by well meaning but unpaid volunteers' certainly rings true, and I must admit it is well stated.

And well explains the current poor state of the system.

Here's a sickening tale

A male boater, sharing with man, moored at Willington on the Trent & Mersey contacted an examiner telling he wanted their boat testing for its Boat Safety Certificate and arranged a fee. The examiner duly arrived, but was amazed at finding that the last certificate was dated 2006, so had obviously expired in 2010.

This means of course that this pair had had no safety certificate, no licence or no insurance for seven years, obviously easily getting away with it.

The examiner spent a considerable time at the boat, having to move things about to do his work as it was in very poor condition indeed and had no option but to fail the test, but went to the trouble of explaining to the boaters what needed to be done, issued the paper-work then asked for the agreed fee, to which the one who had agreed the fee, of well over £100, blithely told him—"I have no money I can't pay you."

He made no offer to pay in instalments and refused to be taken to his bank, so the examiner realising that the boater had no intention of paying but obviously just wanted to know what was needed to pass the test, for free, walked away with nothing.

Personally I would have rang the police, for if that is not fraud, then I don't know what is.

Victor Swift