Victor: Not a murmur

Published: Sunday, 05 August 2018

I RECKON that all you boaters will agree with me that our waterways are in the worst condition ever.

Yet strangely, not a single murmur from any of the myriad of associations that represent you!  They must all realise that the mess the waterways are in relate to their ever increasing lack of maintenance. How many failed culverts—that are no longer regularly inspected? The breaches too, that no one now sees coming?  And the ever increasing leakage that is most certainly coming home to roost after a spell of dry weather.

Why are the many boaters' representatives not complaining? Not demanding that more be done? Not pointing out the poor management of the waterways. Not objecting to maintenance money spent on stupid non-waterway schemes?

We know why not a peep from the IWA, but what about NABO, RBOA and even the associations representing both the canal traders and the hire companies, for whilst their members must be suffering huge losses through these preventable closures the people supposedly looking after the welfare of hirers and traders remain quiet.

Even the usually very vocal National Bargee Travellers Association is silent.

No one seems to care. 

Still more

Cart is now well on a roll, bringing in restrictions to more and more waterways with locks and flights on the Oxford, Northampton Arm and Leicester Section (expected!) now being chained-up overnight.

Yet these times are not when the locks are actually being used, with very few boaters indeed then wanting to work the locks and flights in the evenings or early mornings, so really, what is the point?

The point my friends, is that as in the past this is the forerunner to closing the locks permanently. Cart believing this way it is showing it is doing something so that when it then closes the canal it is not seen as such a shock—that's what I was told by 'our man at Cart' anyway!

All waterways are open!

There was someone interviewing a representative from Cart on the BBC Breakfast Show who told that though the decision had been made to close the Leeds & Liverpool  the rest of the canal network was fully open!

That is real Fake News from what is fast becoming the experts.

The need for instruction

I think we must all feel for those that took their first boat out and sank it the first day in a lock on Bosley Flight.

Yet it shows yet again the need for some sort of instruction that is necessary before a newcomer takes a boat out on what really is a dangerous environment, though of course Canal & River Trust and British Waterways before it have always resisted giving the impression that there is any danger in boating on its waterways.

The better hire companies take great pains to instruct their customers, as we were so instructed over 20 years ago when we first hired a boat on the Grand Union Canal, someone from the company even escorting us through two locks and pointing out the dangers, particularly of being caught on the cill.

Not being aware of the circumstances of the Bosley sinking, I do not know if the owners of that particular boat had hired previously or had instruction, which under the circumstances seems unlikely, otherwise the person working the paddles would have realised what was happening and quickly dropped them, so preventing the sinking.

No chance

Time and time again I have suggested that Cart—that great believer in signs—should install something more that the word 'cill' on the ground as a warning.

Many just do not realise what it is for, our having been asked many times over the years as Canaltime hirers reach their first lock at Derwent Mouth where we often moor for the day, and ask what it means.

But alas, Cart does not want to give the impression that the cill is dangerous, yet the numerous photographs we have on file showing such sinkings, clearly show that it is, and very dangerous indeed.

Getting worried

Not many weeks now until early September when we have our usual fortnight's cruise, but where to go? Like I should imagine many other boaters all these canal closures are worrying as they are coming fast and furious so will there be anywhere left to go—or more importantly, to get back from?

Moored at Sawley on the Trent it may be a down river trip and back and then another river trip up the Soar to Leicester and back, as there is no way we will be going on beyond the city as we were nearly caught in its 'permanent closure' last September!

Perhaps we should cancel our normal boating licence and take out the much cheaper 'rivers only' licence like those many GRP cruisers that have taken over the marina.

Victor Swift