David: CaRT telephone numbers

Published: Wednesday, 17 July 2019

IT IS welcome news that the CaRT enquiry number (0303 040 4040) is to be made available at weekends, but this change does not go far enough.

The number is still only available during office hours (less at weekends) and the need to contact them when boating is not restricted to office hours. There is an emergency number (0800 4799947) which is manned 24/7, but when you ring it you are treated to a long spiel to the effect that it should only be used if there is a danger to life or a pollution incident.

If your boat were say, stuck hard in the middle of a low pound at 6pm this would not be life threatening, but I would certainly not wish to postpone contacting CaRT until the office opened the next day.

They need to reword the opening spiel on the emergency number to make it clear that it can be used for any immediate problem out of office hours and publicise it more widely—at present only the enquiry number appears on CaRT notices.

A recent improvement to the enquiry number is that you now get through much quicker; previously you had to endure a lengthy fund raising pitch followed by an elaborate menu of options, before you were actually allowed to speak to anybody, now it goes through to a human being with commendable speed.


I was ringing CaRT in advance of a cruise up Napton Locks on the Oxford. A couple of months ago time restrictions were brought in on the flight in order to save water, but when I checked the CaRT stoppage website there was no mention of it, so I telephoned and eventually had it confirmed that there were no restrictions.

I am sure that I have not received an email cancelling this; I receive all the stoppage emails and read most of them (sad person that I am) and I would certainly have noticed the withdrawal of an important restriction like this one. This is not the first time that this has happened this year and CaRT are usually only too keen to send out notices announcing that stoppages have finished when it concerns trivial items like blocked sanitary stations.

The Grand Union

Our recent cruise down the Grand Union was originally intended to go to London, but in the event we turned round at Cowroast and returned. This was partly because of problems with crew availability, but also because once we were south of Milton Keynes I became increasingly depressed by the number of moored boats, most of them clearly residential, and I do not like constantly cruising past an aquatic slum.

Knowing that this would only become worse as we approached London, we turned round. Many of the moored boats were wide beam, which, whilst legitimate on the GU, clutter up the waterway even more than their narrow brethren, especially where the offside vegetation was bad; I lost count of the number of times that there was less than 14ft available opposite a moored wide-beam, sometimes there was hardly 7ft.

Aylesbury basinOne thing I noticed was how many residential boats (you can always tell, they're the ones with the wheelbarrow on the roof) lacked one or both fore and aft fenders. I believe that these are a requirement of the CaRT bye-laws and I would have thought it would have been an easy thing to enforce.

Perhaps this is why we are getting so many damaged gates these days—though I suppose if the continuous moorers never go anywhere it doesn't really matter.

Despite the above we had a very pleasant cruise. I haven't been to Aylesbury for some years and was most impressed with the new basin and the pontoon moorings in it, which you can use for 14 days, though it is a shame that the redevelopment meant the loss of the Ship inn.

I was slightly less impressed by the seven days bankside moorings, where the vegetation was waist high.
see picture.

vegetationThe Arm itself was in good condition, except for one unaccountably shallow pound and the one stretch which is badly obstructed by reedsthis has been like it for many years. Surely it must have got to the top of the dredging schedule by now?

The Wendover Arm was in excellent condition and not at all shallow as one pessimistic boater had warned us. The moorings at the end were peaceful and unpolluted by continuous moorerstoo far from a road, perhaps. We followed a wide beam hotel boat down the Arm that made it to the end, albeit slowly, and he was decent enough to apologise to me afterwards for being so slow.

It was the first time he had attempted the Arm, having checked in advance with CaRT and the Trust that it was okay.

RedLionNew image

When CaRT introduced its new corporate image just over 12 months ago it promised that signage would only be changed as and when it was necessary. This does not seem to have been honoured in the Milton Keynes area; every single black and white sign has been replaced with one in strident blue.

Though the prize for safety notices must go to the Red Lion at Fenny Stratfordvery succinct.
see picture

Apart from the time restrictions at Braunston, Buckby and Stoke Bruerne everything was in good order and we experienced no unexpected holdups. If only they could sort out the continuous moorers...

David Hymers