Batten down the hatches

Published: Friday, 08 May 2020

ANOTHER holiday looms this week-end with today a special one to commemorate VE Day.

And with glorious weather forecast for today and tomorrow we can expect the towpaths to yet again be thronged, helped by plenty of free parking at the empty canal-side pub car parks.

Little effort to stem such behaviour

RegentsCanalSundayMost of you will well remember this nationally circulated photograph of the Easter Bank Holiday of the towpath by the moored boats at Little Venice, so it will most likely be 'same again', as there has been little effort to stem such behaviour.

This means that the 5,500 continuous cruisers that Canal & River tells us it has on its waters must really 'batten down the hatches' and though it is impossible for those thousands of towpath users to isolate from each other and so pass on the coronavirus, at least the boaters can keep safe.

Sitting ducks

Though having to suffer raised temperatures in their boats as opening windows and especially doors, is a non-starter with unruly kids and dogs—having to be 'rescued' from boats that can be a sure coronavirus spreader.  For of course with the strict CaRT ruling that they must not move only in exceptional circumstances, they are sitting ducks.

In addition to the many articles published in narrowboatworld we receive much more personal information, not only from regular contributors but others that is not for publication, and from these it is very obvious indeed that the continuous cruisers are of the opinion that Canal & River Trust has let them down badly for seemingly caring little for their welfare.

The outcome

But what of the outcome?  So many retired people took to living on the waterways as the realisation of a dream come true, but it is proving anything but, with badly neglected waterways all too often closed and never ending stoppages, finding themselves stuck where they certainly do not want to be.

And now a virus is leaving them all too often at the mercy of an uncaring authority allowing throngs, of possible carriers, crowding past their homes on its narrow towpaths, most of which do not even conform to the rules of the two metres isolation width.

A virus, as everyone knows may, in one form or another be with us for years to come.  So what of those 5,500?  The future will be very different indeed...