David: Boating at last

Published: Saturday, 24 April 2021

GOOD to find that our boat is still useable after six months of being banned from going near it.

Pity the same can't be said of the system. I have to agree with the various correspondents berating CaRT for the large number of serious stoppages at the beginning of the season; in nearly 50 years of boating I cannot recall anything like as bad.

That said, I do think that CaRT are their own worst enemy when it comes to stoppage notices. They list every single stoppage without any real attempt to grade them for seriousness, so that a trivial notice about a bridge inspection, which is not closing either canal or towpath, gets just as much publicity as a long term closure of the Llangollen.

Perhaps they should review how they list stoppages, making it easier to distinguish between those which aren't really stoppages at all, those that last for less than a day and only affect people in the immediate vicinity and the serious ones which affect long term planning of routes.

Plague of broad boats

CaRT's attempt to regulate the use of the Oxford Canal north of Braunston by broad boats by restricting them to certain times and requiring booking seems to have failed. Tied up at Willoughby the other day was a large broad boat, which looked as though it had been there a long time, displaying no number, licence or name.

One of the new rules is that broad boats do not tie up anywhere on the north Oxford, being permitted only to transit to a marina. While we were tied up at Willoughby on a Sunday afternoon a different broad boat went past—Sunday afternoon is not an approved time for their transit.

Despite CaRT's obsession with notices (and a lot more blue ones have appeared over the winter) there is no notice at the junction saying what the rules for broad boats are. Rather than publishing rules and then not enforcing them, why don't they simply install a seven foot 'pinch' under Bridge 89 (the first bridge 90 is on a blind bend so would not be suitable) and physically prevent broad boats from using a canal that was not designed for them.

Vegetation management

One thing that CaRT has done over the winter, in the Braunston area at least, is to cut back the towpath edge vegetation, about which I have complained repeatedly. It has also dealt with the worst of the offside vegetation so cruising is rather less of a branch dodging exercise. I look forward to finding that this policy has cleaned up other areas where vegetation was a problem.

They will have to keep on top of the job though, since the rootstock of the young trees is well embedded in the bank and will doubtless regenerate.

David Hymers