Victor: Overwhelming number of boaters giving up

Published: Saturday, 08 May 2021

THERE are an overwhelming number of people giving up boating, and that's official—according to Canal & River Trust.

As more and more boaters give up boating and so give up their boat licences, its Boat Licensing Team are overwhelmed by so many requests and are reduced to telling them that such high volumes of refund requests are causing processing delays.

When Martin Cox finally gave up boating telling narrowboatworld that he and Marilyn had become tired of the stress of not knowing if they would be able to complete a trip or even get back to their marina, and as boating has ceased to be a relaxing pleasure, they decided to pack it all in.

So then applying for a refund of their boat licence, the Boat Licensing Team was unable to do this straight away, sending the following message:

Dear Mr & Mrs Martin & Marilyn Cox,

Your licence refund request for GAIA II (510798) has been processed and we cancelled the licence on 30 April 2021.

A refund for £301.42 will be processed for you shortly. We are experiencing high volumes of refund requests which is causing processing delays, however your refund will be processed as soon as possible. If you have any questions about this refund, or any other licensing matters, please get in touch with us.

Best wishes,

Boat Licensing Team

Which rather puts paid to that slogan—'there are more boats enjoying the waterways than ever before'. 

SeatBollardRochdaleThe reason

The reason for so many boaters calling it a day is, as one told me, that attempting to cruise the Rochdale he discovered it closed.  'I travelled from lock 92 yesterday and I did 11 locks eight of which had defects, some of which I reported three years ago. There’s still a lock with nothing to tie to not even one bollard. I had to tie the boat to a bench while using the lock, but of course there was a new blue sign.

'They claim it’s vandalism. But as in the article you have on your site at the moment, if an area is subject to vandalism. anti vandal locks should be working or even there. There’s lots of worn ones and ones missing.'

The boater sent the photograph, which is appreciated, of the only bollard at the lock!

How many more sinkings?

I have forgotten the number of times I have pressed both British Waterways and Canal & River Trust to make the dangers of boats being caught on lock cills better known to boaters.

For yet again another one sunk in a lock on the Kennet & Avon has closed the canal.  I have discovered that again it was a hirer hoping to enjoy the much hyped pleasure of boating but having it cut drastically short in the bottom of a lock.

Too many times we have been asked what the notice that states 'keep forward of the cill' means and 'what's a cill?

CillMarkerObviously those at CaRT assume everyone knows about cills and that the notice is enough warning.  But after literally hundreds of such sinkings one would have thought someone would have the nous to realise the notice means nothing to newcomers, so a proper warning is long overdue, pointing out the reason of the cill and its real dangers.

Oh yes, now comes a new blue one—but still the same ambiguous wording that only serves to puzzle newcomers and does nothing to show the real danger.

With one such sinking taking a life on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, of a man in a wheelchair that drowned, even that did not prompt better information about the obvious danger of the cill from the then British Waterways.

Will another life have to be taken before proper warning is given?

MacCulvert1The poor Macc

Over the years the Macclesfield Canal has shown it is one that needs a deal of maintenance with breaches of one sort or another a regular occurrence, the present one being another collapsed culvert that occurred back on the 24th of March.

Perhaps the lack of regular inspection is responsible, but whatever, I have to wonder why it is taking so long to repair, with the only information we are getting is that 'work will continue in coming weeks', which means bugger-all, but seems it is going to take a couple of months from it breaking before navigation can be resumed.

There was obviously no hurry as it was six weeks before stop planks were installed and water flow managed by over-pumping to maintain levels along the canal.

And now all there is to show for any progress is piles of stone heaped by the site of the broken culvert, but as Stephen Foster's photographs that were taken yesterday, Friday 7th at noon, (that we really appreciate) clearly show, there is still no effort at actually repairing the culvert.

In fact the damaged portions have been removed and taken away, just leaving the base for a new one waiting to be installed.

MacCulvert2Yet this canal is the main artery between the midland waterways and those of the north, connecting the Trent & Mersey with the Huddersfield Narrow, Rochdale and Leeds & Liverpool canals as well as being part of the Cheshire Ring, a favourite with the hirers of that area.

The only other connection is the Bridgewater Canal, but up to recently that was blocked at Anderton for many weeks stopping any access.

Of course there are the poor moored boaters on the Peak Forest & Ashton canals that are also stuck from reaching the midland canals whilst the stoppage on the Macclesfield continues.

What must make it so annoying to boaters is that the culvert failure on the Shropshire Union Canal, that supplies water to Hurleston Reservoir, was completed in two weeks...

It really is not good enough.

With the fairies

A stoppage notice from CaRT concerning Woodnook Lock on the Aire & Calder Navigation tells boaters to 'beware of low water elves in the pound'.

Being next to Fairies Hill, we can only assume that CaRT is now relying on elves to undertake the repair, but lets hope they are somewhat of an improvement on the usual contractors...

Victor Swift