John Coxon on the Boaters' Update

Published: Sunday, 19 June 2022

CaRT really are scraping the bottom of the barrel with this weeks' self-congratulatory comic they like to call The Boaters Update writes John Coxon.

This week we are given a long diatribe about what is acceptable water leakage.

Any leakage is unacceptable

Well I can tell them the answer to that in one sentence—Any leakage is unacceptable if it prevents normal boating activity on the waterway!

For example, telling about relining the gates on Buckby Lock 7 in mid May being necessary because of the increased use when the season started effectively made it urgent? Who would have believed that boating would pick up at the beginning of the season? Not CaRT obviously! Where do they get these people? If they hadn't cancelled so many winter works then perhaps they wouldn't have to do them mid-season?

We've all seen the notices about waterways being closed due to lack of water over the past few weeks. Now CaRT trying to excuse their incompetence with nine paragraphs bleating on about water loss only to try and place the onus on the boaters!

Replace anti-vandal locks

As we have said before, boaters don't deliberately waste water. It takes too much effort to do things that waste water. Boaters do not open paddles and leave them open, that's down to the local low-lifes. If CaRT want to prevent it then replacing or fixing missing or broken anti-vandal locks would go a long way!

If the gates and cills and walls in these locks didn't leak so much then water would not be pouring through them all the time. As anyone who cruises for any distance will tell you some of the locks are leaking so badly that even when you have two ground paddles AND two gate paddles open you still cannot get the water level to balance to a point where one person can open the gate!

The lack of rain is also being blamed for water shortages. If the reservoirs were dredged properly so that they were as deep as they were when they were built then we would have enough stored water to last us over a lean spell. They didn't keep running out of water 200 years ago when the canals were used to transport goods. If they'd had as many stoppages then as we have now due to water shortage issues the boatmen of the time would have rioted. They could not have afforded to go six or more months without working and therefore no pay! This is not due to the old age of the canals or the natural lack of rain as CaRT would have us believe, no, this is down to modern mis-management of resources.

What hope along a rarely used canal?

Also, telling boaters to use less frequented parts of the system is a laugh. If you can't get along the popular well used sections then what hope do you have getting along a canal that is rarely used and therefore even less well maintained? Try getting along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal for instance, if you manage it end to end without a forced stoppage because of lack of water then you will be very lucky indeed? Boaters are not stupid, they stick to the tried and tested for a reason and even then not always with the degree of success they would expect!

Next we have a piece about what to do if there is a 'Man Overboard 'situation. Okay on what is written as it stands, but it all fits for multi crewed boats but not a word of advice for single crewed craft, nor a word about looking out for the signs of Leptospirosis, or Wiels disease after you've had a ducking?

Whoops, I forgot, CaRT don't like potential dangers like this to be mentioned as they might put people off coming? Better by water maybe questionable, but better in the water it certainly isn't and canal water in you is worst of all!

Dangerous life jackets

The wearing of life jackets is mentioned. No mention though of the unsuitability of automatic inflation devices that can be used in some of them. Most of these devices will not trigger until they have been submerged to at least three feet (1 metre) depth of water.

As the device is normally placed at the base of the life jacket which is about the waist level of the wearer then they would need to be lying on their face at the bottom of the centre channel of most canals before the pressure of the water activated the device, if at all! A position I do not think many people who fall in will find themselves in?

CaRT would be better off telling people to just stand up in most canals and wade to the towpath side where they could be helped out (if there is access through the uncut vegetation that is)! Better still, if boaters feel they need a life jacket on an inland waterway then one of the types that do not need inflating would probably be best.

Mustn't mention danger

They wouldn't need to be triggered by the water or wearer to be activated so being suitable for boaters in tunnels, boaters who are unconscious before entering the water or those who are likely to go into shock upon entering the water like the elderly, especially in the colder months? Oh dear, there I go again, mentioning dangers that might be present. CaRT will be displeased because as far as they're concerned there isn't any danger.

Small children should wear a life jacket that does not need inflating when on the open deck of any vessel! They should not be expected to manually trigger an inflation device if they go in! And finally, don't forget a lifting harness for your pet, cats as well as dogs?

Then we are told about their new form for reporting incidents? I've got news for CaRT, very few of us boaters will now report an incident to them due to the total lack of a professional response we've had in the past when we have done so. This form just creates a further barrier with an excuse for even less feedback so will, in the main, be totally ignored.

Will not report to CaRT

I for one will not report anything to CaRT unless I absolutely have to. If need be I'll report an incident to the Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade or even Coast Guard as appropriate. At least they value our input! What's going to happen when you get the person reading these forms not knowing anything about it? I've sent in emails with the location stated in detail on it stating exactly where the incident is only to get a reply asking me which waterway it's on?

Then we get more excuses about grass cutting, or should that be lack of grass cutting. I'll say no more as it's been shown in the past that not only is CaRT's policy dangerous but totally ill thought out as to its practicability. See my 'Man overboard' advice above for one example!

As my old school master used to say, On the whole a very poor effort and certainly not good enough, try harder next time!