In a press release announcing 2009 Boat Licence Fees for England and Wales, Simon Salem, British Waterways’ marketing and customer services director, said,
"We continue to support the view expressed by many boaters in the 2007 consultation that it is unfair that continuous cruisers do not make a contribution to the cost of maintaining the waterways that is commensurate with those who take a home mooring."
"We appreciate that this is a difficult issue and not all boaters agree on either the extent of the problem or on the solution. Sales of continuous cruising licences have been growing significantly and, despite the terms and conditions of the licence, there is evidence that a growing number choose to remain on temporary moorings in relatively narrow geographic areas. The risk of congestion on particularly popular waterways therefore presents a management challenge that we must address."
"BW is therefore considering workable policies to implement during 2009/2010 that will encourage the proportion of boaters without a home mooring but who wish to remain within a specific area of the network to choose an appropriate mooring option. The option of a ‘roving mooring permit’ could cater for those who like to have no fixed base and cruise short distances between temporary moorings within easy reach of their work or other land-based commitment. By purchasing such a permit, they would no longer be classified as continuous cruisers.”
The press release continued:
"Alongside proposals for a ‘roving mooring permit’, BW will continue to examine alternative options relating to the structure and pricing of continuous cruising licences. Any proposals, which will seek to avoid penalising those who genuinely cruise extensively around the network, will be discussed with BWAF and other representatives of national boating organisations. They will also take account of any relevant market research. At present, no further formal public c onsultation on the matter has been planned."
NABO will be continuing to keep this issue under review and, as one of our continuing responses, John Slee has been co-opted to the National Council as Continuous Cruisers representative. He prefers to be contacted by email (add nabo(dot)org(dot)uk to the cc address) but mobile phone and snail mail are alternatives – see NABO News. As he is a continuous cruiser, he only collects snail mail (aka the Royal mail) sporadically, relying on a generous friend to forward it, usually to a Post Office – Post Restante. (If you have any problems using that service, please let John know, as he has had some difficulties, which he is pursuing.)
In fact, John would like to hear from you if you have any problems relating to being a continuous cruiser, or views on BW’s stance. Come to that, he would like to hear about positive aspects of continuous cruising too. We are the moving eyes and ears on the inland waterways; we keep the locks, swing bridges and waterside facilities in use throughout all the months of the year; many of us keep the lesser used canals dredged by use; ….. can you add to this list?
NABO differentiaties between continuous cruisers and so-called continuous moorers – boaters with no declared mooring, but who do not follow the regulation "genuine progressive journey" or who stay in the same neighborhood for more than 14 days, without good reason. We do not condone boaters who clearly break the rules.
NABO News invited Sally Ash, BW’s head of boating development, to write about Continuous Cruisers in Issue 7 (2008) and that resulted in several letters in Issue 1 (2009). Why won’t the subject rest? Because continuous cruising is an important right of navigation that is worth cherishing, not penalising.