Editorial, Feb 2020

Gently down the stream

Editor Peter Fellows sees rivers featuring prominently in this issue.

Since the last issue, NABO Council members have had a series of meetings with senior CRT staff and it is refreshing to note that the dialogue has improved since 12 months ago when, as Mike Rodd says in his Chair’s column: “we felt that CRT was deliberately ignoring us!” This is good news because, as Mike and Mark Tizard report, CRT (and for that matter, the EA) needs boaters to get behind it for the forthcoming negotiations over renewal of its government grant in a few years’ time.

Elsewhere, there is river news: the River Thames Alliance has been closed down and the EA has released details of its new Thames charging structure, now that it will be allowed to generate income from commercial activities. The Avon Navigation Trust has joined the Waterway Ombudsman scheme, something that is supported by NABO, which believes that all navigation authorities should be part of the scheme. This is reflected in revised NABO policies that Council members have been working on over the last few months, which are included in this issue. In Techies Corner, Tony Brooks explains how you can waste fuel when river cruising and I have a look at how Bernoulli’s Principle affects the way boats move and interact with each other. This explains why moored boats move when they are being passed by other boats – and also indicates how poor mooring techniques can cause unnecessary movement; it is not always the excessive speed of a passing boat that causes a problem.

Mark Tizard analyses boaters’ views as expressed in CRT’s first monthly waterway experience survey. The main concerns expressed by boaters were CRT’s management of non-compliant boaters (overstaying on visitor moorings, mooring at water points etc.), but also the maintenance or closure of waste disposal facilities. The other main gripe, management of towpath and offside vegetation, also features prominently, but it seems that CRT is making a concerted effort this winter to get on top of this – at least in some areas. NABO is collating information on both of these issues, so if you know of a problem, let the Council know.

Mark also shares his thoughts on wellness, the environment and the cost of boating. Although it is now possible to get all-electric boats (not just no gas on board, but no diesel either), the issue is finding places to charge the batteries for the electric motor. This was the problem with electric cars some years ago, but the increase in their popularity has resulted in substantial investment in new charging points by supply companies – it is surely only a matter of time before the same is true for the waterways.

Voting in the CRT Council elections ends a few days after you received this issue of NABO News, so you still have time to cast your vote if you haven’t already. Helen Hutt makes a final pitch for your support. The Council has set up a new Facebook page for members to share your thoughts about all things ‘boaty’ – please take a look and join the group if it interests you. Finally, with all the rainfall over the last few months, the majority of CRT’s reservoirs are now nearly full – let’s hope that they stay that way for the year.