NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOAT OWNERS

Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.

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A month of meetings

Mike Rodd reports on the work of an active NABO Council.

At last – back on our boat for a week – it was wonderful; and good to see the hire fleets starting to operate again. Of course, being based in Wales, we were always slightly out of line with England, but at last the lifting of the two sets of lockdown restrictions overlapped! And with the spring blossoms bursting through, even though a bit chilly still, it was a lovely time to be out on the water.

The NABO Council is busier than ever – everywhere we look, we see matters that need our attention – but thankfully, with a full Council again and with the very energetic new folk joining us, the load is well spread and we are coping – even if our teleconference-based meetings are getting very long.

We wait, of course, with bated breath for CRT’s next version of the proposed new Terms and Conditions for private boat licences. I hope that by the time you read this, we will know where we are, although the report given at the National Users Forum seemed to indicate that there would be few changes – except (to our delight) that the T&Cs would be far more readable! As we (and our lawyers) have consistently said, we are positive about many of the proposed changes. But there are some proposals that we (and again, our lawyers) believe are contrary to the underlying Waterways Act and the T&Cs simply cannot be allowed to create such a conflict. To this end, you will have seen that our colleagues in the NBTA (National Bargees and Travellers Association) are also taking legal advice, and we have agreed to assist them.

Electric boats and mooring congestion

Mike Rodd describes just two of the issues facing NABO.

I hope that some of you might be able to get out on your boats soon – it has been so frustrating and worrying, especially if your boat is not safe in a well-managed marina. I had to handle a report last week of a boat close to us on the K&A, slowly sinking – all we could do was to inform CRT, as nobody knew who the boat owner was.

With so many boater consultations presently under way, I suspect we are all getting bored with answering them, so I am sorry if we have made thing worse by asking you to respond to the one on aspects of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS). We do need, however, to ensure that we are aware of any concerns you have, or improvements that might need to be made. We have always actively supported the BSS, and are involved in most of its committees and advisory groups, but we are very aware that changes are continually required to deal with technical developments. For example, we will increasingly need to focus on electrical issues. In fact, many boaters in the London area will simply have to become more electric-based, given what is happening there with the creation of so-called ‘eco-moorings’. These have electrical supply points made available (if booked and the electricity is paid for!) and the accompanying gradual banning of both running diesel engines and burning cheaper coal and wood. (Of course, these moorings also go a long way to keep the complaining residents of the very expensive canalside homes happy!)

A time of change

A time of change - from navigation authorities to electric boating, Mike Rodd sees a busy year ahead for NABO.

Well, at least we did have some time, pre-Christmas, to get out on our boats before the next full lockdown took over. Ours being down in South Wales means that we are continually caught by the infuriating Cardiff Assembly trying to prove its manhood by doing something slightly different from Westminster – with really silly results for us who live in one area but boat in the other! Of course, we all know how serious all this is, so we just hope that the vaccine will mean that we will soon see a sensible way ahead for all of us.

I would like to start by saying how wonderful it is to see the many new faces on your Council – not just the people who are new to NABO’s Council, but also those who have already been very active within the organisation. This allows us to do even more by way of acting as a prime representative for all boaters. And that is so important right at this moment – with CRT currently undertaking two important ‘so-called’ consultations. (‘So-called’ because so often they seem to be mere formalities, with CRT having pretty well decided the way ahead, but needing to be seen to take user suggestions on board.) In this issue, you will see details regarding the extensive work we have undertaken in preparing our submissions, outlining our major concerns about many aspects of recent consultations. They will have impacts on all of us, so please do read our submissions, as well as our comments on the T&C’s readability.

A most unusual, but rewarding, year

Chairman’s Report to the AGM 2020

Mike Rodd reflects on his last twelve months in the Chair.

Having resumed as Chair once again when Stella had to stand down, I am delighted that she has made such excellent progress health-wise. She has, however, had to move back on land and give up her boat, so I guess I am ‘it’ for a while. But my task is made so much easier by having such active and fully engaged colleagues, both on the Council and also as our Regional Representatives. And what a year this has proved to be – not just through the Covid lockdowns, but with both CRT and the EA clearly getting themselves geared up for a future in which they will have to bid for Government funding, by making extensive internal changes and very significant operational modifications.

Back on board, but.....

Chair, Mike Rodd is enjoying cruising again, despite the lack of maintenance and e-scooters.

Boating at last! For many of us, it was a great joy to be able to get back boating again and for me also to resume being a Boatmaster for the K&A Canal Trust’s trip-boat, the ‘Rose of Hungerford’. Given that the income generated by the trip boats (with all the boats being operated totally by volunteers) is its major source of funding, the impact on the Trust of the long period of non-operation has been horrendous. This has been especially critical as we get to the end of the (partially) HLF-funded restoration work at the Crofton Pumping Station, as the boat trips are contributing the bulk of the required matching funding. Making the trip-boats ‘socially distanced’ has meant a serious drop in the maximum number of passengers we can carry (about half), but with significant demand for places, at least a reasonable income is now being generated.