Warming climate and relationships?

Editor Peter Fellows detects changes that could affect boaters both negatively and positively.

It’s not yet summer and there are already boating restrictions in place because of damaged or failed infrastructure and low reservoirs, the latter following the lack of winter and spring rainfall after last year’s record-breaking dry summer. In the news section, I’ve listed a summary of restricted lock opening hours, as of the beginning of May, but it can’t be long before other canals with limited reservoir capacity follow suit. I know that UK weather is notoriously variable, but scientists say that climate heating is now a reality. CRT’s Hydrology Unit has plans to mitigate its effects on the waterways, but we should all be doing more individually, whether by supporting Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s kids’ campaign, or reducing our personal impact on the environment. Phasing out the use of gas and diesel will eventually happen and I believe navigation authorities should be planning now to provide facilities for all-electric boats, so that new craft can be built to this specification.

I’ve included a summary of CRT’s Boater Report 2018 in which the Trust explains how it benefits boaters and needs our support. It has also introduced a shortened annual survey of boaters, renamed the ‘Perceptions of the Trust’ survey, and a new monthly ‘Waterway Experience’ survey that aims to ‘get a much clearer picture of what’s affecting boaters as it happens and react quickly’ so that CRT can ‘be more responsive and target our maintenance and repair work on the areas that really need it’. All this seems to indicate a shift in attitude towards boaters. It may be a coincidence, or maybe boaters’ negative comments last year on CRT’s logo and change to the ‘waterways and wellbeing’ Trust, are having an effect. Likewise, the NABO Council members who are meeting regularly with CRT’s regional directors report the meetings to be ‘open, friendly and positive’ and ‘beginning to show the real benefit of a close working relationship between CRT and its boating community’. Long may this continue.

Also in this issue, David Fletcher explains how NABO’s new website and email services have improved. Mark Tizard shares his thoughts on how the boating community is changing, with a new category of ‘financial boaters’ growing fast, and Kevin McNiff details problems of widebeam boats on the narrow North Oxford canal. I’ve summarised a recent BSS report on the top-twenty reasons why boats fail their four-yearly examinations and Tony Brooks deals with the dreaded diesel bug in Techies’ Corner. Finally, my thanks to members who have taken the time to write letters; please keep them coming and also let me know if there are specific technical topics that you would like Tony to address.