Coping with canoes

Editor, Peter Fellows welcomes clarification by CRT


Canoeists feature more prominently in this issue than previously, with news of new canoe slipways on the Llangollen, the opening of Foulridge Tunnel on the L&L to canoeists, and problems with some canoeists wanting to share locks with boats. While NABO welcomes the increased use of the waterways by as many people as possible, its main concern in relation to canoeists is safety ‒ it doesn’t take much imagination to see who will come off worse in situations where a canoe and a 12-tonne boat are in too close proximity ‒ such as a lock or a tunnel. So it is welcome that Jon Horsfall, CRT’s interim head of boating, has restated its policy on unpowered craft and has begun a process with British Canoeing to promote clear and straightforward information to increase awareness of what canoeists can and cannot do.

Although we have had occasional articles over the years on technical aspects of boating, I would like to print more, so I have introduced the first of a new series with a look at safety aspects of fuels on board. If you have specialist knowledge of any aspect of boat design, construction, equipment, facilities or maintenance, or just some handy technical tips that you’ve come across, please let me know. I’ve also repeated my request in the last issue for cartoons and a crossword compiler, but I’m pleased to report that we will hopefully soon have a new ‘Rewind’ column in each issue.

Elsewhere, there are reports from three of NABO’s regional reps; Howard Anguish in the North-east, Mike Rodd in Wales and Alison Tuck in the West Midlands. Mark Tizard has views on how boaters can be better ‘friends’ with CRT, which would be in the interests of both parties, and Helen Hutt recounts her first experience of boating along the Mon & Brec. Enjoy the summer (as I write this, I can’t believe it will already be mid-summer in a few days time). The next issue will be in October, so give me a wave if we pass on the north-west canals over the coming weeks.


When is shared ownership not shared ownership?

Editor Peter Fellows considers licences for rented, shared and time-share boats



From dark arts, via 100 feet-wide locks, to volunteer lock-keepers

Editor Peter Fellows introduces a packed issue

We emerged from hibernation in March and a group took our shared narrowboat out for the first time this year, to introduce a new shareholding family to the joys of the cut. Although it was a fine, warm(ish) day, there were very few moving boats - possibly just as well while the new family got to grips with the tiller! I was surprised at the amount of floating debris in the Coventry Canal, presumably from storm Doris a few weeks before, and we had several stops to clear the prop. CRT contractors had also been out on the job, removing large trees that had fallen across the canal. In her column, Chair Stella is also emerging from the winter, with a myriad jobs that need doing come spring.

Consultation and funding - a lack of both for some

Editor Peter Fellows compares navigation authorities

Following the complaints throughout last year over lack of vegetation management on the South Oxford Canal, it is good to see that CRT is spending the winter putting the situation right. And it is also good that CRT is consulting widely on a proposal by Birmingham City Council to pay for widening of the towpath through Edgbaston Tunnel. This would reduce the width of the canal, enforcing one-way passage of boats through the tunnel. In NABO’s view, it is totally unacceptable to compromise the navigation in this way and disadvantage boaters (who pay for the waterways’ upkeep) for the benefit of speeding cyclists (who pay nothing) and who could simply be told to dismount and walk through the tunnel.


Another successful AGM at Wolverhampton Boat Club (many thanks for the excellent food and hospitality), with Stella taking over the reins from Mike and farewells to longstanding Council members Geoffrey Rogerson and Stephen Peters and London rep, Simon Robbins. It was good to meet Ken Hylins, who has a special interest in assisting boaters with disabilities. I also had a conversation with a continuous cruising member, who, when she stops at different places, helps ring the bells at the local church. She’d been moored up for a week or so at Brewood when the vicar asked if she could ring the bells at a wedding three weeks later. She replied that she would love to, but didn’t think that CRT would allow it. “I potter slowly around the system, doing no-one any harm and obeying the rules, and I don’t see why CRT should be allowed to dictate how I live or what I choose to do”. I agree with her, and I think a lot of other boaters would also. She could ask the local waterway manager for an exception to the 14-day rule on this occasion, but she would not automatically qualify (no illness, pregnancy or breakdown). But why should she? It is not the role of a navigation authority to give permission for someone to do something. She could also go somewhere else and return to Brewood in a couple of weeks time, but she risks falling foul of the ‘progressive journey’ rule – and again why should she have to do this?