Is anyone listening?

Editor Peter Fellows has a little rant

As 2017 draws to a close, it is clear that CRT is focussed on its grant renewal, which will require it to demonstrate to Government that it has widespread popular support. This means promoting the waterways to millions of walkers, cyclists, canoeists and gongoozlers as part of its wellbeing or ‘green gym’ campaign. The 35,000 boaters are incidental to this. As a result, NABO is becoming increasingly concerned that its voice is not being listened to by senior CRT managers and directors. We are no longer a ‘critical friend’; just critical. Members who attended the AGM in November discussed the long list of recent decisions by CRT that have disregarded the advice offered by NABO (and CRT’s National Advisory Groups), and Fly on the Wall recorded some of these for this issue. There is also an article by Jenny Maxwell, reprinted from a Facebook forum, which sums up the frustrations felt by a large number of boaters and boating organisations. We will wait to see if the recent restructuring of senior CRT staff makes any difference. But let’s not hold our breath ‒ none has boating experience and, with the replacement of Trustee, John Dodwell, this means that there are now no boaters on the CRT Board. The EA doesn’t fare any better: having consulted on proposed increases to boat registration fees, it ignored the consultation findings and went ahead with the original proposals for steep hikes in the costs. A diligent boater has also found that EA’s introduction of charges for mooring on the Thames is illegal.

Consultations, towpath cycling and veg management

Editor Peter Fellows has much for members to comment on:

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.