Sleepwalking into Trouble?


There was a (very short) CRT consultation in July on changing the licensing system for charity and community boats, which would result in them being charged for a standard leisure boat licence rather than a commercial licence, less a 60% discount. Fair enough, you might say: simplify the licensing system as much as possible; but the knock-on effects on the charities could be very serious. And as two charities point out in their responses, included in this issue, there are other changes proposed, including a ban on ‘commercial’ revenue-generating activity on CRT land and possible changes to moorings and service provisions for these organisations. This is already being seen by some as the ‘big’ charity that has all the power trying to take money away from smaller charities that do not. Regardless of the merits of CRT’s intentions, is its public relations department sleep-walking? Has it not considered what the public perception of the proposals might be when they become more generally known? Newspaper headlines of small boat-owning charities being forced to close because of CRT would be a disaster for the Trust.

In other articles in this issue, Mark Tizard has data on mooring uptake at the ‘honey pot’ site of Stoke Bruerne, which show that the new mooring regulations have had little effect on the availability of visitor moorings there. It seems that word has got round that better enforcement means overstayers no longer overstay, so maybe it would have been better to have introduced better enforcement first to see if it worked before all these ‘no-return’ rules and so on, which (as I said in the last issue) I still believe should be rescinded as soon as possible. On the subject of the last editorial, Brian and Susan Chadwick point out in their letter in this issue that I should have referred to ‘continuous moorers’ not continuous cruisers - a point I gladly accept. Mooring issues and developments were also discussed at the last meeting between NABO’s Mike Rodd and Mark Tizard and CRT and there is a report on the outcome.

I like to give credit where it is due, and I have included a report from Ian Lane, CRT’s West Midlands Principal Waterway Engineer, on the difficult repairs needed to a lock on the Wolverhampton flight following vandalism - all done within 52 days. Mike Rodd recently attended an excellent presentation by Adam Comerford, CRT’s Group Hydrology Manager, who has kindly agreed to speak at NABO’s AGM in November (put the date in your diary now - November 16th at Wolverhampton Boat Club). Finally, a recent sinking on the Huddersfield Canal prompted me to collect a number of diverse safety-related articles together in this issue. NABO now has a new promotional leaflet, so if you would like copies to hand out to fellow boaters, please get in touch with the Secretary, Richard Carpenter.

Peter Fellows

Editorial, NABO News 4, July 2013


In my younger days, we regularly loaded up the boat with friends and beers and set off from Calcutt, mooring at the visitor moorings in Weedon for a Saturday evening meal together at the restaurant there, before returning on Sunday. On a recent trip further down the Grand Union, we saw a CRT sign at Cosgrove saying: ‘Maximum stay - 14 days per calendar year’. What is all this about? Presumably, local boaters might want to regularly visit this attractive village, but are they supposed to moor here overnight for a maximum of fourteen times per year? Or can they moor once each year for a fortnight – or some other combination of visits? It is not clear. But whatever the interpretation, who is going to monitor and enforce this and what are the penalties if, for example, someone moors fifteen times a year? How are shared ownership boaters supposed to know if another owner has moored there in the previous year? Are hire-boats to be included? The whole thing starts to become surreal… and totally unnecessary.

If CRT staff are the enforcement officers, couldn’t they be better employed doing something more useful - like enforcing the 14-day rule? Or is it going to be volunteers? In which case, have they been fully briefed that they could be cross-examined by a defence counsel when they appear as witnesses in court? I don’t know if this sign and the restrictions are the Regional Waterway Manager’s idea to deal with a specific local problem, or whether it is now a CRT policy, as there appear to have been no public statements by CRT on its introduction.

The whole purpose of boating (to me at least) is unrestricted enjoyment of the waterways - provided of course that I am considerate to other boaters and do not abuse visitor moorings - which is what the vast majority of boaters are like. Why should I not revisit a place however many times I wish to? This ‘no-return’ rule is bonkers and should be rejected. These things have a habit of becoming custom and practice; having been trialled in one location, they become adopted throughout the system. If you see any similar signs that offend your sense of justice and freedom to cruise, please send me a photo and the location.

The other thing I noticed on our return to the Grand Union, since we were based here and regularly cruised this stretch, is the much larger numbers of live-aboard boaters that now line the route. A journey that took four hours fifteen years ago took five hours last month because of the need to revert to tickover to pass moored boats every few hundred yards and either side of almost every bridge. This creates a difficult situation for CRT: how to enable boaters to make reasonable headway and calculate their cruising times based on three lock-miles per hour; and at the same time, deal with the legitimate aspirations of more and more people to choose a cheaper way of life afloat. There are of course no easy answers, but CRT has made a start and should be applauded for increasing the enforcement of continuous cruising rules (and also for substantially reducing licence evasion over the last two years). To me, even-handed enforcement, and not the imposition of these new no-return rules, is the key to dealing with non-compliant boaters. Different aspects of the mooring debate feature in detail in this issue, including the K&A mooring plan and loss of moorings to commercial interests, overstaying charges for visitor moorings in the South East, the introduction of Roving Mooring Permits, and a London enquiry into moorings. As always, I welcome NABO members’ views on all of this. In the meantime, enjoy this issue and a summer out and about on the water.




I start with an apology to Tony Baldry MP, for calling him ‘Toby’ in the last issue and thanks to Peter Braybrook, the eagle-eyed constituent who let me know, commenting: “In response to your invitation to submit ‘names that make me smile’, Sir Toby brought a smile to my lips but I am not sure it would have brought one to his!”

In this issue, there is an article on community boating, the Cinderella of the boating world, in which Trevor Roberts bemoans the historic lack of BW support and asks whether CRT will be any different.  It should be, given its stated intent to be socially inclusive, but little seems to have been done so far to support the valuable work that these boating groups do – perhaps it is early days for the Trust.

NABO News, Issue 7, January 2013




First, my best wishes for Christmas and happy boating next year.

We can only hope the weather in 2013 will be kinder to boaters than most of last year - in this issue Janice Steckerl recounts her experiences of the wind and rain on the Caledonian Canal. Elsewhere there are two articles concerning the EA: a report on its financing and a review by Louis Jankel on consultation with Thames users. Stephen Peters describes LPG installations on boats and if you get this wrong, there is also an article on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. David Fletcher reports on a recent court ruling concerning continuous cruisers and also on the reply from CRT to questions NABO posed about the Terms and Conditions of boat licences. There is also news of NABO’s AGM, where a relatively small turnout enjoyed an excellent talk on the past and present issues facing the K&A by Mike Rodd of the K&A Trust.

However, the main message of this issue is the future of NABO: as David explains in his letter above, we are approaching crunch-time and need more volunteers to run the Association - and new members. We warmly welcome Jane Taylor to NABO’s Council, but more people have to get involved if NABO is to continue. Clearly, some jobs are more attractive than others and I must again thank the six members who volunteered to proof-read NABO News. You can also help by attending local meetings, or if you prefer to stay at home, we need help with the website, press and communications among other jobs listed in the Chairman’s Column. Please make it your New Year’s resolution to help NABO.




Thank you to everyone who wrote to NABO News following our appeal for support in the last issue. I have included a selection of representative letters from members. Welcome to Mike Rodd and Mark Tizard as new Council members and welcome back to ‘Fly on the Wall’ after a long absence - its informal look at what happens in Council meetings is in response to a specific request by a member. We are not out of the woods yet though. Council still needs help from people who have administrative or web skills. This issue focuses more than usual on NABO business: there is an article by our Treasurer, Stephen Peters, on the reasoning behind an increase in your subs and a plea from the Webmaster to register your correct contact details on the website to reduce our admin costs. NABO has also issued a press release concerning CRT’s proposals on mooring restrictions, which is something that should concern all boaters. David Fletcher reports on the first meeting of a Parliamentary Group looking at how CRT’s Waterways Partnerships are developing and there are boating articles on changes to the Boat Safety Scheme and the dangers of carbon monoxide. Gary Sutcliffe of Lee Sanitation also gives the lowdown on selecting a new toilet for your boat. As Editor, I would welcome some more photos that could be used on the cover of the newsletter (remember the year’s free subscription if they are used) and the occasional boating article along the lines of recent reports of boating on the Caledonian and Droitwich canals - preferably not just a trip report, but something (maybe a bit unusual) that would interest the majority of readers. It’s time now for many of us to dewinterise and get boating again.