Editor, Peter Fellows, describes some current threats to boating and why you can help NABO.

CRT’s Annual Report, published in July, makes for mixed reading: income and expenditure on the waterways were up in all areas over the year, but boater satisfaction declined significantly. CRT attributes this to ‘disruption due to summer water shortages, changes to licence fees, concerns about network maintenance, and concerns about the Trust’s repositioning.’ Correspondence in this issue and social media posts by NABO members and other boaters suggests that failing or leaking locks, overgrown vegetation and CRT’s inability to control speeding towpath cyclists are more likely causes of boaters’ dissatisfaction. I have devoted a significant section of this issue to problems caused by towpath lycra-louts and possible ways that CRT could address them.

More rubbish

Editor Peter Fellows considers the plastics problem.

I think most people would welcome CRT’s ‘Plastics Challenge’, launched in June. Visitors to the waterways are being asked to pick up one piece of litter to prevent the half-million plus pieces of plastic entering the sea from UK canals each year.

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.

Evidence please

Editor Peter Fellows starts surveys of lost facilities and shallow visitor moorings.

The warming weather means that many of the estimated 50% of boaters who are leisure cruisers start to gear up for their first outing of the year and the other 50% who live aboard come out of hibernation to enjoy the spring sunshine. As usual, Fly reports on a lively meeting of NABO Council in March and much else is going on behind the scenes. I have included a report by Mike Rodd on the last meeting of the National Inland Navigation Forum and I’ve had a read through CRT’s Boater Report 2018, which sets out how boaters support the Trust through licence and mooring fees, and how the Trust spends its income on maintaining its navigations. On a less happy note, I’ve included a summary of a recent BSS report on boat fires. There is also a summary of CRT’s annual lockage report, which shows how the long spell of dry weather last summer affected boat movements, which were down by 11%. Mark Tizard reviews recent mooring developments and there is an article by Anthony Riley, setting out the EA funding issues that are affecting the Thames. With Brexit paralysing the Government, there seems to be little progress in discussions to transfer EA waters to CRT, or developing new ideas to allow the EA to obtain a more appropriate level of funding for the Thames. Howard Anguish looks back at what was happening in NABO 15 years ago. There’s also a short article by Joe Parkin on some of the problems caused for volunteer ‘lockies’ by boaters, and Brian Jarrett has some advice on selecting a composting toilet in Techie’s Corner. Finally, evidence, please! We need hard evidence of boaters’ facilities that have been removed and of designated visitor moorings where lack of depth is an issue. Please send me your observations (with photographs if possible) and the precise location.

Spreading the word

Editor, Peter Fellows, explains NABO’s focus on promotion and recruitment

Part of NABO’s raison d'être is to influence navigation authorities and other organisations for the benefit of boaters. Last month, we clocked up our latest influencing success when the changes we sought to the Middle Level Bill were written into the Act, guaranteeing provision of boater services on the Nene-Ouse Link. The issue at hand is how to communicate what NABO does, and seeks to do, targeting boat owners who are not members. Many boaters, especially younger ones, now get the majority of their waterway-related news and views from social media and other on-line sources. So NABO needs to further adapt the way it communicates in order to reach these boaters. If we can get our messages across effectively, we can hopefully convince many of these boaters that NABO membership will benefit both them and the waterways as a whole. To this end, the Council has made a number of changes. Ken Hylins joined the Council to take a lead on promotion and recruitment, in addition to assisting boaters who are having problems staying on the water. Alison Tuck will develop NABO’s social media presence as Media Officer and Mark Tizard has become the General Secretary, while continuing his roles as Communications Officer and moderating NABO’s Facebook page. We are also updating NABO’s publicity material with a new flyer to hand out to boaters. Boater-to-boater recommendation is one of the most effective recruitment tools. If you can help in letting others know about NABO and the benefits of membership, please get in touch.