Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.


Mostly, but not all about Coronavirus

Editor, Peter Fellows, has news of other developments, even though little is happening on the waterways.

The ramifications of the Coronavirus lockdown have dominated the waterway news for nearly eight weeks at the time of writing and these are widely reflected in this issue. CRT’s decision not to close towpaths to visitors initially caused an intensely negative response on social media by some liveaboard boaters. NABO’s support for CRT’s decision is explained by Mike Rodd in his Chair’s column. NABO also welcomes CRT’s support: for high-risk liveaboard boaters who are self-isolating; for the extra month’s licence offered to all leisure boaters; and its support for trade and hire-boat businesses, each reported upon in this issue. In his regional rep’s report, Ken Hylins, who is self-isolating on his boat, describes the assistance he is being offered by CRT volunteers and local residents. However, many small waterway businesses do not qualify for the Government assistance on offer and there is a request for members to contact their MPs to rectify this with additional financial support measures. If nothing is done, there is a real risk that many boatyards, marinas, chandleries and hire companies will go out of business.

Stay safe

Editor, Peter Fellows, has a wide range of news in these uncertain times.

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 is foremost in most people’s minds and this is reflected in this issue. Mike Rodd has been attending EA and Thames User Group meetings on behalf of NABO. This is in addition to his many other jobs as Chair (such as responding to the Bridgewater tidal barrier consultation) and reporting as the Regional Rep for Wales and the South-West, both included in this issue. If one or more members in the general Thames catchment area would be willing to share the workload, it would greatly help Mike.

Treasurer, Helen Hutt was elected to CRT’s Council and another boating rep, Dave Mendes de Costa has sent NABO News a report on their first meeting with CRT’s National Boating Manager. Elsewhere, David Fletcher considers what might happen to red diesel, following an announcement in last month’s budget. He also reviews the recently published reports on the Toddbrook Reservoir near-disaster. Ken Hylins reflects on his first couple of years on NABO Council, with a plea for more involvement in council work by members. Mark Tizard gives CRT a pat on the back for dealing with all the damage and fallen trees, caused by this winter’s storms and floods. And finally, Tony Brooks casts a balanced eye over the suitability of lithium batteries in Techie’s Corner.

With the uncertainty around the effects of Coronavirus, boating could reasonably be said to be one of the safer places to be, so enjoy the better weather and keep well.

Editorial, Feb 2020

Gently down the stream

Editor Peter Fellows sees rivers featuring prominently in this issue.

Since the last issue, NABO Council members have had a series of meetings with senior CRT staff and it is refreshing to note that the dialogue has improved since 12 months ago when, as Mike Rodd says in his Chair’s column: “we felt that CRT was deliberately ignoring us!” This is good news because, as Mike and Mark Tizard report, CRT (and for that matter, the EA) needs boaters to get behind it for the forthcoming negotiations over renewal of its government grant in a few years’ time.

New Year, New Faces?

Editor, Peter Fellows has a plea for members to help the association operate effectively.

As 2019 fades into winter with deluges raising river levels across the country, NABO says farewell to Chair, Stella Ridgway and East Midlands Rep., Joan Jamieson, who we thank for all their work over the years. I have also said goodbye to NABO News proof-readers, John and Marion Pearse and Janice Steckerl, who I thank for all their help in correcting my wayward grammar. If you are able to spend a couple of hours, three times per year, proofreading an issue of the magazine in the comfort of your favourite armchair, please get in touch.

Reading Howard Anguish’s Rewind from 15 years ago, support for NABO Council by members was an issue then – and it still is. The Council needs more support for its work in 2020, outlined by Mark Tizard and Mike Rodd as they look at what is likely to arise next year, especially with CRT and the EA. As you will see from the new list of councillors on page 2, many have multiple roles and need help to share the workload. There are also four vacancies for regional reps., to keep an eye on what’s happening in a particular waterway area. The role involves attending local forums and letting the Council know when something important is happening. Again, please consider helping.

Don't be shy! – NABO needs YOU

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.